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

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEVQsh0Rj1E[/youtube]

(You can also download this video, you will need XviD MPEG-4 Video Decoder installed on your computer to play it)

Right click and choose save as to download RD 350 video (highres 4.5mb)

Right click and choose save as to download RD 350 video (lowreres 2.74mb)

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.

106 Comments

  1. I am interested in owning(buying) an RD350 like the one in this article of your Mr. Shamik. Kindly suggest

  2. Hi Max,

    Bikes like the Phoenix cannot be bought off the shelf as you would understand, it takes a lot of effort, time, wrenching, testing and money. You havent mentioned where you are located, it’s best if the bike is built where you can often drop in to see if its done according to your choice and also you can test it and get the fine tuning done.

    Cheers,
    Shamik

  3. can you tell me where can i get a good RD 350 and it should have the smae power and look of your RD 350 or i am intrested to buy you bike itself. i am located in bangalore please get in touch with me.

    regards
    suresh

  4. hi there, i’m apilot in the Indian Air Force i usually am in some far flung places. I’d like to buy a bone stock as close to the original as possible RD 350 and also could you enlighten me if LT can be converted to HT (whats the difference in construction anyway,is it detuned or something?)

  5. Shamik Banerjee says:

    Suresh: Please read my reply to Max’s query and this motorcycle doesnot belong to me. And I or we at IO2W, do not buy/sell motorcycles 🙂

    Jagdeep: Finding a bone stock RD350 is almost impossible these days for the all the ovious reasons. I suggest you call up Sumit ( his number is mentioned in the article).
    The early batch of LTs did come with some kind of metal plate on their exhaust port and once these removed, the bike became a HT.

    Regards,
    Shamik Banerjee

  6. nice review and a eye watering treat i mean the video

  7. Hi shamik. Im fazal. Though i do not own an RD i’m madly in love with like any other RD rider who takes care of it these days. I just wanted to ask you, if you have more information about the 350 . I mean i’ve practically searched evrything on the RD and i’ve come up wit some info, please correct me if i’m wrong.

    1) The Rd HT was sold from ’83 to ending of ’84, then came the LT’s until it stopped production in ending ’87,
    2) The rd HT had 30.5 Bhp and the HT bikes when ridden carefully back in those days of 83’s-’84 used to give a mileage of around 18.
    3) The RD HT exhausts had a more flat ending as compared to Rd lt’s conical ending (any rd rider should know this)
    4) The RD HT was immensely powerful up from the 6k range as thats where it developed its torque. (on the other hand the LT pulled very powerfully in the low rpm range and got tired by the 6k range)
    5) The RD HT exhasut sound (stock) is much more louder and gruff even at idle compared to an RD lt’s pitter patter like the rx 100 at idle, and then sounding proper after acceleration.
    6)and finally the RD cost a princely sum of 35,000 RS in those days.

  8. oh and one more thing the RD’s both lt ad ht never came out with CDI, they were always points… owners in india got it converted to CDI, and also changed their beautiful and monster sounding HT models exhuast’s into The more docile LT’s exhausts…

    in bangalore, where im from every ht RD u see has LT exhausts. my friend who has a ht, said company mechanics in those days suggested owners that it would give better mileage an all., if they chnaged it. ( a pity though)

  9. Hi Fazal,

    I will try to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge, so here it goes in the same order as your queries.

    1) Production of LT was stopped in 1994.
    2) I was born in the same year as the RD was launched, i.e. 1983, so I have no clue what kind of mileage it used to give back then considering the kind of fuel that would have been available in early 80s in India.
    3)Yes.
    4)True.
    5)I never bothered to check to be honest!
    6)Yes.
    7)Escorts Yamaha did introduce the CDI on the RD in the last two-three years of production. Again, I frankly dont bother about the pipes as long as the bike hauls your ___ and scares the life out of you!

    Regards,
    Shamik

  10. Hey, if you look at Autocar’s December 2007 issue “the bikes that india forgot” it talks about the jawa,Rajdoot GTS , Bmw F-650, and the RD… It gives all proper info about the bikes and about the RD it says the LT was last produced in 1989.

