So hands up if you think the whole cafe racer thing is played out! I do love the democratic nature of the café racer movement, the democratic nature. You can spend as much or as little money as your imagination allows, and build your dream using any brand machine you want. But the thing that makes is so cool is the exact thing that makes it so cliché: everybody with a battered old bike, a hacksaw, and some flat-black spraypaint can get in on the action.
But, every once in a while, a bike comes along that shows just how the whole thing got legs again. And this cool, relatively simple Yamaha RD400 is one of those bikes.
By the late 1960’s, Japan had proven that it had the engineering expertise to take on the established brands from Europe and America and was busy crushing them under their heel in terms of sales. They were inexpensive, featured sophisticated engines, and were much more reliable than their rivals. But the one area where they generally couldn’t compete was handling: bikes like Kawasaki’s Z1 were very fast in a straight line and merely competent in the corners, while their H1 earned a reputation for being downright treacherous. For most street riders, that was fine, and Harris, Spondon, and Rickman could whip you up a new frame if you really needed to go around corners.
But there were some notable exceptions to this, and Yamaha’s line of middleweight two-strokes combined playful, two-stroke punch in a lightweight package that made it the ride of choice for backroad-burners and aspiring racers: while heavier than the track-only TZ, it featured that bike’s racy geometry, strong brakes, and a six-speed gearbox. Worry-automatic oil-injection helped keep two-stroke hassles to a minimum.
From the original eBay listing: 1977 Yamaha RD400 Custom for Sale
This 1977 Yamaha RD400 custom is a real head turner! People will stop you all the time to ask about it! This was professionally built by Motohangar in Vienna VA. The bike was completed in June of this year. Bike is a total, ground up restoration and performance modded machine. It was a feature story on the Pipeburn website on June 16th 2014. It was also featured on Yamaha USA’s Facebook page where they called it “a masterpiece.” If you search it online you will see that it has been re-posted to dozens of enthusiast websites around the world. Take a minute to check out the feature story on Pipeburn where the builder details the build process and there are lots more photos.
Bike has fewer than 100 miles on it since rebuild and is absolutely immaculate. Starts beautifully and sounds like two-stroke heaven due to the hand built Jim Lomas race pipes. Pat at Motohangar has built a number of show stopping bikes over that last few years, including the best in show “Honduki” bike.
This bike has been described as a 70’s LeMans style resto mod due to its stunning paint and graphics. Everything was completely disassembled and rebuilt and repainted–engine cases are beautifully detailed, frame is freshly painted, wheels were blasted and painted, new seat pan and tail section custom built (oil filler relocated to top of tail section) custom LED tail light fabricated, neutral and oil warning lights relocated into top triple.
Vintage Smoke rearsets–which include a Brembo rear caliper, Jim Lomas pipes, clip on’s, Frank’s fork tubes, new Dunlop tires, new Assault rear shocks, new chain, new brakes, cross drilled rotors– the list goes on. This bike is far superior to a brand new RD.
This bike is very fast and responsive to the throttle. It will put a smile on your face every time! It sounds like a crazed pack of hornets coming down the road! Seller has current Virginia title.
Very clean and striking, this is the kind of custom that emphasizes the original bike’s style, while doing its own thing. The taillight is very cool and nicely done, if a bit overstyled, and I love the warning lights integrated into the top triple. I assume the “MH” on the engine is for “MotoHangar”, although I could do without that particular detail…
At $6,300 with the reserve met and a couple days to go, I’m very curious to see what this goes for. If this stays anywhere in that range, someone’s getting a serious bargain for a very classy, one-of-a-kind motorcycle.