Speed of Cheese Racing

«Return to Projects Post List RD350 Cafe Bike Turns Heads


It didn't start out looking like this. Click the image to see how it progressed.

I was in the process of restoring two Yamaha R5s, and spending lots of time at my favorite local motorcycle parts store, Wright’s. My friend Dave, who does the tires, offered me an RD350 he had, but never had the time to tackle. The two R5s were complete enough that I didn’t want to cut them up into a cafe bike I wanted to build so Dave’s RD fit that bill perfectly: it was already cut up. Rough but kinda all there.

I went through the engine. It was in pretty good shape, so I bored and put in Wiseco pistons. Dowel pinned the heads and eliminated the head gaskets for O-rings, all the cool tricks I had learned up to that point.

I painted it back yellow, as it’s a proper Yamaha color, although it’s a very pale yellow. The white stripe down the top is reminiscent of a Ducati 916.

I rode it a little the summer I finished it, but for the most part it just sat around looking pretty.

A couple of summers ago I thought it needed a refresh. I had one of the top ends off the landspeed RD400, sitting on the shelf so I dropped it on. But first I had to fit the larger throws of the RD400 crank (images 2 and 3 on the slide show: click the image, upper right).

Braced the swingarm for added power and repainted the frame (4, 5, 6).

I added an Ignitech ignition and rewired most of the stock wiring harness (7, 8, 9, 10).

Got the rear sets all machined and ready for install (11), and finished up (12).

I took it to a bike show at Wright’s later that summer (13, 14). It won first place in its class! It really is a fun bike to ride!

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