This was always going to be a project for the future... I didn’t have time, and still don’t, to build it and for the longest time I didn’t have a real plan for it. So I never really quite knew what it was going to become or what parts to buy for it... or even when it would get done... but what I do know is that I have been slowly gathering parts without really realising it, and most weeks something new arrives for this project...

One thing I discovered with the way this project snuck into my life and how it bubbled under the surface, was that it was either a fun way to have a project ‘ready’ for the future, or it was a nightmare of wasted time, effort and money securing and refurbishing parts that later don’t get used. I will leave it to you to decide which of those you think this is, either way I absolutely would do it again; I’m just a sucker for parts of bike and bikes in parts I reckon!

This is the story so far... watch out for the twists and turns as we enjoy this roller-coaster ride!

Ages ago an old RZ frame sort of followed me home... it was free... wow! Those were the days LOL....! It even has Australian compliance plate still fitted and is an ‘83, so what purists call an ‘LC2’ or ‘31k’ model.

I didn’t really have a plan as such with this project, only that I would see what came along and I didn’t really want to throw too much money at it as the other projects were rummaging around deep in the coffers desperately searching for the last few coins, and I didn’t care when it would get actually done, I had enough on my plate as it was, with more projects coming and going all the time!

Of course one thing everyone who is reading this knows, this project didn’t stay free for long... A mate needed rid of an engine... and I paid him some coin and it arrived... most of it was junk, ahh well it was ‘cheap’...

A little later someone locally was selling off their stack of race parts and I bought the lot, so gained some useful small parts for it... and also a full front light and an OEM cowl... and a dented fuel tank... we were making progress and the pile of parts was growing steadily.

Time moved on and I saw that a UK forumer was selling a 350cc top end... Cylinders with low bores and never cheap but well, I just knew that I had to grab them...

Another friend called me up and asked if I wanted a few old RZ bits.... I ended up with some side panels and a tail... nice!

Then I was at another mates place who had an ’80’s honda MX swingarm and didn’t want it... He wondered if I could use it? While I don’t just grab everything people offer me, I think about it and if I can use it then grab it, but only if I would, but if not it seems better that someone who can actually use it has it. He then mentioned he had trial fitted it to an RZ frame and it fitted... ‘er, ok then....!’

Then another mate said 'you like RGV forks... you can have these for sensible money if you want em'... RGV forks in Australia are never cheap and I do like these forks... I brought them home too...

Over time more and more parts arriving meant that the inventory was starting to add up... I was still buying bits as I saw them, no hurry, but they arrived all the same... things like a Toomey battery box and Y-boot filter setup, a set of Gibson stainless pipes and a bunch of other smaller bits got added to the pile, even a set of nice used PVs arrived from Canada.

As the months slid past I managed to score an Zeeltronic piggyback unit for the LC421 which meant that I now had a PCDI-10V ignition for this bike as I had bought one when I was in the USA... In fact like all the projects I’ve done, parts have come from all over the world.

The downside was that I still had no plan. I was acquiring things I thought were cool and would make a nice bike, but already I was changing my mind about what to do with the bike. One thought was to go back to all OEM and build a proper LC2, after all they command strong money as the first YPVS models and they are a nice bike. another was to get a radical 500cc motor and ‘go big or go home’!

So... they say that good things come to those who wait, and well yes it has been a few years of slowly sticking parts in boxes in the corner, in fact I’ve mostly forgotten about what I’ve been collecting for it and in retrospect looking at the collection of parts, I would often think that ‘if I could just find a nice XXX id have most of a bike now!’... but with the plan changing, I still didn’t really know if I had everything I needed for it...

I’ve struggled not to laugh at that thought really... I’ve got to the point where I had more of this project stashed away than some of the bikes that were sold to me as 'whole'! And to be honest for the longest time I still had no real desire to build it as I had other projects to finish first, plus some new ones waiting in the wings... Of course it was also a nice excuse, just buy something and convince myself it was ok to purchase it as it was ‘for the 83 project’!

So, my advice... when you buy some bits and the seller offers you a box of extra bits for cheap as a side deal; buy it! When you see something useful or a mate wants rid of it; if you can use it, take it home! You really do just never know what people will offer you and you might find that you’ve accumulated most of your next bike project without too much hassle (and one off expense)!

