If you have been around the classic motorcycle scene for a while you’ll already be familiar with the Yamaha RD400, and the cult following it has amongst the classic two stroke community. Yamaha’s two stroke bikes from the 1970s and 1980s have recently skyrocketed in value over the past decade, with many fans looking for restoration projects to hopefully save some money when complete, when compared to a fully restored example.
The Yamaha RD400 went through a series of minor changes throughout the relatively short production run between 1975 and 1980, which included points to electronic ignition, spoked to cast wheels, and adoption of Yamaha’s own brake calliper design over the original Lockheed patented units.
The Yamaha engine was simplicity itself, a parallel twin air cooled two stroke with a six speed gearbox. The carburettors were fairly simple Mikuni 28mm, fed to the engine via Yamaha’s reed valve induction system. Power output was around 40 horsepower in standard trim, however more power could be found with sensible tuning, such as race expansion chambers, airbox modifications, uprated reed valves, and even water cooling via Fahron’s kits.
The suspension is also fairly crude and investing on uprated rear shock absorbers, improving the front suspension through uprated springs, valve work and bracing will definitely help you to avoid some tank slapper moments when you are upping the speed.
Yamaha RD400 (F) Daytona Special
The Yamaha RD400F Daytona was essentially Yamaha’s farewell to the RD400 range, with only the American, Canadian and Australian markets receiving this model. The F model was also a limited production run of 2000, therefor finding a surviving example today is extremely difficult.
The Daytona’s styling moved away from the original coffin tank design, opting for a more curved design along with some reshaped plastic parts. The engine cylinder heads also received a redesign at the front to capture addition air cooling. Parked alongside the original bike, there isn’t a huge amount of difference, however the subtle changes do make it a better looking bike (in my opinion).
It was a shame the Daytona never officially shipped to the UK because these bikes would have found fans with the bikers of the time, however Yamaha were now focusing on their LC range, which was set to raise the bar again for affordable race derived performance for the road.
Yamaha RD400F for sale on ebay
This 1979 example has lots of rough edges, however could be the basis for a full restoration or perhaps a cool resto-ride with period aftermarket parts. As with many Yamaha RD models, a previous owner has removed the airbox and used pod filters with aftermarket exhausts. Whilst this could liberate more power, it also resulted in a unpredictable power delivery or a lean condition resulting in engine top end failure. A thorough examination of the current setup would be advised.
The bike has recently shipped from the USA and has matching engine and chassis numbers, which is a must for someone looking to retain the value in the bike. The engine turns over with compression, however no attempt has been made to start the bike.
Restoring your Yamaha RD400
The good news from a restoration perspective is the number of spares available in the second hand market. If you are not looking to undertaken an OEM parts restoration you have a huge choice of aftermarket parts available, especially for engines and exhausts. The RD400 shared many parts with the smaller RD250 sibling, therefor mixing and matching will give you lots of possibilities.
As with most bikes using a metal fuel tanks the introduction of ethanol in fuels will be your enemy. We created an article which highlights some of the measures you can take to prevent corrosion, however starting with a tank which is in good condition is always preferable.
Organising your garage or workshop is also a sensible precaution before attempting your restoring, in addition to acquiring a good set of tools. Butchered bolt and screw heads are commonplace where Philips screwdrivers have been used instead of JIS screwdrivers. For some inspiration on suitable tools you may want to check out our workshop tools article.
If you are looking to bid on this lovely RD400F Daytona Special we wish you the best of luck, and would also be interested to hear about your plans for the bike. Complete restoration? Retro ride? Something completely wacky? You can keep in touch via our Facebook page and group, Instagram and Twitter accounts linked at the bottom of the page.
Happy bidding and ride safe,