Saturday, June 18, 2016

Kenny was a race bike rider: 1985 Yamaha RZ350 Kenny Roberts Edition

One would think that if you were the first American to win the GP motorcycle World Championship and then you went on to win it two more times, you'd be a household name.  Add to that if you won the AMA Grand National twice and are one of only four riders to win the AMA Grand Slam, you'd still be talked about today.  Kenny Roberts did in the 1970's, but you've probably never heard of him or his signature bike.  Find this 1985 Yamaha RZ350 Kenny Roberts Edition for sale in Anchorage, AK for $7,499 via craigslist.  Tip from Zach Z.

The Yamaha RZ350 has the distinction of being one of the last two stroke street bikes to be sold in the U.S.  Displacing 347cc it put out about 60 hp.  It was equipped with "YPVS" or Yamaha Power Valve System, which was a variable port controlled by a rudimentary computer.  YPVS' justification was to give both low end torque, which two strokes are lacking, while still retaining a two smoker's high RPM power.   The RZ350 was also one of the first bikes to come with a catalytic converter as well.  No word on if the cat is still present.  One of the first period mods for an RZ was to remove the cat exhaust and replace it with a rest of world (Canadian usually) non-cat pipe.

This bike has spent a lot of time in hiding, showing only a little over 3,000 miles.  Funny to see the Federally mandated speedo with 55mph highlighted in RED.

The RZ was also the first Yamaha to use a perimeter frame and bears Kenny's signature on the front fairing.  Looking at the pictures, there doesn't seem to be a ding on it and appears to have never been dropped.  It is said that 20,000 RZ's were sold in the US, I'm sure that the number of survivors is much smaller today.  Seems like with its low miles and clean, unmolested condition, you couldn't go wrong with this bike, although riding it down to the lower 48 might be an adventure you'd want to do with a friend.

See a better bike for the long way down? Email it here:

Gianni is Daily Turismo's Pacific Northwest correspondent and Two Stroke Party presidential candidate.


  1. These were really neat and crazy bikes at the time. I believe it shared the same engine with the Yamaha Banshee.
    With some basic 2 stroke mode this bike could be made to be have a very wild power band.
    I prefer it in the classic yellow and black
    [image src="" width="400px"/]

  2. Kenny's color's for sure Yellow and Black nice bikes !

    1. Yeah that was 1984. In 1985, Kennys were available in both the bumble bee and red, white and blue.

      - Gianni-mous

  3. I had one of these. Such a delightfully mental bike. In spite of the claim that the Power Valve helped torque, the riding experience was still largely nothing, nothing, nothing, POWAAAAAHHHHH!!! So. Much. Fun. I loved how crazy that bike was. It used to make me smile so much my cheeks would hurt from being squeezed by my helmet. And that distinctive sound... Ring-ting-ting-ting... I should have never sold it.


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