The L-plate laws changed quite dramatically during the early 80’s, young riders no longer being able to ride the latest 250cc tackle, instead having no option but to get a 125 restricted to just 12bhp. Yamaha was on the case however; the single cylinder RD125LC mimicked the styling of its larger LC siblings and, once liberated from its lowly learner-legal beginnings, it was fast too.
Stuart Nightingale is a 35-year-old bricklayer, he has had a thing for the Yamaha RD range ever since he had a DT50MX at 16 and his older brother’s mates had 125 and 350LC’s.
“I longed to have a go and before too long that day came, I was offered a quick ride on a Candy Blue MK1 RD125LC which was my favourite at the time” Stuart reminisces, “Since then I had the bug for that particular bike – hence the model and colour choice of this restoration. I had 125LC’s when I was 17 then moved quickly, once passing my test, to the 350LC but the feeling that original 125 gave me had never disappeared. I promised myself one day I would have a Candy Blue MK1, and so the search for an original example began.”
“My restoration began after finding an original Mk1 in Candy Blue from a guy on the 125LC forum. I considered this to be a good base to start from as the bike had matching numbers and pretty much everything was still intact to give me a good idea of how and where cables were routed, original nuts/bolts etc went.
I paid about £700 for the bike and once I started to remove parts I realised that, although this bike was original in every respect, it was going to eat a ton of money to get it how I wanted it –I am very fussy and I expect things to be as near perfect as possible. First thing to do was disassemble the whole bike and put all the zinc plated nuts, bolts and washers in one bag and the green olive drab stuff in another ready for plating. I then put all the steelwork – frame, swing arm etc to one side ready for the powder coaters. Bodywork was always going to be easy as I was having it fully resprayed, however the tank had a small amount of rust inside as you looked inside the filler, so a better one was sourced with no rust inside before sending the paintwork off.
The cylinder and head were removed for the powder coaters to do their bit of magic on, and the engine internals were removed so that I could clean the cases, as I didn’t want to have them vapour blasted. The engine was on it’s original bore with no marks in the cylinder and it had never been apart so I knew there were no ‘horror bodges’ waiting for me inside. I then set about installing all new bearings and seals to the cases, set the crank up and check it for true which it was to my surprise. The rebuild of the engine began. The engine went together easily with no problems at all, I fitted new engine covers both sides with all new screws and bolts wherever possible to achieve that ‘new’ look I was striving for. Once the engine was finished, I waited for the platers to finish all the fasteners and brackets and the powder coaters to finish their bits before I did any more. The powder coaters and platers called a week later to say everything was ready so collected that lot and then fitted the motor in the frame to get things taking shape.
Whilst waiting for the platers I had a chance to source all the new parts still needed before I could start as I wanted to do it from start to finish in no more than 2 weeks. Most of the parts that are still available were sourced from Yamaha dealers, Motoward and those no longer available were bought via eBay. Once I had everything in place I would start, I wanted to assemble most of it in a couple of days, the paintwork was already sent away to Dream Machine so it was just a case of waiting 4 weeks for that but I could get on with the bulk of the work. One problem I did come across was the swing arm spindle, I sent my bag of bits to the platers and the spindle never returned. I thought I’ll just get a new one but this was NLA from Yamaha. Thankfully I sourced a good second hand one, things like this can really put you back as I had to wait for that to arrive as I didn’t want the motor and swing arm flapping around whilst waiting for the spindle to arrive.
Finally I had everything needed to finish, and it went together quite well with just the odd reference to the service and owners manuals for confirmation of a few things. I built the bike in about four days, and had it running with an old tank on as I was still waiting for the bodywork to arrive. The engine fired up second kick and ran with a perfect tickover, and sounded like a little sewing machine. When the bodywork arrived it had to go back due to a series of flaws, so basically the bike was finished awaiting bodywork, three weeks later the bodywork arrived only to go back again, a further four weeks later it arrived again and I was still not happy but got fed up with waiting and lost confidence with the paint company, but I accepted it as I wanted the bike completed. However I wish now I hadn’t because the fault bugs me every time I look at it, it’s not much, but it’s not perfect.
The bike rides like I can only imagine new RD125LC rode back in 1982 and in standard trim it runs like a very timid bike. I am very happy with how it turned out, so much so that I have another one, white this time, in the garage which I am preparing to do the same with. As for cost I wouldn’t like to calculate how much I have spent on this but I have bought four of everything as I knew I was going to restore my 2nd bike, so hopefully, I won’t notice such a big hit on the wallet this time around.”
Motoward for all genuine Yamaha parts, Tel: 01403 823 222, www.motoward.co.uk
Trestan finishers for powder coating, stove enamelling, Tel: 02380 433 081, www.trestanfinishers.co.uk
Chingford tech coatings for all types of plating including the original LC olive drab, yellow zinc, and silver zinc Tel: 01628 635 556, www.chingfordtec.co.uk
RD125LC Forum – www.rd125lc.co.uk
RDLC Forum – www.yamaha-rd.com
1982 Yamaha RD125LC Mk1 Specification
- Price: £700
- Value now (est): £2000-2500
- Power: 21bhp (unrestricted)
- Torque: 11ft-lb
- Top speed: 86mph
- Dry weight: 98kg
- Colours: White, Blue
- Fuel: 13litres
- Rake/trail: 26/105mm
- Seat height: 775mm
- Wheelbase: 1295mm
- Engine: liquid-cooled 123cc (56 x 50mm), two-stroke single. 24mm carb. 6-gears. Chain final drive
- Chassis: Tubular steeltwin cradle frame, 32mm non-adjustable telescopic forks, monoshock rear with adjustable preload
- Brakes: 245mm front disc with single-piston floating caliper, 130mm single-leading-shoe drum rear brake
- Tyres: 2.75 x 18 front, 3.00 x 18 rear
- My advice to anyone restoring or thinking of restoring a bike like this is to check with Motoward first for parts as a lot of stuff on eBay is still available new so you will more than likely save money.
- If using any of the forums be careful when taking advice as there are some wannabe ‘Erv Kanemoto’s’ using them and will just give you poor advice and may cost you a lot of unneeded expense.
- Once you decide your going to do a restoration then spend a few months obtaining the parts needed before you start. A lot end up being sold on as unfinished projects, this is partly because it’s easy to lose interest, especially if you have to spend a lot of money in a short period of time, spend a bit over a few months and then you don’t notice it as much.
- Another word of caution is not to get sucked into promises of unobtanium parts from abroad as I did recently to the tune of 650 euros, hopefully this will be resolved thanks to a forum member in the same country, but it does happen, so get a bit of background on a person before you trust them enough to send money.
1982 Yamaha RD125LC Gallery