Suspension of Disbelief - Part III

How cool are these?

They're preload adjusters now availble from Wellington.. Can be spanner or screwdriver adjusted so they'll work with clipons or standard bars. They retail for around $155.00.

Photobucket Photobucket


On a similar note, I'm not 100% sold on the Ohlins that I have at the moment. I've had a close look at the Gazi shocks mounted on a mate's bike and they appear to be very well made, and they have rebound adjustment, which the Ohlins don't. If I was to sell the Ohlins I don't think there'd be too much difference between the two, but i'm going to get some front fork springs from Ohlins to match the rear, top up the oil and see how I go.

Oh, and I'll probably have some of those preload adjusters too... Just because.


People are idiots...

This was sent to me by a mate - it's MCN's typical second-hand journalism, on the new SR400EFI There's nothing too exciting in the article except the comments, a couple of which are worth rebuking here.

"Although I should be one of the people that this would appeal to
the XT500s and SR500s had a dreadful reputation in the 80s for not starting or for getting stuck in 1st gear and ate chains regularly. Think I would pass."

Yes you peanut, they had such a dreadful reputation that they were manufactured for the next 30 years. Due to their power delivery, singles tend to eat chains. Somehow my SR400 managed 16,00k's with it's stock 420 chain and sprockets. The SR is hard to start, if you neglect your bike and don't know how to properly kick it in the first place.

"Yamaha have made a 70's looking bike, with 70's style
performance for £3700 in 2010. At least no-one in the UK will be wasting £3700 on one of these. What a pile or pseudo retro rubbish. . You're better off buying an original piece of 70's nostalgia for £200!

Yes, but the SR will run. Parts will be available. Although when someone says that the SR features 70's style performance, it makes you question where they're coming from. It's more like 50's style performance.

And more...

"The old SR500 was ok and a half decent run around. But why
bother with this now, and who the hell is going to buy it. I think it's a
pointless exercise and they will have shot themselves in the foot.

It's been "bothered with" for a long, long time. The SR has sold strongly in Japan for all this time.
Ah well, some people either get it or they don't! I'm in the process of collating a bunch of information about the new SR400EFI, and I'll be trying to put it all in one post soon.


Mag Wheels by Y's gear.

Q: What's the diffence between herpes and SR Mag Wheels?
A: You can give herpes to someone.

Well, that was the school of thought about the dear old SR mags. They're quite heavily stepped in late 70's design and many owners go about replacing them with the more traditional wire spoked wheels. Over time the SR mags have really grown on me and I've become a bit of a fan. On the right bike they give the whole thing a solid look... and they'd be easier to clean than standard.

For the last few years, Yamaha's aftermarket part supplier,Y's gear, have been producing producing the mags again for around $2200 AUD. And before everyone gets excited and drags out your old mags from the shed or the bottom of the sea these new ones are a little different.

The front is 1.5 kilos lighter and the rear is 2 kilos lighter than stock and can also run tubeless tyres. The front is also an 18" which looks pretty neat to me.


Suspension of Disbelief Part II - Fitted Ohlins

Well, the rear Ohlins are on.

And man, are they stiff! It's quite hard to tell how they perform without the front set up correctly but when it's going it feels quite planted and firm. They also feel longer than the already-longer Ikons, which in turn gives the impression that it's sharpened the steering a bit. Unfortunately, the front end now feels very mushy and not in-line with the rear After an hour or two blat around Melbourne streets at 1AM this morning in it's current form the bike is nearly approaching unrideable, hard at least.

They aren't adjustable for anything but height. This worries me a little, as people like Stew from the SR500 forum change their settings often depending on the roads. He's a fan of the Gazi shocks

Gazi Shocks which do have a good range of adjustments available. I'm not 100% sold on the cosmetics of them as yet, but they do perform well as he says in this review. He is sponsored by Gazi on his salt racing SR500 but I know the guy and can't imagine him recommending something unless he really believed in it himself.

I've contacted one or two suspension shops that have come recommended -Promecha and krooztune but they both have 2-3 weeks wait before anything can be done. And I'm supposed to be leaving town in a little over the week for a 1500k trip to Sydney. Always leaving things to the last minute...

