January 16, 2005 at 9:32 am #9364
I had this little ditty printed in ‘Powerband Crazy’ the RD owners club little mag a few years ago:
It was the suummer of 1989. After a few frustrating months owning a fast, but lumbering Honda VF1000 I decided to sell. I was more that a little relieved to see the back of the brute. Mainly because I hated the bike, but also to provide some much needed funding for my impending wedding.
However, I was not going to be yet another one to give up biking when marriage looms. The big question I had when the VF went and the marriage dust settled was what to buy. When I thought about it the VF had about 125bhp, but I had real trouble even using half of that power most of the time, say 62bhp. While when I had my 59bhp RD350YPVS I merrily screwed every lost drop out of it at every opportunity: So another RD seemed to be an obvious choice!
There was however a problem; money, or to be specific the total absence of any. Weddings are not cheap and I was flat broke. So I did the only thing I could: I bought a brand new 61 bhp Yamaha RD350F2! £25 deposit paid with my credit card and the rest over 3 million years on the drip! As I pulled off the forecourt at Carnell’s (remember them??) not so much as a tab washer on that bike was mine. Hey ho!!
I picked up the F2 the day I got back from the honeymoon. Compared to the earlier model I had so enjoyed a few years before the F2 boasted another 2 bhp…yeah, really! The actual, physical differences amounted to ‘bean can’ exhausts, a full fairing now frame mounted, a snazzy racing type fuel filler, a better means of rear suspension adjustment and new clocks. These were all just tweaks really to a fundamentally sound package. The frame-mounted fairing was the biggest actual improvement as it promised enhanced stability at speed when compared to the earlier model. That was fitted with a handlebar mounted cockpit fairing. Personally I have always preferred the look of the earlier YPVS models, they looked more aggressive somehow. A result of the more-sit-up and beg riding position. The F2 looked more delicate, pretty even.
Performance was very brisk, with the trademark kick in the power delivery at 6,000 rpm. The engine carried on to pulling hard for another 3,500rpm, just a little short of the redline. Somehow despite the on paper power gain the F2 just did not feel as dramatic as the original model. Once or twice I managed to coax the speedometer needle off the end of the 120mph scale. However the bike just did not feel as edgy as urgent as the earlier one. The raw numbers were pretty much the same, but the feel was different.
Handling was pretty good despite narrow section tyres and spindly front forks. The tyres look almost ridiculously skinny now, especially when compared to modern bikes: Even the sporty 125s have wider rubber fitted these days! On one memorable occasion I took on a local hotshot on the road from Wymondham to Hethel in Norfolk (only 4 miles or so), and totally wasted him. He had a tuned YPVS engine in an earlier LC frame, a classic combination. I was absolutely determined that despite having a bog standard F2 I could still hack the pace.
The road in question is a superb combination of mildly undulating twists and turns finished off neatly with a savage S bend. This opens to longish straight with a section for heavy breaking before the 90 degree turn into the lane to the factory (where we both worked), was located.
I had done this strip of tarmac twice a day for 4 years by this point, and had got to know it well. F2 was pushed for everything I could squeeze out of it: She writhed and twisted under me as we hurtled from bend to bend. Furiously I worked the 6 speed box to keep the engine in the “powerband”. At no point could my mate keep up let alone get past. I had maintained my credibility. What a great buzz! The LC rider came up to me once we were both in the bike car park and showed me the huge flats he had worn into the “spannies” fitted to his bike. Fantastic!
Ironically the LC/YPVS combination the lad was riding contained some bits from my old RD that he had bought after the last owner had written her off RIP. (UPDATE: I checked the DVLA database the other day and my original RD350 lives: Somebody must have bought pieces of the remains and put them back together at some point since 1987!)
Despite the fact the F2 came into my garage around the time I was starting a family I still managed to blast around the Norfolk lanes pretty regularly, mainly in company with a mate who rode a (then), new 750 Zephyr. We hit the Norfolk coast roads that were pretty good fun most Sunday mornings, and just thrashed around until we found somewhere to have breakfast.
Another memorable blast came about after I took the Yam from Norfolk up to the midlands. Once there I hooked up with a couple of mates,. We all went for afternoon of fun riding around up in the hills. One lad was on a Yamaha FJ1100 (a superb bike by the way), and the other on a HD 883 Sportster. Quite a combination of very different bikes. My main memory of that ride is the HD rider habitually performing heroics with the ill handling brute to keep in touch with the FJ and RD.
The F2 had Bridgestone tyres fitted when I bought her. To be fair they gave a reasonable performance in all conditions. The rear lasted about 4,000 miles or so in mixed use. While the front remained legal when I sold the bike with 6,500 miles clocked up.
Fuel consumption was around 40mpg and oil lasted about 600 miles per litre. Obviously getting throttle happy sent this figure plummeting to well below 30mpg. But what do you really expect. If you want 100mpg, buy a C90!
Pillion passenger comfort wasn’t brilliant: It never was on any LC. Mind you looking at the perches on today’s sportsbikes the F2 looks like a Goldwing by comparison! The longest trip I did two up was from Norwich to Bradford and back. Such a glamorous lifestyle I lead!, a run of some 300 miles. The wife couldn’t get her legs back together for days, so some positives did emerge from the trip!!
Overall the F2 provided me loads of fun scratching around the back lanes of Norfolk. Are there any other kind there? Somehow though something was missing, an edge that the first YPVS models had in spades. It was a bit like the class rebel leaving school and joining the civil service: The air of rebellion was gone. If you ever get to scratch the 2-stroke itch the F2 is good. A better bike than the flaccid Brazilian produced R model that replaced it. However the 1983 RD350YPVS is much better! So sell the four stroke, get an LC a RD and put a smile on your face.
Words and Pictures Tony Donnelly – January 2006
Edited: August 2022
Donate – it makes you feel good!
January 17, 2005 at 11:38 pm #22391SidevalveParticipant
Well said Rads old mate. The original YPVs was/is more fun! How are you getting on with the new one?September 20, 2005 at 11:40 pm #22392GixParticipant
Nice shades Radar!
LOVE IS GIVING SOMEONE THE ABILITY TO DESTROY YOU, THEN TRUSTING THEM NOT TO.
Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, But rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, VODKA in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming…….WOO HOO, WHAT A RIDE!!
September 20, 2005 at 11:42 pm #22393
They were all the rage in 1989! Honest.
Is Imperial Data a Punk??
April 7, 2007 at 8:29 am #22394ScouserParticipant
Good read as always RadarJuly 8, 2011 at 10:59 pm #22395
Worthy of a bump if only for you lot to take the gip at mt stylish glasses!July 10, 2011 at 4:04 pm #22396ses310Moderator
Loving the glassed!
Great post as usual mateJuly 11, 2011 at 8:10 pm #22397
Originally posted by ses310
Loving the glassed!
Great post as usual mate
Cheers bud, I actually still have those glasses somewhere though God alone knows why!
Still constantly watching RD350s on ebay
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