  11. I want to buy a set of KRP (only KRP)expansion chambers for my RD-350, its impossible to get them through their website (its not showing this item) please give me info about the shop/web site which sells them.

  12. Frank you can call them at 011-25896777, 30587777

  13. Thanx a lot dude, i’ll get in touch with them

  14. Alpesh Bhatt says:

    Ca n i get a new one.

  15. ashiq bashajan says:

    i am badly in need for a rd HT. if anyone is willing to sell rd (especially in kerala) pls do mail me

  16. Alpesh, RD’s have been out of production for over a decade now, so chances of getting a brand new one is slim to none, unless you buy it from a museum.

  17. I have a 1986 LT coustomised RD. I hav fitted Fury front disk set with fiero front mudguard and it fits perfectly. The trouble is i still am not getting the optimal acceleration despite a lot of work. My left silencer sports a tiny leak that causes the exaust note to tear a bit.I wish to enquire if it will be possible to go for FZ16 front disk setup with forks for the bike as that would improve the telescopic shocks. Presently i’m having difficulty changing the front oil seal due to non availability of fury spares. Also, i’m in siliguri, would u be aware of contact of any person here who could do such a coustomisation.

  18. U. Laxmeshwar says:

    Hi there guys,

    I got my RD from the Escorts Showroom (bang opp. their Faridabad factory)on Sept. 07, 1983. The bike has clocked 50000+ kms so far and is spanking stock. Original cables, original bulbs, original paint, original chrome…yep everything original as it came from the factory (except tyres, battery,CB points and piston rings). And oh yes, I paid a grand sum of Rs. 21,800/- for the bike. I have the original invoice with me !

  19. i beleiv i heard a lot about this legend i m from kolkata and there i have already seen a hell lot of rds….in perfect conditions found in garages of esplanade n waterloo street…..a famous policeman i kno also rides it till 2day…may b if any ones interested can get help….i only kno dat its spare parts not available n the ones used now burns up 2 gv mileage as low as 15….if any1 can tell anything about any triumph-cruiser found in india it wd b of great help..

  20. Hi,

    Guys & Gals, Is it possible for me to own an RD350. The reason is due to its power. This bike would very well suit me cause, In a day I travel nearly 110Km up and down. I got a shogun, but I cannot blast it day in and day out, cause, at times the engine starts to heat very quickly due to which I need to pull over and wait for it to cool down although I check the engine oil and the side shield oil every alternative day. Where as In a RD350, I do not have to think about it cause it can go up and down with smoothness and I can also get to visit my wife and parents and spend more time with them.
    Guys can anybody get me a bike for 35000 and less. Plssssss

    Regards

    You could contact me on +91 9986826245

  21. i am luking 4 piston&ring,if poss block(cylender)of rd350 ht. 9835861428

  22. Dear Mr. Shamik,

    Nice to read an informative article about the Majestic Machine and even more nicer to see a true classic gets its due respect and i salute the techie’s for giving it a taste of modernity that is actually functional not just being aesthetic. I am not an RD 350 owner but am a great admirer of RD’s and surely like to own one of these mean machines in the future. Hope read more from your knowledge in the future.

    My best regards
    [email protected]

  23. Dear chiku
    Do let me know place in kolkatta frm were i can get the rd350.
    or u can do a favour for me jus mail your no,will call u n get the detail.

    thanks

  24. Hi..

    Anybody who can advise on availability of a Yam (RD) 350 or high powered bikes at good prices, please let me know..
    9811724230.
    Thanks a bunch..
    J.

