Twenty-one-year-old Prashanth has restored a 25-year-old Indian RD350 to U.S. specifications
A commercial pilot licence holder, Prashanth has clocked speeds beyond 300 kph in the skies. Not just aircraft, he gets attracted to any machine that moves at a brisk pace. He developed a fascination for the RD 350 when he was 14. Seven years since, he has restored one in a whole new way. Prashanth picked up a derelict 1985 low torque RD 350 and converted it into a motorcycle that meets specifications for RDs that were sold in the U.S.
Armed with a three-year experience of bidding on eBay, he embarked on the ambitious restoration project. He relied on the online auction house for sourcing parts specific to American RDs. “I had been reading up on RDs since I was a ninth standard student. I was drawn to RDs that had gone from Japan to the U.S. Because of my knowledge about these RDs, I could easily prepare two lists — one consisting of essential parts and other performance parts — and start bidding for both on eBay,” says Prashanth.
Despite looking to import a slew of motor parts from the U.S., Prashanth endeavoured to keep restoration costs down. As a result of conflicting objectives, it took time for him to source all the parts. Patience paid off. “I got standard U.S.-spec unsleeved cylinders, high performance Wiseco forged pistons, 33mm Mikuni flatslide racing carburettors, entire crankshaft assembly with original Yamaha conrods and Boyseen fiber racing reeds from the United States for approximately Rs. 33,000.” The crowning glory of Prashanth's fully restored U.S.-spec RD 350 are its DG gold anodised heads.
“A company called DG made these special high performance heads for RD in 1970. It is next to impossible to buy a pair of DG heads on the cheap. Now and then, they show up on eBay for about $ 700 to $1000. But I got them for $ 375.” Still, the amount is five times the price for a pair of RD heads in India. How did Prashanth manage to meet the bills. “For three years, prior to the RD restoration, I had been trading on eBay and saving money.”
Not just Prashanth's bidding skills, the expertise of a master technician has made the successful conversion of this RD 350 possible. Rajkumar, one of the Raju brothers known for their contribution to motor racing, built the bike, item by item.
As the bike had been neglected for long, it was stripped, sand-blasted and powder-coated. “The parts that required chroming were sent to one of the best chroming factories in the city,” says Prashanth. “Epoxy paint was applied on the undersides as an additional measure to prevent rusting.”
The bike is pleasing to the eye, but its value lies in the superior performance of its engine. “India-made RD cylinders made for 30.5 bhp; the U.S.-made ones, for 39 bhp. Additional features such as the expansion chambers, made by Rajkumar, are bound to further the bike's power quotient."
After the engine had been run-in, Prashanth is likely to put the bike on dynamometer to gauge its power. “We expect a 43 to 45 hp at the crank, which is 15 hp more than the Indian high torque RD model." As Prashanth wants the exterior to reflect the bike's new character, he has gone in for a paint scheme and badges that are in keeping with those for U.S.-spec RDs. After many days on eBay, he sourced two 1973 YAMAHA tank badges.
This final procurement completed the quirky and spectacular restoration project.