Thursday, January 10, 2008

Performance Bikes: The World’s Finest Strokers

Like most people who love bikes and who grew up in the 1970s/80s, we love two-stroke bikes. Sure, today we’d choose a GSX-R1000 over an RD350LC, but that doesn’t really take away anything from the fact that the RD and its ilk were great, great fun in their time.

Recently came across a copy of the August 2006 edition of PB magazine, where they’ve compiled a list of the finest two-stroke sportsbikes ever. We quite loved the story, and we’ve posted a few excerpts here. (While PB have compiled a more exhaustive list, we’re only posting what they have to say about their ‘best in class’ choices.)

[Best in class] Honda NSR250R

Can there ever be a cooler paint-scheme than the Rothmans job on this NSR250?

>From 1986 – 1994 >Top speed 192km/h (1989 SP model) >Power 45bhp@9200rpm (restricted)

Not the fastest or most powerful 250, but the most beautifully engineered. By a mile. Based on Honda’s delectable 250 GP bikes. Made Yamaha’s TZR feel like a fish and chip dinner.

[2nd] Suzuki RGV250

[Honourable mention] Aprilia RS250

[Best in class] Yamaha RD350 YPVS

The RD350 YPVS was sold as the RZ350 in the US. And a certain Mr Kenny Roberts was doing some of the selling...

>From 1983 – 1991 >Top speed 200km/h (F2 model) >Power 49bhp@8500rpm

The 350LC was seminal, no question, but the 350 YPVS (called the RZ350 in the US) was always the one that mattered. It had the technology: powervalves, perimeter frame and rising-rate rear suspension. Capable of leaving big four-strokes, including Yamaha’s own 240km/h five-valve FZ750, trailing in a sweet-smelling haze. A masterpiece then and now.

[2nd] Yamaha RD350LC

[Honourable mention] Yamaha RD400

[Best in class] Suzuki RG500 Gamma

Suzuki RG500 Gamma - the best 500 GP replica ever made...

>From 1985 – 1989 >Top speed 240km/h (tuned) >Power 86bhp@10,500rpm

The best 500 GP replica. Suzuki allegedly blueprinted the first test bikes so they’d do a genuine 240km/h. Neat trick. The legend has lived on ever since. Spindly chassis and laughably thin tyres were out of date from the start, but the RG’s motor has been the two-stroke special builder’s powerplant of choice ever since. With 100bhp well within reach, who can blame them?

[2nd] Yamaha RD500LC

[3rd] Bimota V-Due

[Honourable mention] Kawasaki H1 (Mach III) 500

Open class
[Best in class] Kawasaki H2 (Mach IV) 750

Kawasaki H2 Mach IV 750, the real wild child of the 70s!

>From 1971 – 1975 >Top speed 200km/h >Power 74bhp@6800rpm (claimed)

Piston-ported inline triple with a fearsome reputation, but the handling was more frightening than the powerband. Inspiration for the terrifying H1R racer.

[2nd] Suzuki GT750

Overall leader

The RD350 YPVS is also PB’s ‘Best of the best’ among all two-stroke sportsbikes ever produced anywhere!

The worst

Honda MVX250
[Unreliable V3 engine]

Yamaha RD350R
[Restricted model, made in Brazil]

Yamaha TZR250
[3MA, Mk1 reverse cylinder model, ruined by lumpy carburetion and suspect reliability]

Cagiva Mito
[Fell apart frequently]

More two-strokes:
Memorable: The mighty Yamaha YZR500!
HRC: Saga of the Honda NSR500...
Memorable: Cagiva's C593, 500cc GP racer...
The glorious Suzuki RGV250!
Suzuki RG500-based Barry Sheene replica...
Honda NSR500 race-rep: The best we've ever seen!
Memorable: The Yamaha RD500LC...

External links:
Read more about the Suzuki RG500 Gamma here and here


first_synn said...

Tell me you didn't just diss the mito...

I know quite a few Mito owners and judging by their experience, the little Cagiva is far more reliable than the RDs I grew up seeing back home.

Even today, given a choice, I would choose the Mito over pretty much any other small capacity motorcycle.

Anonymous said...

So the 350 YPVS wins! I had 2 - and F1 and an F2 and loved them both. I street raced them and crashed a few times. To be honest I am lucky to be alive today. Those were the carefree days of youth. Thanks for the memories!

3du Mesa said...

How could you tell that the brazilian version of the rd530r was so lame? Based in what? Check it:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nice article, but just one small correction: the H-1 (500)was the inspiration for the H-1R; the H-2 was the inspiration for the H-2R. I have owned both models and still have my restored1970 H-1. While they weren't the best handling bikes, good aftermarket tires, shocks, swingarm bushings, tapered stem bearings, a fork brace, and modern progressive fork springs can make them behave very well under non-racing conditions. Great bikes!

Shaminda D. said...

Yamaha TZR250
[3MA, Mk1 reverse cylinder model, ruined by lumpy carburetion and suspect reliability] ???????????????????????????????????????????????????



Jeram said...

I agree with first_synn

Ive never had any issues with my mito track bike/street bike
super reliable and can surprise many bigger bikes.

its a very handy track tool which used its 28hp to the fullest

On the track I managed to keep up with some of the 600s and was only a few seconds slower than some of the 1000 bikes, I flew around turn one at 165kmh and turn 2 at 145kmh while going around the outside of a 996 and a 1098s.
This wasnt my rider skill, this was my first track day. It was purely the bike and the confidence it gave me.

I think all the fellas on will be shocked to hear this!

I find it very hard to beleive pbmag would list the mito as a terrible bike! they loved the mito in their 2009 test!

Anyhow, apart from this article, keep up the good work

StuntMaster said...

I agree with Jeram!!!
I never had any trouble with my Mito.
And it is 1991.



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