A faithful modern rendition of a 1978 SR500, the 2018 SR400 is powered by a 399cc, SOHC, two-valve, air-cooled single torquing through a five-speed gearbox, and features a conventional steel frame, fork, and twin shocks, and a front-disc, rear-drum brake setup. Styling is straight out of the 1970s, but since Yamaha’s early thumpers borrowed design cues from postwar British bikes, you might say it actually hearkens to the ’50s. In any event, the modern SR400 is one of the most faithful, mechanically and aesthetically, retro bikes around.
Yamaha would probably move a bunch more SR400s if the bike had an electric starter. Instead, you have to follow the age-old thumper starting drill: 1) Using the kickstarter, find top-dead center on the compression stroke; 2) pull the compression release to let the piston squeeze past; and 3) jump on the kickstarter while holding the throttle just so. That’s pretty authentic! In just about every other way, the SR400 is a delight. It’s adequately quick for modern traffic, handles steadily, and has nice noise and vibration signatures. Electronic fuel injection and ignition are bonuses.
Likes: Tasteful design, pleasant engine, steady handling
Dislikes: Needs an electric starter to supplement the retro kickstarter
Verdict: Just about as faithful as modern retro gets