Friday, June 18, 2010

Rollin "Molly" Sanders - The Guy Behind Yamaha's Stripes

I, as probably most of you, didn't know who came up with the iconic yellow and black/white stripe on Yamaha factory racers of the early 1970s. Turns out it was Rollin "Molly" Sanders, of (now defunct) Molly Designs, was responsible for this and a great deal more motorcycling and automotive brand icons.

Above is Kenny Roberts on a machine featuring the famous livery

What other projects was Molly responsible for? The Lexus logo. Kawasaki's green racing color. Toyota's racing liveries. The Buick Grand National logo and concept car. To name a few.

Molly died this past April. And although Yamaha no longer uses the yellow and black dashed livery, plenty of memorabilia is still produced in this colorway, proving just how impactful it was.

Info via USA Today and Hooniverse.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hi from India

Dominic writes in from India to show us his bike and tell us a little about himself:

Hi Lawrence, was really a treat to chance upon your site - been going through it and am enjoying reading it (just gone through some of it till now).

I have been crazy over the RD (the R5 as you refer to it) since the time i was a kid. have been a huge fan of twin cylndered bikes for a long time now. Recently i finished putting together my Jawa350 twin (have attached some pics - do let me know what you think of the same)

it has been my dream to put together an rd (r5) the way i feel it should be.

been drooling and dehydrating over pics of your r5 - she sure is a beaut, been baby sitting a pals and now having a tough time giving her back :)

being in India, parts is a huge hassel, when i was getting the Jawa done - i was in touch with the local clubs in the checzh republic and the blokes there helped me a great deal.

was wondering if you could help me, I have been looking for a set of b spec barrels (cylinder kits - standard size) and exhaust pipes (b spec - similar to the ones you have on your r5) would you be able to help me with this? also - if i had chanced on your site a couple of days ago would have been lucky with the DG performace heads!!! missed them! would it be possible for you to let me know if i could find a set?

looking forward to hearing from you - and once again - brilliant job on your R5, got a pic of it as a screensaver now :)

So how about it... anyone know of a place to get some "B" spec parts in India?

Wow... my bike as a screensaver! Now that's something!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

DG Performance Heads

A few posts ago I talked about a custom RD350 cafe racer called "Project Goldhead" due to the rare (and ultra-slick) gold DG cylinder heads. Very sharp.

Then a gentleman named Domenic wrote in to ask some questions, since he was listing an engine with these heads on Ebay and thought I would have some information on them.

I must admit I didn't know a whole lot about these heads other than that they are very trick, very rare, haven't been made since the 1970's, and when they come up for auction they command a pretty good price. From what I could gather online, the heads are domed, which raises the baseline compression ratio, which in turn yields greater overall power and throttle response. Plus their oversized radial cooling fins and gold tone are pretty slick-looking.

If you take a look at the hot rod scene, any sort of original and period-correct non-reproduction speed parts are desirable, and the rarer the better. So naturally it makes sense that the same scenario would exist for period performance parts for the R5s and RDs.

You can contact DG Performance in Anaheim, California at (866) 653-1647 or (714) 577-7499 for more information. Unfortunately, their website ( seems to be geared more towards modern dirtbike and ATV stuff these days - nothing vintage.

Here are a couple of current Ebay auctions for these heads:
- RD 350 YAMAHA ENGINE Complete 1971 R5 B (Domenic's listing)

Would love to snatch up Domenic's spare engine with the heads, especially at that price. Unfortunately I don't have the extra scratch, so I'm passing both of these opportunities on to you guys!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

R5 on House Industries "Show and Tell"

Creative powerhouse House Industries was recently visited by a friend with a pretty sweet 1971 R5B, and the guys broke out the cameras to snap pics (and capture some video) for a post about it on their blog Show and Tell. Check out this quote from Rich Roat:

If the elements of the fuel-delivery system could talk to each other, the conversation might go something like this: “Carbs, this is the throttle.” “Yeah, howyoudoin’?” “Good. Listen, the dude just gave me a twist.” “Really?” “Yep.” “Okay, we’re gonna dump some of this gas/oil mixture into the cylinders.” “Yeah? Then what?” “Well, then some of it will blow up, then it’ll suck in a bunch of air then braaAAAAAAAAAAAAAHPOPPOP POp Pop..pop….pop…….pop.” “Jeeezus, what happened?”

The bike is a real nice example. See more at the post entitled "Two Smoker".

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Live Free Ride Alive

The "Live Free Ride Alive" project is a collection of stories from riders, their families and friends about motorcycling as a celebration of freedom. And it's also a sobering look at what happens when that freedom is gone.

You can see the film here, see some shared stories from riders, or peruse some arresting facts and figures here. The whole site is incredibly well done. It may be Pennsylvania-centric, but the material is valuable to riders everywhere.

Please take a look at Just a reminder to everyone, now that the season is upon us, to ride smart and stay safe.

Kevin Gray Photography

Kevin writes in to say hello:

Thank you for posting all of the useful information. I just blew my R5 and was not able to complete the SoCal TT this year. I think an engine rebuild is in my near future... Your site will be of great use. Thanks again.

Kevin Gray is a photographer, and his work can be viewed online at I've included his image of a 1970 R5 from the homepage of his site. Be sure to take a look through his portfolios - good stuff!