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Discussion Starter #1
In the early 70s to around 1985 was the RED HOT Era of the 2 Stroke Pocket Rockets. The Yamaha RD Series really had this market really hopping with these fast accelerating and wheelie and brakie popping machines. I have had 3 Yamaha RD 350s and 1 Yamaha RZ 350 and even a 1978 model RD 400. And they were really great bikes for that era of Time in technology. It was an absolute RUSH to launch off the line with the front wheel beginning to rise to the sky! The heart was going 90 miles to the minute and the Bike seemed to be begging for more...A really fun time in History for the Small Bore high performance Motorcycle!


Fast Forward to 2018 and once again the New Wave, New Technology is here with the New Ninja 400. And this will probably be the New King of the Small Bore Pocket Rockets. The Demand seems to be really Intense to see this New Bike to come to market. The Styling, The Speed, and the Performance to say the least. From the U Tube Videos we see this Bike light up the tire and pull a huge wheelie and then accelerate to Speeds up to 195 to 201 K. And perhaps even more when modified. The Insurance is lower and even the Gas Mileage is even higher. And it will bring back a lot of 1970s memories of me blasting all over town on my Pocket Rocket that no regular car could even touch. Just wanted to play the Way Back, Blast from the Past Memory Machine.

1978 Yamaha 400 DX
Manufacturer Yamaha Motor Company Production 1975–1980 Predecessor Yamaha RD350 Successor Yamaha RD350LC
Yamaha RZ350 Class Standard Engine 399 cc (24.3 cu in), air-cooled, Two-stroke, straight twin Bore / stroke 64 mm × 62 mm (2.5 in × 2.4 in) Compression ratio 6.2:1 Top speed 106.8 mph (171.9 km/h)[1] Power 44 bhp (33 kW) @ 7,000 rpm[1] Torque 30.3 lb⋅ft (41.1 N⋅m) @ 6,500 rpm[1] Ignition type Kick start: points (CDI ignition from 1978) Transmission 6-speed manual, chain final drive Frame type Tubular twin cradle Suspension Front telescopic forks; rear swingarm with twin rear shock absorbers Brakes Single disc brake, front and rear Rake, trail 27.5°, 110 mm (4.3 in) Wheelbase 1,330 mm (52.5 in) Dimensions W: 800 mm (31.5 in)
Seat height 800 mm (31.5 in) Weight 165 kg (364 lb) (with 4.5 l; 1.2 US gal (1 imp gal) of fuel)[1] (wet) Fuel capacity 16.5 l (3.6 imp gal; 4.4 US gal) Oil capacity 1.6 litres (1.7 US qt)

FAST FORWARD TO 2018!
And Now... The New Era of the POCKET ROCKETS have Returned!
 

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Nice write up Stealth. I've always been curious about the Yamaha RD/RZ/TZR two strokes as they look like a hoot to ride being so light yet so powerful. A racing buddy of mine has a TZR250 from the early nineties in his garage that's got a seized motor. I'm encouraging him to get it going again, mainly because I want to ride it!

Long live the pocket rocket! :grin:
 

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I have to agree with Kiwi, nice write up and comparison. I can remember riding on the rear of my cousins big bear 305, then his RD350 (what a screamer it was, very quick). I am surprised the RD350 had less HP than the 2018 ninja 400, with a very comparable weight. I am really looking forward to owning the Ninja 400.
I stopped by a dealer yesterday, who identified the closest warehouse to New England is in New Jersey and the warehouse doesn't have any in stock at this time.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Return of the Pocket Rocket Part II

Just wanted to share my Bike that I had in 1985. It was the RZ350 2 Stroke Twin and it was probably the BEST of all of the Pocket Rockets of this Era and probably one of the best ever. This Bike would probably keep up or even surpass the New 2018 Ninja 400... Stock it was supposed to have around 53 Hp and with Pipes it would boost it to around 64 hp with the Jet Kit and fully tuned. The Two Strokes were really quick and powerful and would take out any 4 Stroke Bikes of equal size and even bigger. It was a True Giant Killer for a very Compact "Pocket Rocket.

