“India’s first sportsbike”; and that’s all need to describe the Yamaha RD 350 in a single phrase. This legendary bike was introduced in the year 1983 in India. The Escorts group based in New Delhi, started producing this beast in the name of Rajdoot 350 under the guidance of Yamaha from Japan. RD stands for “Race Developed” series, and for what this bike is made for.
The bike uses 347cc, air-cooled, two-stroke, torque induction engine. It is actually the licensed copy of Yamaha RD 350B model found in Japan, modified according to the Indian standards and conditions. Engine is mated with a 6-speed gear box along with Yamaha’s patent Torque Induction System using reed valves. This motorcycle is capable of doing 0-100kmph under 7 seconds and 150kmph mark under 16 seconds. These figures were astonishing for a bike in India. It has a maximum power output of 30.5 bhp @6750 rpm and a peak torque of 3.3 kg-m @ 6500 rpm.
Royal Enfield Bullet 350 and Yezdi Roadking 250 were the biggest competitors for RD at that time. Among that Bullet 350 was the biggest capacity bike in India. RD 350 remained as the flagship model for Yamaha, followed by much smaller and similar looking models like RX 100, RX 135, RXG and RXZ. Rajdoot 350 was not a commercial hit due to its high thirst for fuel and the pollution causes. Later the production of RDs are stopped by 1989.
Rajdoot 350 was available in two models: High Torque (HT) and Low Torque (LT). The HT version produces 30.5 bhp @ 6750 rpm from the original 39 bhp by reducing the exhaust ports of RD 350B. The exhaust notes of RD 350 HT model was a symphony for the ears as compared to LT version. HT version was produced from 1983 to 1985. Meanwhile, LT version develops 27 bhp as the exhaust ports are restricted even further. In order to maintain the fuel efficiency, small amount of fuel is jetted by the carburetor, which in turn reduced the power of bike. As a part of cost reduction, front disc brakes of RD 350B was replaced by 7-inch twin drum brakes for the Indian RD. In earlier days, bikes have many Japanese parts and later Escorts India localised most of their parts to cut shot the price of this 2-stroke beast.
Two-stroke bikes are doing a great business in the second hand markets and RD 350 is still leading the way. Petrol heads in and around the country is dying to put their hands on this legendary vehicle. But it demands a racing heart and pure determination to own this vehicle. It is not everyone’s cup of coffee.
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