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1972 Yamaha R5

Posted on July 18, 2011 by Scott in Brat, Classic. 43 comments

Sometimes in life you have to be careful who you share your dreams with. They might be shattered, stolen or in this case, they might be bought. You see this 1975 Yamaha R5 was bought by Doug Devine a few months ago after seeing it sitting at his friend’s place gathering dust. “This project started when a friend showed me a ’72 Yamaha R5 he had been storing in his shed for the past five years” recalls Doug. “Upon his move from Austin to Louisville, my friend had intentions of bringing her back to her former glory, but life happened. After a few months of sporadic conversations about the bike, the R5 was mine.” Unlike his friend, Doug didn’t mess around and jumped straight into planning this lil’ smokers reincarnation. We thought we’d let Doug describes the project in his own words:

“Originally, I wanted the R5 to be a low and speedy expression of my personality. My friend, Scott Hableib, and I spent a while just studying the bike trying to figure out how I could make this work. Scott, a graphic designer and fellow bike builder, created a concept drawing for inspiration. I set out to see if the mechanical aspects were there. I bought a battery, points, a condenser, and cleaned the fuel system. Once I fired her up, she smoked badly, but had the potential to run pretty well. I began researching 2-strokes and, in turn, decided to tear down the motor.”

The more I modified the frame, the smaller the R5 became. Each day, after hours of working on the bike in our spare bedroom (shout out to my wife, Jessica, for letting me turn a few rooms in our home into a bike shop), I would mock up the bike to help me visualize what I was building. About two weeks in, I realized that the bike was going in a completely different direction that I originally anticipated. I took a week off from building and contemplated what direction I wanted to take the bike in. During one of my daily internet searches about motorcycles, it occurred to me that no one would dare build a ‘50s-style 2-stroke bobber.

Early on, I hoped to do most, if not all, of the work myself. When I finished the frame, I began work on the tank and seat. The tank was badly beaten up and had to be smoothed substantially. I realized that the tank needed to be smoother than I was capable of doing so my friend, James Kemp, took over. James was apprenticing at a body shop and said he would love to tackle the tank. After choosing a color, James set out to make my tank smoother than a baby’s butt. Once I knew the tank would be blue, I decided that I didn’t want chrome or blacked out parts. So, I set out to learn the process of nickel plating (watts system). I estimate that I plated almost 400 pieces on this bike including each and every nut and bolt.

Next came the seat pan which ended up being the toughest part of the build. Thanks to Scott for coming to the rescue with the foam work.

Now that the frame and suspension were figured out, it was time to tackle the motor. HVC Cycle out of Lincoln, Nebraska had every part for a Yamaha R5. I compiled a two page list of every part that needed to be replaced. Five days later, the parts arrived at my door. The motor was painted black and baked in my kitchen oven (another shout out to my wife for letting me take over the kitchen too). I’d also like to thank Scott and another friend, Chad Francis, for allowing me to paint parts in their warm garages.

Last but certainly not least—the pipes! Scott and I talked for months about the pipes, and I made several phone calls about whether or not the lack of chambers would work. I was told that a motorcycle with megs would never run right. After I did some calculations, I came to understand that it would work. It would (and does) work but not in the same sense as a full expansion chamber, a ton of jetting, and finding the sweet spot on the timing. With that said, the bike weighs 263 lbs. (120 kgs) and turns 11,000 rpm all day long.”

Looking at the finished bike, we’re glad Doug convinced his friend to sell him this old screamer. Although, I’m guessing his buddy might be regretting selling it, especially after seeing what a dream bike Doug has created.

  • SportsterMike

    Thats a neat bike.. – the bits of blue are just right.. and I love the exhausts

    A friend of mine was given one of these a few years ago – badly abused so he painted the frame with Hammerite (the hammered finish by mistake) looked OK though.. and the bike went like stink…

    will show him this post – he will be jealous…

  • VonYinzer

    Interesting. Definitly some nice work. Would be a blast to scoot around town on.

  • revdub

    Having recently planted my rear end on this bike, just to test the "fit"… I can now say with assurance – I WANT IT!! Badly. The quality is amazing. Doug and Scott are putting Louisville on the map, when it comes to customs. And the only downside that I can see is that I fall in love with every bike they create.

  • Ken

    I love the stitching on the seat! Who did that? I may need their assistance in the future…

    Makes me wish I had my pop's old RD350 still!

  • Doug d

    Mikes auto upholstery in Louisville,ky.. I gave him a challenge with this seat and he came through with a better product than my vision!

  • Ken

    Thanks for the reply. I'll have to google their shop.

  • steven
  • Doug d

    I definitely saw that one from Mooneyes, it has a few too many modern touches on it that I didn't feel went with the era I wanted to accomplish. The Japanese are in a zone all to themselves, they are building some of the coolest stuff out there now.

  • Dude at sparetime sure earned his trophy. That tank is fantastic with the seat and the rear fender.

  • Mattro

    great bike, great back-drop. as a louisvillian, i knew that liquor store the second i saw it.

    surprised i haven't seen this one around. it would definitely catch my eye in person.

  • Phil

    wow, sweet little bike!

  • Troy

    Full marks on a great build. I have a real soft spot for 2 strokes and I am so happy to see this bike built just perfectly.

  • hell yeah! so cool to see this bike posted on Pipeburn. PB rules. still waiting for another ride on this lightweight (doug was still tweaking carbs last time) but it really is a blast! and i think it has a look all its own. i love the fact that people can sit down and wrench and tweak, ponder, chop, wrench… and come up with something original when there's so many people out there building some really cool bikes now. well deserved doug! and thanks PB for posting and supporting our work!