The Yamaha RZ350 was a two-stroke motorcycle produced by Japanese motorcycle manufacturer Yamaha between 1983 and 1995. The RZ was the final evolution of the popular and well-known series of RD Yamaha motorcycles, and as such is also known as the RD350LC II or RD350 YPVS.
It was powered by a twin-carburetted reed valve inducted, liquid-cooled , 347cc parallel-twin two-stroke engine, with a bore and stroke of 64mm x 54mm. It was the first and only RD series Yamaha to receive the 'YPVS' Yamaha Power Valve System. A different version of this motor with no YPVS was also used in the Yamaha Banshee 350 ATV, which was produced for some markets right up until 2012.
The RZ350 is now a sought after collectors motorcycle in America,[citation needed] as it was sold exclusively in the USA as a signature model. It is also raced extensively in Vintage racing leagues, as well as its own racing leagues, often dubbed "RZ cups" in Europe.


Just thought I would Crank Up the Blast from the Past Way Back Machine and go back and share some early and wonderful "Pocket Rocket Memories"! Enjoy
 

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Re: RZ350

When I left school in '86 I needed wheels and was tossing up between a Honda CBX550 and a Yamaha RZ350, both second hand at my local dealer. I'm guessing their level of performance would have been similar but the four cylinder CBX would have been much heavier obviously. I was quite taken with the RZ and wish I had test ridden it now. It would have been my hearts choice whereas the CBX would have been my (sensible) heads choice.

In the end I never got to make a final decision as my folks said their was no way I was buying a motorcycle. The only major argument we had. I relented and bought a car... :(

Not much of a story but just wanted to add my appreciation of the mighty RZ.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The Return of the Pocket Rocket Part (Mach III)

Just wanted to activate the "Blast from the Past, Way back Machine" again to the year of 1969. I was in middle school at that Time and I had an older friend just purchased a "Brand New Kawasaki H1 Mach III". I was standing out in my yard, when I heard a really WICKED and POWERFUL sound of a really HOT Sounding 3 Cylinder machine about 3 blocks away and then before I knew it he was on me before I knew it....(Warp Speed Now).. Wow that thing is Fast! I looked it over and said that this Bike is making history as we speak. I knew that this was one of the beginnings of a really High Performance, Light, and High Style type of machine.... Another new Pocket Rocket is born. From about 1969 on. Kawasaki released a whole NEW CROP of Pocket Rockets that seemed also to dominate the town. Besides the Blazing Mach III 500. They came out with a 250, a 350, a 400, 500, and then the release of the MIGHTY Kawasaki Mach IV 750 H2. Remember the Newest H2 is Supercharged and has about 300 Hp. The only sad thing was. That the Mach III did not handle as well as the RD 350s and RZs. But in the straight is was a total Blast Rocket. I still remember when Gary challenged all the High School Guys and some had some pretty Hot Cars. But they could still not touch the Mighty Mach III at all. Gary would take off and leave em in the dust and walk away out of sight. It was so Cool to stand out on a summer night hearing Gary go through the gears all over town. I knew then that someday, I will own a really Cool Pocket Rocket like his.....

History

By mid-1960s, the US had become the largest motorcycle market. American riders were demanding bikes with more horsepower and higher maximum speeds. Kawasaki already had the first 650 cc,[citation needed] the Kawasaki W series, but it did not fit the niche Kawasaki was aiming for. Honda introduced its Honda CB450 in 1965 and in 1969, the Suzuki T500 1 Cobra appeared. Also in development was the Yamaha XS 650. Already familiar with the Honda CB450, Kawasaki development began work on the top secret N100 Plan in 1967. The goal was to produce a motorcycle with 500 cc displacement that was able to develop 60 hp and have 13-second quarter-mile times, then considered over the achievable limit for a road bike.[1] The Mach III appeared in the US in 1969 with a white sculpted fuel tank and blue racing stripe along the lower part of the tank, and special Dunlop K77 tires.
The engine was a three-cylinder two stroke with a displacement of 499 cc (30.5 cu in). It had Mikuni VM 28 mm carburetors, and thyristor-based capacitor discharge ignition (CDI) developing 25,000–30,000 volts.[2]

Though not a direct successor of the Kawasaki W2, the W2 was the only four-stroke motorcycle Kawasaki had for the American market and that market was not like that of Japan where the W2 sold well. In the US, the Mach III proved to be very popular.[3] Motorcyclist said the Mach's power-to-weight ratio was the best "ever produced in a motorcycle meant to sell to anyone who has the money to purchase it."[4]
Handling characteristics were not favorable according to many sources. "Viewed logically, the Kawasaki H1 had many flaws. The gearbox was odd, with neutral below first, the brakes very questionable and the handling decidedly marginal in every situation - except when the bike was stopped with the engine switched off. Not for nothing was the H1 known as, 'The triple with the ripple'."[5]
The three-cylinder 500 was for all purposes and then came the huge Crop of all the other 3 Cylinder Pocket Rockets!
By the way. Check out the Blue Color of the Mach IV 750. It looks really close to the New Candy Plaza Blue on the new 2018 Ninja 400! Even long ago, they had some really good flashy Paint Jobs that look as good as they have today in 2018. One thing that is cool about Time itself.... HISTORY SEEMS TO REPEAT ITSELF!..... Enjoy the Mach III Series and the "RETURN OF THE POCKET ROCKETS!:smile_big::smile:
 

