You want authentic vintage style? The SR400 is kickstart only, so you’ll look like The Fon
Now for something completely different: Yamaha's super-retro SR400 sits at the absolute opposite end of the sophistication spectrum from the Super Ténéré. In fact, it's so low-tech that is doesn't even offer electric start—that's right, it's kickstart only! Powered by a totally traditional, air-cooled, two-valve, SOHC single, and weighing just 384 pounds with a narrow frame and low seat height, the SR400 seems equally suited for new riders or experienced enthusiasts wanting a reliable platform for a single-cylinder streettracker or cool café racer.
Consistent with its throwback styling and lack of an electric leg, the SR400 is otherwise a minimally updated version of the original SR500 single last sold stateside in the early '80s (and sold more-or-less continuously in Japan and other Asian markets since then). A bar-mounted compression release—just like SRs from back in the day—helps the rider kick over the 399cc thumper with minimal effort. There are scant few other concessions to modernity, just a single disc front brake with a 268mm rotor (the rear brake is a drum) and reliable fuel injection instead of a grumpy Keihin carburetor. Simplicity is the name of the suspension game, too, with a non-adjustable telescopic fork bookended by no-name shocks with no-tech, ramp-type preload adjustment. Yamaha's set the price near the affordable end of the scale, $5,990. That keeps it from being the cheapest bike in the class, but we definitely like the idea of an inexpensive lightweight that delivers just the right combination of reliable mechanicals and old-school cool.
YAMAHA RUMOR MILL
We were frankly surprised to see just two new models from Yamaha this spring—one (the Super Ténéré) a light update of an existing bike and the other (the SR400) an existing bike borrowed from another market. Because of this, we're betting on an additional mid-year release of more early 2015 models. Here are our three best guesses at what those might be:
We expect the next variant of Yamaha's roundly received FZ-09 triple to appear sooner rather than later. We're guessing the next one will be a half-faired "S" model with improved weather protection and a sportier riding position—although a midsized, 850cc adventure-tourer would certainly be cool.
It's been seven years since Yamaha's R6 supersport has received any attention, making an update long overdue. Changes in the marketplace have made displacement categories—not to mention, acceptable engine configurations—more fluid. Imagine Yamaha pulling a page from Triumph's playbook and slotting a sleeved-down FZ-09 triple into a pure sportbike chassis to create a "supermid" R675. Yes, please.
Our final (and most probable) pick for a mid-season delight is a stateside showing of Yamaha's MT-07, the 689cc parallel-twin already on-sale in Europe. Yamaha USA officials remain mum, but our spidey-sense says it's coming soon, riding the wave of momentum created by the FZ-09. For a quick MT-07 preview, look for our European Correspondent Roland Brown's First Ride report.
On the web: yamahamotorsports.com