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Project Elsie

Back in the early 80s there was a new machine in the Yamaha show rooms that was to a teenager as white lightning cider was to a tramp, It was called the RD 250/350 LC and was the best thing since sliced bread and the loopy juice called Hurlimanns lager.

As I was still at school and the only time I got near one of these two stroke rockets was when an older kid in paddock jacket and jeans would rock up on one at the school gates to annoy his old teachers by revving the granny out of the engine and frightning the younger kids with its high pitch scream from the mircron or allspeed exhausts.

At the time I had an early unrestricted Yamaha FS1 E with a 60cc big bore kit and clip on bars, I wasnt old enough to legally ride it on the road but come my sixteenth birthday it was ready to be abused.

Leap forward 10 years, I was in my mid 20s and after being knocked off my Honda 1000s I was on the look out for another bike, The Honda was a huge lump and I wanted something light and sporty.

Thats when I saw a 1981 RD 250 LC for sale with in my budget, It turns out it was in my budget because the engine was shagged and after a strip down I decided that it would be cheaper to fit another engine, I had read that a later YPVS 350 engine will fit with a bit of work and thumbed through the small ads and located said engine for the pricely sum of £400, I took lump straight over to Stan the man near Brands Hatch for a complete rebuild and race tune.

After a few months I had the engine back in the frame and was grinning from ear to ear, this was a very fast bike, Nikon race pipes, 28mm flat slide carbs, jmc swinging arm and double front discs.

I had the bike for a year and loved it, however it had to go because I had gone all married and needed a house, The biggest mistake I had made in a long time.

The years have vanished behind me, Ive had quite a few Hinckley Triumphs, Air cooled RDs, bobbers and specials.

I still have my trophy 1200 street fighter, Its been with me for 22 years now but this is a heavy 140bhp monster and I needed something lighter.

At the end of 2019 a customer came to me with an air cooled replica and ex race bike TZ 350 that needed an engine rebuild and good tune up after being butchered by another bike shop, This was the insiration to inhale two stroke fumes again.

I never thought I would have another Elsie as once you have something so good it is always difficult to go one better and that comparrison is in your mind when ever you ride the bike.

My cousin was a RD 350 LC man back in his youth and I knew he still had one in his shed so I gave him a call and popped around for a chat, Turned out he had 5 of these collectable strokers in all stages of disrepair and a deal was struck to build him a running bike, sell 3 bikes as projects and keep one for myself using the sold bikes for funds.

Years ago his mars bar coloured bike was stolen and burnt out, this was 100% original and that was the bike he chose to keep and restore, As I was on another planet with my build it did not matter to me what I had and took the bitsa.

I have always loved the TZ 750 flat tracker that King Kenny rode to victory on many a race and that is where my project Elsie was taking me

The 3 bikes and parts were sold for the build kitty and our two bikes were stripped and parts sent off for blasting and powder coating.

The engines were taken to sunny Hastings to my now friend John Floyd who had previously rebuilt and tuned the TZ engine, What this wizard does not know about two stroke tuning is not worth knowing, My cousins engine was rebuilt with new internals and a stage 2 road tune, 

My engine was bored out to 375cc, race/sprint tuned with larger reed blocks, new internals, race clutch, high flow water pump, racing ignition system and the whole engine blue printed

After a few months I had cut the frame and fitted a Honda CRF front end and bespoke yolks, Yamaha WRF rear end and wheels, welded the frame and swing arm to take twin shocks and had the lot powder coated in American nickle.

The wheels were coated in fine flake gold and re built with stainless spokes, The seat unit was fabricated in aluminium and to keep the looks clean I decided to have this with no lights and keep it day time use only.

I fabricated some copper end cans and fitted these to a set of early Stan Stevens expansion pipes, The radiator was an aluminium unit that was modified to fit and a set of koso clocks with a gps speedo added.

Carburation was sorted with a pair of Mikuni 30mm TMX powerjets and the reed blocks were replaced with V blocks, As for the body work, I painted this in Pineapple Yellow pearl, snow white pearl and black with 5 coats of clear coat.

This engine at best will cover 20 miles to every gallon of super unleaded so the need to carry around vast amounts of two stroke was needed, Now I dont like having to use a ruck sack and my pockets are only fit for drinking vouchers and my old Nokia so I needed to fabricate a holder for my oil,

As I live and have my workshop Vics classic autos in Faversham Kent , Not that far from the Shepherd neame brewery which made the loony juice Hurlimanns lager I thought it would be in keeping with my past and make a huge can of hooliganns to carry my much needed two stroke oil.

The bike has passed its MOT, the insurance company has made me a special policy as there is nothing that has not been modified on the bike and the government has had its road duty paid so all I need to do now is run the bike in.......which will seem like an eternity before i can re-live my youth again