  • Rex Havoc

    Wow! It's great that such a simple build can look soooo good.

  • tocino

    Nice, clean and simple. Looks like a million bucks. If I'd seen them in a catalog I'd have thought those megaphones would look silly on any bike, but they really work on this one.

  • tocino

    Oh – and is there a YouTube clip? I'd love to hear this thing.

  • crazypj

    looks like an eBay parts bike in a few months when things start breaking
    Oh, no fork brace is just stupid, forks were flexible as hell when new and complete

  • steven

    2 stroke will be a new trend because everyone is sick of seeing sr's cb's and xs's

  • Robert

    Nice selection of dimecitycycles parts brother

  • Dougd

    Actually the grips and rear signals were the only purchase from Dime city. The megs I purchased local as a test and they worked perfectly so i keeped them on. Gotta buy stuff from somewhere and Jason is one standup dude!

  • I love the top picture with the old style Liquor store in the background, looks great!

  • Ian McDowell

    Hey great bike, where are the bars from..would be perfect on my difficult to by bars online and not a lot of choice locally (Perth, Western Australia)
    Cheers Ian

  • Doug d

    Ian they are 2.5 inch rise 4 inch pull back that I cut down 2.5 inches each side. Sorry and are 7/8 bars, take a coat hanger and bend it to the shape and take the measurement to a exhaust shop and have them bend you up a custom set.

  • Blah

    The bike is absolutely beautiful, but I don't understand the comment about the 50's-style bobber. Do you mean that you originally decided to do a boober then changed your mind?

    • Tyler Cline

      Bean oil???  Do explain. Green 2 stroke seems like a complete oxymoron, but if it is possible, I’m In!

  • Dougd

    I actually was going to build a thin little racer, but when i started cutting the frame and tabs it started to resemble a early bobber.. Now with that said it is not a hardtail, as one can see. I wanted something to ride everyday, and i do for the most part.

  • "2 stroke will be a new trend because everyone is sick of seeing sr's cb's and xs's"

    I hope not. I always hated the sound even when I rode one as a kid. And that was before people realized what gross polluters they are.
    That said, the original Yam Dt-175 enduros were beautiful little bikes, as were a lot of the Spanish sicles.

  • gordon

    i love it,thanks ryan

  • Andy

    2 stroke without expansion chambers? Unrealized horse power your missing out on dude

    • Tyler Cline

      What is the secret to figuring out the dimensions of a tuned pipe?  I may never build my own, but am curious to figure that one out. 

  • Doug d

    I can agree with you on that, but with the pipes that are in place I build power all the way through the rpm range. The bike never falls off like you would on a chamber.. Expansion chambers were the one thing I wanted to stay away from.. Do not get me wrong, the right ones are beautiful. They weren't right for this project in my eyes. The bike is light and has a great amount of power for around town, actually maybe to much..

  • phil

    Nice looking bike! Hey… where did you get your tail light? i've been looking for a small one like that, but they're always too expensive. thanks man!!

  • Doug d

    I got it here/ http://www.mrlucky' Very cheap and all metal construction!

  • Anton

    Where can I find that tail light?? Anyone?

  • 10 Bones

    Tiny Tailight? Just use a turn signal. Easy Peasy. 🙂

    As to the commenter about how "stupid" no fork brace is: Chill out bro, we can't all be as smart as you. The bike has DRUM BRAKES, I think that alone tells you where a fork brace would find itself in that build. It kinda looks like the forks may have been "dropped" a little in the triples .. if so, then he has effectively braced the forks a bit just with that alone. Ebat fodder you say? So where's YOUR bike here in Pipeburn then? Hmm? Yea .. that's exactly what I thought.

    Good thing we have smart guys like you around to tell us all when we're being stupid, right?

    Some people's children.

    I raced Yamaha Banshees (water cooled RD350 engines) in the desert for nearly a decade .. there is NOTHING like a twin two stroke. Nothing! Use "bean oil" and the whole Green Earth is saved. I heard Kenny Roberts' TZ750 FOUR flat track racer in 1975 … that thing sounded EVIL! 130+hp in the dirt no less!

    Yamaha's rock! Especially the twin two strokes! Anything Toomey in your future?

    Nice work, Ace! The more the morons complain the more you KNOW you are on the proper track! Keep on keepin' on man!

  • steven


  • Robert

    love it 10 bones 🙂

  • Robert

    Doug, i agree with you about dime city cycles. I've picked out a few things for my Bullet from their site. Not a knock, just a nod of appreciation.

    I spent my teen years in the Philippines where the two stroke engine is still very popular and I used to ride a two stroke Yamaha in the woods of south Alabama as a kid. Few things top twisting the throttle and holding it while the banshee from hell lets loose under you.

  • James

    Well, I mean if it's for city driving there are pipe geometries that optimize the powerband for different rpm ranges so you could have lower rpm powerband if you so chose. There's several really great calculators out there that tell you the exact header and cone dimensions based on what what specifications you enter into it. With 2 strokes, not utilizing back pressure is just a little silly unless you're going for a really stock look.

  • Dougd

    Yea i used a bit of measuring, there is a baffle cone that is only 3 inches shorter than the stock pipe. So with some playing with the jetting and moving the timing to 1.6mm btdc. It runs really well even in the mid 90 degree weather we are having here in ky.

  • peter king


  • Lawrdevine

    I have one with 6000 miles on it,sitting in a garage for the last 30 years and could use some parts.I’m trying to keep it completely stock.Any help would be appreciated .Great looking bike .Nice job

  • Lawrence O’Toole