The Yamaha YZ400F was a true game-changer, the first 4-stroke production motocrosser that could compete directly against the 2-stroke competition — and win. The YZF weighed 250 pounds — about 20 more than the 2-strokes — but had comparable power and torque, along with the added advantage of heavier engine-braking. In 1998, Doug Henry won the AMA National Motocross Championship on the YZF, and the 2-stroke status quo was turned on its head.
Enter Dom Kelly (@dkseventytwo), a custom bike builder and CNC machinist from the UK who now lives in southern Spain — home to some of the world’s greatest riding roads. Dom credits his brother Rob for getting him into cars, bikes, and design:
“My brother Rob was a car designer so we would always be talking about cars and motorbikes… He is the reason I was sketching and doodling. When I was asked to do some quick sketches for a cafe racer project a friend of mine was doing, before I knew it I was working alongside the team on a project for Yamaha!”
Today Dom works with Spain’s MB Custom Cycles and does custom CNC work, which you can see on his dedicated CNC page: @bigredcnc. Recently, he attended a Noyes Camp flat track training camp, where he got to watch one of the coaches, Ferran Sastre (@215_smookie), slide around on a vintage 600 Honda — inspiring Dom to build his own vintage flat tracker. The donor is a ’99 YZ400F:
“I bought the bike as a non-runner, a rust-bucket from a little village in the Spanish mountains around Jaen. The bike was completely stripped and rebuilt as a flat track racer to compete in the FAM dirt track season 2020.”
This is Dom’s first build for himself — built in memory of his brother, Rob. Dom makes sure to thank the teachers, mentors, and builders who’ve supported him along the way, helping him to develop his skills over the last several years: painter Ray Hill (@spray_hill), Harley-Davidson master mechanic Kurt Lohse, Tobbe Johansson of MB Custom Cycles, and his friend Paul — always there to lend hands and tools.
“So in the last 8 years I have been learning how to wrench, weld, stitch, paint, machine, and now race… This has led me to build my first bike for myself, hence the Yamaha.”
Below, we get more details on this gorgeous flat tracker.
About the Builder…
My first bike was a Honda Hornet back in the UK, 1998. I was a bit of a fairweather rider, so in the end I did not use it that much. But more recently, now I live in southern Spain — I have been riding Sportsters and Yamahas on some of the greatest riding roads around.
I have no particular brand I like more than another. I just love the brilliant engineering of all motorcycles. I love the old-school classic bikes from the 20s all the way to modern sports machines like the V4 Panigale. I am a big fan of MotoGP but I also like motocross and now flat track racing.
My brother Rob was a car designer so we would always be talking about cars and motorbikes… He is the reason I was sketching and doodling. When I was asked to do some quick sketches for a cafe racer project a friend of mine was doing, before I knew it I was working alongside the team on a project for Yamaha!
The shop had a basic CNC machine which I had to learn how to use to make the prototype parts. This also led into fabricating seat bases and also learning how to paint. I was very fortunate to be able to work with an amazing painter called Ray Hill (@spray_hill), so I watched as much as I could and he was kind enough to show me a few tips. I made a lot of errors so he probably thought I was an idiot but he stuck with me…
We had a master tech from Harley-Davidson working with us and he showed me how to wrench. Kurt Lohse…still hear his words ringing in my ears from time to time.
So in the last 8 years I have been learning how to wrench, weld, stitch, paint, machine, and now race… this has led me to build my first bike for myself, hence the Yamaha.
About the Bike…
I bought the bike as a non runner, a rust bucket from a little village in the Spanish mountains around Jaen. The bike was completely stripped and rebuilt as a flat track racer to compete in the FAM dirt track season 2020.
I was inspired to build it after joining a Noyes Camp flat track training camp and seeing one of their coaches Ferran Sastre (@215_smookie) race a vintage 600 Honda. So cool watching them drift around.
It’s a 1999 YZF400, but it may have been a WR — not much difference. I got it because to compete in the classic races it needs to be 20 years old or more.
The frame and engine was glass-blasted. The engine is due for a Cerakote paint job before the start of the season but not done yet.
I painted the whole bike with a candy blue over silver metallic. The fuel tank came from a Yamaha DT 250 and it was in a sorry state but I repaired it. Still trying to source a petcock…
I cut the hubs out of the battered wheels and used them to build the new ones using Moose Racing rims and components. I had to buy three sprockets in the end as i could not identify where the rear hub came from.
The seat base was modified from an original piece by a company in Spain modelikocaferacers.com.
All of the work was done by me but I had help from a friend of mine, Paul. I don’t have all the tools, but I don’t need them when I have a “Paul.” Also I did a lot of the work at MB Custom Cycles in Spain, and it would be right to mention them as I could not have done it without their support.
I have a nickname of the Genius. Of course it’s not true, but I did a logo calling myself The Lazy Genius…haha.
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