The Yamaha RD350, Also known as Rajdoot 350 was the very first performance motorcycle to be sold in India. Production was there between 1983 and 1989. The RD350 came during the time when motorcycles were just becoming popular in India.
The RD350 was made in India by Escorts Group under the collaboration between Rajdoot and Yamaha. It was launched at a price of Rs 18,000 ex-showroom at that period would you believe?
Back in the 80s, the RD350 was the very first super performance offering for the Indian motorcycling enthusiasts at a time (1983) when the only bikes we had were the Bullet 350, the Jawa (Yezdi) 250 2 stroke and Rajdoot 175 2 stroke. The other two wheeler commuters were geared scooters like Bajaj Priya, Chetak, Allwyn Pushpak, Vijay and Lambretta.
The original Japanese RD350 had 40 bhp on tap but the Indian Editions were detuned to 31 bhp due to lower fuel quality and to improve fuel economy.
Yamaha RD350 HT & LT
The RD was produced from 1983 to 1989 in India. The first edition was called HT (high torque) edition which produced 31 bhp of power. A few sets of RDs were given to the Indian Traffic Police to help them nab criminals basically. Indian Police used Enfield Bullets prior to that and the RD proved to be a handful for them but it also resulted in a lot of accidents by the officials.
The first HT edition of the RD350 had too much power for the average Indian Rider as, back then our market was not used to such a performance product. The RD was a crotch Rocket capable of hitting a top speed of over 160 kmph in 6th gear (despite the claimed top speed of 130-135 kmph by the company).
The RD350 could easily hit 100km/h in just under six seconds. If pushed, the two-stroke powerhouse could go past the 150km/h mark too. Not everyone who bought the 350 could handle such performance. For the same reason, a lot of its owners have met with accidents previously.
The Yamaha RD 350 is one of the most iconic names in Indian two-wheeler motorsports and a good mechanic can tune its engine to more than 65bhp. The RD 350 was especially popular in drag strips. The sheer torque would leave a similarly-powered four-stroke motorcycle to smell its white cloud.
Also see : Honda CBX The Classic Superbike
Why RD350 Failed?
The Yamaha RD350, even though being the best motorcycle for its time, was a market failure. The motorcycle compromised a lot on fuel economy. The RD350 was also infamous for its high maintenance and parts cost. In addition to this, the service network of Escorts group was poor. Above all, the number of accident reports involving an RD entitled it to be a motorcycle, never to be bought.
Some Interesting Facts About RD350!
•The bike was introduced to rival the Royal Enfield Bullet, Yezdi Roadking and the Jawa 350.
•Almost 7000 models were sold in India. Towards the end of its production cycle, 99% of the parts were domestically made.
•The RD350 is the best motorcycle to know what two-stroke is. Many claim that once someone starts loving the RD and its two-stroke motor, no other four-stroke will impress more.
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