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I bought the RD 400 when it came out, mostly because of CycleWorld praises. It was OK, but I didn't find it outstanding. The bike was top heavy, despite being a two stroke. Brake's feel was so so. The Ninja 400 will beat it in most category, even being a four stroker.
 

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Wow, now I do feel old. I was lucky enough to ride several different models of Yamaha RDs, Suzuki GTs and RGs, and a Kawasaki H1. Believe me you guys don't know how lucky you are!


The old two strokes were pretty exciting for their time, but they were only pocket rockets because GSXRs weren't around. Most of the bigger Japanese bikes were real porkers, and Brit bikes were rubbish. we didn't have many HDs in NZ at that time, and most Italian bikes were parked up at the side of the road.


Modern bikes like the Ninja 400 are an absolute delight to actually ride and own compared to any of the stink wheels from the 70s. Still love the smell of two stroke oil though.
 

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Wow, now I do feel old. I was lucky enough to ride several different models of Yamaha RDs, Suzuki GTs and RGs, and a Kawasaki H1. Believe me you guys don't know how lucky you are!


The old two strokes were pretty exciting for their time, but they were only pocket rockets because GSXRs weren't around. Most of the bigger Japanese bikes were real porkers, and Brit bikes were rubbish. we didn't have many HDs in NZ at that time, and most Italian bikes were parked up at the side of the road.


Modern bikes like the Ninja 400 are an absolute delight to actually ride and own compared to any of the stink wheels from the 70s. Still love the smell of two stroke oil though.
I like your honest take on bikes of this era. I didn't start riding bikes till the eighties so missed out on most of that stuff but instead got to endure a few 16" front wheel induced tank slappers, such was the fashion of the time.

I did however have a 1977 Ducati 900 SD for a few years which despite over 100,000km on the clock never actually left me stranded on the side of the road. The big end bearings eventually went but only after I upped the engine output by fitting bigger carbs! Managed to limp home on it but it was knocking like a Mormon at the front door.

So after having to kick start the Ducati and wrestle with the choke control and throttle so it would keep running etc, it is now a delight to start a modern fuel injected bike. Just the push of a button whilst not even sitting on the bike and being able to put your riding gear on while the bike warms itself up is a time saving bonus.
That's progress. :D
 

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I like your honest take on bikes of this era. I didn't start riding bikes till the eighties so missed out on most of that stuff but instead got to endure a few 16" front wheel induced tank slappers, such was the fashion of the time.

I did however have a 1977 Ducati 900 SD for a few years which despite over 100,000km on the clock never actually left me stranded on the side of the road. The big end bearings eventually went but only after I upped the engine output by fitting bigger carbs! Managed to limp home on it but it was knocking like a Mormon at the front door.

So after having to kick start the Ducati and wrestle with the choke control and throttle so it would keep running etc, it is now a delight to start a modern fuel injected bike. Just the push of a button whilst not even sitting on the bike and being able to put your riding gear on while the bike warms itself up is a time saving bonus.
That's progress. :D

Haha, I'd actually forgotten about kick starting bikes. At least the RD400 had an electric start. Funnily enough I could kick start an XT500, but my friends TS400 was absolutely impossible. Certainly needed a decent pair of boots with a very solid sole. Good effort with the SD!


Remember carburetors? Points? Comstar wheels? TT100s? Ahh the good old days:surprise:
 

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Haha, I'd actually forgotten about kick starting bikes. At least the RD400 had an electric start. Funnily enough I could kick start an XT500, but my friends TS400 was absolutely impossible. Certainly needed a decent pair of boots with a very solid sole. Good effort with the SD!


Remember carburetors? Points? Comstar wheels? TT100s? Ahh the good old days:surprise:
I bet as more techy bikes come out we will see a growing amount of people grabbing those older bikes and appreciating them much like how Jay Leno does. Those bikes have a level of character that can't and won't ever be matched.
 
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