Thursday, 6 March 2014
Forward to the Past
We're barely into 2014 but Yamaha have already shown their 2015 SR 400.
This is basically the same bike they launched back in 1978 as the SR 500, other than smaller capacity and fuel injection. I bought an SR 500 back in 1979, so it's interesting that Yamaha are selling a slightly updated version 35 years later. Whilst the SR I owned wasn't a bad bike, it had a number of problems that hopefully Yamaha have addressed:
Very fussy carb, possibly due to being underdeveloped(?). It was easy enough to start cold or hot, but if it was warm you could be swinging on the kickstarter dozens of times before it would start. The carb had more parts in it than the engine, including a 'cold starting' lever and a 'hot starting' button. Fuel injection should have dealt with these problems.
Poor finish, both of plated parts and paint. Fairly typical of 70s bikes, and as the general standard of finish has improved since then, shouldn't be a problem now. Also, the 'heat shield' on the exhaust points towards it containing a catalytic converter, which in turn would require a stainless steel silencer. The chrome steel silencer on my old one rusted through within a year.
Poor handling. Better quality tyres and suspension should have dealt with this. Interestingly the new SR has an 18 inch front wheel whilst the old one had 19 inch.
Poor spares back up. Shouldn't be a problem now as you should be able to order anything through the internet.
Total lack of accessories, you couldn't even get a properly designed rack. Probably not any better now!
Looking at the photo, the new bike now has a multi piston front caliper and a grab rail, and that 'canister' in front of the engine is probably a carbon filter to get round Californian emission laws, so won't be fitted elsewhere.
The bike is listed at $5,990 in the US (£3573, €4321), which if it was offered for sale in the UK would make it a bargain compared to the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 EFI (£4299) as well as having a few decades more development. However, I can't really see it being on sale here (but I could be wrong!) Pity really as I imagine that it would be a fun bike to ride (IF Yamaha have sorted out the problems), and it would fit in well with the current trend for restoring 70s Japanese bikes.