Bullet Bob's 1976 Yamaha RD400
When Bob Morris was diagnosed with ALS and his deteriorating muscles prevented him from riding and wrenching on his motorcycles, he started giving his son instructions on how to finish one particular project that was important to him: a 1976 Yamaha RD400.
Jared, now 24, grew up on two wheels, first on the gas tank of dad’s 1979 Yamaha YZ250 and then on his own Hondas; a Z50, XR100 and CR80. “I loved being out in the middle of nature ripping single track with dad,” Jared said. “I was in love with the two smoke (stroke) just like he was.”
When Bob discovered the AHRMA series, he returned to the racing scene he enjoyed in his younger years. He got involved in as many circuits as he could find and as quick as he could acquire a bike for each discipline. He raced an IT200 in cross country and a 1983 RM250 in motocross. He made a lot of friends at the races and one couple knew that Bob was pining for a Yamaha RD400, a bike he had fallen in love with as a young man.
“He wanted a badass little city bike that could spank any 750 of its time,” Jared said.
When they lucked into possession of an RD left behind to a widow, they made sure it found its way to Bob. It hadn’t been started in over 20 years but Bob knew just what to do.
It was his first custom build but he had been wrenching on bikes for decades. He made a custom seat pan and put wheels and a swingarm from a 1985 Yamaha RZ350 on it. The swingarm required fabricating a custom linkage for the mono shock conversion. He also made a bracket for the custom front brake setup and fitted the bike with an RD200 tank. The rear subframe was also fabricated and designed to fit the new custom dirt tracker seat pan.
When Bob’s health began to fail him, he passed the project on to his brother-in-law, Russ, who installed the electronic ignition and got the bike jetted, tuned and reliable. When Jared started shopping around for a bike of his own, uncle Russ offered up the RD400 and the quest to finish what dad had started was on.
“While he was in his last year [dad] helped me do absolutely everything he could from his chair,” Jared said. “He explained everything, step by step, trying to help me get my head wrapped around this bike before he was gone. He was thorough at research and loved to have everything on paper, tangible, in front of him so he had everything you could dream of about this bike, written down explained and the parts and where to buy them and how much they were.”
In addition to working on the bike and coping with the looming loss of his father, Jared was spending 50 hours a week as a cook in Woodstock, GA. “Thank god I had an awesome girlfriend who would spend hours in the shop drinking beer with me to get me through.”
When Bob passed away on August 9, 2015, Jared sent the bike down to Atlanta Motorcycle Works. From there, Jared conveyed his father’s wishes to Lane Peters and Jason and Alan Greene, who finished the final touches on the project.
“My dad’s nickname in the moto community was ‘Bullet Bob’”, Jared said. “In memory of him that's the name I build bikes under.”
DCC Parts Used
- Renthal Drag bars
- Front mini blinkers
- LED integrated rear tail light
- Progrip Grips
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