1989 Yamaha SR500E from United States of America


Lightweight, superb handling, reasonable power, simple design


Weak stator winding design. Hand rewound a number of times.

Broken shift fork return spring. Easy replacement.

Rear swing arm bearings rusted out at about 35k miles. Likely my own fault for leaving it out in the elements for most of its history.

General Comments:

I absolutely love this bike. Bought it when I was in college on the east coast. Upon graduation, I fitted a trailer to it, packed up and drove it out to Seattle, Wa. The only thing that gave me trouble was a broken shifting lever return spring. Had trouble trying to tote the trailer up over the Bighorn range in Wyoming. Too much heat stress for the engine. Had to find a less difficult route west. Camped out every night.

At about 30k miles I was on an adventure up into the Olympic Mts when the first spark generating exciter coil failed. Replacement was a bit expensive so I rewound it by hand. It failed a couple more times since then and I kept getting better and better at rewinding it. When this coil dies, you are dead in the water. Been there!

I see they just reintroduced this bike as the SR400. If the new ignition system is more robust, it'd be a winner in my mind.

Everyone complains about lack of electric start, but the true retro style is kick start which I really admire. I've never had any trouble starting this machine as long as the spark was still working. I got so I didn't even look at the timing indicator. I just ease it up on the compression stroke, pop off some of the compression with the release knob and push the piston up near to TDC. Then a healthy kick or two was all it needed. I got in the bad habit of leaving the key in the ignition with the idea that some zit-faced kid wouldn't just hop on, hit the button and go. It irks me to no end to see these nuevo Harley drivers just hit the electric start button. Disgusting! What's the world coming to?!!

Would you buy another motorcycle from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 19th January, 2017