If Yamaha still made the RD500R, it might just look like this...
In 1984, two-strokes ruled, rather than damaged, the planet. Yamaha RD350LCs and Suzuki Gammas ran rings around bikes twice their size, providing laughs for hooligan pilots everywhere. While Yamaha made lumbering FJ1100s for men to go touring, they also built RD500s on the back of GP success for boys who could afford the finance. In truth, the RD was a complex, cobbled-together rush job and Suzuki's later square four RG500 was faster and angrier. But it didn't matter. The clock was ticking on the two-stroke sensation and draconian emissions legislation meant the end of the road for high-performance strokers. Until the day global warming theories are debunked, we can but dream that Yamaha will resurrect its biggest LC. And what a dream it would be.
Engine An evolution of the original RD500LC V4, but instead of making 80 horsepower, we're looking at a true rear-wheel, fuel-injected, ram-air, 130 horsepower of joy and a healthy 65 lb.-ft. of torque. As before, the rear cylinder exhaust pipes cross over to ensure they're the required length before exiting under the tail unit. Can you imagine the cackle from those four stingers? That's the sound of the best power-to-weight ratio on any modern production bike.
The original 1984 RD500.
Chassis A fusion of YZR500 and R1 engineering results in a frame that can take the stresses a peaky, high-performance stroker will deliver. Unlike the European 1984 RD, the chassis is lightweight alloy instead of steel. Suspension comes from the 2008 R6 and is adjustable for high- and low-speed compression damping. The rear shock is situated in the traditional location behind the engine, as opposed to under it as on the original. There's no comedy anti-dive valving in the forks or fashionable-at-the-time sixteen-inch front wheel either.
Body Work Heat could be an issue with a compact V4 layout, so the RD's bodywork is designed to keep things cool by channeling air where it's needed. Cool air is forced in; warm air is expelled. The fuel tank is from the R1 parts bin, while the top cowl once lived on a scooter. The tail unit houses the exhausts from the rear cylinders and the seat pad opens to reveal a small storage compartment for a spare bottle of fully synthetic two-stroke oil.