Never a massively popular machine in the UK, the baby LC is arguably the most pleasing aesthetically, although getting one back to running order can prove tricky with an ever decreasing parts situation and scant knowledge to fall back on. Chris Hinchliffe managed it, but only just.
Christopher Hinchliffe is a 40-year-old father of four, and more recently a granddad too. By day he works as an engineer, heat treating gearbox components for the military, while in his spare time bikes take a priority. His recently completed, and surprisingly rare, Yamaha RD80LC is better than new and a real testament to the work he puts into the end result, it isn’t alone either, having recently been joined by an equally rare Kawasaki AR80 and sharing garage space with an unrestored, but very tidy, RD500LC.
My earliest recollection of me having anything to do with motorcycles was the pile of items I found in the shed at my nanas house, it was 1974 so I was about 7 years old at the time. The shed was home to my uncle Peter’s 500 Manx Norton, although it was in bits and various boxes and a set of drawers housed most items, however it was identifiable as a motorcycle even to a seven year old. Peter had raced the Manx at the TT in 1960, and also the year before on a 350 Gold star, if only I had those bikes today. Some years later I actually got to own my own two wheels, a Honda MT5, that relieved me of £175 life savings, not bad for a 15 yr old in 1983. The money went straight into my older brothers pocket as he had cut his teeth on the Honda the previous year, on the approach to my sixteenth birthday and legality I was already planning my first journey, I approached uncle Peter “will it manage to get me to Filey?” “Yes” he replied, “if you take it steady and give it a rest after 1 hours riding”. Not only was it good advice, I too needed a rest after 1 hour at 35 mph, ok then 30 mph, ok ill be honest, 28 mph flat out, although it took an age my journey to Filey and back was a success.
Years past, and many bikes came and went, in 1997 I was on company business in Bristol, I was relaxing reading a local free adds paper when I spotted a RD80LC for sale. as I used to have the 125 version I went to have a look, returning somewhat bemused as it was a pile of junk, stolen recovered with numbers ground away, so my motorcycling past memories faded away again. A while later, and after I had taught my self the language of computers, I discovered eBay, I typed RD80LC in the search bar, and nothing and more nothing, you could get anything from Gary Glitters autographed underpants to Mick Jagger’s chewing gum, but not a thing to do with the RD80LC, lots of other RD stuff but nothing for the 80. the idea of getting one had bitten however so a began the search in earnest, eventually finding one in Lincoln, off I went and £500 later I was a proud owner of a very elusive RD80LC, just as I was still beaming with pleasure and still admiring my prize purchase, exactly one week later, there it was, another 80LC on eBay, I couldn’t believe it, I must have it I thought ,off I went again, it looked bad in the photo, and it was even worse in real life, but I bought it as I relished the challenge of returning it to its former glory. Three years later and with over £4000 spent ( but don’t tell the misses) the end result is a stunning restoration. On the subject of the wife, to be fair, over the few years she hasn’t moaned once about my obsession with the LC restoration, thanks Dawn, I love you.
During the restoration process I acquired countless spares and also another 4 RD80LC’s, which have since moved on to my good friend Gary Robinson who has subsequently restored one of them to a very high standard (one being the Kenny Roberts replica, see pic) and is planning to restore the other 3 also. I was able to offer Gary lots of advice on his restoration, pointing out which unobtainable new bits he needed to try and find. The best advice I can offer is don’t put a time limit on restorations etc, if you do you will try to cut corners, and stick to one bike too, at one point i was also restoring an RD350LC and an RD50MX at the same time as the 80, once again thanks Dawn.
Another essential ingredient is patience, lots of it, oh and a very understandable partner. I often trawled all the dealers all over the UK, both by phone and internet, often putting down the phone and rushing hundreds of miles just to pick up parts located at various Yamaha dealers. Webbs of Lincoln (thanks Andy), being the best of the bunch, Granby Yamaha in Ilkeston, and York Yamaha. I discovered the latter Yamaha dealership on my way back from the coast, one sunny weekend last summer, got talking to him about my RD80LC and ordered a few still available bits I was missing, on collecting the items a few weeks later Rob offered me a box and in it were some no longer available bits I needed for the 80lc, I was most surprised and over the moon, proving that there is genuine people out there only too willing to help.
Over looked in my early days of restoration was my local Yamaha dealer, Earnshaws in Huddersfield, why I cant think of but its a good example of how this can happen, I went one day and they had in stock a new fairing, side panels, belly pan and various other components of the shelf including free dust, what a result, even though the panels were in white. Before the restoration the bike was white, the V5 stated the bike began life in the candy blue paint scheme, this played on my mind and I wasn’t happy, I simply had to return it to its rightful colour, as for the spare white body kit, yes you’ve guessed it, my good mate Gary relieved me of yet more items, he wants my 500LC too but he has two hopes on that score and one of those is Bob. As for the finished result, it’s too nice to take out too often so will spend most of its days in the conservatory.
RD80LC Useful Contacts
Webbs Yamaha tel 01522 513193
Earnshaws moptorcycles tel 01484 421232
York Yamaha tel 01904 424597
1982 Yamaha RD80LC Specifications
- Price: £500
- Value now (est): £1000-1500
- Power: 97bhp
- Torque: 6.4ft-lb
- Top speed: 70mph
- Dry weight: 78kg
- Colours: White, Blue
- Fuel: 10litres
- Rake/trail: 26deg/110mm
- Seat height: 765mm
- Wheelbase: 1230mm
- Engine: liquid-cooled, 79cc ( 49 x 42mm), single-cylinder two-stroke. 18mm Mikuni carb. 6-gears. Chain final drive
- Chassis: Tubular steel twin down tube frame, 27mm non-adjustable telescopic forks, monoshock rear with adjustable preload
- Brakes: 220mm front disc with single-piston caliper, 110mm single-leading-shoe drum rear brake
- Tyres: 2.50 x 18 front, 2.75 x 18 rear
RD80LC Top Tips
Spread the word, tell all and sundry what your doing, some body, somewhere will know of the part you are looking for, or problem you are having, so spreading the word can only bring positives.
Attend as many of the classic shows as possible to gather information and contacts, as well as scouring the autojumbles.
The RD80LC is a rare bike, and few even know of its existence, so the part you need may well be sat in an autojumble with a low price on it.
Leave eBay till last if at all possible, try the growing list of owners and the better dealers first.
Strip the bike totally and assess the full extent of the restoration before continuing further, a big shock midway can be devastating both to the moral and the wallet.
Patience is a must when parts are scarce, sometimes bringing the project to a standstill or risk compromising the end result.
Gather as much information from fellow owners or dealers as possible.
When a bike is as rare as the RD80LC, it can be tough finding enough information, so try to get genuine manuals as neither Haynes or Clymer have produced a title covering this and many more models.
Yamaha RD80LC Restoration Gallery