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: