Yamaha SR400 Coming Stateside In 2014

Tom Roderick
by Tom Roderick

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.

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.”

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

Engine TypeAir-cooled SOHC, 2-valve
Engine Capacity399cc
Bore x Stroke87.0mm x 67.2mm
Fuel SystemFuel Injection
IgnitionTransistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission5 speed
ClutchMultiplate wet clutch
Final DriveChain
Front SuspensionTelescopic; 5.9-in travel
Rear SuspensionSwingarm; 4.1-in travel
Front Brakes Hydraulic disc; 268mm
Rear Brakes150mm drum
Front Tire90/100-18
Rear Tire110/90-18
L x W x H82.1 x 29.5 x 43.1 in
Seat Height30.9 in
Wet Weight384 lbs
Wheelbase55.5 in
Rake/Trail27º / 4.4 in
Fuel Capacity3.2 gal
Claimed Fuel Economy66.2 mpg
ColorsDark Grey Metallic
Tom Roderick
Tom Roderick

A former Motorcycle.com staffer who has gone on to greener pastures, Tom Roderick still can't get the motorcycle bug out of his system. And honestly, we still miss having him around. Tom is now a regular freelance writer and tester for Motorcycle.com when his schedule allows, and his experience, riding ability, writing talent, and quick wit are still a joy to have – even if we don't get to experience it as much as we used to.

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  • Robert Spinello Robert Spinello on Jun 03, 2014

    Motorcyclist September 1979 - "The Middleweight Memorandum" - Honda CX500, Suzuki GS550N, Kawasaki KZ650, BMW R65, Yamaha SR500F, Yamaha XS650F and Honda CB650
    (excerpts on the 1979 Yamaha SR500 - essentially the same bike - same engine, bore and piston size as the 2015 SR400 - just a shorter engine stroke & EFI

    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 Robert Spinello on Aug 08, 2014

    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.