2015 Yamaha SR400 First Ride
#1 Aug 24, 2014
Yamaha has re-introduced its famous SR model in the U.S. this summer. The 2015 SR400 is virtually the same bike as the SR500 which was sold in the U.S from 1978-1981. Production of the SR500 ended in 1999, however the SR400 has been sold exclusively in Japan since 1978. It has a different crankshaft and a shorter piston stroke than the 500 and electronic fuel injection was added in 2010 to meet ever-tightening emission standards, but not before causing a two-year hiatus in the bike's availability. Now it's back, and after arriving in Europe and other parts of Asia last year, the SR400 is available in the U.S. Yamaha said they were planning on bringing in 500 units. Two models - SR400F & SR400FC for California (Emissions vapor canister added on Calif. model). It didn't take very long after stumbling upon the news of the bke's upcoming availability in the U.S. for me to decide to buy one, and after one look I felt it was well worth its $5990 price tag. Why quibble. Vintage SR500s have increased in value $1000 above their original MSRP, unlike most multi-cylinder bikes of the era worth half as much.
I picked up my new bike, one of two allocated, from Maximum Motorsports, Riverhead, N.Y. June 25th 2014 from the same salesman that sold me a new 1979 SR500. We were in our twenties then..Scott is 60 now and I turn 55 next month. I started it a few times on the first kick (one time in two kicks). It feels just like my old SR500...with a smoother engine and an easier clutch. It idles smoothly, and there's no choke or hot start button to fiddle with thanks to the EFI. Power feels close to the 500. After all, it is the same engine while making 6 less hp. It feels less thumpy at slower speeds and the lower torque is evident, but it accelerates as well as the 500, and is more eager to rev through the gears. Brought it up to about 65. Kept altering the speed, following the break-in procedure. The ride comfort and handling is awesome, like I remember. The bike is well balanced and responsive, and the seat is noticeably more comfortable. It was very windy on that first ride home but the bike was unaffected. With the threat of bad weather I'd have to show it off another day.
The quality is top-notch and the bike looks even pricier than it is. The engine finish is high and the paint and chrome are flawless. The exclusive U.S. Liquid Graphite metallic paint job with Yamaha black side covers is decidedly striking in person. The aluminum spoke wheels are nicely finished giving the bike a classy, vintage look lacking on the original, while Yamaha chose function over form regarding tires and brakes. In lieu of retro treads (Metzler Perfect Me77) on the '14 European model, sticky Bridgestone Battlax BT-45s are fitted to the '15 U.S. model, as is a modern drilled front disc brake rotor.
The bike is produced in small numbers. According to Yamaha's Japanese web-site, 1,300 units per year are being produced for Yamaha's Japan home market, while its been announced that 500 units will be imported to the U.S this year. Yamaha must be very proud of this model, building it as long as they have, because although the bike has remained virtually the same in design for 36 years, much refinement is evident and it looks and feels like t's built, not to a price, but with a lot of care and pride.
Robert Spinello (vegavairbob), August 2014
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