Vince Richer and his Yamaha RD350LC

What do you do when you want some­thing so bad it hurts? Just keep pes­ter­ing, ac­cord­ing to reader Vince Richer.

Classic Motorcycle Mechanics - - ME & MY... - WORDS: BER­TIE SIM­MONDS/VINCE RICHER PHO­TOS: SONJA EARL/VINCE RICHER

Ihave been fol­low­ing this great mag for many a year and thought it was time to send you some pic­tures of one of my Yamaha fleet! Ever since my early days in the 1980s I was thrash­ing around on two-strokes. I started off with a Yamaha Fizzy, then a Yamaha DT100, a DT175 MX, a DT250 MX, Yamaha XT500 then a Suzuki X7 with Mi­crons and a Suzuki X5. Ev­ery now and again my eye would catch a glimpse of the king of two-strokes on the street: the Yamaha RD350LC: but sadly for some rea­son it slipped through my net way back when. I guess the usual stuff that nor­mally oc­curs hap­pened: I got mar­ried, got four wheels and the bikes slowly went by the way­side! So what was it that made the RD350LC look so good… well, the de­sign of it the shape of it and the tech that went into it at the time. When you think back it was a big leap for­ward: monoshock rear end, six-speed gear­box. It had all that black satin go­ing on too, sim­ple de­sign and not lots of plas­tic. You could say good­bye to chrome: it was the new be­gin­ning a street race/road ver­sion of a TZ and I loved it. But as I said – I never seemed to get one back in the day, but then I did four or so years back. I’m now your typ­i­cal old mag­got; re­liv­ing my youth I got one at last: a 1981 4L0. And she wasn’t too bad when I got her. Al­though she came as a bas­ket case, she did have only 9000 miles on the clock so she was in good nick in many re­spects. The price: well, I man­aged to nab her for around £1500. It was owned by a neigh­bour of a mate that had it. I kept pes­ter­ing him with ‘give me a shout when you want to sell it!’ Even­tu­ally, he caved in for cash and boy am I happy he did. When I had a good look over her, I would say it was 80% there but the engine was in bad con­di­tion. Thank­fully I got Stan Stephens (who is just down the road from me) to strip it and he found one pis­ton had seized (some­one had used a YPVS pis­ton in there) and the bar­rel was scored. Apart from that it was in good con­di­tion, he said. The frame and

“I so wanted an RD350LC and then four years back I man­aged to steal this one for £1500. Af­ter restora­tion and work from Stan Stephens, it just takes off from 6000rpm with the All­speeds singing!”

gub­bins around it were pow­der-coated. I also got the cases, bar­rels and head stove enam­elled. The All­speeds that came with the bike were in mint con­di­tion af­ter a time on the polishing wheel, along with the footrests. I have used 31K pow­er­valve carbs (vapour blasted). As Stan said the stan­dard ones have a flat spot through the revs – so I lis­tened to the great man’s ad­vice! The paint­work was orig­i­nally in Kenny Roberts Yel­low but had it re­done in its orig­i­nal clothes: all the zinc and olive plat­ing. I did my­self along with restor­ing the wheels. I spent a bucket-load of Wonga restor­ing her but I be­lieve it’s been worth ev­ery penny! Go­ing back to Stan, he was al­ways the man down our way for bike tune-ups. I took my Yamaha DT250 to him for a stage two tune and it blew the clutch out of it, it was that pow­er­ful! He told me to put 220 jets in this bike. What I like about the man is that – when you meet him – he’s so hum­ble! He’s also a techno wiz­ard. So where do I take her? Well, it’s the nor­mal shows and ride­outs: she re­cently won best Ja­panese clas­sic at the Dover Trans­port Mu­seum event. She’s a real head-turner – espe­cially on the coast runs we do from the East Kent Mo­tor­cy­cle Club. We of­ten head down along to Rye, Hast­ings, Folke­stone and Rams­gsate. It’s a good ride from Lydd Air­port down past the Lydd fir­ing range: it’s like a GP ride. Head­ing past Dym­church is a stun­ning ride for bikes when it’s quiet on a Sun­day morn­ing. This LC has All­speeds so when you hit 6000rpm it just goes men­tal. I’ve got other bikes. A KH125, a 1986 XT600 43F from Italy that I re­stored and ride to work ev­ery day and a DT175 MX in French blue with a round swing­ing arm. I haven’t run it in yet. What do I love about my LC? Well, it’s the sim­plic­ity of the en­gi­neer­ing of the time: a fun de­sign and colours. This was the start of the 1980s and things are too com­plex now and there is too much plas­tic: bikes have be­come bor­ing. I will never get rid of my LC now. It’s val­ued at around £10,000 and I know they will have to bury me with it, I love it that much!

Vince fi­nally bagged his Elsie!

ABOVE: Cases and bar­rels were blasted and coated. 31K Pow­er­valve carbs were also used.

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