Ben Cooper

Group Innovation Director M&C Saatchi Sydney. Co-Creator O Six Hundred Kayak. Proud father. Loving husband. British.

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It’s here… my 1983 limited edition SR500

October 11, 2009

This is my new bike it’s a limited edition SR500, built in 1983 it has about 25,000km’s on the dial… they’re becoming increasingly difficult to get hold of – so I’m quite chuffed. The bike was sourced from Japan by Luke and his team at Scotts Motorcycles, Kograh.

Limited Edition SR500 profile

Limited Edition SR500 engine view

Limited Edition SR500 headlamp

The SR 500 was designed by Atsushi Ishiyama. He says: “Our choice was to design the new SR 500 with a strong family image and a strong link to our first four stroke, the XS 650 twin, which was also inspired by British design at first.” The SR 500 was going to become a legend as one of most reliable and easy-to-maintain motorcycles ever built. Full details on Wikipedia

To follow is a bit of a rant, but seeing as I’ve learnt so much on the route to buying this bike I thought it’d be valuable to share.

My love of two wheels has taken many forms, but in the motorised department it was firstly a Gilera Runner (which was stripped of all parts and then stolen a week later, I did live in Peckham London at the time) and then a rather battered Vespa T5… (which I still have, alas in the UK). Anyhow the return to two wheels is inspired by the realities and expense of running two cars (my wife’s and mine), inefficient public transport, lack of parking + expense of parking if you resort to a lockup in town (which I do). Sure I can cycle, and I have in the past, but carrying laptops and change of clothes and whatnot… it’s not that convenient.

On top of my ‘justification’ and ‘rationale’ is the ‘rebirth’ of the cafe racers lead by the smart people at Deus Ex Machina… and beneath a lot of those amazing bikes is generally a SR400/500.

I came to the conclusion all I needed was the base bike and then the modifications can happen over time. Deus mainly imports SR400, Yamaha stopped production in 2008, so they’re almost new – not that it matters as the bike’s haven’t really changed since 1978. You’ll pay around $9k + ORC and they have good financing. I couldn’t afford that… I’m supposed to be saving money with the bike… not spending the same as a car. Plus there are lots of additional costs that you need to factor, locks, helmet, clothing and gloves… it all adds up and I don’t want to break the bank.

There had to be another way. So the search began, literally, I ran a dedicated search on eBay, Google BlogSearch and captured the RSS feeds on Reader. When appropriate I tagged site url’s ‘caferacers’ on Delicious.

Anyhow I happened upon a GB400 TT (Tourist Trophy) on eBay (example pic below). It turns out the TT (which also comes in 500/400cc also) was a tribute to Honda’s consistent wins at the Isle of Man TT races. The great British bikes like Norton, Triumph and BSA inspire its design. I thought the bike looked great, as it was… polish it up and you’re good to go… anyway the seller was Scotts Motorcycles and this is where I found gold.

Black white Honda GB400TT

Side note: Japan has some regulation that requires bikes to be 400cc. Hence the 500/400, but the thing to remember with the Yamaha or the Honda – it is the same bike – same build and everything just the engine has been bored to 400.

Turns out Scotts import more than just GB’s they also source 80’s SR’s and other gems from Japan. After much deliberation between the Honda GB400/500 and the Yamaha SR400/500 I finally settled on the SR. The reason being the SR’s have been modified for years in Japan and there is so much choice when it comes to custom parts, Deus stock a lot of parts… but I also found Vanem who stock everything from alternative seats to styled indicators and dials – check out Kedo and eBay to.

The shots included in this post show my bike fresh out the cargo container from Japan. It now needs to be registered, cleaned and polished, new tires, engine service etc. So I’m expecting delivery at the end of the month. The guys at Scotts have been a great help, especially with my constant questions… many thanks to Luke and a shout to Nikki and Tim who I met properly on the weekend.

My SR is around $6,500 as it stands, but once the on-road service and registration is done it’ll be around $7,500. For me it works out better than Deus, it’s an older bike, but I’ve managed to get the original 500 version… which means it will hold its value. It’s still a substantial investment but today it looks pretty cool as it is… but overtime I can tweak it to perform better and look how I want.

Sites of note: I found these gems along the way Pipeburn for photos and all things cafe racer, Bike Exif for more of the same, Wrenchmonkees Copenhagen based garage putting out some amazing bikes.

One day, it may even look like this…

Deus Grievous Angel custom SR400

Tags:
Category: about ben, two wheels
Comments (14) Add yours ↓
  1. tom uglow

    This terrifies me.
    (as a cyclist)
    but I am very happy for you.

    October 12, 2009
  2. larsRPV

    Ben,

    I stumbled across your website on last Sunday's lazy afternoon. You're well on your way of getting a pretty darn cool motorcycle, dude!

    You mentioned some good suppliers of SR parts etc., but please allow me to add one more: REDZ POR VIDA (http://www.redzporvida.com) from the North of Europe.

