If a single bike could sum up the 1980s it’s Yamaha’s RD350LC. The Elsie arrived in 1980 as the performance 2T for a new generation. The purity and economy of the new RD’S lines mark it out as one of best looking bikes ever built.
Both 250 and 350LC and later YPVS models sold by the boat load. Nothing else offered so much performance per pound. A bastard file and a steady hand could easily extract more. LCS were raced, thrashed, crashed, nicked, ringed, tuned and modified in equal measure. At one point they were (in)famously the UK’S most stolen vehicle. Fast, flattering to ride, easy to work on and fix, they were the everyman sportsbike.
Many other 2T sportsbikes appeared, from scalpel-like 250 race reps to the blue riband class replicas, but none of them got close to the pure pleasure and excitement of an LC. Even now, 40 years on, firm’s like KTM with its RC390 and even Yamaha itself with the MT-07 and MT-09 are trying to recapture the essence of the LC, such is its enduring impact and appeal. But a barely similar four-stroke facsimile will never be a match for the mighty RD-LC.