RD350 – Legends are forever

  • RideIndia
  • April 20, 2013 8:39 pm
  • News

Get along with your Rider friends over a beer and RD350 is sure to sneak into the conversation for reason its best known for; Power, Raw Power! Motorcycle enthusiasts swear by this two-wheeler, even those who were not even born in that era or haven’t even seen it. Yes, the most talked about motorcycle in India might be the Royal Enfield Bullet, but a Yamaha RD350 is surely going to steal the focus in a conversation. To put simply, it’s the mother of all high power motorcycles that you know today. Even simpler, imagine having a Ninja 250 back then in 80s on Indian roads; low on FE yet miles ahead in power, literally.

So, what makes it a Legend? Is it just because your buddies on the internet forum call it so? Or is there really something about this motorcycle that gives it a legendary status. We all know the basic Wikipedia stuff about the genesis of this motorcycle in India. For those who don’t, here’s a small snapshot. Yamaha RD350originallywas made for the developed country market like USA, UK and Japan. It was an instant hit there because of its design and more importantly because of the ‘Autolube’ factor. RD350B was launched in India as Rajdoot 350 by Escorts group in alliance with Yamaha. For India, it was way ahead of time and expensive as well. Hence the only people who could afford it were the ones who can accommodate with the increasing fuel prices (Yes, fuel prices rising in India is a three decade old issue) since the mileage was less as compared to other motorcycles in the market. Indian market was not yet matured for the performance motorcycles. People were buying CD100s and Sleeks that gave a better FE and were so called stylish.

 

We don’t want to bore you with the technical jargons.This article is not to flaunt the RD350 specification figures either, but to express, how it feels to own and maintain the so called ‘legend’. We want you to experience what makes this motorcycle so special. The best way to do so is to get up, close and personal with a RD350 owner who has been taking care of this priceless possession for over two-and-a-half (men!!??) decade. Well, in the end, it’s for you to decide whether it’s really a Legend or just another high powered motorcycle.

Meet Sameer Ashtekar, a motorcycle enthusiast and a proud owner of RD350. Sameer stays in Dombivli (Thane) and has been riding the RD350 since his college days. Initially this motorcycle was merely a means of commute until he realized what he was actually riding and since then it’s all about respect for this machine. Sameer also owns a RE Classic 500 & spends his weekends riding to various places in Maharashtra. RD350 is something he mentions is for special occasions like the Independence Day Ride or just a riding stroll in the suburb with his wife. We asked Sameer about the RD ‘Experience’ and his perspective on the machine. Here’s what he has to say:

 

*RideIndia – RI

*Sameer Ashtekar – SA

RI: How does it feel to be an owner of one of the legendary motorcycles ever been in India?

SA: It gives me immense pleasure that I had purchased it long back and my decision of purchasing it was worth. This motorcycle is truly worth ever paisa I have spent on it. Initially it was about speed since this was the fastest beast on Indian roads. Slowly it grew into an obsession and even today with 4 strokes motorcycles promising a good FE, my 2 stoke baby still delivers a better speed. Well, of course, with the fuel prices rising recently, I have limited my RD rides to special occasions. Not to mention, it’s a very special feeling when you know that you know something unique and which is sparingly available even in second hand market. In one word, it’s a ‘value’ and not the ‘cost’ that drives it.

RI: What was the motorcycling landscape during that time?

SA: Well, even at that time, somewhere in 90’s, there were many good new motorcycles in the market like Royal Enfield had just launched there Machismo model, Bajaj Eliminator etc. butsomehow they were never able to match the power/pickup of this one. People enjoyed the cruising part of RE but those who owned an RD found them a bit toy-ish. I knew few people who even did their Leh-Ladhak on a RD with ease at that time. Over the years Yamaha discontinued this model leaving that hunger for speed unsatisfied.

RI: How did the RD350 make you feel special?

SA: RD350 makes me feel so special that even today it has so much in demand in the market and can be seen very rarely. I am glad that in which city I stay, I am the only one who is using this bike and people actually call me up for seeing this motorcycle. Many of them are budding motorcycle enthusiasts, some of them are motorcycle collectors. I have been offered huge sum for this machine many times but the sheer thought of giving up this motorcycle troubles me. I will maintain it till eternity and pass it on to my next generation as an asset.

RI: Has it troubled you anytime in all these years?

SA: Yes some times. Ultimately, it’s a Machine. Wear & tear are the part of it. But these troubles never made me feel ugly. I have spent considerable time at the mechanic mending it for some reason or the other. Just like a human being, I understand, even machines grow old and since I am emotionally attached to it, it’s my time now to take care of it in every way. Biggest problem is availability of original parts. I try my level best not to use after-market substitute parts but again, one can only go as far as the market availability.

RI: If RD was a motorcycle of today, where will you place it amongst TBTS500/Classic 500 and KTM Duke?

SA: I will place RD 350 in Number 1 as TBTS500 / Classic 500 are Four Strokes and Pick up really matters. KTM duke will be the last as even the bikes engine is strong the seating position is not too good for Long Drives. Talking about today’s scenario a consumer is looking for FE, Riding comfort and low cost in every motorcycle. I must appreciate that RE provided Riding comfort, FE but only at a considerably higher cost. RD350 on other hand can be used for long rides with minimal modifications to seat and handle bar. Not to mention, you must be rich to afford its FE.

I do own a Classic 500 which I use for day to day purpose. Now I use my RD very sparingly or for planned occasions.

RI: Have you done any Long tours on this motorcycle and how was the experience?

SA: Yes, I had been to many places on this bike like Mahabaleshwar, Pune, Nashik, Silvasa, Goa etc. The Experience of Riding RD on highways is really fantastic. I have ridden it on a high speed of 145 km / hr on some of the very good roads. Like I said, it’s a really fantastic machine even by today’s numbers. A few small modifications and compromise on FE can get you a real good on- road plus off-road machine.

RI: Why a legend?

SA: A Legend is something that lives forever in the mind of people. RD is the one who is still on the roads after 28 years and has an ability to beat any of the bikes / cars in speed and pick up even by today’s standards.Also the Firing of RD can’t be matched by any of the Indian Bikes till date. I can’t deny for some it’s just another bike, but for me, having taken care of her for 28 long years and still going strong, it’s truly a legend.

Thanks Sameer for taking us through your experience of RD350. It’s evident that you are one of the lucky ones to own it.

Still, whether a Legend or not? It’s up to our readers to pour in their opinions. Do leave a comment.

-Live Free, Ride Hard

5 Comments

  1. Havil says:
    Posted April 21, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Permalink

    Most thing get old in time but a very few become vintage. RD350 for sure in vintage. One of my fav bikes 🙂

  2. Muthu says:
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous to have old collection … to tell this to our younger generation….(

  3. gurdeep singh says:
    Posted April 22, 2013 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    RD 350 is truly a legend & will remain for times to come.

  4. tehmul says:
    Posted April 23, 2013 at 2:11 am | Permalink

    i have an rd350 and know the feeling and truly appriciate it . Loved to read the article and feel happy when the bike still creates the buuz ….

  5. Anup says:
    Posted June 28, 2013 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    hi sir…i am searching for this machine for how long now even i dont know…after all this search the answer as usual is NO….Loved your article…nice to read…just one question…do you know anyone who wants to sell…if possible plz help me in searching for…take care…
    regards


Leave a Reply