Yamaha RD350 Giant Killer from California…
The Yamaha RD350 is one of our favorite two-stroke street machines of the 1970s. The 39-horsepower parallel twin could compete with larger bikes due to its excellent power-to-weight ratio, and the RD350 quickly became a popular production-class road racer. Tongue in cheek, some riders claimed that RD stood for “Racing Death” or “Rapid Death.” Says Motorcyclist of the RD350:
“Dirty, foul-mouthed, deliciously quick and relatively affordable, it was (is?) a Giant Killer for the ages.”
Enter Greg Tomey of Valencia, California, who spent more than three decades racing in the deserts and on the motocross tracks of Southern California. Greg, who’s owned more than 50 bikes over the years, decided to build an ultimate RD, utilizing an array of RD400, aftermarket, and NOS parts. Says Greg:
“The concept was to recreate the look of a 70s cafe bike with a street-legal edge.”
From the original, re-anodized DG heads to the Yamaha speed block paint, this is one of the meanest, sexiest RD350’s we’ve ever featured. Below, we get the full story on the build.
Yamaha RD350 Cafe Racer: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Greg B Tomey from Valencia, CA, and I am a motorcycle nut who grew up racing amateur motocross and desert in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Everything from 80cc to open class, with owning as many as 50 bikes both street and dirt over the years.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
The yellow RD350 that I sent pictures of started as a 1974 RD350A with many scrap pile parts from an RD400 including triple crown and forks. The rear disc was from an RD400 and made to look stock.
• Why was this bike built?
The bike was built as a personal bike for both riding and showing.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The concept was to recreate the look of a 70s cafe bike with a street-legal edge.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
- Frame up build.
- Paint and decals by The Original Coach Craft in Fillmore, CA.
- Saddleman seat with fiberglass seat pan on stock hinges and lock.
- RD400 mag wheels powder-coated with polished spines.
- RD400 rear disc assembly (replacing rear drum brake).
- RD400 triple crown and 34mm forks with needle bearings.
- CNC aluminum clip ons.
- KTM left controls.
- 1/3 turn whirlpool throttle assembly.
- Original DG heads scooped and re-anodized.
- Electronic ignition.
- 30mm flat side carbs with K&N filters.
- Moto Carrera Millennium right exit chambers, polished.
- Moto Carrera CNC rear sets.
- Drilled front and rear rotors.
- Yamaha R1 LED tail light.
- Honda CB rectangular headlight.
- Custom wiring harness.
- Barnett clutch and springs.
- Works Performance shocks.
- Bronze swingarm bushings.
- Oil pump removed and blocked.
- NOS cylinders and complete crank assembly.
- Boyensen reeds.
- Polished cases and crown assembly.
- All internal engine parts. New seals, rods, pistons (every nut and bolt).
• How would you classify this bike?
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?