So here are a few of the highlights:

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Early on version of this project’s motor...

This was eventually swapped out for a much better condition unit that came up for sale on ebay with no cain damage. It arrived overfull of clean oil with a crank bearing run. Someone must have been very unhappy with that state of affairs!

The years zipped past and the gathering of parts continued.

One day I had a tidy up in my garage, mostly as a guy wanted to come over and look thru my MT250 spares, of which there were fewer and fewer thank god! To be honest I didn't realise I had sold (and given away) so much of the MT stuff. I had boxes and boxes of it, but no more! Anyway, as now that the other boxes of XL500R parts were formed into a bike shaped object, and the XT was much the same (it went from bike to boxes, then to a bike again quite quickly for me), a re-organise was long overdue. Winter is a great time to do that in Aus... it’s way to hot to do that kind of heavy lifting in Summer in my garage.

The front wheel came with some project bike I bought a while back, it was part of the deal that I had to take it I think... it's sounds harsh and a struggle for me to say, but I really didn't want this RZ part at the time, madness I know, hmm...

It's just that I hate re-painted and powdercoated wheels. They are always a nightmare to restore, and this one looked to have been painted by a 5 year old using household acrylic gloss, probably Dulux outdoor stuff, as it was pretty solid. I started to strip it with the best paint stripper I know of (KBS's aircraft stripper) and it was hard going, but under the nasty white you can see its a normal RZ wheel that has been just painted over.

Amusingly there was also good news during the garage tidy up as I actually found a matched set of tyres for these wheels in the stash. They are Michelin M45... One was on the white wheel and one was a gift from a racer having a clear out. Looking on the Michelin site ( ) I see they have two characteristics...

1, Specifically designed for urban riding - That's ok, even if its not actually ‘cool’.

2, Outstanding tyre life - That's not usually cool at all. Long life usually means hard as nails and no grip.

To give them some hope I gave them a clean up and a coat of product to keep em moist in storage. Hopefully the darkness of the workshop will have them stored ok for now.

As you might imagine over the years I began to (slightly) confuse myself with what I had and what I didn’t. I started to think that the best plan might be to lay all the parts out on the driveway... it would make a good photo, we’ll see.... but I knew that I was quite close to a whole bike... Of course its not all about remembering (or forgetting) what you have as with an ‘undefined project’ it can be about securing options...

This did make me muse that you know when you really have an 'RZ problem' is when your friends call you round their place to identify what is in boxes of 'job lots' they have at the back of their garage. One friend recently had me identify parts and wanted values for ebay. hmm... he did hand me a bunch of the stuff later tho so maybe it wasn’t all bad! Anyway what that means is that I am being forced to believe that I might have some sort of ‘mental parts book’ for these bikes. Scary.

While searching for some parts in my RZ boxes I found that I don't have a rear YPVS caliper for this bike. I also found that I have a lot of 250 parts; 3 sets of cylinders (1 bored and with new pistons), heads, reed valves, CDI, carbs and other stuff. This made me wonder what I would do with that lot if I didn't build this bike as a 250... but really could I actually do that?! What this search through my boxes did do was it has got me interested in this project again. Now that I had managed to free up some space there was a chance for this project to finally enter my consciousness.

What happened next was right out of left field... I was thinking about bikes and happened across forumers posts about his bike, in one he put up a photo.... who wouldn’t want this?

Anyway, while tidying some areas of my garage/workshop that I rarely set foot in I decided to sort out my wheel and tyre stash. Some of the wheels that no longer had homes (i.e. not bikes I'm building anymore or have sold, or are selling) went on ebay or gone to mate's places so that helped but what was very cool is that I came across the wheels for this bike and was able to match them up as a set with tyres and disks from my spares stash. A mate kindly passed me the rear wheel years back and I noticed it had an old cracked 'Pirelli Phantom' tyre on it I whipped that off it and a quick wash it looked like it just needs a repaint and a polish (and of course new bearings) to be usable. Cool news.

My original plan was to keep hitting these wheels with paint stripper and see how they would go, I didn't fancy springing for any posh blasting "with virgin's thoughts" or whatever is the blast media of the moment for alloy is that avoids scratches/damage to the polished surfaces.

