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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.


  1. Looks like I was wrong and you will be able to buy one in Britain. Just why it costs £5,199 is another question!

    1. The SR becoming an enduring "cult bike" is a mystery. It's also the same price as Yamaha's new, and highly praised, MT 07.

  2. Hi
    Nice one! I like the outfit of the characters. Wish i could do the same thing too but im not that techie.i like the outfit of “from farmer to warden”.. really interesting.

  3. Loads of old customized SR125, 250 and 400 in cambodia.I have ridden them all while on a bike hunt. Your dead right about poor handling...i wasnt aware of the other issues you mention. But overall its a 70s bike, so what do you expect...around that time the jap bike scene was in its infancy. Nevertheless they do seem to stand the test of time...i mean they are still running around even now. Rarely see any old italian or american or british made bikes running around out long does a norton last? would have to a fucking long time cos I think they went broke in the 30s. Shit made in I remember all those crappy looking jap cars back in 80s UK...the datsuns and mazdas etc....they looked so shit even worse than a skoda but i picked up an old but as yet not dead mazda 323 for 50 quid with no MOT and drove that thing around with no worries for 10 months, whereupon I ditched the UK for pasteaures new and gave the car to a guy i knew who was a very sound human but due to him being a bit of a hippy type was always on the dole and thus totally broke. I doubt he could have afforded to drive that car around much due to ridiculous petrol fees in UK, and likely sold it the next day for 80 quid and bought an ounce of hash....... Even if he had a job, all he could have got was unskilled labour and just having to buy petrol and sort out an MOT and then pay insurance I honestly think he would have been no better off than being on benefits and having his housing paid for. If the rewards were actually worthwhile of getting up at 7am each day and working your ass off in some soul destroying slave labour scenario i think a lot more people in UK would opt to go and work.....but that was like 20 years ago. You couldnt find a job now even if you tried,,,so people tell me.

    anyway my original point before i started rambling is both The yamaha TW 200 or the Honda FTR 223 are simply the coolest bikes anywhere on the planet right now...especially if you can spice them up a bit with a few original custom ideas....a petrol tank repaint, bringing them down to a more barebones kind of look, lose the plastic bits etc,,,,maybe a few engine tweaks to get the dormant 20 horsepower sleeping inside the engine (trust me, its there, and dont need any of that big bore out crap etc,,,just make it dreath better by allowing more air in and slap on an aftermarket muffle rand thats easily 10 horses and a more responsive thrust for intersections and rundabouts, costs hardly anything. change the gearing ratio for another 3 to 5 horse gain ..if you have some money then buy a few extra bits and bods and there is your 20....I am a huge fan cos they so slick looking and they are alll manufactured in japan post year 2000....all the shortcomings of past decades have been addresed. .They are both absolutely bombproof bikes due to the fact they are made in japan. The hondas and yamahas you can buy that are made in other countries and cater to that countries market are total crap when compared with a honda or yamaha made in japan. I have one and in 3 years the only time it let me down is when the battery died and i had to get a few people to push me up to a point i could do a bump start. If you are on a downward slope you can bump them by yourself......20 years younger and I could do it on the flat ....continued below due to word restriction

  4. continued........yes i realise its long and sorry about that

    My point is that the battery wasnt the original honda actually i have had zero issues in the 3 years since buying the bike. Admittedly I dont use it as an everyday commuter cos its a bit too big for back streets and alleyways of downtrown saigon, so i have only done about 10,000 km since getting it. I tend to use it for longer journeys. I hear the yamaha TW200 is a similar scanario...if you keep then in good nick and maintain them as any bike enthusiast would, most you will suffer is a dead battery or a puncture. Parts are available on the web but shit they are not cheap. Im in vietnam so all i have to do is nip across the border to cambodia and bask in the sea of tiny shops and market stalls selling refurbished original japanese bike parts and spares...dead cheap cos they importet them by the container load and then fix whatever is wrong with the part and hey presto.....the japanese tend to throw away stuff that can easily be fixed, which i suspect might be due to their high labour fees in that country...same as UK....cheaper to buy a new ipod nano than fix your old broken one etc.......but anyway fuck the internet cos you, well i can anyway, I can buy 5 very good refurbished camshafts in cambodia for less than 1 new one online. Its a bikers paradise cambodia, especially if you like jap bikes..... They take the piss with their online prices those siyes selling spare parts worldwide....thank all the gods known to mankind for cambodia...... In the UK i have no idea whats avalable but i cant say i have noticed anything overly cool while searching online...and its a fucker cos whatever uou can get, thousands of other people will have one too, Thats what i like about the options concerning customization...the bike becomes one of a kind cos you design it.. Its been said that the best, by best i mean "cool", bikes manufatured in jappan by yamaha and honda are not marketed to other countries, because they probably look at the US market and see its all harley choppers and bobbers with 1000cc engines...who wants a motorbike that looks like a BMX with a 200cc lawn mower engine in it. To my reckoning, no matter how you customize those USA style bikes they will always look shit due to their form, unless you take an angle grinder and reincarnate the shape of the frame.......I imagine people in the UK like bikes that have that BMX or mountain bike feel and look, and 200/240ccis more than plenty. To be honest 250cc is more than anyone really needs...I can get 90MPh out of mine and by that stage im already bricking it and wind down to 60 and cruise...who the fuck wants a bike that does 220mph....cos if you ever actually rampit up to the max you are going to wind up embedded into a set of railings or on top of a traffic light with yoru left ankle resting on the nape of your the US people have told me people laugh at anything under 600cc....which can do 150mph I guess...i mean who really needs that....and as you get closer to 1000cc you will be paying petrol almost the same as a small why the fuck bother having a bike...i mean unless you just love the speed thing...i guess 95% of people dont. My mate craps it if i go over 50Mph when he is on the back of mine.

  5. and the grand finale....cos i overshot the wordcount by 700 characters....

    .....for me the best looking bike is something that looks like an overgrown BMX with the benefit of a jap made 200cc/250cc engine....which are what i consider to be some of the most indestructable engines in the world... dunno why but japanese made stuff is just built to last. When buying power tools i would buy a japanese made item over a german or US made item any day....prices are the same pretty much but the japanese seem to have not yet sussed out you are supposed to make things that break after a few years ...good for the economy...Maybe the japs are still in that "honour and pride" mindframe..not wanting to lose face over a few hundred bucks so they give a middle finger to the world and make stuff like it should be That is an exxageration yes but i mean there may be remnants of this kind of mindset in the jap psyche, in particular since they have their own culture and tend to rebuff shit that comes from the west in favour of their own inflatable whales complete with phallic shaped top fin that women can ride to attain multiple orgasms while sipping sake with the in laws...cos her husband is too fucking busy trying to design a bike engine that will still be running at optimum performance by the time a long forgotten justin beiber signs up to start colllecting his pension....unlike say the koreans who all speak engish and have adopted a ....jesus man i do fuxking go on sometimes..must be the writer in me struggling for an outlet

    I cant even remember what the original point was....i blame tangents entirely