    Hope to see you around some day on our website,

    In the meantime, keep up the good work!

    Cheers,

    Lars
    REDZ POR VIDA

    October 12, 2009
  3. Ben

    you may also enjoy
    SIDEBURN dirt track magazine

    October 24, 2009
  4. BP

    you may also enjoy
    SIDEBURN flat track magazine

    October 24, 2009
  5. Ryan

    Hey chanced by this post when looking for GB 250 project ideas. My eye was caught by the stunning GB 400 that you posted. (it's actually my bike and not for sale). I don't know if you found that photo on Ebay but that is not the bike that the seller is selling. Lovely bike none the less and it makes a great restoration project as you can see, I have done a lot of work to the bike including double sided exhaust which confuses a lot of people because the bike is a single cylinder with dual exhaust porting.
    Anyway, good luck with your project, there are some great cafe racers built around the SR base and you seem to have found the best of them (dues). I would love to hear from you and hear where you found my bike for sale (always a laugh) and how your project is going.

    January 29, 2010
  6. benhamin

    hey Ryan, thanks for the comment. Re-reading my post I realise what I did, I failed to identify your pic as an example of a GB – not the actual eBay one – that's fixed now. Anyhow, love your bike… in fact it was about the only cool pic I could find of the GB (seeing as your a photographer, that makes sense…). Do you have any other pics of it?

    With regards to my 'project' haven't done anything as yet… just riding it… must say the kick-start is a pain some days, so I'm evaluating whether to make this the project or not. Will share whatever I do.

    January 31, 2010
  7. Ryan

    Well thank you. To be honest there are not too many nice GB 400's here. I'm living in Thailand and though a number of them come in from Japan people don't seem to be as interested in taking care of them once they are here. They sort of fall apart a bit because the people that bring them in don't spend too much time or money on them. Which is a shame because they are great bikes. There is a real market for SR 400 customs though and this is the bike that seems to attract the people that are going to spend the money on a bike and make it into something really special.

    I don't have any more photos of the bike but I will take a couple more for you when it gets back from the shop later this week. It shook a turn signal loose last week. (one more original part gone)

    I understand about the kick start, the GB has both kick and thumb start and after the bike is warm, I almost always thumb start it. Though there is something in the way of appeal in a kick start only bike. It just brings the whole experience down a notch to it's most pure basic level.

    With regards to the project, if you are serious about doing it and have things mapped out as to what you want to do with the bike, you should think about booking a ticket to Thailand for a shopping trip. With you being in Australia, I imagine you could get a ticket pretty cheap. And parts are dirt cheap over here. My whole bike (total including the cost of the bike) is about $1500 american (don't know what that translates to in Aus dollars but its not much).

    Good to hear from a fellow enthusiast. Happy riding and have fun with the project. Stay in touch.

    February 7, 2010
  8. kenndlv

    Ben,

    Chanced on this site when looking for sellers of the Honda GB250. I'm going to go to scotts next week to have a look at their bikes.

    From the sounds of it, the people at scotts were very helpful. Any hints or suggestions on choosing, dealing with them? Did you have to buy the bike unseen, or could you wait until it arrived in Sydney before you put down the cash?

    In your travels did you by any chance find any GB250 parts dealers? The only one I've found so far is http://www.japan.webike.net.

    February 9, 2010
  9. benhamin

    hello, all the Scotts team are cool, so say hello from me if you go down. I dealt with Luke primarily and he was extremely helpful in educating on the pro's and con's of different bikes as I really didn't know what I was doing.

    The way it worked with my bike: Scotts had a container due in and I was able to see photos and specs of all the bikes, I then placed a nominal deposit to reserve the bike I liked, on its arrival I went to see it and had the option to change if I wanted. All good.

    They generally have a few models floating around so you'll be able to get a feel for the GB.

    On parts for the GB, I don't know really, Scotts keep stock of stuff… best to ask them.

    FYI: A colleague at work just got a lovely GB250 from them in dark green and cream, looks great.

    Hope that helps… happy riding. B

    February 9, 2010
  10. kenndlv

    Ben,

    Heard from Scotts that they were getting a green and cream bike back to trade in from a bigger bike.

    Any chance that bike is your colleagues?

    K

    March 4, 2010
  11. benhamin

    Not to my knowledge. We were talking the other day and he seems happy with his ride… and has only just passed his P's so won't be changing for awhile I would have thought. I will ask though.

    March 9, 2010
  12. benhamin

    Turns out he is selling… give me a shout and I'll connect you with him.

    March 22, 2010
  13. kenndlv

    Great, how do I go about sending you a private message with my contact details.

    March 23, 2010
  14. anthonyditton

    edit: now that I've properly read your post, I note that Vanem appears in there already. So my advice to check them out is redundant. Nice bike though.

    March 29, 2010

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