1976 Yamaha RD400
With Don Emde in the seat, a Yamaha 350cc 2-stroke took om the factory 750 4-strokers at the 1972 Daytona 200 and remarkably… it won! This success catapulted the diminutive racer into the limelight and the dominance of the stock club racing RD350 and RD400 successor was cast.
Introduced in 1976, the RD400 took over from the RD350 with completely revised styling, featuring a coffin-shaped fuel tank, and, for the first time on a production roadster, cast alloy wheels. To accommodate the 400’s extra grunt, the crankcase assembly was beefed up and the engine unit mounted on rubber bushes to isolate the rider from high-frequency vibration.
This “giant-killer” reputation seeped into the road bikes and sales were reflective. As a capable, fast and great-handling machine at a very reasonable price, the bike was the darling of the weekend warrior looking to replicate Daytona on the country lanes or modified to café racer specs, reminiscent of the London racers of the 1950s.
The motorbike offered
The 1976 Yamaha RD400 on offer comes to us from a Northern California collector. Purchased as a sad and pathetic machine in need of of a lot of TLC, he stripped the bike and embarked on a ground-up restoration with modifications reminiscent of the RD he rode as a kid.
The frame was checked for imperfections before heading for the powder-coaters. In it hangs the buzzy and powerful engine that was fully rebuilt with Wiseco pistons, DG style head and stage IV pipes. Gears shift through a Barnett clutch by some beautifully executed rearset footpegs and controls. Electronic ignition keeps it sparking. Up front, the forks were rebuilt with progressive spring, while out back an extended swingarm helps to keep the front wheel on the ground. A bit. Brakes were fully rebuilt, and all electrical systems renewed or overhauled.
Cosmetically, the bike is exquisite with black finishes throughout, accented with freshly replated chrome hardware. Paint is superb and resonates the 1970s. The odometer reads a little over 14,000 miles, believed to be original.
The bike is in fine fettle. It starts remarkably easily and has stonking great power for a middleweight. All cycle parts and electrical systems work perfectly and the bike rides just like when you were a kid, chasing down much bigger machines through the twisties.