So I'll keep sending some emails and asking around for some kind of preset formula to match the front with the rear. I've also got to take the time to measure out all the sag measurements, especially at the front, so I can work out what basic settings I need. I'm guessing that the front fork springs that Ohlins sell for the SR400/SR500 should match up, and get it a little closer?

In the meantime, it's searching Japanese websites to find out what people are running.
This guy changed back from Ohlins to WP shocks for more adjustment. He seems to be keen on making his SR handle, so his opinion might be valid, or it might be complete shit - it's very hard to judge the tone of writing through google translate! He also speaks highly of the Dunlop TT900GP tyres. He's running WP springs at the front in an effort to get rid of what looks like a similar problem to mine.

There's some other links too, but are either pretty vague or I'm sure they don't know what they're talking about either. It seems everybody in the world is doing up their engines but nobody has much solid information on suspension set up!

Oh well, I'll probably just put more oil in the forks to start off with and maybe some 20c peices as preload to see how we go.


2003 Onwards SR400 Wiring

From 2003 onwards Yamaha introduced a new key/ignition unit for the SR400, changing it to a coded key the same as the rest of their line. When purchasing a new SR400 you'd receive three keys, one of which was the red "master" key. Only this one could be copied.

Each key contains a chip in it, which is matched to the arial which surrounds the ignition barrel. Only the keys issued with the bike will match the ignition system. Others may fit, probably even turn the barrel but a red LED that sits in the speedo will stay on. No matter how hard you kick it, she won't start.

If you lose all the keys there's no option but to replace the whole unit - I've seen them go for around $500AUD on Yahoo auctions but the system new from Yahama costs a few thousand dollars. So don't lose your keys.

Anyway, while having some problems with the ignition system I contacted a friend in Japan who hunted down these diagrams for the late model wiring system. They might come in handy for ordering replacement parts and/or stuffing about with the electrics. It's also yet another reason to learn Kanji, if dirty Hentai magazines weren't enough.

If it's any help, the arial has to sit directly around the barrel for it to work. Just in or out or around won't. I stuffed around, and stuffed a friend around for quite a while before we realised that it didn't work.

2003 SR400 Wiring Diagram
Wiring Diagram

Ignition System
Ignition System

Other Stuff
Other Electrics



Good Luck, SR400

Above are some selected highlights from the Japanese TV series, "Good Luck". It's about a girl and her love affair with the SR400 or a Pilot. Or something. It gets boring in the middle but it's probably the best filmed bit of SR footage on youtube, even if not the most watched.

17" Wheels - before and after. Wheeley good?

While wheel diamater changes seem quite common in Japan, I haven't seen all that many over here.

I've been thinking about a change to 17"s on the books for quite a while now, but struggled to actually find some before and after pics.

Some google searching found this 2005 model -

SR400 with 18" WheelsSR500 with 17" Wheels

Interesting stuff.

With a smaller rim and wider tyre you're running to closer to modern sportsbike dimensions, have a much better selection of modern tyres. A lot of people who've done wheel swaps on the SR forum say that difference in handling - cornering and particularily braking (As the contact patch is greater) - is the best handling modification they've done.

In Japan kits available for the 36 spoke SR400 wheels - usually around the $350.00 mark. Ideally, I'd love to have lighter hubs as well. Some modern dirtbikes have much ligher hubs than the SR, and are easily available as motard kits off ebay, with calipers and the assembled wheel going for around $1200.00 AUD, if they sell at all.

But I'm not too sure about the aesthetics of the smaller wheels. Proportionally, the 17"s look too small and elongate the look of the bike a bit, making it seem awkward. Whether or not it'd look that way on my stripped back bike is another thing. More food for thought.

- Marlon


From the saved files... XT/SR Manx

I remember sifting through some photos from a classic race meet in Italy or France, and found this hiding in the background. Amongst the smell British bikes leaking oil, the crackle Italian bikes electrics frying and the dull empty sense of nothingness of old Hondas sat this little gem...

