The BREW Bikes Yamaha RD350 Landspeed Bike Build

June 17, 2019 / by Kevin Bailey

Steve 'Brewdude' Garn is a motorcycle industry veteran, both racing and working on bikes since he was young. Of his many accomplishments, he holds multiple landspeed records and #1 plates aboard his custom Yamaha RD350 he built named 'Streak.'

How did the idea of building a Yamaha RD350 come about?

Garn: In 1974 when I started S.G. Cycle Works I did a lot of portwork. Yes, a lot of dirt bikes, but by far the #1 was porting R5 and RD350 Yamahas. When I was asked by Michael Lichter to build a bike for his Ton-Up exhibit in Sturgis 2013, the bike I wanted to build was a Yamaha RD350. 

Steve's professional experience began with his own shop in 1974, S.G. Cycle Works. His porting experience there was a big part of his inspiration to build an RD350.

What did the bike start out as, and how did it get the nickname ‘Streak’?

Garn: It started out as a barn find 1974 Yamaha RD350 and looked like this (somewhat old and rusted, but in fairly decent shape and original condition) after dragging it out of the barn. Yes, I truly did dig and drag it out of an old cattle barn.

Why the name Streak? This bike is fast, light and naked. In 1974 streaking was done by fast and naked people. Get it?

This build began as a 1974 Yamaha RD350 barn find and ended up a multi-record holding landspeed bike.

What was the inspiration behind the frame design for the RD350?

Garn: I liked the featherbed frame design that Norton had used on their legendary race bikes. Those Norton frames used Reynolds tubing, which is made in England. So, the next thing I did was contact Reynolds Tubing about getting some Reynolds 853 631 and 525 tubing custom drawn for this frame. This is the FIRST frame that uses some Reynolds 853 in the USA! Reynolds 853 has an ULTIMATE Strength over 200,000PSI!

Material for the RD350's frame was sourced from Reynolds in England for its ultimate strength qualities.

The fact that you’re a fabricator and are experienced in building frames leaves so many options for a bike build for you. What was the ultimate decision on build purpose for the RD350?

Garn: First thing to think about is, what to do with this bike, I wanted it to race more than just show it. The decision was made to make it a land speed race bike.  The land speed events here on the East coast are on paved courses with lengths of ½ mile, 1 mile and Loring have 1-1/2 mile. The decision was to race mainly at the ECTA event which was held back then at the Ohio Mile. The bike was built very light and comfortable (for) fast starts off the start line. If the bike would have been built for Bonneville only, the design would have been much different.

The Featherbed frame features a continuous piece of tubing as 1 side section. The Yamaha RD350 factory frame and swingarm weighed 52.8lbs, whereas the NEW Reynolds Featherbed frame and swingarm weighed in at 20.8lbs!

When we brought up the inevitable questions of weight savings and power increase, BREW commented with some impressive numbers:

  • The stock bike had a weight of 378lbs, the BREW Streak RD350 has a weight of 243lbs.
  • The stock bike had a claimed HP number of 35, the BREW RD350 is 62HP—well, WAS 62HP—could be more now! (There have been some improvements since the last dyno!)

Building a bike to go much faster than it was intended to undoubtedly requires some engine modifcations. What kind of parts and mods did the RD350 receive?

Garn: The engine has Wiseco Banshee forged pistons—the design and strength of these pistons simply are the best! The cylinders were ported and (the engine) utilizes (Moto Tassinari) V-Force 4 Banshee reeds. Next was a Vito RD350 crank, MZD ignition, SpecII expansion chambers and Lectron 40mm carbs (YES, 40MM CARBS).  The Lectrons make any jetting change if needed just a few second job. All fluids are from Spectro Oils, which provide superior lubrication and protection qualities.  The parts chosen not only had to make the most horsepower, but be dependable as well.

The BREW RD350 utilizes Wiseco Banshee pistons that Steve modifies slightly for exhaust bridge lubrication. Read more about that process here.
Steve also went with a Vito crank and a pair of Lectron carbs.

Find Wiseco products for your machine here.

What other notable components or modifications went in this build?

Garn: The bike has a modified Yamaha R5 tank, Alloy D.I.D. rims with Buchanan SS spokes laced onto Yamaha R5 hubs with Worldwide Ceramic Bearings-The BEST! The tires are Avon, Hagon Rear Shocks, Hot Wing Glass seat and so many other great parts.

Many have seen BREW and his custom RD350 at various land speed events over the years. He’s been turning heads and setting records, and he continues to do so! BREW and his RD350 currently hold:

  • 2 FIM World Land Speed records
  • 5 AMA #1 Bonneville National Land Speed records

6 ECTA land speed records, with more to come!

BREW 1 Plates

BREW World Records

Topics: FEATURES, featured, Powersports, BIKE FEATURES

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