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Possible purchase of 1988 SR400 - questions...

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by jayseventwo, Aug 30, 2012.

  1. Hi guys, i am seriously thinking of purchasing a 1988 SR400, and i was wanting to ask a few questions:

    1. The bike is around 5k to buy - seem like a good price?
    2. It was imported from Japan about 5 weeks ago - any issues i might need to be aware of?
    3. It has around 6000 on the clock - would this be something to worry about considering its age?
    4. Is there anything specific to this bike i should be looking out for when i go have a look at it?

    I'm asking these question because i live quite far away from the seller, so if i do buy it i will be getting it the day i look at it - it's too far to go home and think about it for a day or so.

    It appears to be in really good condition - although i will be having a good look at it for leaky seals etc - and i am quite excited about finally jumping on my "cafe racer" to-be. :)

    Cheers for any replies!
  2. um i've read elsewhere on here i think (other's can clarify.) about importers bringing bikes in and winding them back to that magic 6k mark...like...was it sumoto ?

    do the maths...it's what - a 24 year old bike with 6,000 kilometre's on it...what do you honestly think the possibility of those being legit k's are? short of it being in storage for the majority of it's life.

    edit - if it's advertised online do you have a link for it?
  3. Might be on it's second run through the numbers on the clock.
  4. also true
  5. Mate go for it 1988 was a good year for bikes.

    Edit: the kays will be bullshit, its probably been around the clock already, that is, 106,000 kilometers. Most old bike Odometers roll over at 100k

    Parts should be easy on an SR400
  6. Make sure it's got a legit Import Approval or you'll never get it registered. Unless the seller can actually show you the official bit of paper, walk away. Excuses such as "It's in the post" or "you just need to ring the DoT" are bullshit.

    Kms are meaningless on something so old.

    Price doesn't seem too bad given the ludicrous prices that Yam singles now seem to be advertised at. If it's the bike you want, has all its paperwork, isn't actually orange with rust and runs OK without any nasty smoke, rattles and clonks I'd say go for it.
  7. Thanks for all your replies guys.

    I had a feeling it might have gone 'round the clock, but I've heard these engines are practically bulletproof, so as long as it looks like its been looked after i will be happy.

    I didn't know about the compliance plate/import approval, so will definitely ask about that!
  8. Plus to making sure that they have done the import paperwork such that there is nothing more for you to do than rock up with a RWC and register it. Find out first. If that's not done, then don't waste your time even turning up. You'll get a registered, or prevously Aus registered, SR for that money if you are patient.

    $5k is about realistic (despite the inflated bike sales ads).

    I helped a mate check out a number of SR400s earlier in the year (in the end he bought mine, a better goer for less money). They all look nice in the ads but when you ride inspect and ride them many have problems that don't justify a $5k price. For that money bikes with crapped out suspension, rubbishy carbs, bad electrics, hard starting, poor tuning, etc are being passed off. Check for salty corrosion too - a lot have suffered the effects of sea-side sitting, and that means that you may have more hassles than meets the eye.

    I'm willing to bet money that the km are genuine. That's common for a grey import from Japan. Such low kms are not good - they mean the bikes been sitting too much, meaning the carb will need an overhaul at least. But given how simple the SR is, you can easily and cheaply overhaul all the little things - rubbers etc - to deal with this. If you get the SR it'll be worth chucking a new Mikuni on it - you can get them for $100 and tuning advice is available on the SR500 Forum.

    All cautions aside, if you do it right and get a good SR, you'll have a fantastic motorcycle. Join the Club http://contemplativemotorcycling.blogspot.com.au/2010/11/sr500-club-rally-2010.html

    Look at the XS650s too. There are heaps around, a lot of parts are interchangeable with SR parts - cheap and easy to get in both cases, after market, both engines are simple and bullet-proof. And the early XSs, many of which are American grey imports with registration and low kms, are gorgeous, very Bonneville-looking. And they can be got for the same money. And they're a much more capable bike, and generally in much better condition for the money. If you're planning on a project then don't you dare cut up an early one, but the late cruiser looking ones can are cheaper and can be made into any kind of bike through modification, such as a cafe racer.

