“When you downshift, people look around like the antichrist just landed…”
The Yamaha RZ350 was one of the most modern two-stroke street bikes ever sold in North America. It had triple disc brakes, 18-inch wheels, oil injection, twin slide-valve carbs, and weighed just over 330 lbs dry. The liquid-cooled 347cc parallel twin put out 50-55 wicked horses…and a reliable 70 horsepower was achievable with a light tune. A version of the same engine, sans YPVS (Yamaha Power Valve System), was used in the one of the most wicked ATVs ever created, the Yamaha Banshee 350.
Enter Peter Hood, who spent years riding a Banshee, which whet his appetite for the RZ…
“Since I had a Banshee before, the RZ had been one of my dream bikes from when I was in high school. The possibility of having that sound on the street was unbelievable.”
When he had the time, space, and means, he picked up this Canadian ’83 RZ350. Unfortunately, the day after getting his motorcycle license, the rear tire locked up at 75 mph — yikes! After that, Peter decided he needed to go through the entire bike.
“I decided I…was going to go through the whole bike until it was mechanically and cosmetically brand new for peace of mind and as something to do I’ve never done before.”
The result is this ultra-clean RZ350 restomod, which boasts R1/R6 suspension, modern electronics, and a rebuilt motor with port/crank work from Scott Clough Racing. SCR built the World’s Fastest RZ350, a partial streamlined 500cc that hit 182+ mph at El Mirage dry lake! Below, we get the full story on this wicked RZ.
Yamaha RZ350 Restomod: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I grew up riding quads, spent years on a Banshee, with the dream of having streetbikes one day. Soon after having the means and space to get and work on a bike, I found a guy selling an RZ350 that already had suspension modifications done. Since I had a Banshee before, the RZ had been one of my dream bikes from when I was in high school. The possibility of having that sound on the street was unbelievable. When you downshift, people look around like the antichrist just landed, and you feel like you’re getting away with something that’s illegal. It’s awesome.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
It’s a Canadian 1983 Yamaha RZ350.
• Why was this bike built?
After about 400 miles of riding on my permit, I got my motorcycle license, and the next day the rear tire locked up coming from an offramp at about 75mph. I decided I wasn’t going to just slap a new piston in, but was going to go through the whole bike until it was mechanically and cosmetically brand new for peace of mind and as something to do I’ve never done before.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The main focus was on reliability; the motor is bored only 0.5mm over stock, but has great porting and crank work done by Scott Clough. With a bike modified by previous owners, I felt like I had to go through everything to make sure things were done properly and everything was within spec.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
Cylinder porting, crank balanced, trued and welded, matching done to the transfer ports, pipes, o-ring style cylinder head with 21cc domes, reeds, 2 into 1 filter, steering stabilizer, programmable ignition, digital dash, R1 front forks, brakes and wheel, R6 rear shock, FZ600 swingarm and brake, Suzuki GS500 rear wheel.
• How would you classify this bike?
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I’m mainly proud to bring such a cool and iconic bike back to life in a finished form that to me, is better than it was when it came off the showroom floor. The motor was my first ever rebuild, has zero vibration, pulls hard, and sounds amazing. After about 1,000 miles it still looks brand new inside. That’s a pretty good feeling.
Here’s a pretty detailed picture gallery of the whole project (90+ pics): http://imgur.com/a/HD3pdd8
I want one!
1983 Canadian models were RD not Rz , I raced these bikes( rz)when they came out in 84
1983 was the first year for the RZ 350, I bgt one new. First year for the power valved RZ which was also on my 1982 YZ for the first year too being power valved, 81 and 82 were the only liquid cooled RD 350 two strokes sold in Canada. I had two 81’s also which were white and blue, always wanted the black and red 82 more. Rode my 83 RZ 350 to college, wanted a bike that had power like my motocross bikes I raced for the last 3 years, wish I still had it, most fun bike I have ever owned as a street bike and I am still riding in my 50’s.