Two Stroke Tuesdays : Custom Yamaha RD 350 Cafe Racer by Moto Exotica - The Wild Child
Vijay Krishnan October 6, 2019
The Rajdoot-Yamaha RD 350 is a motorcycle that still qualifies as insane, even though it is now pushing 40 years since it came out. The technology that came on the bike was so advanced and the mechanicals rock solid that it can still keep up with modern motorcycles that comes with advanced fueling and tyres. Almost 30 years since Yamaha pulled the plug on these bikes, the RD 350 has become a cult classic and its prices have skyrocketed. This has seen most of them being restored to mint condition as they gather value in the market.
In a world where people gasp at even the smallest alteration made to a stock RD 350, one man has thrown out the rule book and turned it into a completely custom Cafe Racer. We talk to Sadiq Ali who is a Two Stroke lover and the proud owner of the bike in question.
My name is Sadiq and I hail from Aligarh. I am a hardcore Two Stoke lover and own 5 of these splendid motorcycles. I collected every one of my motorcycles with much effort. It is now almost 5 years my affair with motorcycles began.
I can’t explain to why I love Two Stroke motorcycles. I am sure enough people would have pointed out the obvious reasons to you. So let me just spare the obvious and tell you that they just make me happy. All I know is that riding them gives me profound joy and I am always happier after riding them. I just can’t explain what it is but it just makes my heart happy. If am to really scratch my head and give you one reason, it has to be the smoothness in operating one of these bikes. No four stroke motorcycle can come close to how smooth a Two Stroke bike is.
My first motorcycle was a 1979 Yezdi Classic. I was 21 and I fell in love with the Yezdi. It beloged to a friend of mine and like that first girl that steals a guys heart, it drove me to great lengths to make it mine.When I got the bike, it was halfway to its grave, literally, with half of it in the ground. I dug it up and prized it away from the scrap dealer who was selling it.
My affair with these Japanese rockets started with my Yamaha RX 100. It is a 1986 CKD model that was in fully dismantled state when I found it. I bought it off a mechanic that had started dismantling it to work on it as a project bike but I guess he ran into some money issues and had to part ways with it.
I guess there is some relationship with mechies and me as I bought the RD 250 of another from Mizoram. The motorcycle was found by my friend and mentor, Ali in Aizawl, Mizoram. The guy I bought it off from was a pothead and had turned the bike into a frankenstien with a mishmash of parts from all over. Only the frame and the engine were reminders that this was once an RD 350.
I had a chat with Ali bhai who told me that we would have to get at least 2.5 lakh worth of parts to get it back to stock. This is without considering the money to be invested in painting it and the getting the overall fit and finish just right. Also, people tend to charge double of what they normally ask on hearing that it is an RD 350. Owning one or getting one done up has become really difficult these days. This is without taking into consideration the hardship of sourcing parts to keep them running.
So the next logical option was to do a restomod on the bike. I was particular about it being done absolutely perfectly. I did not want to half-ass this one as it wouldn’t make sense dumping so much money into the bike and not getting the feel I desire out of it. So I went looking for a guy to get the bike customized and I stumbled upon Moto Exotica, which is a Dehradun based shop.
They took the bike and gave it a total re haul. Plenty of the bike was changed to give it a classic yet modern silhouette. The bike was turned into a Brat Café-Racer with modern mechanicals with the legendary 350 twin Yamaha engine beating at its heart. Plenty of the bike was changed such as a handcrafted leather seat and a larger tank. The frame has also been tweaked, adding more strength alongside a new swingarm. The bike has modern suspension and disc brakes on both sides. I’ve also made it a point to add expansion chambers to enhance the legendary animalistic roar of the RD. I have ripped out every phony part that was on it and put in its modern and functional counterparts. I have kept the soul the same but changed the body to keep up with the modern demands.
I think the fastest I have been on the RD 350 is 180kph. It is a very scary number to hit on something dubbed the ‘widowmaker’ but being a bike with modern brakes on it I was always reassured.
The RD would have to be my most favorite bike from the motorcycles that I own. Maybe it is the precedence that comes with the bike or maybe it is the gargantuan amount of time and energy, not to mention the huge sum of money I invested in it to bring it back to life.
I got offered big money for one of my motorcycles by this guy. I said to him “If I sell the source of my craze, then the craze will die with it.”
I have given the RD 350 papers to get updated and hope to get it legalized In the next 15-20 days. I am looking forward to get it out on the road and have some fun with it.