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Throwback heaven: Yamaha unveils the SR400

Sr400-top

That's right kids, the SR400 is back, kickstart and all. Yamaha is riding high off a recent string of successful new bike launches (the FZ-09 is on my shortlist and we loved the Sportster-esque Star Bolt) and is continuing to roll out a lineup of well-thought-out bikes.

The 2015 Yamaha SR400 looks almost like an exact replica of the 1978 SR500 that made the platform beloved around the world. This 399cc, air-cooled single is kickstart only. Talk about keeping it simple. It takes balls to release a bike in this day and age that is kickstart only, but we think that kind of throwback authenticity could make it more popular in some corners.

Yamaha has added a few updates to keep the bike compliant with emissions standards and to make it a little easier to own. It will be fuel-injected and have a compression release on the handlebar, which should make it easy to start.

So why 400cc instead of 500cc? The Japanese tiered license has a 400cc limit and, by creating one bike that Yamaha can sell worldwide, they can keep prices lower than if we got our own version. The new SR400 will have an MSRP of $5,990 and will go on sale this June.

Yamaha says they did significant market research in Japan and the overwhelming consensus was that they preferred the bike without an electric start. Will a kickstart-only air-cooled single that looks like a refugee from the disco era get the hipsters excited in 2014? We’ll be curious to see if the American market will appreciate the nostalgia or be turned off by the possible inconvenience.

2015 Yamaha SR400

Engine type Air-cooled single, 2 valves per cylinder
Displacement 399cc
Bore x stroke 97.0mm x 62.7mm
Compression ratio 8.5:1
Fuel Electronic fuel injection
Transmission 5-speed, chain final drive
Clutch Wet multiplate
Frame Double-cradle steel frame
Wheelbase 55.5 inches
Rake 27 degrees
Trail 4.4 inches
Front suspension Telescopic fork
Rear suspension Swingarm, dual shocks
Rear wheel travel 4.1 inches
Front tire 90/100-18
Rear tire 110/90-18
Front brake 268mm single disc
Rear brake 150mm drum
Fuel capacity 3.2 gallons
Wet weight 384 pounds
Seat height 30.9 inches

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