It’s a question we’re asked all the time: “What’s the best motorcycle for a new rider?” It’d be great if we could give the same answer every time, but in reality the answer depends on many factors – rider size, competency, wants, needs, and desires among them. Small displacement bikes are generally a good place to start, but read enough forum commenters and before long you’ll find someone who shares their tale of how they started on a literbike and lived to tell the tale.
Beginner bikes. Save for the obscure cruiser-ish thing you rode during your MSF courses, the two we hear more often than not for learning the moto-trade, especially if sporty-type riding is your thing, are the Kawasaki Ninja 300 (and formerly 250) and Honda CBR250R, now to include the CBR300R. However, we’re here to remind you there are other, potentially better, options.
Your giant corporations can be a little slow to respond to trends, but sometimes they surprise you. Yamaha started teasing the idea of bringing back its old SR400 a couple years ago, and now they’ve gone ahead and done it. This is not a modern interpretation of the old bike, this is the actual old bike it’s been building and selling in other markets since the ’70s – though it does have modern fuel injection and a charcoal canister to meet current emissions requirements.
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.