My first foray into not just one but two 1975 RD350's


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Olympia, WA.
So, when I bought my 75 XS650B last Fall from an older gentleman in Minnesota, we became friends in pretty short order thru a series of several phone calls.

During many of the calls we've often discussed past bikes we've had and wished we still had. He brought up how he used to race RD350's and RD400's....uh oh, fish on. :laugh:

This started getting me re-interested once again in finding an RD350. As everyone knows, they're not getting any fact, they're skyrocketing.

I know @Jim, @cra-z1 and @jpdevol are all well versed in the two stroke realm as of course, my curiosity was peaked. I searched all over and found several prospects and put out wanted feelers on facebook groups, etc. Out of the blue a fellow in Eastern South Dakota reached out and told me he had two of them (1975's) he'd sell me for the price of one because the titled one was a runner and the "parts bike" had no title and was an as is barn find he got with the titled bike when he bought it.

Several questions/conversations commenced with numerous pictures and videos sent to me. Probably one of the most frustrating things for me was the fella was so enamored with the barn find aspect he didnt want to clean them up really well for the pics, short of a rub off of dust here and there....this of course made me ultra cautious but none the less intrigued. I was worried about seat condition, rust on chrome, etc of course but it was really difficult to tell in many of the pics.

The titled runner has only 1400 miles on it and was in an estate sale. The parts bike was turned in from a barn to a scrapyard but rescued and has 3800 miles on it.

Eventually a deal was struck and they were on their way.
This was the first time I was deeply disappointed with Haulbikes after having used their services 3 times in the past and sang their virtues to all who would listen or ask.

This time, because the bikes were in an area Haulbikes didnt usually service, they tacked on an almost double price per bike, despite a lesser overall distance to me in the Northwest?! When I mentioned I was a repeat customer and it was overall less distance, etc I was very abruptly and curtly cut off and told "The price is set and is non-negotiable sir!!". Oh yeah...wanna bet? Hello U-Ship???

Found a guy from South Dakota willing to haul em out for less than a normal Haulbikes quote would have been...done and delivered much, much faster I might add!
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I've had the bikes in my possession long enough now to have gone over both of them with a fine tooth comb.

The runner has cleaned up great, the seat is 100% intact (amazingly!) and the chrome, while not perfect, is very presentable with very small patina spots on the mufflers mostly.

The best part is the parts bike is in such great shape I will NOT be tearing it apart for parts...its way too complete albeit very, very grubby (which nicely preserved the chrome by the way!). I started working on tracking down a title for it and it sounds like I have one on its way from the original owner who last tabbed in in 1991! Another one saved! :thumbsup:
Lovely bikes. I know you've been a bit under the weather of late, but you got any seat time yet? :geek:
I did actually, before I got sick. I was a bit underwhelmed with its performance but then again, I was afraid to get on it too hard.

I hadnt yet verified the oil injector pump settings, etc... That and I always have that nagging worry in the back of my head about leak down tests on two strokes.

I knew the seller had put pre-mix in it so knew it would have enough oil for a short ride those things are so cool. So light and nimble!

I'm in the middle of doing a proper leak down test right now, just made myself a homemade kit.
I was a bit underwhelmed with its performance but then again, I was afraid to get on it too hard.
The VM28's and RD's in particular are (in my opinion) overly sensitive to elevation changes. How much change is there from where you got 'em, to where you are? If it's more than 1500... a couple thousand feet, you'll need to rejet the VM's.
Also, you ain't gonna get get much at all below about 4-5 grand... but when they're tuned, and come up on the pipes.... hang on! :smoke:
How much change is there from where you got 'em, to where you are? If it's more than 1500... a couple thousand feet, you'll need to rejet the VM's.
Good point Jim as Vincent is at near sea level.
Maybe a proper check on the tuning would be for Vincent to bring one of those badboys to Eastern WA up in elevation slightly so I could ring it out on the open highway here
Those are some great looking project bikes! Congratulations!
Back when I was in high school, my friend had an R5 that he let me ride. I grew up on dirt bikes and that was my very first ride on any street bike and I loved it! ❤️ A short time later I bought a very lightly used 1973 RD350 and the two of us used to ride around together. I was more of a teen age hooligan than a mechanic back then, but that bike sure made an impression on me!
That was the bike that hooked me into street riding. 😃
. Nice!
I got my first RD350A in 1981, got the second one some 10-12 years ago. Great little bikes, and as Jim said, excitement arrives after 5500-6000 rpm !
The RDs are pretty well made, and my personal opinion is that their main Achilles heel is the charging and ignition system. Ignition timing is critical on a 2 stroke, plugs can foul when ridden slowly, and the white plug for the 3 AC wires from the alternator has a tendency to overheat/ melt/ short out.
So if you plan to ride your RDs much, and do not mind an invisible upgrade, I strongly recommend the VAPE CDI/ PMA setup. This replaces the oem alternator rotor and stator, voltage regulator, rectifier, points, capacitors and coils. I have had this on my RD for 10 years, and it has required ZERO MAINTENANCE since. Not even replaced the plugs....
CDI gives a much higher voltage spark than any battery powered ignition, be it points or electronic. And does not even require a battery to run.
Other obvious improvements are the usual swing arm bushings and shock absorbers.
Will be watching this. My first real street bike was a 77 Silver RD400. Pipes, carbs, ported, a TZ250 fairing with rearsets and clipons. Man I loved that bike.

This is what it looked like before I modded it out. (not my bike in the pic)


  • 77 Silver RD400.jpg
    77 Silver RD400.jpg
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