One-Off Yamaha RD350 Comes With Broad Tracker Styling Cues and Tons of Handmade Parts

One-Off Yamaha RD350 8 photos
Photo: Kerry Fores
One-Off Yamaha RD350One-Off Yamaha RD350One-Off Yamaha RD350One-Off Yamaha RD350One-Off Yamaha RD350One-Off Yamaha RD350One-Off Yamaha RD350
When it comes to metal fabrication and bike-modding practices, Jake Drummond’s natural talent is absolutely remarkable in so many ways. He’d been building custom motorcycles since he was 18 years old, but his passion for life on two wheels started a lot earlier on. Jake started riding dirt bikes at the tender age of six and has regularly gotten involved in racing events over the years.
Upon completing his very first custom build, a Yamaha XS650 street tracker, he immediately wanted to go back into the shop and get started on the next. His father is an airplane pilot and mechanic who owns a hangar in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which is where Jake has set up his workspace. As for the project we’re about to look at, its starting point was an RD350 from the model-year 1973.

The author used it as a testbed for expanding his skillset some time ago, handling each and every aspect of the transformation process in-house. Yamaha’s classic two-stroke was gradually modified over a two-year period and has attained its final form in 2018. Interestingly enough, Jake couldn’t even weld back when the project got underway, so it’s safe to say the learning curve was rather steep.

Not pressured by pesky deadlines, he took the time to make everything come together in seamless fashion, and the outcome speaks for itself! Looking to vintage broad trackers for visual inspiration, Sir Drummond sketched out the initial concept and proceeded to take the RD350 apart. While doing so, he eliminated a large chunk of the motorcycle’s stock equipment, including the suspension, bodywork, and many other smaller bits.

With a blank canvas on his workbench, Jake first busied himself with some intricate frame mods. The most notable changes took place at the back, where you will now see an all-new subframe manufactured from scratch. It’s significantly shorter than the original RD item, not even leaving much room for comparison at all. The rearmost portion of the tubing houses a pair of circular LED taillights, but a minuscule tail section can also be spotted nearby.

One\-Off Yamaha RD350
Photo: Kerry Fores
Further ahead, there is a stylish black leather saddle upholstered by Jake himself. What we find even more enthralling is the handmade aluminum fuel tank placed in front of the seat, with all the electronic bits and pieces now stashed underneath it. The tank’s silhouette tapers toward the saddle beautifully, and a small filler cap occupies its top section.

At the front end, we notice a very interesting custom fairing whose design echoes the engine’s cooling fins. There’s an aftermarket LED headlight discreetly placed behind the vertical sections, but Jake doesn’t seem to have installed any front or rear turn signals. He did, however, carry the finned design onto a bespoke rear fender, while heavily altering the RD350’s suspension geometry in that area.

The swingarm was modified beyond recognition, and it now connects to a much sportier twin-shock arrangement up high. As for the shock absorbers themselves, they’re high-grade aftermarket items with white springs and adjustable preload, attached almost horizontally to custom mounting points. Jake went to town with the front suspension, as well, deleting the stock parts in favor of modern upside-down alternatives from a Yamaha YZ250F.

One\-Off Yamaha RD350
Photo: Kerry Fores
He shortened the forks by around eight inches (20 cm) prior to installation and used tailor-made triple clamps to secure them in place. Front-end braking duties are handled by a Nissin caliper and a drilled rotor, which is enshrouded in a custom aluminum cover with circular openings. Alloy fork guards are also present in that same area, while a vented brake cover can be spotted at the rear.

It’s accompanied by a swingarm-mounted license plate bracket in close proximity, and the standard RD rims made way for Excel replacements wrapped in trials rubber. You’ll spot stainless-steel foot controls low down on the motorcycle’s flanks, featuring the same drilled pattern found on the brake covers. After treating the two-stroke engine to the overhaul it desperately needed, Jake turned his attention to the exhaust pipework.

We now find a custom setup terminating in cylindrical aluminum mufflers, and it’s joined by a foam aftermarket air filter at the other end of the combustion cycle. Jake Drummond even went so far as to create a bespoke throttle mechanism and a new kickstand out of stainless-steel, which ought to give you a clear idea of his attention to detail. Finally, the last thing on the list was the paint job.

The gas tank was enveloped in a glossy burgundy base and a clever reinterpretation of Yamaha’s speed block design. Most of the other bits were finished in black, but a few were left unpainted to keep some bare metal in view. Look closely, and you’ll see a pinch of burgundy adorning the specimen’s small tail section – the only other place it’s been used aside from the fuel tank.
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About the author: Silvian Secara
Silvian Secara profile photo

A bit of an artist himself, Silvian sees two- and four-wheeled machines as a form of art, especially restomods and custom rides. Oh, and if you come across a cafe racer article on our website, it’s most likely his doing.
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