YAMAHA SR400 (2014 - 2018) Review

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Annual servicing cost: £100
Power: 23 bhp
Seat height: Medium (30.9 in / 785 mm)
Weight: Low (384 lbs / 174 kg)

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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 YBR125 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 & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

My first ride was a nine-mile commuter thrash home through the Peterborough rush hour gridlock, and the SR 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.

Engine

Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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 quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

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.

We've got 3 Yamaha SR400 owners' reviews on the site right now, and it scores 5 out of 5 overall. People love the value and the simplicity of design, but bemoan the lack of equipment. 

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

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 a used buy the Yamaha SR400 has held its value well due to its classic-style nature, but it's out-gunned by more recent retro rides like the Royal Enfield Bullet 500 or Fantic Caballero Rally 500.

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. 

Equipment

3 out of 5 (3/5)

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.

Specs

Engine size 399cc
Engine type air-cooled SOHC two-valve
Frame type Tubular steel, double cradle
Fuel capacity 12 litres
Seat height 785mm
Bike weight 174kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Pre-load
Front brake 298mm disc with twin piston calipers
Rear brake Drum
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 £44
Annual service cost £100
New price -
Used price -
Insurance group -
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

Model history

 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…

Other versions

None

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.

Review your YAMAHA SR400 (2014 - 2018)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Equipment: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Annual servicing cost: £100
5 out of 5 Reliable and fun to ride
08 September 2016 by Rui

Year: 2014

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

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 5 out of 5
5 out of 5
08 August 2015 by Phil Hamilton

Year: 2015

Great little fun bike to ride

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 5 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5
5 out of 5 Perfect mid-size bike
09 June 2015 by Craig

Version: American non-California version

Year: 2015

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.

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

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.

Engine 5 out of 5

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.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Absolutely beautiful build quality. I have owned almost 40 motorcycles in my life, and not one was this well crafted.

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

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.

Equipment 5 out of 5

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.

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