1980 Yamaha SR500

Durable and easy to maintain, the Yamaha SR500 became a cult favorite among classic motorcycle fans


| March/April 2006



Yamaha SR500

The British single that wasn't: Yamaha's SR500

Photos by Nick Cedar

1980 Yamaha SR500

Years produced: 1978-81
Total production: 15,000 (est.)
Claimed power: 33hp @ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 96mph
Engine type: Overhead cam, air-cooled single
Weight (dry): 160kg (353lb) 
Price then: $1,898 (1980)
Price now: $1,000-$2,500
MPG: 45-60

Doug Ratliff is a happy person. Or maybe he's two or three happy people when it comes to his 1980 Yamaha SR500.

Doug Number One believes he was born an artist. "I've always been into art," he says. "My high school ceramics teacher was my idol. He set me on my course."

Doug Number Two (sometimes known as Flash) is an aficionado of fast new Triumph motorcycles. "As a child, I gravitated to Fox minibikes. My brothers were the ‘Gasoline Alley' kids — they were both into engines. I broke my leg at age 13 with a friend on a Honda. It healed up, and I wanted more bike. I bought a black 1978 Yamaha SR and rode it all through college."

Doug Number Three is a collector of classic motorcycles. "I found a Norton, bemired in dirt, and fell in love. To this day, the smell of shellacked gasoline and a beat up motorcycle, and it's love."

The Norton led to a job at Hall-Burdette, a British bike dealership in Northern California, and another mentor, John Burdette. "He was the best, the man. He's now in his 80s and he's still great."

phill farrell_1
2/11/2010 7:24:47 PM

i just found a 79 SR500 and can not find parts. please help me...






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