1980 Yamaha SR500
(Page 4 of 5)
By 1981, apparently everyone in the United States who wanted a SR500 had bought one, although sales in Europe and Japan continued to be strong. Yamaha stopped exporting SR500s to the U.S., but continued making them until 1999.
American owners hung on to their SRs, and it became a cult bike, favored by motorcycle messengers, bohemians and aspiring artists. Unlike the earlier British singles, the SR500 is durable, easy to maintain, and will put up with a fair amount of abuse. As Doug explains: "I grease the chain, and put air in the tires. I change the oil every 3,000 miles. I occasionally clean the air filter. The spark plug gets changed every year. It's a really durable bike — I've ridden it 9,000 miles and haven't had to fix it."
With extra time and money due to the lack of fiddly bits to fix and maintain and no chrome to polish, SR owners tend to tinker with their bikes. There is an aftermarket company that makes bolt-on kits to disguise a SR as a replica of one of several classic British motorcycles. Alloy tanks, replica seats, clip-ons, and exhausts are all easily obtainable.
Joe Minton wrote an article in the August 1986 issue of Motorcyclist describing a list of modifications to the bike that add several horsepower without making the beast harder to start. These suggestions have been so popular they have become known as the "Minton Mods." A stock SR is very rare.
Doug's SR has only been lightly customized. It sports drag handlebars and a bar end mirror. A 17-tooth countershaft sprocket and a Supertrapp header pipe and muffler add top end speed. Dual overhead oil lines add needed lubrication to the exhaust valve rocker, and Progressive Suspension fork springs stiffen up the front end for better canyon carving.
As per Minton's suggestions, Doug installed a K&N air filter and shimmed the carburetor needle. "The engine breathes better and the shimming allows more gas flow to the engine. Without the shimming, the engine would run too lean and burn a valve. I also changed the pilot and main jet," he says. Doug has also recently added a drilled front disc rotor and braided steel brake lines.
Doug likes to ride the SR around town and on twisty mountain roads. "It does vibrate a bit. Above 55mph, it smooths out, and it's wonderful. Its forte is around town — short hops and canyon carving. It is really, really good on twisty mountain roads — the tighter the better.
"The SR is not only a lot of fun, it is also practical transportation. I have a magnetic tank bag for the SR so I can go grocery shopping on the way home. I get 45-50mpg, depending on how hard I've been thrashing," Doug says.
Page: << Previous 1
| 4 | 5
| Next >>