"It’s like an FD”, says Vikram Pardeshi about his RD 350. He’s being modest. Even if you’re only remotely interested in bikes you will know that values of the iconic Yamaha have gone through the roof and this particular (and mint) example has tripled in value over the past four years.
I’ve always struggled to explain classic bike or car values save for putting it down to hype and emotions, and there’s of course a huge element of rose-tinted glasses to the RD’s current values. A stock RD, after all, is no quicker than a KTM 390 Duke, and as far as handling is concerned the Duke is on another planet.
Except biking is as much about sentiment as it is about numbers on a speedo. It is about sensory overload – the sounds, the smells, the buzz through your palms. Tune the twin carbs, set the timing right, get an empty enough road so you don’t have to ask the 30-year old brakes uncomfortable questions and… shit… the RD sets your hair on fire. It reminds you of a phrase long forgotten – of hitting the powerband. And then promptly falling out of it. Objectively the RD is slower than the aforementioned Duke but no Duke felt as violent, gave you as much of a rush as an RD. It’s that on/off nature of the two-stroke parallel-twin – one minute you’re doing Splendor speeds, the next instant somebody has flicked a switch and she’s wailing savagely through the remaining five gears. In the pictures, behind that dark visor, I’m grinning like a demented idiot! What a rush!
I’m not one for sentimentality, neither do I have the time or patience to indulge in classic bikes, but every time I get astride an RD, I kick myself for passing up on a mint example when I was starting off as a motor-noter. Without question it would have been an incredible pain to maintain and things would have fallen off; on this shoot something very long and very hot (and I’m told very rare!) spat itself out of the left exhaust. But when an RD runs like an RD should, screaming crisp and clean through the powerband, it does leave behind your troubles in a smoke haze. It reminds me of another phrase we used in college, ‘ek gear neeche, akha duniya peeche’ (one gear down, the whole world is left behind).
And if that doesn’t work for you, remember, no fixed deposit triples your money in four years.