Yamaha R5: The AFM Bike

article image
by Dain Gingerelli

Like greyhounds and thoroughbreds, they’re groomed for one purpose — to win races. And when they no longer perform to expectations, those raging and aging champions are put to pasture. Or, in the case of the former race bike featured here — a 1972 Yamaha R5 roadster that lived its glory days competing in the 410cc Modified Production Class — it was silently and unceremoniously rolled into a storage container where it sat for years, dutifully awaiting a third life.

This R5 was raced by my older brother, Alan Gingerelli, in Southern California’s American Federation of Motorcyclists (AFM) and Continental Motorcycle Club (CMC) road races from late 1976 through 1978. The bike was prepped and tuned by our friend (and brother from another mother) John Lassak throughout its racing days. When Alan hung up his racing leathers for good after a very successful 1978 season, he purposely rolled the bike into John’s storage container, where it sat for years until the container eventually filled to capacity. That’s when Alan figured it was time to relocate the old racer to his small backyard shed, where it served additional downtime.

Finally, in mid-2023 (45 years later!) John and Alan decided to restore the old gal. Not to her former glory as a tribute or AHRMA road racer, but to return it to the street again. There was one catch: Alan had never ridden it on the street because, from the get-go, he acquired the R5 from a used-car dealer in Huntington Beach, California, with the intent of road racing it.

So when Alan and John recently pulled the old R5 out of mothballs, it needed plenty of TLC to put it back on the road, not the road race track. Foremost, the engine needed a rebuild, only this time, the trusty 2-stroke engine would be readied for everyday use, not weekend racing.

Comments (0) Join others in the discussion!
    Online Store Logo
    Need Help? Call 1-800-880-7567