Looking straight off the boat from Japan, adding an extra cyclinder was only part of the process that now separates this LC from the hordes
Mark Graham’s (not our MG, natch) immaculate RD-LC is a stealth special.you have to look twice.and when you do, you can’t stop looking, as your eyes are drawn to the myriad of one-off, modified, and made-from-scratch parts that make up this remarkable machine. “It took more than 1000 hours to build, nine months to plan, and the only two things on the motor that haven’t been modified are the kick starter and the water pump.”
The idea to graft a third pot onto a 350LC had been running through Mark’s mind for a while. “I’m a fan of Allen Millyard’s hybrid builds, plus I’d seen a couple of ‘expanded’ LCS, so I thought I’d have a crack myself.” Even the bike Mark bought to transform into his 550 seemed to serendipitously approve of his plan. “It was a very early 350LC, an incomplete pre-tie-bar mod model.when I saw the first three letters of the numberplate – MAD – I knew the build was on…”
Mark started with the engine. “I’d been in contact with Harry Hawkins (our SS50 special builder, page 60) through the RDLC Crazy forum, as he’d built a multi-cylinder Elsie before. Between Harry and his mate Graham King they machined my cases, cylinder head and middle barrel to fit.the extra cylinder mates to the left side of the motor, so the gearbox sits up against the clutch as normal, and still runs on the same amount of oil. It runs a CBR600F output shaft – 2mm thicker but has the same splines as the LC – and it connects to the extra case through an outrigger bearing.the clutch runs nine plates – EXUP friction plates, LC metal plates, with an FZ600 basket.the clutch cover has been modified to suit the extra width.”
The motor has been through the hands of 2T tuning ace Mick Abbey, who also made the pipes. Mark spent 22 hours fabricating the airbox, a part so beautifully made it looks as if it came from Yamaha. “I sculpted it from wood, then used that as a template to construct it from ally. It breathes through a large K&N under the tank.”
Standing next to this 550LC it’s hard to pull your attention away from the motor. It’s so well done it’s as if it’s factory, but there’s so much more to this bike than just an engine on steroids.
“The frame’s been spread by 20mm. I first worked out how the new sections needed to be using conduit, then went onto 20mm tube. Once I’d bent it all into shape I gave it to Stuart Digby who made a jig so it could all be welded together.the swingarm, and wheels are RGV, the forks GSX-R400 – they’re better for the weight of this bike than those off the lighter 250.”
After 1000 hours work to get his 550 together, you’d expect him to put some time aside to enjoy his creation, but you’d be wrong. He’s already hatching plans for his next LC project – a four-cylinder 700. Now that will be mad.