Actually.... When completed I did wonder if these wheels might instead end up on the '85 F1 project as the tyres were in more roadworthy condition than the "as new but sidewall damaged" item that bike was wearing.

Time marched on... fast forward what must have been close to another 9months.... Some might suggest that would be time enough for a new human life to begin, I wouldn’t know about that, but I do know it wasn’t enough time for me to think at all about this bike... scary how fast life moves at times!

The front wheel had languished half stripped in the garage when I finally found out that my white house painted wheel turned out to be bent. A forumer, the same supplier as the rear wheel, came to my rescue and we swapped some parts. We tested the 'new' wheel on my balancer and it was dead true. wow. Very cool!

Parts for the project slowly began to trickle in again... not only as I'm still tiding the back of the garage, but also because friends of mine very kindly gift me things on occasion.

When I remembered I had been occasionally hitting the (new to me) front and rear wheels with paint stripper. When people asked I suggested that I guessed they might be ready for polishing and paint sometime during the summer. I did not suggest a year...

Examples of the occasional interested I showed in this project were when I had to move some stuff in the garage to put up some shelves and I dug out the forks I had for this bike. They are F2. Not an issue itself, they are actually really nice forks... but... I had in my head that I wanted to build a 31k, and hence wanted to use the 31k style top triple and use the more upright bars. And to make things worse... The top triple I had was marked 4LO on the underside, which is LC, but maybe they used the same item on the 31k, anyway its a moot point as this unit is about 2mm undersized on the ID for the F2 forks. I could have it reamed, annoyingly I gave away my F1/F2 top triple years back. Another day and another parts; I was at a forumer’s place to help him out with some wheel bearings and he gave me an intact rear light. Cool. I probably needed the hoop that it attached to, but I get ever closer to a full list of parts.

As the parts tally gradually gathered pace, I was beginning to realise that I had more than one option in some areas like the swingarm.

Not only did I have a Honda Pro Link unit from a MX’er hanging on my wall, but I also had a couple of F1/N1/F2/N2 swingers, and a lone 31k.

The more I looked at them the more I felt that the Yamaha YPVS units all look to be the same dimensionally, so was there really any extra strength in the later boxed section arm I wondered?

The '85 F1 brochure suggested the box section unit had 'increased strength'...

...but they also claimed the 'fender brace' (I refute this part's use as any sort of fork brace, hence the term 'fender brace') was 'sturdy', hmm depends on what you compare it with. I guess it's sturdier than a slice of cheese...

And it appears that even Yamaha weren't too sure that "power fender" was a real term, hence it is written in quotes!)

Finally the 1% Inspiration arrives....

If they say a project is I% inspiration, and 99% perspiration, then let the sweating commence!

Finally I had the epiphany I needed. I was thinking and had a Eureka moment, so with water over the floor I stumbled here to present the news.... Finally after a few years of dillying and dallying it is clear the way this project will progress!

After all, let's face it, it hasn't really been clear from the start. This bike came about initially from a load of bits left over from other projects and builders, some parts gifted, some purchased, but no real plan.... After a while it settled into my mind as a true sort of 31k build. ...and then I had a crush on a forumer’s GP exited, RGV suspended bike and wanted to do one more like that that. To be honest that direction helped me get on track as I had a lot of the components for that kind of build on hand, but finally after more soul (and Google) searching I realised how I can build this and integrate it into my stable without treading on the tyres of the other RD/RZs in there... Good news I think you will agree!

So to recap where I am at with this 'collection'. Well, as none of them are for sale, I figure it must be a collection!

My LC421 is a powerhouse of the original LC idea. A blunt tool with 80's turbo car power delivery designed to cheat its' handling and catch the unwary out. Sure, it has too much power for its frame yet has tyres, brakes and suspension that should cope, it's the 'hinge' in the middle that's the limiting factor of course... that and the brain-2-hand co-ordination of the rider. As I once shakily said to a friend after riding a brand new peaky Enduro 2-stroke home from the dealer mid winter on ice with new 'oily' dirt tyres, that kind of experience is worth every penny! The LC421's look is pure hybrid modd'ed LC and exactly what I wanted; from a distance its absolutely an LC, no mistaking that, but closer up it's a detail magnet where blokes who know these bikes well will 'ohh..' and 'ahh!' at their leisure, and they have... I'm not making it up. It's a bizarre experience when biker blokes stand in quiet contemplation in front of your bike when you expect then to speak animatedly...

