Practical Sportsbikes (UK)
Hints, tips, and the pitfalls to avoid if you’re thinking of buying and reviving Yamaha’s ace stroker
More nitty-gritty than a council gritter on how to nice-up a liquid-cooled Yam
Yamaha’s RD250 and 350LCS were the motorcycles for which the term ‘instant legend’ could have been coined, and 40 years later that legend remains undiminished. Indeed, their following continues to grow, even among riders too young to have owned the ‘giant-killing’ (another LC buzz-phrase) liquid-cooled strokers first time around. They’re also falling into the eager and grateful ownership of riders of a certain age who couldn’t afford them back in the day, but wished they could have.
Basic market economics have driven the prices of LCS upwards over the last decade or so. As the first of their kind, and because of the place they occupy in motorcycle lore and legend, RD-LC prices have risen and firmed ahead of other later and arguably more-refined two-stroke twins.
So while the days of the 500-quid doer-upper are now behind us, LC ownership still remains attainable. That’s thanks in no small part to a vibrant aftermarket, and an enthusiastic and clued-up owner cohort that has discovered, preempted, and solved every conceivable problem and barrier to restoration.
There is still a staggering amount of newold-stock spares available and main dealers continue to stock, or have access to many parts. Then there are the aftermarket specialists like RD LC Crazy and Yambits filling the spares gaps where NOS is no longer available.
LCS beg to be ridden and that’s the thing that’s secured their longevity, and ensured that their popularity continues to bring them an ever-broader fanbase.
When the 250 was launched it was the ultimate learner bike – for those who could afford it – the 350 being the obvious next step. They could hustle, hang with, and best many bikes of twice their capacity – or more. Their race heritage was there in plain sight, and they became famous in competition in their own right with the Pro-am series that was a fertile proving ground for a generation of Brit racers. Other Euro countries were at it too. In France they took the whole smokin’ thing to its obvious peak with the Coupe Gauloises Yamaha, the winner of that series being granted a season in the European 250 Championship with Team Sonauto Gauloises.
We all wanted one then. We still do. If you’re anything like us, you want to get one now too.