Posted in Motorcycle Reviews
Phoenix: The Yamaha RD350
R-D-3-5-0. That name was enough for me when I was a kid in the school; who cherished each and every pillion ride on my cousin’s RD. It was enough for me to understand that this motorcycle is something special even though I knew almost nothing about its history and specifications (even if I did, I wouldn’t have understood).
I have to admit when I picked up my own RD and kicked her to life a good decade later, my thirst for knowing more about this legend grew as we both spent time together. While I was going through the painful and often expensive (I’m not a rich guy) restoration process in Delhi, I had hardly seen any good RDs. The ones which were to be spotted could be outrun by Pulsars and Unicorns; they sounded cranky and are nothing but an insult to the RD 350 sticker on their side panels. So you could understand how I was feeling when I read about a Bullet beating an RD in a two stroke oriented Indian forum.
After not seeing any fast RDs for a decade, my own RDs restoration taking forever, there was this deadly thing which was creeping into my mind, doubt. The darn thing was almost killing my faith, till one morning I get a call from my good friend Dr. Tanjot Ahuja for a spin on his bike.
he bike in question here is far from being a stock Rajdoot RD350 that Escorts managed to launch here after finding the casts in Yamaha’s treasure box. The black bike that you see is fitted with clip-ons, 17inch CBR 954RR alloys for the show factor, sticky Pirellis and CBR 954RR disc brakes for the show and overwhelming braking power. The engine is ported and the oversized jets accompanied by a customized air-filter aid in burning the oil that gets thrown into its heart. This bike though sports a static ignition system but its still is far better than those curse of a 80s- points. The standard bore ART pistons are accompanied by a crank which employs Long Connecting Rods. And like a jewel in the crown, you will spot (I’m sure you already did) the expansion chambers which are custom made by Vivek Jayachandran of Tectrac Racing. The electricals are also a customized and reliable bit, a bright Hella headlamp with blinding high beam is most welcome on this two decade old Yammie.
The bike starts up in the first kick, well almost at half kick and that’s where all resemblance with other jokes of modern Indian motorcycles end. The engine rings and dings along as the Yammie settles into a typical two strokesque idle. The expansion chambers hardly throw out any white smoke which is how today’s generation generally identify a two stroke on road.
As I sneak into first and roll off, I couldn’t anticipate what was about to follow. I knew this was going to be different than the Unicorn that I rode in and this being a High Torque model; I thunked into second without attempting heroics. This is where it required a highly concentrating brain and Doohansique reflexes; my brain was busy in flashbacks…cousins red RD…3000rpm…wasted metal junks of Karol Bagh…4000rpm… my bike in garage…4500rpm…bullet 500 beating a RD…5000rpm…the Yammie almost snarled back and said, “Enough of this shit, here I go.” And boy… she almost pulled the socks out almost by sheer acceleration, the front wheel went light and before I knew front wheel was back on the ground as I shifted into third, hypnotized. With insects going kamikaze at an alarming rate on my helmets visor, no bikini fairing to hide behind and the rev counter registering almost everything at around 8000rpm. The wail from the expansion chambers turned into a scream as the Yammie kept ramming into the redline through the gears.
This is a two stroke powerhouse and riding her in the powerband was my only priority, everything else suddenly became sundry, questions popping in my mind like why anything else is required in life…wait, something is more important here, braking! There wasn’t much left of the secluded six lane I was tearing apart, but thankfully with those huge discs, stopping this Yammie is as easy as eating fish curry with rice. As I returned the keys and lighted the stick of lungbased deathcalls, hands shaking and with an ear-to-ear grin I just couldn’t stop picturing how this bike would be with digital ignition and stage 3 porting.
The doubt has been erased, all those Indian four strokes be damned… I met one of my Bulleeter friends on the way back. I couldn’t stop myself when I said,” Bullet500? What Bullet500?” The faith was never stronger, the fantasy never this much… the R-D-3-5-0… it is back in my life (hopefully in yours too), rising from the ashes of the memories, like a Phoenix.
Here is a video of phoenix at her best
(You can also download this video, you will need XviD MPEG-4 Video Decoder installed on your computer to play it)
Phoenix, the black RD350 HT is owned and regularly ripped by Dr.Tanjot Ahuja. He his having the time of his life while Mr. Sumit Mehndiratta, who restored and tunes her is happy to provide you any kind of RD gyan, and hopup your twin cylinder two stroke. +91-9810225063.