History: The big single
1976: XT 500
1978: SR 500
Soul instead of features and specs
Simplicity and reliability
2013: 35th anniversary model in Japan
Actually, the current SR dates back to the success of the first XT 500 since 1976.
This off-road bike was an instant success and created a boom in the off-road market with its big-single four stroke engine. Big singles had gotten totally out of fashion till then. But by developing a lightweight and reliable engine, Yamaha proved that this engine type still had a strong right of existence for serious riders. The high torque of these engines makes them pull hard and respond instantly to the throttle, at any rpm. The strong pulse of the big-single makes it feel alive too - as a rider you can sense any change in rpm or load of the engine; a very direct connection between rider and engine that many riders appreciate.
The SR 500
Yamaha launched the SR 500 in 1978, a model with – already at that time – classic looks, utilizing the proven engine and frame basis of the XT 500 and optimizing everything around it for pure road use.
In a time where all motorcycles became technically more complicated, and multi-cylinders with high performance were the trend, the simplicity of the SR was a big hit.
The bike stood on its own, with its lack of pretentions and with a strong SOUL as a sales argument, instead of features and specs.
It created a strong design impact as an iconic motorbike. Customers appreciated the simplicity, the reliability, the low running costs and the remarkable joy of riding from the big thumper in its nimble chassis. Easy to step on and off. the bike was light and handy in the city while stable enough for open roads, enjoying the steady rumble of the engine.
Without any need to race against the clock, the enjoyment was always there!
Throughout the years
Many SR have been sold throughout the years. Due to continued demand, Yamaha kept the SR 500 in production until 1999. Its extreme simplicity allowed you to maintain the bike and individualize it by yourself without complex tools.
The chassis and engine have served as popular basis for many café racers, street trackers and bobbers all across the world!
It’s 400 cc version, the SR 400 was continued to be produced, in Japan, all through the years. In 2010 it had a model change: the introduction of fuel injection to comply with the latest emission standards. In 2013 it celebrated its special 35th anniversary edition....
Back in Europe
Coolness and customizing potential
Pure and simple
The kickstart window
For 2014, the SR400 will be brought to Europe too.
Oliver expects the bike to remain exclusive. “The bike is of course not cheap with low production quantities, high-quality parts and production in Japan. Nevertheless, the purists and the real connoisseurs and tuners are waiting for it. It will appeal by its coolness, its practicality in the city and its customizing potential.”
The archetypical motorcycle. One cylinder. One intake valve. One exhaust valve. One exhaust pipe. No balancer in the engine. Not even rubber mounts between engine and frame. A pure and simple-cradle frame design. Nothing fake. Steel fenders. Steel fuel tank. Everything authentic. And, talking about minimalism: No electric start!
The kick-start ritual
Kick-starting the engine is like a ritual. It looks tough but actually it is really easy and fun to do. You put the engine’s piston in the right position, kick once, done. That’s all there is to it! There is a small window on the cylinder to help finding the right piston position, and a decompression lever to help moving the piston around. Thanks to the fuel injection system the engine starts much easier than the old SR 500. Once started, you can enjoy letting it idle along at 1000 rpm, and listen how it runs like clockwork while it warms up…
SR400 GibbonSlap by Wrenchmonkees
The strong fashion style and easy handling make the SR the ideal companion for the city, despite its modest performance. Being extremely light as well as somewhat smaller and with a narrower seat than today’s average motorcycle, the SR excels in tight city traffic and is very easy to approach even by smaller riders. Anybody will appreciate the super nimble handling, which is a sensation in itself! Destined for short stretches and winding roads as well as the occasional relaxed day- tour, the SR will also guarantee curious onlookers when stopping at café’s or vantage points. The more personal your bike is the better!
You will recognize in the design style the purpose, simplicity and directness of a design that pays homage to the classic beauty of the best British and Japanese designs of the 60s and 70s.
Times gone by can also be seen in the chrome finish and classic shape of its equipment such as the chrome headlight and flashers, the timeless trumpet shape of the exhaust or the round analog instruments for rev counter and speedometer.
Sun will sparkle off the chromed fenders and the spoked wheels… but before getting too romantic: many riders will appreciate the tough style of the SR and the ease by which it can be customized into a one-off café racer or scrambler!
Not surprising therefore that many famous custom builders across the world have taken the SR as a basis for stunning redesigns...