Niall MacKenzie is one of the biggest stars to come out on the infamous Yamaha Pro-Am Series of the 80’s.
Earlier this year, the Scottish racer was heavily involved in bringing the series back as the official MotoGP support race, with many of the original riders coming out of retirement to the delight of the Grand Prix crowds at Silverstone.
When he’s not at the track, Niall is spending much of his time working on his latest bike project – a Yamaha RD400F restoration which has been proudly shown off in the December 2015 edition of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics.
The Pro-Am revival, which was supported by Continental, saw our friends at IDP Moto restore thirty-five Yamaha RD250LC’s, as it was decided that getting that many RD350LC’s would be much more difficult.
Now working on his RD400F, Niall has found that parts for this bike are pretty rare too, but he’s already struck gold by finding a pair of pipes with the holy grail ‘2R9′ stamp on them.
Luckily getting hold of some tyres was much easier, and Niall has opted for the ContiClassicAttack, the same radial tyre used in the Pro-Am revival race – definitely not the kind of technology that was around when this bike first arrived on our shores!
In the magazine Niall wrote:
“My recent Pro-Am race flurry at Silverstone gave me a fantastic opportunity to test tyres for my RD. After trying out a few brands we settled on Continental Classic Attacks as the tyre for our one make series revival, so that’s what’s now gracing my beautifully refurbed rims. They came highly recommended by J Whitham, who claimed he had a few mates hooning round on them in the Classic scene with a decent amount of success. I first tested them on the LCs at the Donington Classic Event and then again over the race weekend at Silverstone.
I’ll admit to having a few moments but I soon realised the limiting factor was the Eighties suspension and not the tyres. Even as an ancient ex-racer (or am I current again?) I like to push close to the limit so I really liked the Contis, as they gave good feel even when the suspension had said enough is enough. The rear hardly moved but the front would judder as the rubber delivered more grip than the forks could cope with. At both circuits I lost the front on more than one occasion but stayed on. Back in the day we hadn’t even heard of radial motorcycle tyres so the grip and angles of lean I carry now is way beyond what was possible in 1983.
The ultimate test came when rain arrived on race day at Silverstone. A sighting lap and a warm-up lap were the sum total of our wet testing before it was time to lay things on the line for the race. This time it was the front that didn’t move, but the rear was a bit skiddy accelerating off the slower corners. There was still plenty of feel and I was never close to jumping off, so overall I’m giving them a big thumbs up.”
We can’t wait to see the completed bike in all it’s glory – pick up a copy of Classic Motorcycle Mechanics for more information!
Find out more about the ContiClassicAttack here.