Yamaha SR Motorcycles & Specifications
Yamaha's SR single-cylinder motorcycles are timeless and still as popular today as they were in the 1970s.
The SR series started with the SR500 and the SR400, which were groundbreaking upon release. They were resembling the Universal Japanese Motorcycles, looking a lot like the street version of the Yamaha XT500. The Yamaha SR500 was used to win several major races, including the original Dakar Rally.
Throughout the years, the design of Yamaha SR bikes has remained much the same, which proves the high quality of the original design.
When Was The SR Series In Production?
The SR series was officially in production from 1978 until 2021.
The series started in 1978 with the release of the SR500 and the SR400. The Yamaha SR400 was primarily targeted for the Japanese market, while the SR500 was designed for export. The reasons for smaller engine capacity on the SR400 models were the licencing regulations of the Japanese market.
As mentioned before, the SR500 was inspired by the enduro-adventure motorcycle XT500, which Yamaha had first introduced in 1975. They shared a same engine and many other parts.
The production of SR series ended in 2021 when Yamaha stopped producing new SR400 models.
What's So Special About The Yamaha SR Series?
Unlike the XT500, the SR500 was a road bike. This made it perfect for commuting. It was also the first street bike to feature a full-sized four-stroke single-cylinder engine.
SR series motorcycles are so special because they are versatile. They are perfect for all kinds of roads, including motorways.
SR models are also a great base for those who like to customise their motorcycle.
The SR: A 70's Classic
SR motorbikes epitomise the best of 1970s motorcycle design. Only slight adjustments have been made to the bikes by Yamaha over the years. These changes include shortening the diameter of the rear wheel, and other small changes to the brakes and suspension.
The defining characteristics of these motorcycles remain, including the iconic round glass headlight and the kick-starter engine.
Yamaha SR Models
The Yamaha SR125 (1982-2003) is the most beginner-friendly bike of the SR series. With a low seat height and light body, this model is often used as a training bike. The bike has a dry weight of 104kg.
The engine produces 12bh and the bike can only reach a top speed of 55mph, making this the slowest in the SR series. Experienced motorcyclists may feel underwhelmed by its performance level, but it's still a nifty model to have in your bike collection.
SR250 & SR250SE
The Yamaha SR250 (1980 - 1984, 2001 - 2004) is popular amongst bike part collectors. This is because most of its parts are directly lifted from other popular Yamaha bikes. The engine comes from Yamaha XT bikes, while its structure is based on the XS650. Like most SR models, the bike is air-cooled.
In terms of riding, the SR250 can reach a top speed of 80mph. It weighs 130kg, making it both fast and agile. It's still popular as a commute bike.
The SR400 (1978-2021) features a 399cc engine and can reach a top speed of 91mph. At 158kg, the SR400 is heavier but just as easy to handle as the other bikes in the series. The SR400 is fun to ride with a thumper engine character.
From 2010 onwards, SR400s were made more efficient through the installation of a fuel injection system.
Since the introduction to the US, Europe and Australia in 1978, the SR500 became a hit, winning Moto of the Year award from German motorcycle magazine Motorrad two years in a row.
The SR500 (1978-1999) is the fastest bike of the SR series, with a top speed of 96mph. With a dry weight of 160kg, the 500 has a sturdy, single-cylinder build. The engine gives off a slight vibration when moving, but a lot of riders enjoy this. Notable for its smooth torque, the bike is often used for long-distance motorway travel.
The SR500 has considerably less rake than the likes of the XT500. The engine also has a lower displacement than other bikes in the series. This allows it to produce more power.
SR Series Specifications
Single-cylinder jumper engine
SR series models feature an air-cooled four-stroke single-cylinder engine. The bike's engine has two valves and a dry sump, the oil being stored in the frame down-tubes. The introduction of electronic fuel injection in later years, gave the motor fantastic response and modern practicality.
It is worth noting, that many of the SR models share the same engine to their Yamaha XT counterparts.
All SR bikes are kick-starter. This makes them usable in all conditions, as they are not reliant on an electrical system to start.
To make kick-starting easier, a sight glass has been installed on the right side of the cylinder head indicating the optimal decompression lever position for starting. The motorcycles tend to start easily from cold, normally taking from one to three kicks, and once warmed up, they start on the first kick without issues.
SR bikes feature a lightweight, steel chassis, designed to add power and pick up speed quickly. This body also makes them a quicker steering bike and easier to control. Yamaha SR motorcycles also have considerably less rake than the likes of the XT500.
History Of The SR Series: Japanese Café Racers
The SR series was designed by Atsushi Ishiyama. Prototype SR models were completed in 1975 when they were first introduced to U.S. motorbike dealers.
The Yamaha SR400 and the SR500 were both released commercially in 1978. They were intended to be a Japanese version of British thumper and café racer motorbikes. However, although popular for commuting, they became much more popular for cross-country biking.
The cross-country capabilities of the SR500 were proven at the first-ever Dakar Ralley in 1979. Riding an SR500, the French motorcyclist Cyril Neveu won first place. The following year, SR500s were used by the top 4 fastest riders. These events granted the SR series a legendary status in the world of motorbikes.
The SR series expanded through the following decades, with additions such as the SR250 and the SR125. Due to enduring popularity, the SR400s and SR500s models were made for several decades. Modifications were occasionally made to the bikes to comply with new environmental legislation. For example, the SR400 had a catalyst muffler and fuel injection system added to it.
How much is a Yamaha SR400?
Typically, a Yamaha SR400 in good condition will cost between £3,000 and £5,000.
As with most vehicles, the price will depend on the construction year and the bike condition.
How much does a Yamaha SR500 cost?
The classic single-cylinder SR500 will typically cost today between £2,000 and £5,000. It's a great bike with great engine character, and still a worthwhile addition to any motorbike collection.
Is the Yamaha SR400 still in production?
Yamaha produced the SR400 until 2021. The final models were named the SR400 Final Edition and the Final Edition Limited. It's better to invest in a newer SR400 as it will feature a fuel injection system and, therefore, be more environmentally friendly.
Are Yamaha SR500 bikes air cooled?
All bikes in the SR series are air-cooled, from the SR125 up to the SR500. Air-cooled bikes are more lightweight, which ensures a quicker ride.
Yamaha SR parts
As Yamaha SR series evolved so did parts and components, some are still being used nowadays and are available from Yamaha dealers directly, some were no longer economical to produce.
We offer quality reproductions as well as OEM originals of some of the most desired SR parts on the market. So whether you have an original or modified SR model in your garage or working on restoration of a Yamaha SR500 café racer, check out our selection of vintage Yamaha SR parts!