Gulf Special: Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Café Racer

Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Cafe Racer

Bolt Motor Co. builds a stunning two-stroker… 

At its unveiling in 1982, the Yamaha RD350 YPVS — known as the RZ350 in North America — was called “the nearest thing to a road going racer ever produced” (MCN). That’s a big claim from the factory, but the liquid-cooled, power valve-equipped two-stroke delivered in spades. Visordown called the bike a “bloody revelation,” especially for young riders in search of affordable power:

“A sharp, focused, lightweight (145kg), two-stroke twin that produced 53bhp at 8,500rpm and handled like a race bike was just what the doctor ordered for lifting hordes of disgruntled teenagers out of their Eighties depression.”

Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Cafe Racer

The YPVS (Yamaha Power Valve System) managed to extract peak power at high revs while maintaining more low end grunt than anyone expected from a 350cc two-stroke street racer. The secret was a computer-controlled servo motor that allowed for variable exhaust port timing.

Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Cafe Racer

In ’86, the RD350 YPVS F2 came along with a reshaped fuel tank and different silencers, and the RD350R, produced in Brazil, would remain in production until 1996.

Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Cafe Racer

The bike you see here is from our friend Adrián Campos and his team at Bolt Motor Co., who built it for a close friend of the shop. This is the first two-stroke we’ve seen from the Spanish outfit, and a bold departure from their past builds:

“This ‘89 Yamaha RD350 was a special project for us, not only because its owner is a close friend, but also because this project was like nothing we had done before.”

Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Cafe Racer

Adrián says the owner lent much of the inspiration, desiring a 1990s circuit racing aesthetic. To that end, the team outfitted the bike with a GSX-R front end, Galfer brakes, Goodrich braided steel lines, and other upgrades for improved handling on the street and circuit.

Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Cafe Racer

On the engine front, the team fully rebuilt the parallel-twin with some choice performance upgrades: Boyensen reeds, Arrow exhaust, racing clutch, and more. Then there’s the livery, a striking blend of Yamaha speed block and Gulf Racing:

“We combined Yamaha’s iconic livery with classic GULF racing colours. To finish the look off we added the branding of the bike owners company, called la 23.”

Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Cafe Racer

Below, Adrián gives us the full story on this two-stroke street demon.

RD350 YPVS Café Racer: In the Builder’s Words…

Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Cafe Racer

This ‘89 Yamaha RD350 was a special project for us, not only because its owner is a close friend, but also because this project was like nothing we had done before. Like always, either our clients tell us what they have in mind, or they let us advise them. #BOLT23 was its owner’s inspiration. Check out #BOLT23’s customisation process.

What we wanted was to give it a 90s circuit racing vibe, so we fitted a Suzuki GSX-R600 front end, racing grips, and tailored clip-on handlebars. It’s got oversized Galfer front brakes and Goodrich brake lines.

Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Cafe Racer

Besides, the clock, odometer and tachometer are Koso GP. Another aspect that stands out of this Yamaha RD 350 is its paint. We used special GULF lacquer, which is widely used in the motor racing world.

Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Cafe Racer

This project took us longer than you might think. For example, the engine was rebuilt completely to boost its power. In this way, we were able to increase comfort and efficiency.

Yamaha RD350 YPVS F2 Cafe Racer

Build Sheet

Bike: YAMAHA RD350
Year: 1989
Front end: SUZUKI GSX-R600
Front brakes: GALFER oversized
Lines: Goodridge
Paint: Gulf Special Paint.
Bodywork: Fiberglass
Exhaust: Arrow Competition
Completely restored engine and increased displacement
Boyensen reeds
Racing clutch

Follow the Builder


  1. Put a nice front end on it and break calipers nice paint but to stop there and not put a swing arm on it to put better rims on it it’s like getting dressed up for the prom and wearing your dad’s oversized work boots you almost got it right though

  2. Robert Watson

    I think you are somewhat wrong, these bikes like a lot of the 80’s & early 90’s are truly iconic bikes, small changes yes front forks & brakes I agree with the swing-arm, rear shock, leave the stock wheels bodywork etc, it still needs to look like the RD 350, otherwise we are loosing all these beautiful classic bikes.
    Regards Rob

  3. Good luck cornering with too short forks and oversized rear tyre but it should sound great with those nice looking chambers on it.

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