Yamaha to introduce new retro models: MCN

Yamaha's SR400 is confirmed for other developed markets, and has never gone out of production in Japan, but we still don't know if it's coming to Canada or not.
It's not hard to imagine Yamaha reviving some of their old marques; the Bolt is very similar to the old Virago, and they've kept the SR400 in the overseas lineup for decades.
It’s not hard to imagine Yamaha reviving some of their old marques; the Bolt is very similar to the old Virago, and they’ve kept the SR400 in the overseas lineup for decades.

According to UK-based Motorcycle News, Yamaha is planning to revive some long-gone models from their lineup.

MCN’s teaser claims Yamaha has confirmed they’ll be reviving the XT500 and the RD350.

How likely is this to happen? It’s not hard to imagine a re-born XT500, as the SR400, a single-cylinder retro model based on that iconic thumper, has never really gone out of production in foreign markets. Retro is big right now, as are adventure bikes, so maybe Yamaha reckons a retro adventure bike will sell well.

It’s a bit of a stretch to imagine a two-stroke RD350 returning to market, though. What’s more likely is a sporty four-stroke, configured to meet European beginner licensing restrictions, similar to Honda’s new 500s.

Yamaha has already said they’re bringing out a new 250 cc sportbike this year, so maybe this is a big-bore version of that, similar to Kawasaki’s move with their baby Ninja. Some markets got a 250 cc version of that bike, and some got a 300 cc version.

Remember, Yamaha’s new Bolt is in many ways an updated Virago, so Yamaha has already moved towards bringing back some retro flair.

Of course, what we’re all really waiting for is a new XS650 … a bike that would still sell today with only minor tweaks.


  1. These retro bikes being introduced will be a huge success in the markets, as there are many of us that had bikes back in the seventies, who are now getting back into riding. Theretros are getting “gobbled up” as they enter the markets. Look at Triumph and Moto Guzzi. Niche markets. Niche customers. Small production runs will keep demand high and the pricing is perfect. There is nothing to complain about. And the kick start is awesome!! Why would you want an electric start? Seriously. The comments out there are ridiculous.

  2. The XS would have to be an 800 at least to match up with the Bonnie and W800, but then it would be parasiting sales from the Bolt, or maybe it would obliterate them altogether. I sold mine awhile back. Pretty bike, but not enough oomph to be worth the $700/yr insurance fees, if you could find anyone to insure it in the first place. A 270 deg crank would change everything that’s not so nice about that motor. Hmm, maybe a 1000cc version?

  3. Unlikely or not I really wish “retro-styling” could become more than another code word for “cruiser”. If Big Red could sell a few CB1100’s that might help – I don’t see many of those out in the real world.

    • “If Big Red could sell a few CB1100′s that might help”

      It might just be me, but I don’t particularly find that bike to be very attractive. I can’t quite put my finger on what’s wrong with it, but I keep coming away with the sense that it just doesn’t have the right lines. Dunno. *shrug*

  4. Yamaha still sells a 125 2t scooter. (125Z) in Asia. Pitch the cat con for an expansion chamber and you got a wheelie machine.

  5. Me doubts we will see a 2T (ie RD350).
    In fact, me doubts any of this rumour is true since it came from the National Enquirer of bike rags.

  6. Upgrade an XS650? A 270º rephased, fuel injected version should do well. Keep the passenger pegs down where everyone used to put them so the younger crowd aren’t stuck dating really short girls. Nah, it’d make too much good sense.

  7. I’d love a new XS650. Never found mine to be too rough in the vibrational department (although I never ran it very far, living on PEI at the time).

  8. Yes, Larry, a lot of us “are” waiting for a re-launch of the venerable XS650, Yamaha’s first foray into the 4-stroke market and a great success story with a (US based) model run of 14 years (1970-1983). Obviously it would be counterbalanced like just about every other modern motorcycle, retro or otherwise, so no worries about losing your dental fillings, mate. Even better would be a 270º crank which would eliminate the need for counterbalancing due to conservation of momentum about the crankshaft. Of course you can still go to the hardware store (or your local HD dealer)for a paint shaker if you really want one.

  9. No kidding. An XS650 “Special” I used to ride would go through the old BC metal license plates every few months: The vibration was so bad the metal of the plate would fatigue and the plate would break in half. Back to the gummint office for a new one…

    That was a weird engine: IIRC the oil pump was located in the right engine sidecover. I saw one that went to the shop “running hot and sounding loud”. Turned out the oil pump had disintegrated and the top end was not getting ANY oil: It looked like cyborg mice had been chewing on the cam lobes and followers. But it still ran, although it really did “run hot and sound loud”. IIRC the bottom end was all roller and ball bearings, so I suppose it got enough lube from splash, along with the tranny and clutch.

    If you ever watch one idling and vibrating so hard it looks like there’s two bikes sitting there, you’ll wonder why anyone would want to ride one.

  10. NOOOO! Not a — *hack* — beginner bike. A real, scary 350LC would be THE BOMB! Give us clean tech with unimaginably narrow powerbands and unbidden (yeah, right) wheelies. Pretty please?

  11. “Of course, what we’re all really waiting for is a new XS650” … I think not. If I want a paint mixer I’ll go to the hardware store.

    • I got booted of an xs650 forum for saying that. Don’t leave it running while on the centrestand. It will hop away from you. Footnote; it was sold in Germany until 1988.

      • We used to have ‘backwards’ races in the shop – put 2 XS650s on their mainstands, fire ’em up and see who could back out the door first.

    • Well, Larry, the bike I shoulda bought in 1977-78 ought to have been the XS650 because after a few seasons the XS750, though a shafty with electronic ignition, wasn’t as enjoyable as the mid-size bikes I once owned.

      • However, no…..if I could get into another bike, this half-litre Yamaha would be about right, especially if I couldn’t get a close-to-home dealer for an Enfield Bullet.
        That’s the glitch, rice burners are everywhere, getting something else requires some travel, in the end, its’ just the fun of riding that I want.

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