Motorcycle News (UK) - - Front Page - By Phil West MCN CON­TRIB­U­TOR

Few bikes have as much writ­ten about them, were so sig­nif­i­cant to a whole gen­er­a­tion of ado­les­cent youth, or been so smashed, trashed, abused, ru­ined, stolen and, now, re­stored, as Yamaha’s LC.

So it should be no surprise that the stro­ker twin did not just touch and shape so many mo­tor­cy­cling lives but that some of them are so well known.

In­deed, for­mer 500GP star and dou­ble BSB champ Niall Macken­zie cred­its the Yamaha for launch­ing his whole rac­ing ca­reer. As he told MCN: “I never had the in­ten­tion of rac­ing but just liked help­ing out. It was the Yamaha 350LC that changed that. As soon as I saw the bike in MCN I knew I had to have one. I’d passed my test on a Yamaha DT175 and sold that for the LC then in 1981 I did my first race on the LC and fin­ished third. I won my next race and started to re­alise I was OK at rid­ing. The 350LC changed my life.”

Nor is he the only one. For­mer en­durance world champ and WSB racer Terry Rymer, also cred­its the

LC – this time the 250 ver­sion – for get­ting his race ca­reer go­ing “In 1983 I went to Garozzo Mo­tor­cy­cles and bought a 250LC to go rac­ing,” he told MCN. “I turned up at Brands to test with my dad’s mate’s race li­cence, had my fin­ger over the pic­ture and this old boy said ‘sign here’ and I was out on track. It was the best thing ever.” While on top of the 250 and 400cc cub rac­ing pro­duc­tion classes, where the 250 and 350LC reigned supreme, there was also the RDLC Pro-am se­ries which spring-boarded names such as Rob Mcel­nea and Alan Carter.

But if the LC was the per­fect pro­duc­tion racer, thanks mostly to a Tz-in­spired pi­o­neer­ing liq­uid-cooled (and thus ul­tra-tun­able) mo­tor (see left), it was also the most al­lur­ing, mag­i­cal and at­tain­able street bike for a whole gen­er­a­tion dur­ing Bri­tish bik­ing's peak years of the early-to-mid-’80s.

Con­ceived as re­place­ments for the al­ready hugely pop­u­lar air-cooled RD250/400, the two LCS were sim­ply in­spired for a whole host of rea­sons. First, and prob­a­bly most im­por­tantly, they were sim­ply the fastest bikes of their classes – and back then these were vi­tal classes. As fastest L-plate qual­i­fy­ing 250, the ju­nior ver­sion was the most lusted af­ter learner bike to a gen­er­a­tion of 17-year-olds. As a 47bhp, 110mph 350, its big­ger brother, mean­while, was a true gi­ant killer more than ca­pa­ble of em­bar­rass­ing not just 550s but 750s and 1000s.

Sec­ond, the LCS, came with gamechang­ing tech and were the most ad­vanced and fu­tur­is­tic bikes of their day. Liq­uid cool­ing and monoshock rear-ends maybe rou­tine to­day; in 1980, against a back­drop of air­cooled XS and GSS, they were rev­o­lu­tion­ary.

And thirdly, and per­haps best of all, as the LCS were con­ceived as Euro­pean bikes, their de­vel­op­ment was led by Yamaha Europe, headed at the time by Brit Paul But­ler (who’d later man­age Kenny Roberts’ GP team). This is turn en­cour­aged bold styling with the in­volve­ment of Brit de­signer John Mock­ett and a strik­ing colour pal­ette. Brash white was bold enough af­ter years of met­alflake mo­tor­bikes; black in place of chrome was plain bril­liant; while even the clocks and Italic wheels were strokes of ge­nius. The LC wasn’t just beau­ti­ful, it looked like noth­ing else. No won­der they were in de­mand.

That pop­u­lar­ity led to a whole sub­cul­ture: LC ac­ces­sories and LC clob­ber spawned ‘LC Johnnies’ and LC gangs of mates. MCN reader Phil Lan­g­ley was among them: “Along with two friends, I bought one of the first 250LCS in the coun­try (with con­sec­u­tive reg num­bers, natch!) and passed my test on it. The fol­low­ing sum­mer we rode them through the Alps to Italy. To this day, the ride to Grasse is my best ever.”

Si­mon Cherry was an­other: “I had a 350LC, white with blue stripes, Pro Am cock­pit fair­ing and a bel­ly­pan. At the age of 18, I was a dog with a big tail. It went like a rocket, han­dled and em­bar­rassed many a su­per­bike on coun­try roads. I wish I still owned it.”

To­day, through the LC’S re­vived pop­u­lar­ity as re­stored clas­sics to that same gen­er­a­tion now in their 40s and 50s, some of us still do. Macken­zie has a re­stored ex­am­ple, as does his for­mer team-mate and now race com­men­ta­tor James Whitham (see be­low). So do many more. As Niall him­self has said: “It’s the only bike in my whole life that I have seen once and known I had to own it.” The LC does that to you.

‘I never had the in­ten­tion of rac­ing – the LC changed that’

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