Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Campaigning an R5 "Back in the Day"

After coming across the BikeEXIF article, I received the following letter and excellent collection of photos from Bob Crossman:

Lawrence ...

Came across your site via a link from Bike EXIF. Neat stuff ...

I campaigned an R5 "back in the day" in California in the ACA, AFM, & AMA. Won the 72 & 73 AFM 350 Production Championships on my "ole R5". In 1973 I added the 6 speed gearbox and the front disc brake from the RDs. Here's some shots you might enjoy:

My 1st Race, OCIR... Rode to the race, finished 5th out of 39 starters.

3 Different ideas about the "correct line". (Turn 6 at Riverside)
From left to right:
Me in the Blue & White leathers, R5
Scott Clough in the middle (RD350)
Rod Murufas on the right on his RD350
Finish order that day was Clough 2nd, Murufas 3rd.

Riverside in '73 after adding the RD front disc brake.

Not an R5, but the Jim & Jim's/ND Spark Plugs RD400 that I campaigned in the 400 box stock class. 16 wins, no defeats.

Thanks so much for sending these in!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chris writes in... with some questions (UPDATED)

Chris sent in this nice letter, with some questions about swapping in a 6-speed an maybe doing a dry clutch. Anyone have any tips, suggestions, etc?

Greetings from Nashville TN USA. First off thank you for your web site. Ironically I stumbled across this page a few weeks before I had acquired my R5. I have been a motorcycle enthusiast most my life. 4 or so years ago I graduated from a motorcycle institute with Harley and Yamaha factory certifications. I worked on predominately Harleys before getting hired at a vintage british specialist shop. Before this I rarely thought of vintage motorcycles, now I can't seem to get 'em out of my damn head.

Anyways, so I got a '70 R5 from a buddy for a paltry 200 dollars american (I think its equivalent to about 17 quid now LOL) only problem was no tins, and someone had sawed off the rear loop. I was going to scrap the tank and seat anyways and I'm a decent welder so no big deal. So thanks to your site I have an idea of what I'd like to get out of this project. Something similar to the TR3. If interested I will keep you posted and have taken shots of all progress up to now. I have to decide whether to pony up the 500 for the Airtech fuel tank or test my abilities with carbon fibre (with which I have made a few pieces, nothing bigger than a bread box though). I plan on pounding out a seat from aluminum and my buddy does custom seats for motorcycles so I'm sure he can help me there.

If you have any advice, beyond what you have so graciously jotted down in your blog, it would be GREATLY appreciated. I also had got a RD 6 speed trans that I was thinking of placing in the cases but I failed to realize the 6 speed uses 4 shift forks whereas the 5 speed uses only 3. And I wanted to do a dry clutch like on the GP bikes, looks like I have some machining to do to fit some oil seals in place. If you've heard of either of these modifications done successfully that would also be quite valuable.


Thank you for the site, your fellow enthusiast, Chris

P.S. check us out at

UPDATE: A reader writes in this response:

I am not sure about the dry clutch but the RD 6 speed bottom end blots in with no problems( entire gear box cases included) and the R5 covers and cylinders will fit up to it without modifications. I have done this to my R5 and I love the extra gearing.

Here is a pic of the RD case installed. Good luck.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

R5 Site Featured on BikeEXIF

Cole Sugg's 1972 R5 (recently featured on this site) has been profiled on the excellent bike blog BikeEXIF. Here's the writeup:

There seems to be a growing appreciation of super-quick two-strokes from the 1970s. Yamaha's more recent SR400 has long been the weapon of choice for most Japanese custom shops, but in the west we’re seeing more and more vintage oil-burning Yammys such as the RD400 and R5 coming out of hibernation. The 1970-72 R5 was the direct descendant of the factory TR production racers, and offered incendiary performance. Cole Suggs' restored 1972 R5C is a good-looking example: the engine has been rebuilt and bored out, a new DG exhaust and seat fitted, and the rear fender bobbed. Lawrence O'Toole's R5 tribute site has all the details. Lawrence says the R5 was "Dirty, loud, crazy quick and relatively affordable when new (and more so now!). It was, and still is, a giant-killer." We’re sold.

See the article in it's entirety here.

Friday, July 24, 2009

New Lightcycles from TRON Sequel

Not a Yamaha, and DEFINITELY not vintage, but I just had to post this tidbit about one of the baddest "motorcycles" ever, and how it is going to be revisited. Disney surprised everyone by premiering a teaser trailer for a TRON sequel at last year's Comic Con. That teaser trailer is below:

Well, today, a full-size physical model of the lightcycle from the new movie was unveiled at this year's Comic Con. Footage of the the model, as well as a glimpse of some concept sketches, can be seen here.

