On the level: 1974 Yamaha RD60A

How much horsepower does a two wheeler really need?  If you live somewhere that’s flat and urban do you really need more than 4 hp?  Who needs to go faster than 50 mph anyway?  In the age before high fructose corn syrup and cool ranch Doritos, Yamaha attempted to find the answers to these burning questions with the RD60.  Find this 1974 Yamaha RD60A for sale in Spokane, WA for $1,800 via craigslist.  Aw, it’s sooo cute!

Yamaha sold the RD60 in the U.S. from 1973 to 1975.  I’ve not been able to find any figures on how many they sold, but you don’t see many for sale at any one time.  Powered by a 55 cc two stroke, the little engine that could makes 4 smokey horsepower and redlines at 10,000 rpm.  Most of that power doesn’t come on until 6,000 rpm and it’s said that on level ground, you can hit 50 mph.  Yamaha claimed at the time you could achieve 188 miles per gallon at a steady 18 mph.  With a 2 gallon tank, you can probably go for months before you need to fill up at the station.

This bike looks to be in reasonable shape, although the tank looks like it could have a few dents and the stickers on the oil tank are missing.  It would be good to know if the Yamaha autolube is working, so you don’t have to pre-mix.  The 1974’s came in this lovely metallic green called “Ivy Green”.  Nice to see it hasn’t been chopped up into some sort of cafe racer with clip ons and rear sets.  The “bum stop” rear seat is original to the bike.

The RD60 was a step up from a scooter or mo-ped, offering a real clutch and five speed transmission with a typical motorcycle shift pattern.  It came with full electrics including head and tail lights and turn signals.  This bike is missing its rear fender that would have the tail light and turn signals.   Might be a bit of a challenge to source replacements as well as more exciting to ride in traffic.  Do you think any of today’s drivers know the hand signal for stop?

Our subject has a shade over 5,000 miles on it, which is surprising for a tiddler.  The ad says it has a clean title, but there is no license plate on it in any of the pictures.  You will need one, since even Paul Blart can probably catch you.

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Gianni is Daily Turismo’s Pacific Northwest correspondent.  He thinks small is beautiful.