Don Emde Leveraging Custom R1 to Benefit Riders for Health


In our recent coverage of the Long Beach, Calif. Cycle World International Motorcycle Show we covered the unveiling of Motorcycle Hall of Famer Don Emde's Valentino Rossi-inspired Yamaha R1. This was a bike he built to benefit the Riders for Health charity.

Now for a little more information about the project bike built by Emde, a former Dealernews editor/publisher, and the non-profit organization he founded to help Riders for Health, which is appropriately called Friends of Riders for Health.

Emde founded Friends as way to support Riders for Health, a charity dedicated to making the delivery of healthcare services such as health workers and medicines in parts of Africa. The programs aims to raise money to help teach people how to better use and repair motorcycles and other vehicles that are used to reach rural villages. The non-governmental organization's "mission is to ensure that health workers in Africa have uninterrupted access to reliable transportation. Without such transportation, all health care projects fail."

The organization was founded by Barry and Andrea Coleman, and Hall of Fame racer Randy Mamola, and now has programs in Gambia, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe.

"Riders for Health is the official charity of the MotoGP series and I am so appreciative of the support from everyone in the sport that were involved in the project," Emde says, "including, of course, Valentino Rossi, who enthusiastically agreed to the use of his helmet design, and to Yamaha Motor Corp USA, AGV, Aldo Drudi of Drudi Performance and Luca Campanille of Pole Position. Without their support, such a unique finished product would not have been possible. Also thanks to Cameron Brewer from Roland Sands Designs, who pitched in to install many of the aftermarket products well beyond the great set of wheels that Roland donated, and to the many great aftermarket companies that agreed to provide products."

The 2009 R1 features top-end aftermarket accessories and a one-off graphic theme replicating Rossi's famous "Five Continents" AGV helmet by famed designer Drudi. The graphic wrap was done in Italy by Pole Position Racing Service, the high tech graphics company that works with major Moto GP and other teams.

The new 2009 R1 is scheduled to be sold at auction to be announced in late 2010 or early 2011. It is a fully street legal and licensed motorcycle, although it has been stripped of certain street equipment such as mirrors, turn signals and license plate/taillight for display and it will be delivered as a track day only machine. To assist the new owner with their riding skills, the Yamaha Champions Riding School has donated a one-day school that will be included with the sale price. Additionally, courtesy of Yamaha, a complete second set of stock R1 bodywork will be included, as well as all of the stock street equipment that has been removed.

Sponsors of the project were Yamaha Motor Corp. USA, Ohlins, Akrapovic, Drudi Performance, AGV, Pole Position Racing Service, Vortex, Roland Sands Designs, Yamaha GYTR, Yamaha Champions Riding School, Saddlemen, Bridgestone, EK, EBC, Goodridge, K&N, Dynojet and Imagine-It Graphics. 

For more info on Friends of Riders for Health, log onto or call Emde at 949-215-4780 Ext. 206. For more info on Riders for Health, log onto

Rossi/Riders for Health Yamaha R1 Fact Sheet

Concept: To build a one-of-a-kind custom sportbike setup as a “track day” vehicle wrapped in Valentino Rossi’s AGV “Five Continents” graphics and utilizing major aftermarket products to upgrade the stock machine throughout.

Purpose: To raise funds and create awareness for Riders for Health in the United States.

Project leader: Don Emde (1972 Daytona 200 winner. Publisher of Parts Magazine)

Project team: Cameron Brewer, Roland Sands Design; Aldo Drudi, Drudi Performance, Italy; Luca Campanille, Pole Position Racing Services, Italy; Paolo Bacchiarello, AGV Helmets, Tom Seymour, Saddlemen, Jim Conquest, Imagine-It Graphics.

Sponsors: Yamaha Motor Corp. USA, Ohlins, Akrapovic, Drudi Performance, AGV, Pole Position Racing Services, Vortex, Roland Sands Designs, Yamaha GYTR, Saddlemen, Bridgestone, EK, EBC, Goodridge, K&N, Dynojet, Imagine-It Graphics

Motorcycle: 2009 Yamaha R1 (donated by Yamaha Motor Corp. USA)

Aftermarket Products Installed (all donated by the manufacturers):

  • Wheels: Roland Sands Designs — Ronin
  • Tires: Bridgestone BT-003
  • Brake pads: EBC Double H
  • Brake rotors: EBC
  • Brake lines: Goodridge
  • Front brake reservoir: Roland Sands Designs — Combat
  • Front suspension: Ohlins FGRT808
  • Rear suspension: Ohlins TTX
  • Seat: Saddlemen base (top pad also custom made by Saddlemen)
  • Triple Clamp: Roland Sands Designs — Assault
  • Clip-ons: Vortex
  • Clutch lever and mount and lever: Vortex
  • Front brake lever and mount: Vortex
  • Fuel cap and base: Vortex
  • Exhaust: Akrapovic Evolution
  • Air filter: K&N
  • EFI controller: Dynojet Power Commander V
  • Mirror block offs: Roland Sands Designs (prototype for R1)
  • Rear sets: Vortex
  • Gel Grips: Yamaha GYTR
  • Heel Guard trim, Yamaha GYTR
  • Rear Sprocket: Vortex, 47T black
  • Countershaft sprocket: Vortex, 17T
  • Rear chain: EK, 120 L black with gold pins
  • Carbon Fiber tank trim: Yamaha GYTR
  • Carbon Fiber chain guard: Yamaha GYTR
  • Race stand spools: Yamaha GYTR
  • Race stand, rear: Yamaha GYTR

Posted by Dennis Johnson