Mark Goulding builds one wicked “Elsie”…
In 1980, the Yamaha RD250LC arrived, a liquid-cooled 247cc / 35-bhp two-stroke street machine destined to become one of motorcycling’s great hooligan machines. In the UK, the “Elsie” satisfied the 250cc L-plate law of the time, which made it available to teenage learners all over the country…spurring a shift in the legislation:
“Reports of it being ‘the first 100mph 250’ (this is still debated) led to a new 125cc learner law being rushed in starting February 1983.” —VisorDown
Though the new legislation effectively killed the UK’s 250cc market, a 250LC club racing class became highly popular in the 1980s, and the larger displacement RD350LC became a legend in its own right.
Over the years, shed builders began to piece together what came to be known as “hybrids” — restomod-style RD’s retrofitted with newer engines from the series and upgraded suspension, brakes, wheels, and more.
The build you see here is the work of Mark Goulding, a “self-confessed two-wheeled addict” who was lucky enough to attend a school with motor vehicle studies on the curriculum — wish we had more of that! He picked up a Suzuki TS50ER on his 16th birthday, then upgraded to an “Elsie” a year later:
“On my 17th birthday, I part-exchanged my TS50 in for a shiny new RD250LC and I was hooked!”
Fast forward a few decades, and Mark got hold of a German RD250LC frame and set out to build a hybrid of his own:
“I’ve always wanted to build an LC to look, feel, ride, and brake exactly how I felt it should have always done.”
The specs are nothing short of staggering. Highlights include the 443cc engine with Wiseco forged pistons, 7mm stroker crank, VForce reeds, Wicked Motorsports billet intake, 35mm Keihin Air Striker carbs (soon to be 38mm), and an exhaust from one of the best in the business, Mark Dent of Performance Fabrications.
“Dyno run 94bhp, hopefully nearer the 100bhp when the bigger carbs are dialed in.”
The gearbox has been beefed up to handle all that extra power with heat-treated / micro-polished gears and a lock-up clutch, while an oversize GMX radiator and high-flow water pump impeller keep the motor cool.
This RD is now sporting RGV250 front and rear suspension, brakes, and front wheel, with a wider GSX-R400 wheel out back. The chassis is dripping with custom billet components, such as the yokes and rearsets, and the gray/fluorescent yellow color scheme — “Night Fluo” in Yamaha parlance — that pays tribute to the modern MT-09. As you might imagine, this Elsie is quite a beast on the street:
“I can’t lie, she’s a handful at times, especially for an old man like me. I’ve had to learn to ride again as she’ll wheelie easily off the throttle in first, second, and now and again in third. Short shifting was initially the way to go, but when I get off her I can’t get the smile off my face!!!”
Indeed! Below, we talk to Mark for the full story and specs on this build!
Yamaha RD443LC: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
I’m a self-confessed two-wheeled addict from an early age. At school I was building and modifying push bikes and was lucky enough to go to a school that had motor vehicle studies on the curriculum. On my 16th birthday, I bought my first bike, a Suzuki TS50ER, and that’s where the love affair began and has never gone away! On my 17th birthday, I part-exchanged my TS50 in for a shiny new RD250LC and I was hooked!
About 10 years ago, I was fortunate to be able to pick up another RD, this time a newer power-valve F1, which I played with (tuned motor, suspension, pipes, etc.), which made a respectable 72bhp, but the classic lines and styling of the LC was what I really wanted again. Mostly done in my small garage, which was lacking in lighting and electrics.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the donor bike?
The bike itself was built totally from parts. I managed to get a hold of a German import 250LC frame with documents, etc., and went from there.
• Why was this bike built?
I’ve always wanted to build an LC to look, feel, ride, and brake exactly how I felt it should have always done.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
I wanted a complete “one-off” including the colour scheme, which was paying a sort of nod to the grey/fluro yellow style of the MT-09, and to this day I haven’t seen another one like it.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
- German RD250LC frame, powdercoated, etc.
- RGV250 VJ22 front and rear suspension and brakes, with an RGV front wheel and a wider GSX-R400 rear wheel, both powder-coated fluro yellow.
- Custom billet top and bottom yolks.
- Accosatto levers and radial master cylinder.
- Koso clocks with GPS speedo.
- Custom billet rearsets.
- Giulari Seat.
- Ignitech programmable ignition.
- GMX extra large custom radiator and grille.
- Performance Fabrications Exhausts.
- The colour scheme itself is all wrapped and no paint was used (including my colour-coded Simpson venom). All decals were cut by hand as the decals were not available in fluro yellow, by a lovely guy called Billy near Manchester. His company is called Motowraps (check out his work, it’s unbelievable), and I can’t thank him enough.
- RDZ Eliminator racing cylinders with 68mm bore (from the U.S.A)
- 7mm stroker crank with TZ bearings
- Wiseco forged pistons
- VForce 4 reeds
- Wicked Motorsport billet inlet
- 35mm Keihin Air Striker carbs (soon to be 38mm) fed via a Pingel dual high flow tap
- Dyno run 94bhp, hopefully nearer the 100bhp when the bigger carbs are dialed in
- All gears are heat treated, back cut, gears then under cut and micro polished
- Nova straight cut primary gears
- Powerdynamo mini flywheel stator and rectifier
- Extended clutch cover with Lock up clutch
- Chariot high flow water pump impeller
- Billet flywheel and front sprocket covers
• Does the bike have a nickname?
Lovingly known as Elsie (as they all are).
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride this bike?
I can’t lie, she’s a handful at times, especially for an old man like me. I’ve had to learn to ride again as she’ll wheelie easily off the throttle in first, second, and now and again in third. Short shifting was initially the way to go, but when I get off her I can’t get the smile off my face!!!
• Was there anything done during this build that you are particularly proud of?
I think it was brave to go for a different colour scheme with so many LC’s keeping to the stock colours…but I like to be different.
First of all, I’d like to thank all my friends, especially the Hybrid Club on Facebook for all their help with the build, etc.
Martin Brown at mad biker designs: www.mb-designs.co.uk
Mark Dent for his awesome exhausts: www.performancefab.co.uk
Norbo Lea with his parts shop: www.rdlccrazy.co.uk
Chris Clack for all his help and Yamaha parts: suzukiexpert.com
Billy at Motowraps for the colour scheme: www.instagram.com/motowraps/
And also to Photographer Toni Teuntje Harris for one of my favourite pictures of my bike!