  25. Hi Mr Shamik,

    Apologies for my last mail which actually sounded like a classified ad, but I guess I was so pumped up seeing the details and performance of this restored genius of a machine, that I couldn’t stop asking for one.. 😛
    Anyways, I’ve searched quite a bit in the last few days, and finally have got hold of 2-3 Yam 350’s (one HT and 2 LT) though all asking for a pricing close to 60k.. Hence, I was wondering for some advice here, and help with few queries if u could..
    1) Buying an ’85 or ’86 model Y350 at 60k.. worth it ??
    2) I’m not that great with technicalities, so in simple terms, hypothetically if I buy and RD350 and then want to get it all pimped up and pumped up like the Pheonix or close to that.. how much “expensive” a deal are we talking about here ?
    3) Would I be able to easily get service/spares for the RD/Y350 later in Delhi too ?

    I’m desperately in need for a powerful enough machine with a manly feel, and don’t find the R15 potent enough for me.. so would appreciate all the help and advice on helpin me out..

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Jas
    [email protected] / 9811724230

  26. Rd350 for anything more than 35k is a loot.
    now a days there are so many powerful bikes coming into the market has made people drool with greed and demand outrageous sums.
    a guy is even selling his bike for 100000/- on ebay.

    kindly consider that owning an RD is an experience not eveyone can afford, there are too many nuances that one has to take care of and pamper the baby… then again spares are not available in the local market also are expensive… mechanics spoil their skills because there arent many who have put their hand on a RD with success….gives out an average of 18kmpl.
    if you are driving in the city , then you will hardly be using the third gear to shift to fourth.. sixth can only be used on a highway… and then you have to have guts to put it in the sixth ona highway..

  27. Pingback: Wanted RD 350 Urgently - India Travel Forum, BCMTouring.com

  28. Pingback: Wanted RD 350 Urgently - Page 3 - India Travel Forum, BCMTouring.com

  29. I have a 78/79 RD350 That I would like to get rid of. So please let me know if anyone is interested. Thanks!

  30. hi
    wanted a set of silincers for my 86 HT rd350. can you suggest where i could get one. I am staying in mangalore

  31. Hey Joey..i’ll be interested in the 78/79 RD350..can you mail me the details on [email protected]

  32. Hi
    I own a pilsar 220 and also intrested in buying a Rd350.
    Anyone in mumbai wants to sell plz contact.
    PAPERS SHOULD BE CLEAR REST I WILL TAKE CARE OF THE BIKE

  33. hi Mr Sumit Mehndirattai want buy i Rd 350 any model Ht or Lt what it would cost me..

  34. Please contact Mr. Mehndiratta directly through the phone number given at the bottom of the article.

  35. i want all the information of yamaha rd350 and where to buy in pune

  36. The car seemed to be doing almost 140. And the RD just zipped by. Are you saying the RD was at 180-190 kmph?

  37. Vishal we aren’t saying or implying anything, the video is there for all to see. If I remember it correctly, the RD was in 4th gear at that time and was riding only hundred meter behind us, before we started to shoot the video.

  38. Malcolm Baker says:

    What a trip to find you fellows in India doing RD hopups. Shamik, didn’t you know that there is essentially nothing below 6K on a tuned RD? We are still messing around with these things since the last RDs were sold during 1979 (RZ350 84-85). Gary is still doing his thing over at Spec II in California. These machines were originally based on TD series racebikes of the late 60’s and early 70’s. TZ250/350 engines drop into the RD chassis, whether it’s the 350 or the RD400C/D/E/F.

    RDs are restored and maintained in a big way over here.

    Keep the rubber side down,

    Malcolm the >:}

  39. There is a lot of talk on how much should an RD cost. It really surprises me, when some guys talk about ’10K’ or ’25K’, being too much for an RD. When it was introduced, the cost of a brand new RD was 21.8K. I know. Since I bought it at the price, at Faridabad.

    Now consider what the price of a 100 cc bike was at that time ! 8-10K ! So, what sould the price of an RD be ?

    One must consider that what you will get in the market (done-up or in a dalpidated state). If you want an RD, the cost depends on how much you WANT the bike. And if you really really want it, you will need to refurbish it to at least a good running state. This will cost you a bomb, considering that if the bike is on points, a set could set you back by more than 5 grand (for the original points). What then, would be the cost of other important spares ? That would be the whim and fancy of the one who has such spares !!

