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Yamaha SRX600

Best bets on tomorrow's classics: The Yamaha SRX600 got positive reviews but was ignored by American buyers

| November/December 2005

  • Little Miss Fit: The SRX600 got positive reviews but was ignored by American buyers
    Little Miss Fit: The SRX600 got positive reviews but was ignored by American buyers.
  • Contender: 1983 Honda FT500
    Contender: 1983 Honda FT500
  • Contender: 1986 Suzuki LS650
    Contender: 1986 Suzuki LS650

  • Little Miss Fit: The SRX600 got positive reviews but was ignored by American buyers
  • Contender: 1983 Honda FT500
  • Contender: 1986 Suzuki LS650

Yamaha SRX600

Years produced: 1986 (for U.S. market)
Total production: 19,000 (worldwide)
Claimed power: 41bhp @ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 106mph (est.)
Engine type: 595cc, four-stroke single cylinder
Weight (wet): 176kg (387lb)
Price then: $2,599 (1986)
Price now: $2,500-$3,850

The mullet. Miami Vice jackets. Those ridiculous electric shavers that left behind a few millimeters of stubble.

The Eighties and fashion sins went together like the Ice Age and cold, and the motorcycle world wasn’t immune. Case in point is the American motorcycle mainstream’s indifference to the 1986 Yamaha SRX600.

While factory customs poured from showrooms like Falco albums from record bins — yes, even sludge like Rock Me Amadeus could become a No. 1 hit in the Eighties — domestic buyers ignored the tough and bold SRX like the 55mph speed limit signs of the day. Yamaha claims to have sold 19,000 units of the single-cylinder SRX, but it’s clear that all but a tiny fraction of those sales were in Europe and Asia.

The SRX, with throwback design cues such as clip-on-style handlebars and lack of an electric starter, was imported only one year to the United States.

"No one wanted a single, and no one wanted to kick-start a 600," says Tulsa, Okla., resident Phil Schreck, who camped out on his local dealer’s doorstep in 1986 to buy an SRX. "It was an oddball, but I couldn’t have cared less. It had beautiful lines, it handled well, it was light and it always did everything I wanted it to do."

Terry Crock
1/23/2010 4:45:32 PM

Yep, I went to buy one in 1986, but the Yamaha 4 cylinder 600 (650) cost the same amount. I really wanted the SRX, but it was simply overpriced. It should not have cost as much as a 4 cylinder, electric start bike. I knew several people interested in the simplicity of the bike, but who were, like, me, put off by the price.

David Baker
8/7/2008 10:48:16 PM

Love the article on the Yamaha SRX600. I am from Australia and have bought one on it's original tyres (A bit hard now). I have put in a 630cc Wiseco piston, opened up the inlet and exhaust ports, fabricated a non restrictive exhaust and fitted dynojet kit and paper inlet filters. I will be firing it up this weekend and reckon it will fly. You Yanks don't know what you missed out on. David

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