When Yamaha says that the 2015 SR400 is, with exception to EFI, beholden to the original model, it isn’t kidding. At first glance the new SR appears to be either a restored, or a recently uncrated new old stock (NOS), example of the late ’70s classic. If the SR’s mechanical simplicity, light weight or disco-era styling appeal to your sensitivities your day will be made better with news of the SR400 coming Stateside in 2014 as an early-release 2015 model.

EFI denotes this SR as modern. Otherwise, it's hard to tell the difference between now and then.

EFI denotes this SR as modern. Otherwise, it’s hard to tell the difference between now and then.

Chrome fenders, dinner plate blinkers, fork gaiters, oh, and get this, kickstart only. No push-button, electric starter here, you gotta man-up and put your biker worth on display to get the piston within the 399cc cylinder thumping. Just don’t tell anyone that, according to Yamaha, the SR400 is extra easy to start, aided by a manual compression release.

Back in the day, when motorcycle advertisements were small novels, an ad for the then new SR500 could have been written about today’s SR400. Here’s an sample: “The big-bore single-cylinder four-stroke (or ‘Thumper’ as it’s respectfully called) is back. And better than ever. Its reverential nickname and heritage date back to the days of the BSA Gold Star, Matchless and Norton Manx. But today, Yamaha has perfected starting the ‘Thumper.’ What hasn’t changed from the old days is the styling. The SR has a relaxed, nostalgic look and feel.”

SR400_Action 11

A narrow, double-cradle steel frame and claimed 384-pound curb weight should make for a very maneuverable motorcycle.

Yes it does. And for those hipster types desiring a bike with which to customize this throwback model into maybe a pseudo flattracker, road racer or knobby-tire scrambler the clean sheet design should make for a wonderful canvas.

Curiously, the air-cooled, SOHC, two-valve Single comes without a counter-balancer, so it’ll be interesting to feel the amount of vibrations emanating from this thumper. Maybe Yamaha is adhering a little too closely to the ideals of its predecessor (it does come oufitted with a center stand). We’ll know more following the North American press introduction in early June.

Consumer models are also expected to arrive in June with an MSRP of $5990. Stay tuned for more information and full evaluation come summer solstice.

2015 Yamaha SR400 Specifications

MSRP $5990
Engine Type Air-cooled SOHC, 2-valve
Engine Capacity 399cc
Bore x Stroke 87.0mm x 67.2mm
Compression 8.5:1
Fuel System Fuel Injection
Ignition Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission 5 speed
Clutch Multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive Chain
Front Suspension Telescopic; 5.9-in travel
Rear Suspension Swingarm; 4.1-in travel
Front Brakes Hydraulic disc; 268mm
Rear Brakes 150mm drum
Front Tire 90/100-18
Rear Tire 110/90-18
L x W x H 82.1 x 29.5 x 43.1 in
Seat Height 30.9 in
Wet Weight 384 lbs
Wheelbase 55.5 in
Rake/Trail 27º / 4.4 in
Fuel Capacity 3.2 gal
Claimed Fuel Economy 66.2 mpg
Colors Dark Grey Metallic

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  • If the pricing isn’t outta line, I predict a resurgence in its popularity. I kind of want one, but the threat of becoming a hipster will probably scare me away.

    • Steven Holmes

      Hipster? I disagree. It’s the rider, not the bike that makes one a hipster.

      • Guest

        this bike my friend looks like a commuter. nuf said.

    • Guest

      not as much as u scare away women….

      • Robert Spinello

        He;s scary alright

    • roma258

      I look forward to these bike sitting in showrooms and gathering dust, selling at a steep discount and becoming cult favorites once they’re no longer on the market.

    • Kevin

      Sean, over the years I have come to believe that you kind of wanted nearly every bike you ever threw a leg over.

      • Guilty as charged. Is that so wrong?

        • Kevin

          No. mostly so have I.

  • Old MOron

    Fortunately I can’t grow a decent beard, so I’m probably safe from becoming a hipster. I want this bike. The only thing holding me back is that I already own a much-beloved DRZ400SM. How do I justify having two road-going 400cc thumpers?

    • Ted

      I envy you. If I could afford two bikes right now the second would be the DRZ for riding in the snow & ice. OLD MORON2

  • Alex Callas

    One big problem with this model, and I am LOVING it at this point. No electric start is a huge problem if they want to sell them to beginners or oldsters. Fuel injection but kick start only seems odd contradiction. Price will be an issue as well. Didn’t they learn from past USA marketing experiences with the SR500 and SRX600?

