Lost love: Yamaha RD350LC

Joe Lowe’s lost love is a heart-breaking tale of his much-loved dream motorbike, a machine he knew intimately after stripping it down, coming to the end of the road.

Joe, from our workshop, bought the used RD350LC in 1990 from a friend but he knew the full history of this iconic machine.

“In fact I’d known about the bike since it was new, bizarrely, because it had been through a lot of friends.”

It was Joe’s first big bike, having cut his teeth on 50, 100 and 125cc motorbikes, and was still pretty much standard.

“I ran it for a year and then stripped it right down and rebuilt it,” he recalls.

Joe invested a lot of time and effort into getting the RD350LC just how he wanted it.

The rebuild project included:

  • Powder-coating the frame and wheels.
  • Rebuilding the two-stroke, water-cooled engine.
  • Tuning and porting the engine.
  • Fitting race exhaust pipes from Stan Stephens, a renowned RD350LC tuner.
  • Changing the jets and reed valves in the carburettors.

“I did the work over the winter, and got it back on the road, and then ran it for another year before I had my accident on it.”

The freak accident with a car was not Joe’s fault but he suffered multiple fractures and spent the best part of a year recovering and getting back to full fitness. His Yamaha was a write-off.

The experience put him off riding a motorbike but he returned to two wheels after 28 years (!) and now owns another icon – a Kawasaki Z900RS modern classic.

“At the time, the RD350LC was my dream bike. They’re just legendary. I’d like one again.

“I was totally gutted about the accident after all the work I’d done but I was also smashed up.

“My RD350LC was fantastic – it was an amazing bike. The sound was incredible and it was brilliant to ride,” Joe recalls fondly.

“I loved every minute of it.”

He paid £1,100 for his RD350LC – good ones can now sell for 10 times that.

But Joe’s dream machine is not completely gone.

“I still had a lot of the standard parts, including the original pipes and side panels, and sold them to a friend of mine who restored an LC with these parts.”

So a little bit of Joe’s RD350LC lives on, along with his memories… gone but not forgotten.