Yamaha RD 350LC
'The RD350LC was a descendant of the string of outstanding air-cooled two-strokes with which Yamaha had established an unmatched reputation for middleweight performance'
The thrilling two-stroke twin remains one of the best-loved bikes of all time
IT’S THE NOISE AND acceleration above 6,000 revolutions per minute that are still so addictive; the sudden burst of activity every time the throttle is wound back in anger and the 347-cc two-stroke motor comes alive. You might think the thrill would have worn off after all these years, especially now that so many modern bikes produce far more performance than this early-1980s twin. But if the little Yamaha can no longer deliver the giant-killing speed on which its mighty reputation is based, it still puts a broad smile on its rider's face with every ride.
So much so that if you were to make a list of the most popular motorcycles of the last century, the RD350LC should surely be included, and somewhere near the top, too. It might have produced less than 50 PS and had a top speed of not much more than 160 km/h, but for many riders Yamaha's raw, racy LC was the high-performance bike of the 1980s — or any other decade. Certainly, few machines can have brought so much fast and furious enjoyment to so many as the liquid-cooled two-stroke twin that Yamaha unleashed in 1981.
In many ways, the LC had the lot: speed, excitement and handling — plus reasonable practicality, reliability, and economy. Although it had an appetite for fuel and two-stroke oil, it was relatively cheap to buy and to run. And it looked great, too, with a restrained style that contrasted with its outrageous personality. No wonder it was such a success.
The RD350LC was a descendant of the string of outstanding aircooled two-strokes with which Yamaha had established an unmatched reputation for middleweight performance. The line had begun with the YR1 model back in 1967. And throughout the 1970s, models such as the 350-cc YR5, RD350 and RD400 had kept the tuning-fork logo to the fore. The “RD” initials stood for Race Developed and were well earned because most of the Yamaha twin's gains in performance and