    • Yamaha’s tech presenter told us he can start it with his hand, apparently it’s gotten that easy with the EFI.

      • DickRuble

        Can’t be easier than this, and it’s definitely not fuel injected. Watch him start it with a finger towards the end of the video


      • Arlo Sween

        I’d suggest that if one can start it by hand, that would only be with a brand-new bike when the engine is fully warmed up and in correct state of tune and with a fully-charged battery.
        Years ago, I saw my brother start his Suzuki GT380 by hand (two-stroke, engine warm), was very impressed at the coolness of it, and tried it on my XS360 (four-stroke twin, engine cold). I wore out my arm with no results and finally just hit the electro-prod (I think I did actually get it started by arm once when fully warmed up, but it was only due to stubbornness, NOT because it was a good option).
        One of the reasons this bike has NOT been in production for the USA market steadily for decades was the lack of that electric starting which has spoiled us all. The old SR500 didn’t have it (my old XT500 certainly didn’t), and that kept many from buying it. Here in sunny San Diego a kickstart-only may fly with Hairy-Chested Hipsters, but on a cold, damp morning in the Middle West (or San Francisco, for that matter); kicking over this beast, wondering if it won’t start because it’s got too much or too little air; choke on, choke off, did I twist the throttle too much?, too little?, does it need a tune-up?, etc. will get old fast. I love kicks as a supplement to the button, but don’t like to rely on them exclusively.
        I’d rather they had revived the SRX600. I still drool over those whenever I see one on eBay.
        And by the way, what did you expect the tech presenter to say?

        • Arlo, he isn’t just a tech presenter. He is a member of the community, a person many of the journalists know. If he were to lie or significantly exaggerate he’s be selling his own credibility up the river. You’d better believe we are all going to start it by hand and report on our real-world levels of success in our magazines. You’ll have to wait until June to read about it, but it WILL be put to the test. (P.S. my old RS250 two-smoke twin started like a charm with a quick right-or-left-handed prod.)

          • JT

            Sean,Who from Yamaha demonstrated a one hand start?
            i just purchased a 0 mile bike from a dealer and I am having a lot of trouble starting it. I followed the manual very carefully but it was very difficult, not at all like it was promised. I have a 10 year old 600cc fuel injected snowmobile that still starts on the second pull no matter what (it has 5000 miles on it and the original plugs!), even after sitting for 9 months. So far, I am inclined to believe Arlo. I would like to contact the Yamaha person to confirm I am doing everything right before I throw in the towel…

    • Dan Duncan

      But if it had an e-start it wouldn’t be an SR400. They would have to completely re-design the motor. If they did that, they might as well just design a brand new bike. I think the idea here is that they are just bringing the same bike that is already in production elsewhere in the world to the US. My 81 XT500 is very easy to start, even with a big bore high comp piston 🙂

      • Alex Callas

        You make a great point there, and it explains the reason it doesn’t have it. As Sean was told, it’ll be a super easy starter, so it shouldn’t be a problem in actual use. I was able to hot start my SRX600 by hand at our Sunday meeting place when riders would ask if it was hard to start. Cold, no way!

    • Robert Spinello

      Learn what? It’s a limited production bike. It’s not made for riders who must have electric start, dummy.

  • Ted

    Was all excited when I saw the headline, but after reading “the no counterbalancer” lost interest in a hurry. Looks like they are taking a 40 year old motorcycle (and not that great of one) and trying to sell it for 6 grand. INTENSE bloody vibration was it’s problem then, unless you were content to go really slow. Good luck on that one. You would be ahead to go buy an Enfield bullet. I could see it if they were resurrecting a great bike like the Honda GB 500. Can’t believe this is the same company that just came out with the MT-09. Must have just hired someone from Suzuki and no one is watching what he is doing. 🙂 The Suzuki TU -250 has got to be a much better bike for WAY LESS! Yes all speculation. Will waIt to read the road test that says it’s nice and smooth and runs 100 mph. You did a good job of making it SOUND like there is a feasible market for it though, Tom. Kudos, couldn’t have been that easy. 🙂

  • Steven Holmes

    Looks just like the ’81 Suzuki GN400 I ride. Fuel injection is a nice touch, I also like that they put a kick starter on it. sure Electric start is nice, but my kicked bike starts every time, regardless of the state of my battery.

