We found this gem while picking through an estate sale a lady was holding, it was in boxes and crates. Her husband had recently passed (of natural causes) and she was tying up loose ends. He had a penchant for taking bikes apart but wasn’t very good at putting them back together afterward. And this one was not given any kindness. We see a lot of this in our shop, people taking bikes apart and getting in over their heads when the time comes to reassemble everything. Our original intention was to restore it to factory spec., the 79 RD400 is the Daytona model and is well sought after by collectors. As it was sitting in the corner waiting for a chance to get on one of our lifts, one of our favorite supporters came in and mentioned he was looking for his next bike to do a build with, we suggested the RD. He had commissioned the BBCB we built a while back so he had an idea of what he was getting into, and he was ready to get back in the shop. Little did he know this build would turn into a crazy snowball, with the quest to create a really original bike that would hardly maintain any of its original parts.
To start with, we decided our little RD should have a mono-shock so we grafted a Yamaha LC250 swingarm to the pivot. While we were at it, we made some changes to the rear triangle of the frame adding a shock mount and seat pan support. On the front we mounted a Ceriani GPS replica fork (sourced from Budapest, Hungary), a Robinson 230MM 4 LS front brake laced to a Boriani “H” rim with Heidenau rubber completing the package. Keeping the front end attached to the frame is a billet triple clamp set, topped off with a Motogadget Motoscope Tiny Speedo. We also added a steering damper for stability, head shake is no fun. For the engine, the crank was rebuilt by Tim at HVC Cyle, with Wiseco pistons. Feeding the RD fuel is a pair of Lectron carburetors funneled through a set of V-force reeds. Scavenging the exhaust is a pair of stainless steel JL exhaust pipes with carbon fiber mufflers. We added a small oil tank that sits discretely between the frame rails behind the carbs. Ignition is handled by a Vape digital ignition with a motogadget M-unit controlling the switches and lights. We went back and forth trying to decide what to do about turn signals, finally settling on Motogadget bar end units because they keep the clean look we were after.
In the end we had 270 hours in this build which seems almost ridiculous, but when we stand back and look at the final result, we feel it was totally worth it!