It was able to make its 350 trim instead of oversized like the YR-series because the 650cc XS-1 four-stroke had taken over the burden of being the "big" bike in the lineup. Yet even with this commitment to excellence in the R5, Yamaha was still worried whether Americans would understand the bike. So they made it purple and white and styled it heavily.
This sort of identity crisis plagued the Yamaha throughout its evolution from the R5 to the RD350 to the RD400. Its performance always earned the allegiance of sporting riders, but tastes changed and the motorcycle didn't, which meant fewer middlebrow riders found a reason to buy an RD over a Honda CB350. Sure, the RD would handle; but it wouldn't sell.
Once you cut to the quick of the RD350LC's personality, you have to admit it's probably not the perfect motorcycle for everyday use. As one Yamaha spokesman commented, it's built for people who appreciate two-stroke power—and that means a kind of exaggerated peakiness that's supposed to be synonomous with high performance. Make a mistake while riding into a corner and you must downshift at least twice to regain your momentum. And after about 30 minutes, the handlebar gets very tingly and the suspension's harshness becomes apparent. Then there's the fact that the engine refuses to cruise at 60 mph in anything taller than third gear. Also, you have to fold up the right footpeg before you can kick the engine over. The RD350LC is simply too much like a race bike to please very many people as everyday transportation.
Engine: Liquid cooled, two stroke, parallel twin cylinder.
Bore x Stroke: 64 х 54 mm
Compression Ratio: 6.2:1
Induction: 2x 26mm Mikuni slide/needle
Ignition / Starting: Flywheel magneto CDI / kick
Max Power: 47 hp @ 8500 rpm
Max Torque: 3.8 kgf-m @ 8000 rpm
Transmission / Drive: 6 Speed / chain
Front Suspension: 32mm stanchion tube forks, 140mm wheel travel
Rear Suspension: Single shock cantilever 5-way adjustable spring preload. 95mm wheel travel
Front Brakes: 2x 267mm disc 1 piston calipers
Rear Brakes: Drum
Front Tyre: 4.10 -18
Rear Tyre: 4.10 -18
Wet-Weight: 149 kg / 328 lb
Fuel Capacity: 15.9 liters / 4.4 gal
Consumption average: 43 mp/g
Standing ¼ Mile: 13.8 sec / 97.2 mp/h
Top Speed: 114 mp/h