    I wish more manufactures made bigger (than 250) displacement bikes in the old UJM configuration.

  • Luke

    Not ready to give up my TU-250 yet, but I know a lot of folks over on the TU-250 board have been waiting for this bike to come over in hopes that it’ll be a little better at fast highway speeds (the TU is FWO on the highway and still won’t keep up with 80mph traffic). $6K seems really high for such an old-tech bike though as you can get a 2010 Bonny for the same scratch.

  • Craig Hoffman

    Being only 400cc and with a mild 8.5:1 compression ratio and hefty near 400 pound weight, I am thinking this thing won’t vibrate that much. It is not like it is going to turn high rpm. It might just have a pleasing throb. Time will tell.
    Inquing minds want to know why a 400 and not a 500? Maybe has to do with licensing laws as this is no doubt a world bike. The top end looks identical. Perhaps the old 500’s jug will bolt on 😉

    • DickRuble

      Maybe you can swap/modify the mill and make the SR in 650cc.

    • denchung

      Japan, where this bike has been in steady production for some time now, has certain restrictions around the 400cc mark. That’s why, for example, the Honda 500 models are offered as 400s there.

  • rjfinva

    Excellent news for us folks that want a good get around town bike – simple, good torque, light, air cooled, electronic ignotion……and so on. It’s not cheap, though, at $6K, which does mkae it a choice let’s say between this and a Bolt (950) for about $2.5K more…..

    • DickRuble

      Or a barely used night hawk 750 with a buttery smooth engine for around $1200 and use the remaining $4800 to ride across country.

      • Kevin

        And you and I were carping about $9K+ for a Ural. Maybe if this less money for a better bike idea catches on we can get really good and modern bikes for less than a hundred bucks.

        • DickRuble

          I don’t know about $100 but the fact they sell 110cc hondas for $700 in the Middle East and Africa but not here upsets me and really makes me think they must be making crazy money on motorcycles. I think the SR400 is nice but it’s not worth $6000. $3500 tops.

          • Robert Spinello

            $8995. still think $6000 is high. Used ones there are selling for more than $6000. The answer to your question fact invalidates your opinion. Duh.

          • DickRuble

            Where does it sell for $8995? Japan? How about Philippines or Indonesia? Your answer certainly validates my opinion of you.

  • rjfinva

    PS – I would opt for more rubber on the back, probably a 130mm. That’s what I had on my Honda 350 in high school…..

  • Craig Hoffman

    Dust off 1970’s tooling and sell for 2014 prices. A genius profit generating strategy!

    Another option to this is a new DRZ400, or a KLR/DR 650. These relatively stone age bikes are still more advanced and offer a far greater envelope of capability. I suppose they are not “cool” though. The DRZ especially offers real off road trail riding capability.

    • The first bike Iactually owned was a ’79 XL125s, later had an XL350R, and in the early ’90s had an XL650R. I sincerely love XLs as do it all street commuter/trail bikes.

  • frankfan42

    Nice bike, lousy price imho. No electric leg starter? No big deal for a dirt bike, but with aging bikers and newbies being the target market I sure can’t see the logic there.
    Actually the pricing strategy makes the new little Harleys look pretty darn good for only a few hundred more to start. LOL

  • 80sDweeb

    It doesn’t make sense to sell this bike for $500 more than Honda’s CB500F sporty liquid-cooled twin. Retro looks shouldn’t have to come at a premium, particularly with mostly outdated technology. I agree that this bike will end up as a discontinued cult favorite, and probably a rare one at that. If we’re talking those, I’ll take the GB500 anyday.

  • sweptarea

    $5,990 – yes. Upper edge of reasonable. Especially with no electric starter and a drum rear brake. I hope Yamaha doesn’t price itself out of the game and quits importing it. At $4,995, it’d be a good deal. Honda’s CBR250R (soon to be a CBR300R) is essentially the same number of parts, material, assembly labor, and look what it offers that the SR400 does not.

    • Robert Spinello

      early ones a rear disc – they lock up

  • Oslo Norway

    Not to get completely eggheaded about this but the first thing to jump off that spec sheet at me are the bore and stroke figures. I thought at first they simply sleeved the old 500 down, or put a different crank in ‘er and shortened the stroke, something simple, but there’s more going on here. The original 500 was 87x84mm, and this new 400 is 97×62.7? That’s going to be interesting, that is way oversquare, makes me wonder about the nature of the power delivery of the new guy. Should be curious…

    Oh, anyway, enough with me and playing with multiplication tables, back to the MSRP and kickstart yea or nay discussion…

  • Jordan

    I like this bike a lot, but the price is a little eye watering. I’m looking forward to mint Craigslist finds in the future. Hopefully people won’t be too inclined to chop these things up like XS650s.

