Some bikes give their owner’s a certain air of character, other bikes only gain character from their owners. In the case of Locky, the latter is definitely the case. I was contacted by Locky that had seen some pictures of stuff Purpose Built Moto was doing with our parts and custom motorcycles on the Gold Coast. We talked about old shitty bikes we had owned, what we were working on now and he even invited me for a ride out to Canungra one Saturday. I had to decline due to the ever helpful QLD transport holding out on my certification paperwork for the Suzuki GS550 Border run, but he stopped by the garage on his way home. He had told me about an old 2 stroke he was building but had hit a wall with. He rolled around on a Honda CM400 kitted with a rusty luggage rack, Mexican blanket, layed back bars and a flying racoon tail off the rear. Wearing an all aussie driz-a-bone and a moustache that would make your granddad jealous.
I suddenly gained a world of insight into the style he wanted for his bikes, a throw together of sorts with old and new, things from his and my parts collections and nothing too pretty or polished. We talked and had a laugh about our vast differences in motorcycle style and settled on some common ground. He agreed to bring up his 1971 Yamaha R5 RD350 so I could take a look and pick up where he had finished.
The thing with starting a project bike is it’s easy to get disheartened, although every step of the way has its little victories you’re undoubtedly going to come up against some absolute bullshit problems that result in spanners flying. My saving grace is for every hurdle you hit, that creates an opportunity for something learned and something different. Although gratification can be a long time between drinks once the hard yards are done, and you’re riding down the road, none of the sticking points ever bother you.
Locky had done a lot of engine work on the 2-stroke himself including changing out to a 350 head and barrels with the oil pump to suit, new carburetors, and some DG performance chambers and exhaust. This is where he was stuck, It now needed to be styled and finished into something that looked the part.
The early Yamaha 2-strokes have a huge cult following, they’re great bikes. With a nice thin frame and the tanks, in my opinion, are some of the best to come out of that decade. Locky left me to my own devices and as always his bike’s page in my build book had some points laying down the purpose of the build.
- Low line/ sleek
- Nothing too shiny
- Ratted and Rusted
It doesn’t have to make sense to you, it’s my book.
In keeping with the slim lines of the bike, the rear subframe was fabricated with a slight rise for wheel clearance (and it looks rad) after which I shaped a foam buck for the metal-working of the tail cowl. I sent the buck off to a mate and in a few weeks he bought me back the tail cowl, the shape runs perfectly with the tank and finishes off the lines of the bike really well. It was fitted and the seat pan made, shaped and Locky headed round for a test fit. I was I bit nervous as I had just taken to his bike with my own style and idea of what would finish it off and he hadn’t seen it at all. Luckily enough he was stoked, and looking back I wouldn’t finish it any other way. The only feedback I had was to make the tail suit the dented tank, out came my ball pein hammer and a punch. Job done!
When wheeling the bike around the shop I could hear some rattling sound coming from the wheels, I cut the old tyres off and found the rims had completely had it. I sourced some new rims from Justin at Popbang Classics and talked Locky into a touch of colour on the bike before I re-laced them. Mint green is what we settled on and soon they were re-laced with some new stainless spokes from John Titman Racing then wrapped in some Shinko 270 Sport classic tyres.
Locky’s Yamaha R5 runs an aftermarket Tri-LED headlight , Offset mounted Auxiliary light re-purposed from an old Cessna plane, Pro-Taper 7/8 motocross bars, Purpose Built Moto LED indicators, custom tail cowl and seat, DG performance chamber and exhaust, custom side stand, Handmade number-plate/rear indicator bracket and a super tidy LED strip brake light. A few choice accessories have been artificially rusted and sealed which really set off the mostly black colour scheme. The final puzzle piece was the Hand Made oil tank under the seat that Locky made himself.
The tail and seat combo both runs true to what he likes and gives a nice throwback to the era these bikes were made famous for. When the owners didn’t have a lot of cash to blow, or access to a world of spare parts on the internet they used what was on hand, hit some steel with a hammer, ripped a headlight from another bike (or plane), as long as it did the job and was fit for purpose. We both put work in to this bike as the build progressed which is how I prefer to work, having the owner and rider of the bike put their hand and head to it as well. It leaves you with a greater respect for your machine if you’ve helped shape what its become, you aren’t a handlebar attendant, you’re a maker, a fixer and a rider.