Monday, November 4, 2013

Kickstart Garage RD400


  My best friend is a fisherman.  If he doesn’t have to be at work, he’s up at the crack of dawn, backing a bassboat into a lake.  His boat is powered by a two-stroke outboard, and the aroma of two-stroke oil and gasoline wafting over the still waters is permanently etched into his mind, an olfactory indication that it’s going to be a good day.

  Personally, I just can’t get into fishing, but I understand how the scent of two-strokes can be powerful.  Two-stroke street bikes are almost a thing of the past, but can be had on the second-hand market, and this Yamaha RD400 from Kickstart Garage is a fine example of the breed.  Craig Marleau describes his build, and the passion and allure of two-strokes is evident.

  I'm Craig Marleau. My whole life, I've been building something with wheels - for racing or show - almost every model of Volkswagen, dirt bikes, restorations of British and European cars for the Pebble Beach Concourse and then some.  You can say I've got a thing for all things mechanical! One lesson I learned from the Pebble Beach restorations was extreme attention to detail! What I learned from racing, was performance! My deal is blending the two into a totally unique machine! I've got boxes of photos from some of my motorcycle builds over the last twenty years, but  I needed a new inspiration.

  All my BMW, Triumph and Ducati builds were cool and unique but I still needed to get back to my roots - a soul bike, you might say. A 2-stroke, adrenaline pumpin' mosquito killin' cafe racer! Most of my projects have been cafes, beginning in the 90s, but my core love of 2-strokes was still calling me, and I set my sights on a new concept of an old vision! In 2009, I started Kick-Start Garage as a tribute to all things motorcycle and cafe! Then I found it! A 1976 Yamaha RD400 for sale in a place where no man should ever go by himself with a pocket full of cash! Does "Deliverance" ring a bell?"

  I brought it home, evaluated and stripped it down. Then the fun began. The frame and wheels were powder-coated, the sheet metal and custom fiberglass were painted "Chappy Red" and I used Canadian graphics - just because they're different and a tribute to the retro inspiration. After tearing apart the engine, it was overhauled completely with WiseCo pistons, FMF reeds and a mild port job. The original RDs were fast, but I wanted to refine the true nature of the beast. I cut 11 1/2 inches off the exhaust, drilled the brake rotors, and machined my own foot controls to reverse the shift pattern. It also improved rider position, ground clearance and added to the overall reduction of weight. Front suspension features Race-Tech springs and new rear shocks. My custom seat fed the cafe spirit and kept the lines of the tank flowing through the rear of the bike. The Michelin tires completed the bike giving the traction needed for a daily rider.

  The vision was easy - a bike built to ride: no shows, no frills, just a good, fun, canyon-carving cafe racer! Turns out, it gets more attention at shows than those actually IN the show. This bike was a blast to build and when riding, feels like the beast it always wanted to be! This wasn't the first bike I've ever built and won't be the last. But one thing's for sure - it gives my soul a stir that not many bikes ever have.

  Passion is what keeps the custom bike world moving, and Craig’s RD has it in spades.  Great job!  I’m going to go search Craigslist for a nice stroker!






Visit Kickstart Garage

Source: Pipeburn


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