Far cry from the original 80s version seen below:

Thursday, June 25, 2009

TZ250 on Ebay!

A friend passed this to me this morning:

Highly collectible Yamaha TZ250A fully restored to original specifications. Motor and transmission rebuilt with good crank.Transmission checked and shimmed. All new gaskets and seals. New barrels were stripped on the original chrome because original chrome tends to flake, and were re-plated by Millenium Technologies with modern longer lasting plating.

Complete T1A Hitachi race CDI ignition. The ignition was checked on a test bed, and the slow speed coil was rewound to original specs by Motorcycle Electrics in Colorado. Now has a big fat blue spark from very low revs. Carbs are correct including the phenolic resin spacers and brass clamps. The tacho is mounted on a set of NOS rubber dampers that I have had for years just waiting for the right project.

The frame is in great condition with none of those annoying cracks that TZ's are often afflicted with. Swingarm is OEM and I had to get new bottom bolts fabricated to the original design out of stainless steel. Hardware was replated in bright zinc where necessary.

This bike is 99% original and needs only the correct front fender to be perfect. Reproduction fenders recently became available from Meed Speed in the UK. It even has the correct forks with the gull top triple clamp and double diameter staunchions and big drum brakes along with those fiunky sping mounted exhausts. The bike had been retrofitted with later type mufflers, and they were removed and the pipes professionally repaired to orginal.

Paint on the frame, swingarm and bodywork is better than original Yamaha race type piant but it was not over restored. This bike would look great in your collection or private museum or take it out for a track day, but I would swap out the pipes if you don't want to damage your hearing.

The seat has been recovered with a Meed Speed cover and it's really hard to get the shape right. I think it looks fine, and it replicates the stock slight step in the foam. Fairing is the US style used by Saarinen, Roberts and Carruthers at Daytona. It is fitted with the optional left brake - right gearshift favored by British. The brake and gear shift veres can be swapped to the "normal" side in about 2 minutes.

It is fitted with two new/almost new AVON race tires, but they are already a few years old and I would strongly recommend new rubber if yu want to run it round the track. I have the 3.00x18 Dunlop Triangular KR76 front tire if you want it for museum display. There are two sets of footpegs with teh bike. A nice looking afytermarket set and aless pretty original set of pegs.

This is not some hastily cobbled together bunch of worn out parts or modified street bike bits. It's all TZ and i built this one to replace the one I sold a few years ago. As usual, when I finish a project I take lots of pictures and then start the next project. I'm an engineer not a collector, so it's time for it to go to a new home. It is a race bike and was manufactured by Yamaha as a race bike. It is not titled and cannot be titled. A bil of sale will be provided. It cannot legally be used on the street and is push started.

See it here.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

I Love Cafe Racers!

Came across this great blog covering cafe racers of all sorts. Very interesting to browse through. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Site Maintenace

Went through the links and some posts to remove anything dead. If you miss something, or found you were deleted in error, please let me know. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Fellow R5er

Nick writes in with some kind words about the site:

Hey Lawrence

I have been really using your site for a lot of help on my R5. I feel like I should start giving back to the cause…

I am planning on taking a year long trip on my Yamaha R5C 350. If you have any advice or anything you want me to tell the world while I’m out there let me know. I also wanted to send you some bike supplier support. I’m sure you have already heard about them but HVC has done a lot for me, both technically and mentally.

Both you and HVC along with everyone who has ever been passed by a 350 really has been supportive. And if there is anything I can do or say about your experiences or your friends with R5’s let me know.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cole's Mean Green R5 Project

Cole wrote in this morning with some photos of his great bike:

I've been lurking your site for a few months when I bought me a 72 R5c.... it supposedly just needed to have the carbs cleaned and the airbox reconnected to run. Well 4 months and lots and lots of parts later it is finally finished! Or at least finished for now. I attached a few pictures of it... It has a new top end bored out 4th oversize, new DG exhaust, new paint, tires, etc, bobbed rear fender.

Love that seat and the bobbed rear fender. Gives the bike such a purposeful look...

Friday, April 24, 2009

Australian Restoration

Jeff Gascoyne is located in Kangaroo Flat, Australia (about 150 km north of Melbourne) where they have an active group of early Japanese bike enthusiasts. Above is Jeff's bike, and below is something Jeff wrote for the vintage Japanese Motorcycle Club Inc (Australian Branch), Central Victorian Region newsletter called Jap Torque:

I have recently completed a full restoration of a 1972 Yamaha R5C that I have owned since around 1978. It was used daily, mainly as a commuter, until the EPA sent me a letter in 1995 informing me that it was emitting excessive smoke, which it was. The bike has been a project bike since then with progress being very slow until quite recently.