    But of course the SR is a really cheap and easy bike to work on. And it has a heap of character. And it is very easily modifiable, and there are heaps of cafe parts for it. My advice when inspecting is simply to take it for a proper ride to see that it starts and rides ok, and only by something that is definitely complianced. Any problem aside from the engine can be cheaply sorted (and even the engine is much cheaper to fix than other bikes).
  9. Hi guys, thanks again for all your replies.

    I have been told all appropriate paperwork has been done, and it will come with a years rego.

    I have offered him slightly less, and if he is happy with that i will be happy to buy it (after a good look at it, obviously - I will keep in mind all your comments when doing this).

    If he doesn't want to play ball, i'm sure there will be others around that price-point - unfortunately patience is something i am not blessed with when it comes to getting a new ride!! :)
  10. Just got this email from the seller, after asking about general condition of engine/suspension:

    "bike is in very good condition for its age, only shows minor corrosion. I started it yesterday, cold start, took four kicks. There is a knack to starting these if havent tried before. Nothing difficult, just a technique.

    Engine blows a little smoke when cold, typical of these oil in frame bikes, nothing out of the ordinary, runs clean after a minute.

    Suspension feels fine, even a little firm in the rear end to be honest.

    Only real issue is the tyres are legal tread, but show signs of age, if it was my bike i would probably replace them in the next few months, depending on how often you ride. Other than that, the ignition switch is a little stiff, again typical for a 1988 model bike.

    We have had our mechanic check the bike over, frame and suspension is great, rides very well, goes as good as my own 2005 SR400."

    Seals and brakes are good, no leaks, no squealing brakes etc. Most of the bikes we import are low klm, many bikes in Japan are not ridden regularly. It is of course possible that this is not the original speedo.

    The import approval and compliance certificate are done, when I have a firm offer and a deposit on the bike , i will organise rego."

    He also sent me a video walk-round of the bike, so it does not appear like he is hiding anything.

    Sound okay, you think?
  11. Sounds ok to me. I wouldn't concern myself with kms. The engine shouldn't blow any smoke except in winter weather (condensation) but at worst it might be the valve seals, which is nothing to worry about - ignore the problem if it is present until you one day open up the top of the engine. $10 a pop. I rode around for ages on a GR with leaking valve seals and light smoke on start up that went away after 30 seconds.

    Stiff rear suspension can be worn out suspension too, and might want replacing, but new equivalent suspension for the rear can be got for $90 on eBay and doesn't need replacing straight away anyway.

    If you want it then this bike sounds fine (without seeing it even in a photo). Any problems can be sorted cheaply and some of us on here are very familiar with what to get and where to get it for budget, or fancy, SR modifications. The worst that can happen is that the engine goes bang, and even then SR engines are so cheap these days - $500-$700 - that it's cheaper just to chuck another one in. You cannot go too wrong with an SR.
  12. Thanks, I'm hoping it is a pretty good deal, and at worst - as you say - damn cheap to fix any issues that may arise.

    I have put a deposit on it and pick it up next weekend. :)

    Attached are some pics.

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  13. Brilliant - some nice bits on that! - spokes, drums, and after market: seat, headlight, speedo, indicators, tail light, fenders, foot pegs, exhaust, batterless kit (I assume), extended cables for the higher bars... Quite a package. What are you planning on doing to it?
  14. Thanks! Well, everything i had planned to do has been done, hence my excitement! It even has a Mikuni carb.

    I will probably start by getting some exhaust wrap, rubber fork gaiters, and replace the tyres with some of those retro Dunlops, if i can find out where to get them from. Other than that, i guess i will just see how she goes. :)

    Oh, and find an english repair manual! I believe the Yamaha XT, TT and SR500 Singles Haynes Repair Manual is suited to this bike (for the most part).

  15. Deleted
  16. Re manual the Haynes and the Clymer are both worth having - they each offer clarity at points where the other is unclear. Otherwise, I'd go the Clymer because it's SR specific so easier to navigate.

    They all have Mikinu carbs. VM32 (for the 400) if I remember rightly. Is this an alternative size or model? If not I recommend replacing carbs on these anyway - new stock sizes - as they can be a cause of real trouble and a new VM43 will set you back just over $100 on eBay. One of the best changes I ever made! Of course, if it starts easy, idles soundly, and doesn't stall at the lights (most of the time) then don't fix what's not broken.

