YAMAHA SR400 (2014 - 2018) Review
- Characterful single from Yamaha
- Genuine classic bike thrills
- Retro commuter with style
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£100|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
When launched, the Yamaha SR400 could really have done with the original’s extra 100cc or 8-10bhp more; for anyone over 5ft 10in it’s too cute to be cool and, at £5200 I can’t help feeling it was a bit rich, too.
After all, the SR had no more moving parts than the YBR 125 and yet its development costs were surely wiped out an ice age ago. So why did it cost £2350 more?
If they made the SR nearer £4K, gave it the old 500 barrel and reintroduced the larger, cooler XT trailie version and I’d have been down my local Yam dealer before you could say ‘thumper’.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
My first ride was a nine-mile commuter thrash home through the Peterborough rush hour gridlock, and the SR400 was both briliantly effective and such a charismatic giggle it left me beaming from ear to ear.
Once you’ve mastered the kick-start proceedure (no ‘leccy start here, natch), ie key-on, kicker out, use the decompressor under the clutch to pump the piston to top dead centre (you can see it through the crafty sight glass on the right hand side of the head), let go decompressor, clutch in and whump on the kicker and you’re away – it’s not difficult, honest – the SR is an absolute doddle to ride.
The narrow, light and low dimensions are more 125 commuter or something like Suzuki’s VanVan than full-on 400/500, which makes the SR completely unintimidating – so much so I reckon I could teach my kids to ride it round the garden.
The downside of ‘nimble, unintimidating and thrummy’ is, at 60mph+ (or, what you need to survive on modern ring roads) twitchiness, vulnerability and vibes. Those dinky proportions had me feeling like a gorilla mounting a chimpanzee; its 65mph top whack (70 on a good day, 60 uphill) would be outstripped by even the 250 Inazuma on which I braved last year’s winter and after just a mile or two of that my nads were numb.
That doesn’t make me dislike the little SR – anything but. You just need to understand what you’re getting into. As an authentic classic the SR is a charmer; as a cross town commuter, a delight and as a blank canvas for a customiser (Yamaha are planning a whole raft of ‘Yard Built’ accessories for it) it has appeal.
EngineNext up: Reliability
The 399cc single just thrums along no matter where the needle’s pointing with steering so light and precise you feel you could wiggle between parked cars. The front disc’s enough, considering the SR weighs less than me (or feels like it, anyway) and the rear reminds why drum back brakes on lightweights used to be so good, providing oodles of feel. 0-50mph or so with lots of manouvring thrown in is the SR’s hunting ground.
Give me one of these over a commuter scoot any day. But get it on a dual carriageway and it's a bit scary. It struggles above 60 and really could do with a little more guts.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
First off, that ‘authentic classic’-ness, in the flesh, is simply dizzying. Forget the smooth (should be ribbed) seat and dull, modern, satin grey paintjob for a moment (why Yamaha didn’t paint it ’70s colours is beyond me, this is just wrong), and take in the details.
The metal switchgear is authentic late ‘70s/early ‘80s Yamaha fare – in fact it’s identical bar the stickers (I checked) to my own 1980 RD350LC. The old school grips take me back to sitting on showroom Suzuki GTs and TSs in the Seventies, the chromed bars remind of my first 17-er road bike, an S-reg CB125 with a gazillion miles on its green clocks.
There’s more. The big, old-fashioned orange and chrome indicators are like something from Motorcycle Mechanics; the big (also chrome) tin mudguards are the sort of stuff that’d normally have grown men fighting over at autojumbles. And I haven’t seen new tyres so narrow and 18-inch since 1984.
Our Yamaha SR400 owners' reviews show very positive scores. People love the value and the simplicity of design, but bemoan the lack of equipment.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
Okay, so £5200 may not seem like a lot, but then this is not really a lot of bike. It's simple and effective but from new it was the same price as a 2014 Yamaha MT-07 and that seems very odd. If this was a grand less, you'd be in business!
As for day-to-day running costs, the SR400 is very reasonable thanks to its relatively low-performance engine and simple design. None of the consumable parts are under particularly high stress.
The old school twin dials and switchgear are, to someone of my generation, completely natural and intuitive; the lack of any sort of electronics (not even a little LCD panel on the clocks), is somehow completely refreshing and the presence of an old fashioned petrol tap, backed up by a bonus low fuel warning light inset into the tacho, is reassuring.
Custom Yamaha SR400s
There's a popular scene for tuning these bikes and turning them into things Yamaha would barely recognise. Over the years we've reported on CMBL's Bike Shed show-stoppers, Krugger Motorcycle's MotoGP inspired supercharged SR400, and the award-winning Ziller Garage bike.
|Engine type||air-cooled SOHC two-valve|
|Frame type||Tubular steel, double cradle|
|Fuel capacity||12 litres|
|Front brake||298mm disc with twin piston calipers|
|Front tyre size||90/100 x 18|
|Rear tyre size||110/90 x 18|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||60 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£45|
|Annual service cost||£100|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||2 year unlimited mileage|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||23 bhp|
|Max torque||20 ft-lb|
|Top speed||80 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||160 miles|
Model history & versions
Yamaha’s new (old?) SR400 is a Proper Old Bike or, as Yamaha themselves proclaim: "an authentic living classic constructed to virtually the same specification as the original model". And that original model? The SR500 introduced in 1978, right from its ‘70s metal switchgear to its fuel tap and its wire wheels…
Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA SR400 (2014 - 2018)
3 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA SR400 (2014 - 2018) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£100|
Brilliant bike. Reliable and fun to ride! It does 90mph not 80mph as mentioned here, and is really comfortable up until 70mph on highway, take the stock exhaust and put an aftermarket on and you get some atention to put those fears mentioned away. :D
Great little fun bike to ride
Version: American non-California version
Annual servicing cost: £100
This is a fun, beautiful machine that gets a lot of attention, especially from people old enough to remember the original.
The bike has a comfortable seat and is good for two hours or more of sustained riding. The bike is light and feels a strong cross wind, but is not dominated by it.
I can get, on a trip, over 74 miles per (American) gallon using non-ethanol 88 octane gasoline at about 4600 ft above sea level. I do not know what the top speed is, but I have exceeded 85 mph on the freeway. At freeway speeds the bike is smooth and willing. I feel that a sustained speed of 70-75 mph is well within the performance envelope of this machine.
Absolutely beautiful build quality. I have owned almost 40 motorcycles in my life, and not one was this well crafted.
Have only had this bike for seven months, so am not yet sure of it's total running costs. Full coverage insurance runs me $70 a year, and routine maintenance is no more than it would be for any other standard.
Love the kick start. I wish the tires were of a more modern design that didn't follow pavement grooves and were more readily available.
Buying experience: Bought from Carey's Cycle Center of Riverdale, Utah. An absolutely stellar buying experience.