The R5C was the forerunner to the RD models and in its day was quite a quick machine. Yamaha claim a top speed of 160 km/h plus. The engine is a 2 stroke air cooled, 5 port, parallel twin cylinder with a capacity of 350cc. The net weight of the bike is 141kg and the maximum output of the engine is 36 BHP @ 7000rpm. Maximum torque is 28.0 ft lb @ 6500 rpm. The braking system uses drum brakes front and rear. The fuel tank has a capacity of 12litres and the bike has a 5 speed gearbox. The bike was finished in mandarin orange.

The bike has been completely disassembled. The frame, swing arm, tail light bracket and some other parts have been powder coated. New swing arm bushes have been fitted, as well as front and rear wheel bearings and seals, steering head bearings and brake shoes.

The front fork legs were pitted and I sent them to Queensland, Rad Hard Chroming, for repair. They were great to deal with and did a terrific job. The forks have new seals and the aluminium outers have been polished and have been assembled ready to be fitted to the bike.

Most of the chromed pieces, i.e. mudguards, brake levers, chain guard, mufflers and various other pieces have been rechromed. I have used the local electroplater and have been pleased with their work.

The seat frame was very badly rusted with sections eaten away. I rebuilt the frame using sheetmetal and then encased the frame with fibreglass matting. I then sprayed it black with epoxy paint. It looks like it will do the job very well. I purchased a new seat foam and cover from HVC Cycle and had it fitted by a motor trimmer..

Nearly all of the fasteners have been replaced with stainless and any Phillips head screws have been replaced by socket screws. I know that this is not original but I hate Phillips head screws.

The engine has been fully dismantled and the cylinders rebored and fitted with new pistons and rings. The crankshaft and gearbox were inspected and found to be ok.

I have bought new sprockets that will suit an o ring chain (530) as the original chain is a 525 which is not available in an o ring chain. I have kept the same ratio, 40:15.

Obtaining parts has not been the problem I thought it would be. Richard Penna (a local motorcycle dealer) has been particularly helpful and it is surprising the stock he has. I have purchased parts from overseas from two places, HVC Cycles ( in the USA have been excellent as have CMS ( based in the Netherlands. Most parts I have been able to obtain are genuine Yamaha (i.e. handlebars, seals, petrol and oil hoses, etc.).

Painting was done locally and I have been very pleased with the result. I was not able to find the original paint code (mandarin orange and black) as I intended to keep the paint as close as possible to the original.

The bike runs perfectly, is registered and on club plates and I have recently joined the VJMC and have enjoyed catching up with like minded enthusiasts. I would be pleased to hear from anyone in regard to my project and would value advice and opinions given.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Stolen R5?

Got this email over the weekend, thought I would pass on the info:

I just came across your site tonight wish i had found it sooner you have great information

I am trying to get this information out on my ride that was stolen yesterday.

metalic purple 1970 r5-350 engine & frame #009571

If any one comes across anyone looking for parts or selling parts this bike was stolen in Boaz Alabama on 3-20-2009

Any info appreciated. I will forward on...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Off to the Shop!

It's been a long time coming. After two seasons off, the bike is going to be revived. Once again, it takes a birthday and awesome friends.

This past weekend the bike was trailered out to the 'burbs by our friend Jim in his cool enclosed trailer, and just today it was picked up for service. Not long now until she's back on the road, smoking it up.

I will post findings and repair info as I get it. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More Reader Mail

Frank from Rileyville, Virginia, writes in to share his bike and his "near miss" with my R5:

Pics of my bike, these are the only ones I have of it, but it hasn't changed any since.

It's a 71 R5 with RD top end, front end, and body, done by the previous owner. DG chambers, Y-boot with K&N, carbs re-jetted to match. Future plans include an electronic ignition, cafe seat, and clip ons. I have an R5 oil tank and side cover, I'll get them on too.

I've been visiting your blog since shortly after you started it. I remember being exited about the amount of enthusiasm you had for the bike and just how good it looked! It made me want to find the stock parts for mine and return it to stock! Anyway, I was looking through your pics and had seen a few that looked familiar, it didn't make sense since I've never seen your bike before. When I read that you bought it on Ebay, and the pictures were from the auction, it made sense. I was watching that same auction, I almost bid on that bike. I didn't for two reasons, I had a bike to resurrect and didn't have the time and money for two, and my wife would knock my head around if I bought another one. Just before all this I had 5 bikes, sold all but my R5. I regret not bidding on the bike since it was so nice after you cleaned it. I remember feeling a bit angry and "kicking myself in the ass".

But I can honestly say that I'm glad you got it. You've taken such good care of it and the contribution you have made to the 2 stroke community is immense. I come back to your site now and again because I know there will be something new and exciting on it.

My other favorite places;

2 Stroke World

Mark Haas, genius of the 2 stroke