Spotted in France

Looking at the engine and the frame it looks to be a XT. The nicest thing about this bike looks like the tank/seat combination. Although it's the traditional Manx Norton style tank, the cutout at the bottom lends a nice touch. The seat is quite modern in it's shape, and it suits the stance of the bike as well.

I've got no real information about this bike at all - If you know anything about it, or have any more pictures I'd love to see them.


Moto Dog SR - With Ultimate Suspension?

I came across this on youtube today...

Built by the guys at Moto Dog. Besides having the optional extra-loud valves and camchain it's got some pretty cool stuff on there. The front forks are 41mm Ohlins from aYamaha XJR1300. It'd be interesting to see how the bike actually handled on the road without some pretty major internal tweaks. I'd imagine that if the forks were left set up for a 200-and-something kilo bike it'd be a bit stiff up front.

Nonetheless, it's something to think about. The swingarm is pretty cool, with its protection bars and rear disc. It's also got a Magura hydraulic clutch in there too - an unusual addition.

A pretty drastic way of getting your SR to handle, and not really my style but certainly something out of the ordinary!

Suspension of Disbelief - Part 1

I seem to come to a stage when playing with my SR. I usually get some kind of half-baked idea in my head and become a little obsessed before deciding bike parts are more important than rent money and blow half a paycheck on some bizarre SR part from Japan that I might never use .

For a while now I've been unhappy with the SR's suspension.* I was going for rides and feeling unsatisfied with the way the bike felt going around corners, and riding some friend's bikes only reaffirmed that there was something a bit odd with mine.

Sometimes, when going into corners hot It felt like the rear had no traction when exiting - it felt very light and as if it wasn't gripping all that well.

I had some Ikon Shocks , which are adjustable for height and have four rebound settings. I'd played with the height and the rebound, but still couldn't get the rear to feel like it was actually part of the same bike I was riding.

In typical form, I decided to throw money at the problem without even thinking about it. I did some searching on Yahoo Japan auctions and with the aid of a friend in Japan through the SR500 forum I ordered some of these...

Gucci Ohlins , over $600AUD by the time they were landed here, but still a damn sight cheaper than the $1200 or so they are new.

My thinking was that the Ikons I had on the rear were part of the problem. Interestingly, my SR doesn't seem to have any static sag at the rear. That couldn't help. I'd also emailed Ikon about getting some softer springs on the rear so I can have some static sag. I've no doubt that the shocks are fine for a stock SR, but there's so little weight left at the rear there's nothing holding it down.

I thought by getting the Ohlins, and chucking money at the problem in my usual way, I'd have the issue solved. I was going to be wrong.

Not long after ordering them I was going for a ride with two mates when I noticed something.

Going UPHILL on the Black Spur the bike felt great. Stable, and the rear felt fantastic going around corners.

Going DOWNHILL on the Reefton Spur the bike was diving excessively when I'd dab the brakes (Or grab, it's a scary bit of road for a while) and when getting on the noise out of corners I'd find the rear very light.

So... these things must all be related. What I think is happening is my front forks are too soft. When I get on the brakes the bike's weight bias shifts forwards which lifts all the weight off the rear. When getting on the gas again the weight is still all the way over the front of the bike, and the rear isn't planted at all. That's my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

So now it's the long process of researching , what the options are I have. I'm doing some hunting around for information on preload, rebound and all that kind of stuff.

This time I won't just throw money at the problem. But have a think, a search for information and decide what to do then.

And then throw money at it.

*Standard amount of 16w oil in the front forks, Ikon progressive springs. At the rear I have a 7610 Ikon shock. I've also got a Daytona fork brace and steering damper. I run BT45's on the standard 18" rims with low 30lbs tyre pressure in each. I also have an aluminium box section swingarm.


"Farkles" - Oggy Nobs for the SR

I've noticed another weird word has entered the lexicon of motorcyclists.


It's a combination of "Functional" and "Sparkle". Anyway, couldn't help but think of it when I was browsing through Moto Dog's website and found some oggy nobs, or engine protection bars, as many of you may know them.

Moto Dog Ant Lion Frame Slider.


They come with black or white sliders and mounts through the front engine bolt. retail in Japan for around $120AUD or ¥9,450. Not bad value really, and something I'll certainly be looking into it in the future.