    Secondly, if you do get a mint conditioned bike, do you think the owner would sell it for less than a very fancy price ? He has taken pains to maintain the bike in top condition, so he is bound to demand his pound of flesh !

    So, ultimately it all adds up that you need to have a deep pocket to buy, run and maintain an RD. It is not a 100 cc users bike, who will want to know the ‘average’ of the biks. Don’t look for extreme performance, thrill and an attitude; and then ask for ‘average’ !!

    An RD draws awe, fear and respect from other road users, since they know what a good and well maintained RD can do ! It can beat the shit out of any bike/car on the road today and run away with the chequered flag.

    Cost ? I have been offered 2.7 LACKS for my bike. Might seem BS, but it’s a fact. But, SORRY, my RD is NOT on sale, for any money !!

    It’s ONLY LOVE, friends. Nothing else.

  40. Shamik Banerjee says:

    Hi Malcolm,

    Yep I am aware of the RD’s history and its powerband characteristics. Indian RDs were a little different than the US RD350Bs. And I used to frequent the USA Two Strokers once upon a time 🙂

    Cheers,
    Shamik

  41. Malcolm the >:} says:

    Shamik, what’s LACKS? And talking about gruesome expenses, try customizing a bike, building stuff from scratch and adapting hardware from other bikes. When I get a chance, Ill send pics.

    Don’t do anything I would do,
    Malcolm the >:}

  42. hi

    guys im having rd 350 1983 model for sale in red color
    i any body wants plz contact my no

    (986633713 & 9703972247)

    regards
    munaf

  43. i love speed its a most powerfull bike of india rajdoot 350cc

  44. Hi friends IM from Bangalore Im having a RD350 for sale if any body is interested in buying the bike u can contact me on 9740278767.

    The RD is HT 1983 model fully restored and in very good condition
    the registration is from DELHI Im having all the papers but im not having the “NOC” for that bike if any boby still interested in buying the bike u can contact to my number or mail me on [email protected] the bike is in bangalore

  45. hey m looking for a RD chasis. plz buzz me if anyone has one….. +919860747656

  46. Hi im lookin for og pipes for my bike…money is no object…[email protected]

    or fb me… Mrigendra Mainkar

  47. Hi, im looking for RD in ahmedabad anyone who is interested contact me on [email protected], [email protected]

  48. the YAMAHA RD350 can be upgraded with a set dual stage composite fibre reeds ( boyesen )& an alloy Banshee boost bottle . they are available with Proton Performance ( mob 09840140544 ( [email protected]. )

  49. Hi there Shamik, I hope you must be doing fine. I own an 1987 RD 350. I was wondering if you could tell me why one of it’s cylinder is giving a lot of smoke and it doesn’t give that always, it’s just that during the starting, and sometimes srbitararily it happens , I had been looking for the solutions , I am from haryana , but the bike’s in Delhi. And if possible please let me know if there’s a way to contact you personally as I feel it’s right about time to completly restore my RD or say Paasha don as I call it. he he he.

  50. HI GUYS
    AS U ALL R RD LOVERS I M ALSO A RD LOVER I HAVE KEPT THE BIKE FOR 7 YEARS AS I M A SAILOR AND I HAVE TO STAY ON BOARD SHIPS SO MAINTAINING THE BIKE FOR MY FATHER WAS TOUGH AND I M LIVING IN A SMALL TOWN WHERE NO BODY KNOWS HOW TO DO SERVICING FOR A RD AND I USE TO CARRY IT ON MY JEEP TO CHANDIGARH FOR SERVICING
    SO LAST YEAR I SOLD MY RD AND NOW I M FEELING SOMETHING IS MISSING IN MY LIFE SO LOOKING FOR AN RD AGAIN I FOUND ONE FROM A SCRAP YARD BUT THIS TIME I WANA GET IT REINSTALLED FROM A GOOD MACHANIC KINDLY SUGGEST ME

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