Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On the level: 1974 Yamaha RD60A

How much horsepower does a two wheeler really need?  If you live somewhere that's flat and urban do you really need more than 4 hp?  Who needs to go faster than 50 mph anyway?  In the age before high fructose corn syrup and cool ranch Doritos, Yamaha attempted to find the answers to these burning questions with the RD60.  Find this 1974 Yamaha RD60A for sale in Spokane, WA for $1,800 via craigslist.  Aw, it's sooo cute!

Yamaha sold the RD60 in the U.S. from 1973 to 1975.  I've not been able to find any figures on how many they sold, but you don't see many for sale at any one time.  Powered by a 55 cc two stroke, the little engine that could makes 4 smokey horsepower and redlines at 10,000 rpm.  Most of that power doesn't come on until 6,000 rpm and it's said that on level ground, you can hit 50 mph.  Yamaha claimed at the time you could achieve 188 miles per gallon at a steady 18 mph.  With a 2 gallon tank, you can probably go for months before you need to fill up at the station.

This bike looks to be in reasonable shape, although the tank looks like it could have a few dents and the stickers on the oil tank are missing.  It would be good to know if the Yamaha autolube is working, so you don't have to pre-mix.  The 1974's came in this lovely metallic green called "Ivy Green".  Nice to see it hasn't been chopped up into some sort of cafe racer with clip ons and rear sets.  The "bum stop" rear seat is original to the bike.

The RD60 was a step up from a scooter or mo-ped, offering a real clutch and five speed transmission with a typical motorcycle shift pattern.  It came with full electrics including head and tail lights and turn signals.  This bike is missing its rear fender that would have the tail light and turn signals.   Might be a bit of a challenge to source replacements as well as more exciting to ride in traffic.  Do you think any of today's drivers know the hand signal for stop?

Our subject has a shade over 5,000 miles on it, which is surprising for a tiddler.  The ad says it has a clean title, but there is no license plate on it in any of the pictures.  You will need one, since even Paul Blart can probably catch you.

See a something something something? Email us: tips@dailyturismo.com

Gianni is Daily Turismo's Pacific Northwest correspondent.  He thinks small is beautiful.


  1. We've got a '67 Honda S65 that is likewise, suitable for getting around, though by no means capable of great speed. I've had it up to 55mph in a full tuck with a bit of downhill run. Fun little bike - though my wife wasn't comfortable on it in modern traffic.

  2. I like this Yamaha, and its "real bike" styling. I was not aware of this (or the Honda S65 that Zach mentioned). It is interesting that these fall just outside the famous European standard of 49.9cc that has led to generations of expansion-chambered micro-screamers that teenagers could drive without much in the way of licenses, registration, or insurance.

  3. We were restricted to driving only bikes of 50cc's in Belgium, from age 16 to 18. The three "biggies" were Honda (built a nice, smooth 4-stroke) and the 2-strokes from Suzuki and Yamaha. There were others available, such as Zundapp, from eastern Europe, but we scorned those. Yammies were the fastest, you could get a 50cc Yamaha to go 110 KPH (about 67 MPH) on a downhill run if you were tucked down drafting a semi truck on the unlimited-speed autoroutes. Back then (late 60s/early 70s), if you survived 2 years on unlimited-speed highways, in a country where it rained 330 days a year, and which still had cobblestone roads with slick tram tracks running down the middle, they just mailed you your driver's license when you turned 18. That all changed with the first gas crisis of 1973, when the Belgie fuzz traded in their Series II Land Rover pursuit vehicles (even a 50 could outrun one of them!) for Porsche 911s. Would love this one, just for sh*ts and giggles.


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