My other Yamaha 2 stroke twin is the '85 F1 and that is basically my version of a 'nut n bolt restoration with extras'. You can't help but enjoy the basic premise (half finished in my mind) of the YPVS as Yamaha intended in it's initial full fairing guise. As a one year production bike its a nightmare to re-build one, especially a $400 clunker, but if you have to... like I did... then my advice is that you should... but, I'd never do another, it was way too hard!

So in order for my '83 to fit in it with this crowd it needed an identity of its own. A straight modified bike or a restoration wasn't what was needed as I had them already, but ask any teenager, it's not always easy to be different and still be well liked amongst your peers...

So, just like Yamaha had in mind when they decided that they would make a new cleaner lined bike from the old RD range in 1983, I came to the realisation that is what I would do with my 83, only it will be cleaner than even Yamaha intended.

While Yamaha was heading along the line, with the other manufacturers, to creating real race reps I don't intend to go that way, I just want the bike to be a clean as possible. Nothing extraneous and nothing without a function. If more than one function can be done by one thing, it will be...

With a new day a more sensible head on, I checked some other parts to make sure I had what I thought I did and hadn’t used, sold, or given them away:

Carbs - Have 350 Mikunis ready to go.

Shock linkage - I have the RGV knuckle and shock, but needed to make/source the spacers and plates

Instruments - I have an R1 unit ready to go, but I needed the speedohealer

Fairing bracket(s) - I have a full 83/84 fairing and bracket and a forumer showed a way to mount it on the RGV triples, perfect!

After a good look at the pdf of the parts required to build the brackets and spacers for the RGV-on-RZ setup I set off to pick up some steel. Seems a full length of 75mm x 6mm flat bar only comes in a whopping 3m... more than I needed, but a bargain at $31.75 from a local steel supplier, who would also cut it up for me to get in the car if I needed. However when I suggested I only needed 400mm he told me to visit the steel fabricator over the road, a chap named Bob Char. Bob is a hell of a bloke, came over form Korea in '73 and after about half an hour I got to know Bob quite well. He's got a wicked sense of humor and we haggled on a price for a piece of his steel, in the end he cut me off a slice and I got what I needed for a bargain $5.

Around that time I was finding that no one wanted to buy my RGV banana arm... I reckoned if the 83/LC2/31k was brought back by Yamaha today it would look something like the bike in the pics above, though they might improve the frame and make it alloy, but then again... What I think looks great is the 'bigger feet'. I mean c'mon, how nice are decent wide wheels on an old bike!

At that point I had two options:

1, build the bike with standard suspenders front and back, standard wheels, brakes etc. I had all the parts, even an R6 shock and I would just need all the bearings and seals for the H arm/swinger and calipers.

2, build the bike with RGV front and rear ends. I would need to fab (or have made) the plates and arms, plus the collars to get the swinger to fit but I had most of the rest... just needed seals for the Tokico RGV 4 pots.

With my ever changing mind this could all have became a bit of a moot point as a local lad decided to sell off his whole RGV250 in parts. Keeping my options open I dropped round with some cash and came home with wheels, forks and a banana swingarm. Ooops! I didn’t mean to do that...

Really, I’m not really a Banana arm fan to be honest, I feel the fact its different both sides to be a bit ‘weird’ to say the least, but it’s a good strong unit all the same and it does fit the YPVS quite simply and allows you to use 17’s. In the end I decided to let fate decide and advertised the arm in the hope it sold before I could choose to use it...

Decisions... Decisions... I just didn’t want to make them!

This bike was now starting to take over my mind in moments when I had nothing better to do, and sometimes when I had way more important things to achieve... it was starting to finally feel like a project, although the direction was still not quite set.

