The BSA 441 Shooting Star
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1978-1981 Yamaha SR500
- 33hp @ 6,500rpm/ 96mph
- Air-cooled, 499cc OHC single
- Disc front, drum rear
- 353lb (dry)
Developed as a street-wise offshoot to Yamaha’s hugely successful XT/TT500 thumper dirt bike, the Yamaha SR500 was the spiritual successor to the 500cc British singles of yore.
Neither full-on dirt bikes nor competent street bikes, the XT/TT (the XT was the street version, with lights and blinkers) range introduced for 1976 was an instant hit for Yamaha, and proved there was still a viable market for big singles. The XT/TT’s success prompted Yamaha to develop a street version, resulting in the Yamaha SR500.
Like its British forebears, the Yamaha SR500 was a straight-forward proposition. The design goal favored simplicity and low weight, so the SR eschewed such modern conveniences as electric start. To make sure it always started, however, the SR received electronic ignition and a nifty decompression system even a novice could follow; big singles have a habit of kicking back — sometimes painfully — when prodded at the wrong point in their spin cycle.
Larger valves let the Yamaha SR500 breathe a bit more than its dirt-bound brethren, and bigger cooling fins helped it keep its composure in city riding, an environment where the SR excelled. While it was a perfectly capable road bike, its smallish size and moderate power (33hp) meant most owners used them for urban commuting or as errand bikes.
Bullet-proof construction allied with great looks and great handling make the Yamaha SR500 a perfect entry-level classic, and a bargain, to boot. MC
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