    Exhaust wrap looks cool (to some, I don't see the attraction) however you do risk burning your exhaust valves by consequence exploding your engine. I've heard it from specialist SR engine builders who've had to replace heads because of the stuff. It happened to QuarterWit on here. My opinion: don't do it!

    Tyres: in my book grip always comes before fashion. It's a motorbike: you want to corner with confidence, brake in time for that idiot, and not come off and hurt yourself and your bike. I'm not sure which tyres you're talking about, they might be fine, but some guys put on fashion tyres and it's all a bit silly unless as a rider you're nothing more than an inner-city grafffitied lane hipster. Dunlop do have some nice retro tyres that are very good though. I use the K70 on the front of all my bikes. It wears really well, and it has great grip in the dry, the wet, and on the dirt. An excellent everything-you-could-want tyre. Do not use it on the rear - the rear ones are really soft and I used one up in 3000km (albeit highways). I believe the TT100 comes in two types - a hard and soft compound - if you get than then use the hard one. Otherwise:

    the Bridgestone BT45 is a favourite of serious riders on the SR and is good for the rear, matched with a K70 on the front (this is my set-up now for everything).

    The SR, despite being low on power, will chew through rear tyres and chains, because of the harshness of the big single.

    Regularly adjust your chain if you want it to last (you might have to do it as often as once a week if you're commuting and weekend touring).

    Check your oil regularly, especially if there is a valve guide leak - some engines drink nothing, some slowly drink oil.

    The SR is a fantastic bike. You'll have a blast! I still recommend checking out http://www.sr500forum.com/forum/ and http://www.sr500club.org/ (the SR rally is only a couple of months away)
  17. Ahh, i didnt realise Mikuni came standard - i will look into replacing it if i have any issues!

    I always thought the exhaust wrap was actually to help disperse the heat, not be a fashion accessory, but if it does not do what i thought it did, then i wont bother. I have had a few exhaust burns on my lower legs over the years so thought it would be a good addition, haha. :)

    The Dunlop tyres you reference look like the ones i am talking about, so will look into them in the near future. I used to use the Battlax tyres on my bikes - about 20 years ago now - and they were really good, so its great to see they still have a good rep.

    Is this the Clymer manual you are talking about?

    Thanks again for all your tips - i am really excited to be getting back on two wheels!
  18. No, that's for XTs, and what I'm talking about is an SR500-specific manual. It is in red with a picture of a dude wheelying an SR. I can't see any on eBay but they come up regularly used (I believe the new price is outrageous) and there's some on Amazon.

    You can only get 500, not 400, manuals, but just about everything is the same, including the valve clearances. The only real difference is the crank. If you were to fit the 500's crank to your engine you've have a standard 500 engine.

    Good shops for parts:

    http://www.vanem.com.au/home.htm Australian. Includes parts for your drum brakes which can be hard to get through Yamaha. NB your front brake is the tricky one, however it is exactly the same as a Yamaha XS1B (XS650).

    http://www.thumperstuff.com/ in America.

    http://www.mikesxs.net/ Mike's XS has started doing SR parts, but they were always handy anyway because many XS parts interchange with SR parts.

    http://www.vicwreck.com.au/ Imports SRs for wrecking, so they've got lots of nice bits.

    In case you live nearby, this man is the SR king of Australia http://www.caferacer.com.au/content/ He's been hotting them up for years. I like the SR in stock trim because it will last forever, with the odd 100-150,000 top end refresh. But some people can't help themselves, and they do make amazing bikes when hotted.

    You might find the top end mechanically noisy, even tick tickety. Of course check the cam chain etc, but don't worry - this is normal. It's an air-cooled old piece of technology.

    Buy yourself some locktite.
  19. sorry for the late reply, been playing with my new bike, haha.

    Its funny you should mention a noisy "top end", because i have a definite tick going on. I just bought a 27mm spanner to pull the cam chain nut cover off to try tightening as per the instructions here:


    I'm hoping that will fix the problem. If not, i will get a new cam chain. Any ideas how much this might cost to do? I wouldn't mind trying to do it myself, but not too sure at this stage how easy this might be to do.

    Will have to keep an eye out for that manual - not finding anything so far.