    The kick start isn’t a turn off to me at all. I can kick my carb’ed YZ250F over cold on the first try on a warm day and in colder temperatures all it takes is a few extra strokes of the kicker, set the choke, raise to the compression cycle and it will light. I imagine with the more humble nature of this bike and EFI, no starter motor will be a non-issue, especially with a low seat height and a kickstand. Yamaha knows if the thing is a bear to start, it will not hold up well to beginner rider circles and become a hard sell, so I would expect them to have a neatly finished product by the time of its release.

  • Keith Lamb

    Looks nice, but at that price I can buy an original bike from the 70s, repair and replace everything needed from sitting in someone’s garage for god knows how many years and get it on the road and still have enough left for gas for a few years.

  • ducatirdr

    I saw the new SR400 at Daytona at Yamaha’s track side tent. In the corner they had a custom Scrambler version http://www.bikeexif.com/yamaha-sr400-usa done up by

    Palhegyi Design. I just stopped and stared at the bike for 10 minutes and then went to the factory rep and asked about the possibility of them building this scrambler version from the factory. He agreed it would probably out sell the stock SR. I know it had my vote.

  • WorldWeary

    High price, and too heavy. A lighter, cheaper SR200 or 250 (with analog tach and speedo) would have been nice! I like smaller displacement bikes done right!

  • Robert Spinello

    Motorcyclist September 1979 – “The Middleweight Memorandum” – Honda CX500, Suzuki GS550N, Kawasaki KZ650, BMW R65, Yamaha SR500F, Yamaha XS650F and Honda CB650
    (excerpts on the Yamaha SR500 – essentially the same bike, same engine, bore and piston size as the SR400 – just a shorter enginestroke

    Our favorite mountain swooper by far was the SR500, which was unanimously voted the best handler of the seven. At 385 pounds gassed up, the elemental little single weighs almost 70 pounds less than the next lightest member of the group. It’s lightness permits it to be flicked into a corner when the others must be eased into it. Because its light, the SR doesn’t overtax its tires or suspension, and may be thrown from side to side in a tight ess with almost no effort. There is plenty of ground clearance and the tires, although they sometimes feel skittery, never actually let go. The taut suspension works admirably in all except the cobbiest corners, and the SR received our highest marks for handling ease, precision and stability during cornering.” “As one rider commented, the little Yamaha had the highest fun quotient.” “The oil expert in the group says that 50-weight oil and a cooler are required for any Yamaha thumper that gets run hard.”

    Yamaha SR500F $1997
    “When 500cc Roadracing World Champion Kenny Roberts wanted a street bike, he got an SR500. The bike is a a length and a half ahead of the rest on a serpentine mountain road, where it could run away from the other bikes despite their extra power. It also got the best mileage and has the lowest price. However its rating dropped because of its low power, high vibration, need to kickstart, limited room and a lack of open-road tourability. It’s razor-sharp proficiency in the switchbacks says it could never be a Loser, but its lack of versatility means it can’t be a Winner either. It finished a sold fifth.”
    (ahead of Yamaha XS650F and Honda CB650)

    Off the Record-
    “I would buy an SR500 simply because of its fun factor. When our tour group completed a particularly twisty section, everyone would look around with envy to see who’d drawn the SR and had the most fun. Corkscrew roads bring out the sensation of the motorcycling experience, and the SR is sensational on such a road.” – Rich Cox
    “No other motorcycle in the comparison even comes close to the SR’s prowess on a twisty road.” “I’m talking about pure sport, ease of handling, confidence in predictability. The SR’s more powerful, sophisticated counterparts spent most of their time grinding away and throwing sparks just trying to keep up the pace.”
    “The SR shares a camaraderie with the road that only a handful of motorcycles ever attain. Even the most conservative rider will fall prey to its temptation.” – Ken Vreeke

  • Robert Spinello

    The 2015 SR400 is virtually the same bike as the SR500 which was sold in the U.S from 1978-1981. The SR500 was discontinued in 1999 but the SR400 has been sold only in Japan since 1978. t 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 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.