As an example, I was musing while sat waiting for my car to be finished at the dealer that with an airbox (supplied by a forumer, cheers Rob!) and the TSS uprated Engine bearings that has just arrived, that I had most of the parts needed to build a rolling chassis. The downside is that it means that I would need to actually stump up and make some decisions, not least as to the engine spec as I would need to buy a crank of course.

For this motor I could be sensible and that would mean this bike would get built soon, or I could go mental and then it wouldn’t be done until 2030 or something! With a 350 and a 421 already in my stable it did seem like I probably should go mental (maybe get into a pi$$ing contest with Aaron’s 443 or something! but I wasn’t sure I could afford it and I do have the 421 which wont be sold etc. This might well also be my last RD/RZ project as I haven’t got another ADR complied frame, and with the current rises in prices of those locally I couldn’t see me finding another decent project (and certainly not a good fuel tank!) so maybe I should go all out... or maybe I should not worry, just build a fun bike (even a 250!) and then move on... I mean, I will have 3 of the RD/RZs in my garage as it is when this one is done, and I know where there is another XT to be built... so I won’t be short of projects anytime soon...

I also often stated that I wanted to build this bike 'on the cheap', it would make a change from my other projects... but to be honest, with the parts I already have for it (wheels, suspension, Zeeltronic, 350cc cyls, Dynatek etc etc) Im already over spent any sort of 'cheap' budget, I just didn't have to spend it all in one go so it doesn't feel quite as painful as starting a project and throwing down cash day in day out of course.

So with those important decisions to be made, I instead started to think about colour schemes and on looking thru my laptop's download folder I found a bunch of 31k pics I liked enough to DL from the forums... I need to choose one, mess with it a bit and then get a graphics guy to do me the twist I want... which like all amateur graphics twists will either look great or nasty... And if I start do sway too far from the OEM paint schemes then I could create a dog's breakfast or a great looker... we'll have to wait and see if I'm a designer or just a designer idiot...

Oh, it's not easy having a project to plan in your head, especially when there are still projects to finish!

...but, you will like this... I’ve been 'clever', the parts are on the slow boat from the UK, in the hope that means I can do some work on the other bikes an not get side tracked by this project... fingers crossed! :)

While sorting out some RGV parts to sell I suffered a bout of "Sidetrackalitus", which was good for this bike, but less good for ebay's coffers.

An ‘amusing’ thing about this project is that things can change in an instant. I was all set to spend the Christmas period cutting up parts to make the spacers, dogbones and plates for my banana arm conversion and then a forumer put a complete fitted-but-unused NK conversion set up for sale. Fantastic!

Ok, yes... While its not really in the spirit of the original budget aspect of this build (that was lost years back if I am honest!), it saved me a lot of messing about as I would have had to travel to visit either of the two people I know with lathes and mills, tho the chat would have been good at either location of course!

The same seller also supplied me better Suzuki inner bearing collars and an offset sprocket. This means that I have pretty much everything needed to make up a roller in an afternoon when this lot arrives...

Sometimes it sucks to have a bit of time and spend it looking over stuff you think is in good condition, Sod’s Law would suggest that more often than not you find it isn’t. I looked over the frame and realised the oil tank rear mount is missing! On my 85 F1 the blaster dude blasted it off for me as some kind of ‘good will gesture’, sigh... this time I don't even have one to start with. Interestingly I was just about to put an old non complied and partially cut up 85 F1 frame out for the council clear-up and I checked it and found it had that very tab still present so I have cut it off to weld it onto the ‘83 frame. Saved!

In an effort to prove I could do it, I went through the two crappy seat locks I had. One had the helmet lock tang broken off, cracking the Mazak (or whatever alloy these parts are made of) and the other was originally off my 85, it was silver and had the lock smashed up. neither had keys but I did have a few spare Yamaha keys from who knows where. So, I stripped them both and then built up a lock that worked with the one of the keys that best fitted the barrel. Quite an easy job all told as you just use the different length sliding tumblers from the pile of parts in a configuration to that allows you to have a working unit. After the silver paint was cleaned off and the parts put back together with all the springs in the right places I had a fully working seat latch and helmet lock. Don’t bin those trashed locks, you can do this sort of job on a rainy afternoon... Ahem...

Should you really follow instructions?

