An RD350 dirt bike built for the Malle Mile…
The Yamaha RD350, built from 1973 to 1975, is one of our favorite machines from the heyday of the two-stroke street bike — a 39-hp parallel twin with reed valve intake, Autolube oil injection, and six-speed transmission, good for a top speed of 105 mph. For a time, RDs were the best-selling bikes in the US, two-stroke giant-killers that quickly became a mainstay of production-class road racing. Said Cycle World in 1993:
“No bike before or since has cried ‘Flog me!’ quite so shamelessly.”
Enter Danny Comer (@Dannersautomotive), who heard the cry of the RD loud and clear. One night, while staring at the rolling chassis of his RD, he looked to the far corner of his garage and saw a spare set of Honda CRF motocross wheels:
“I made it a mission to get those wheels to fit, that’s what spurred the build…”
After starting the build, he heard about the Malle Mile, and the RD became a bike to race in the 2019 edition. That’s where we came across this two-stroke “Wasp” arrayed in scratch-built parts, including the one-off extended swinger and mono-shock conversion. No expense was spared on the engine, and there’s not a sticker on the whole bike — it’s all paint, mixed and sprayed by Danny himself.
Below, we get the full story on The Wasp.
Yamaha RD350 Scrambler: Builder Interview
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
Yamaha RD350, 1971 (yr5) frame.
• Why was this bike built?
I was in my workshop one evening looking at the rolling chassis of the RD. In the other corner of the garage I had a spare set of mx wheels from a Honda CRF and thought, I wonder if they will fit. They didn’t by a long way as the swing arm was too short to house such a large wheel. I made it a mission to get those wheels to fit, that’s what spurred the build — there was never any specific reason for being built the way it is. After starting the build I heard of the Malle Mile and it begin to be a bike to race in the 2019.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
There wasn’t really any inspiration or design prior to for starting the build, it all started off with trying to get the Motocross wheels to fit them — it all went from there. I made plans for the swing arm and subframe, have a big doodle book of sketches for the parts of the frame and the paint work.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
It’s had a one-off swing arm I made, gone from twin shock to mono, 2.5” longer than standard.
Has a custom subframe that I made, the tank is original but I made a flush for cap to go in and welded up the badge recess in the sides.
It has Brembo master cylinders and calipers all round, braided lines.
The seat base was a fibreglass flat tracker unit that was cut and shaped to be as it is.
There was a lot of faffing to work out what bearings, sills and spacers were needed to get the wheels on. It uses original RD spindles. The brake caliper brackets and rear sets were made from scratch. The forks totally overhauled.
The engine has no expense spared. Reconditioned everything and either sand/soda or vapour blasted all components. Electronic race ignition fitted for simplicity and performance.
All the bodywork was done by myself and there isn’t a sticker or decal on the bike — it’s all paint! The colours are one-off mixed by myself by using a few bits of some of my favourites but it’s all noted down if I have to paint again, which plan to as it’s going to get abused!
• Does the bike have a nickname?
I called it the “wasp!” For the Bike Shed show, I didn’t know what to call it when filling out the application but I guess that’s kind of the name now.
• How would you classify this bike?
I would call it a custom retro dirt bike scrambler chop up classic thingy!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
The swing arm and the paint, swing arm as it’s the first I’ve built and the paint as there’s not a sticker on the bike, I painted it myself with custom paints I mixed that are totally one off.
The wheels and brakes are pretty cool to have gotten on there too.