No Joke 2 Stroke – RD350 Boardtracker
What’s not to love about two-stroke motorcycles? The alluring smell, the exhilarating sound and the white-knuckled terror of an unpredictable powerband. Unfortunately, the fun police put an end to the era of mighty two-strokes such as Suzuki’s GT500 and Kawasaki’s H1 “Widowmaker”. Despite the lack of new models hitting the streets, there are still plenty of two-stroke motorcycle fans out there, but none perhaps as passionate as Mark Miller; aka ‘No Joke 2 Stroke’. Mark’s been turning out a custom two-stroke motorcycle every 12 months for the past few years. For his third act, he’s transformed a ’74 Yamaha RD350 into this Boardtracker inspired beauty.
I love the smell of two-stroke in the morning!
Mark builds his two-stroke creations in his spare time. His 12-month deadline gives him a clear goal as well as the freedom to work at a pace that suits his career and family life. With each new project, he’s challenged himself with wilder designs and more complicated fabrication and his Yamaha RD350 Boardtracker is his crowning achievement.
“The concept of the build was to merge 1970’s Japanese technology with the style of a turn of the century Boardtracker.” says Mark. As you cast your eye over his creation there’s not much you’ll recognise from the donor aside from its engine. That’s because the project started out with little more than the ’74 RD350 motor and the frame neck from a ’73.
As Mark points out “The most obvious custom work is the mono-shock frame with the suspension running up the backbone of the bike.” This setup became the foundation for the rest of the project including the one-off monocoque bodywork that showcases the suspension. Mark sculpted the body himself along with devising a special fitment system that’s devoid of any fasteners. “It’s built to follow the curvature of the frame and snap into place without any use of nuts or bolts.”
Pre-mixed goodness is fed into the engine via a custom made alloy fuel cell that sits behind the neck of the frame. The engine itself remains mostly stock with the bulk of Mark’s work going into servicing and restoration. However, when it came to the exhaust Mark took inspiration from 1980’s two-stroke racers. The specially designed pipes feature side bleed chambers that, if tuned correctly, can deliver significant power improvements.
Along with fabricating the RD350’s custom frame and swingarm, Mark bent up a set of Boardtracker style handlebars that really set the tone. The leather-wrapped grips, racing plate fairing and flat seat all add to the bikes turn of the century aesthetic. The design is definitely not something you’ll see on many street bikes, but Mark pays special attention to the function of all of his builds. “Huge modifications were made to the shock and forks to get the bike to work properly at high speeds.” he says; although sitting just behind that exposed mon-shock is sure to make any man a touch uneasy.
The No Joke 2 Stroke Yamaha RD350 Boardtracker features standard running lights and the electrics are stashed out of sight under the seat. All of the cables and brackets were built from scratch and Mark completed all the fibreglassing and polishing himself. The only outsourced tasks on this custom project were the leatherwork by Matt Hurtado and the paint on the body panels by James Gossett.
Now that his Yamaha RD350 Boardtracker is done Mark tells us he’s been fantasising about winding it out on a vintage board track or velodrome. But for now, he’s content with cruising the twisty backroads near his home. “Nothing is more exhilarating than twisting the throttle on 220 lb (100 kg), skinny tyred motorcycle that’s powered by the original giant killer engine!” he says and we’re certain he speaks the truth.
Photography by Jason Lehecka
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