Interestingly I was talking to a forum member and one of the fantastic things about conversions like this is that sometimes people don't follow convention and they go it alone and create something different. Sometimes that is due to them having a brainwave, other times it is because they are forced to go another way due to parts availability.

They say that one part of the human condition is that we are guilty of laziness to some degree, we are looking for shortcuts even when we don't know it. The PDF for the VJ22/23 swingarm conversion is really one of these. I mean, how many of us would try to think out of the box with this conversion when someone has gone to the effort to create a PDF detailing all the parts that you need to do it? I know that I for one wasn't thinking about anything else other than how and where I could get the bits to make up what I needed as per the instructions...

Of course, if you don't have a lot of RGV parts littering the ebay site in your part of the world you might look and think a little harder, and it appears that is what happened. The person who shared his build with me today (thanks mate!) reused the RZ's H arm instead of the RGV knuckle, and in doing so didn't have to make plates and spacers up for the frame, and he could then use the RZ's shock or one like it, as they didn't need to locate a shock with a 'n' shaped lower mount. This also left the centre stand mounts free to be used if wanted, although he didn't do that.

I'm a bit stunned really, I hadn't considered that you might be able to do this conversion with less parts fabrication and messing about with making up new mounts. I considering that this was a simpler approach, but wondered what the difference in the setups would yield as far as handling etc

It didn’t take long for me to find out. The forums are full of guys who have done most of these conversions before. Quite quickly it became apparent that the conversion as detailed in the plans takes into account the original geometry of the RGV, placing the shock where its should be to work correctly for the rising rate linkage. Maintaining this geometry is key to good handling and my advice is to seek out the parts as defined in the pdf, you will save yourself time and effort and have a better, safer bike when it’s done.

When I got home I dug about in my scrap bin and found an old set of bars to use as the spacers, I just got to cut the spacers up using a lathe, then cut up and drill the plates and then scrounge some time on a mill to narrow the swingarm. All very budget build really, just time and favours! Perfect!

It got even better as when looking in my bearings box, I found a brand new set of RGV swinger bearings so the only parts still to source are the spacer collars to go between the swingarm pin and the RGVs inner bearing collars.

These beauties (can you say that about a caliper?) have a 65mm fitting, the RGV forks are 90mm.. So, I need to make them fit... I have a cunning plan, but you are going to have to leave that with me as I haven’t completed it yet. In the meantime, a few more gratuitous pics of 30km old RSVR Mille sexy Brembos with 1pad per piston...

Next up... The fronts...

Ok, hands up, who wouldn't want to fit these if you had them... I know I wouldn't, er....I cant type, my hands are up!

My world is full of curve balls.... I found this photo... I quickly fell in love with this bike!

Finally I had the inspiration I needed for this project...

At the bottom of my brakes box was a front master cylinder 'centre section' from an RGV (and plenty of others, i.e. a Nissin 5/8). It was seized solid but the rubbers were good and the paint was ok and had no road rash so I felt it was worth more investigation. The rest of the parts were missing, but I have enough old master cylinder parts to make up the rest with a new lever from ebay. So I set to work stripping it completely, cleaning up the bore (just dirty not rusty) and the original seals which were thankfully still good... and a few hours later I had brought it back from the dead and actually used it to pump out some pistons on a rear brake I wanted to also strip. Happy days!

So I now had a master cylinder for this bike that works with the OEM RGV Tokico 4pots, which I still needed to strip and clean... ok, cool so far... To make that plan stick I quickly ordered a set of natty cheapo 'CNC' levers off ebay to see what they are like as I also found an RGV clutch perch for this bike, the brake light switch came off an old Honda off road bike master cylinder. Exactly the same as the RGV and in working condition.

I spent a bit more time working on brakes as I had quite a stash of the cool tandem twin pot RGV calipers. It seemed like I bought every one going for months. So I built up one for this bike. Perfect!

The caliper was totally cleaned out, ultrasonically cleaned then repainted, resealed (OEM parts) and fitted with new OEM pistons... well I say new, they were out of my other leaky caliper from my LC421 but were new when they went in there and did no miles, just proved the thing wasn’t holding fluid as it has a corroded edge to the body. Also has new pads and cleaned and lubed bracket parts and all new stainless fittings including the bleed nipple...