Ben Cooper

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


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

Category: about ben, two wheels
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