Oftentimes, motorcycle manufacturers discontinue models without ample lead time. Whether we’re talking about Yamaha pulling the rug out from under us with the R6 or Harley slyly cutting underperforming trims, some loyal customers would appreciate one last year to purchase outgoing models. Well, Yamaha heard those calls, and after 43 years on the market, 2021 will be the SR400’s farewell tour.
Available in Japan since 1978, the SR400 was originally a spinoff of Yamaha's iconic XT500 enduro. To classify as a sub-400cc machine in Japan’s licensing system, the company changed out the crank and reduced stroke, resulting in a 399cc single. Thanks to its simple design and classic styling, the SR400 quickly gained a passionate following. That audience helped shape the standard bike’s trajectory for years, helping the SR400 to side with heritage instead of technology throughout its run.
Gallery: 2021 Yamaha SR400
Sticking to its guns, the SR400 never integrated an electric start. Instead, Yamaha opted for a kickstarter and cylinder sight glass to help owners turn over the big single. Engine internals remained the same too, with the dry sump oil system utilizing the frame’s downtubes as an oil reservoir. The company often planned to update the glass headlight lens and the round speedo/tach but those changes never came about. Luckily, the needle speedometer and tachometer still feature a barrel-style odometer and trip meter.
Despite an impressive resume of resistance, the SR400 had to succumb to electronic fuel injection in 2010 before making it to Europe, Australia, and the States in 2014. Modernization, however, was low on the model’s list, with it actually taking a step backwards in a few cases. In the mid-eighties, Yamaha shrunk the rear wheel to 18 inches and reverted from disc to drum brakes. The brand also swapped cast aluminum wheels for spoked versions to align with the model’s retro aesthetic.
In 2021, the SR400 will come in two standard options along with a limited-edition variant. With only 1,000 units available, the Final Edition Limited will feature a special sunburst paint job, bronze wheels, and Yamaha badges. In a time when adaptive cruise control and launch control are trickling down to motorcycles, it’s sad to see the classic ride off into the sunset, but at least Yamaha is giving us one more year to honor the SR400.