Kwann on my Yamaha SR400

In Thailand a Yamaha SR 400 gets more attention than Porsche


Yamaha SR 400 at Silverlake
My Yamaha SR 400 at the Silver Lake Winery

Because, it’s a classic dating back to 1978, the Yamaha SR400 will get more attention than a Porsche, and probably a Harley to boot.  It looks the way motorcycles used to look in the 60’s and 70’s  and the way they were meant to be.  It will weave in and out of Thailand city traffic almost as easily as a small scooter, but you will drive in comfort on the bike’s large diameter tires.  The seat’s long and comfortable like the bikes we had in the 1970’s.  There’s not a lot of power compared to most bikes built today.  The SR 400 has no engine counterbalancers or even rubber engine mounts to dampen the vibration, but until the bike gets close to 60 miles an hour that vibration actually becomes addictive.  You feel it and you know the machine’s alive and so are you.    You can read more about the SR 400 here.  This is all about the video presented here.

I was searching for a temple near Nong Nooch Tropical Garden a few miles South of Pattaya with my Panasonic LX-7 camera strapped around my neck. This is a super camera being a Leica with the Panasonic name on it.  Friends of mine have been trying to get me to buy a smart phone and even a smaller camera that I could attach to my motorcycle helmet.  But I like the real thing, and shooting pictures with a smart phone just doesn’t get it.  And attaching an inferior video camera to a motorcycle helmet is for sissies, and I’m no sissy which is one of the reasons I drive a Yamaha SR 400.

This video is pretty rough which is about what I expected it to be considering that I had to hand hold it while opening the bike’s throttle with my right hand and  clutching with my left hand.  As difficult as this was,  by hand holding the camera I was able to move it from a horizontal position giving me a good view of the road to a slightly downwards position so that the camera pointed across the speedometer and tach while still taking in the road ahead.  All of this was pure guesswork because there was no way that I could look into the  camera’s viewfinder due to the sun and my having to focus on my driving.  But as rough as the video turned out, I think it gives a pretty good impression of what it’s like driving the Yamaha SR 400 and the kinds of sounds it makes.

Close to Nong Nooch tropical gardens I did find a large temple complex, but it never turned out to be the one I was looking for.  Then I followed the signs to  Silver Lake where I revisited the winery there.   Here I found a number of Chinese tourists who had just arrived in a tour bus.  But what a huge difference between those Chinese tourists and me.  They were all stuck to each other like glue following the orders of  their fearless leader tour guide, while I had my Yamaha 400 SX which could take me close to 400 kilometers on a single tank of gas.  And even if the bike’s electrical system would somehow fail me, I had my kickstart which would get me on my way every time.

With only 24 horsepower this bike is certainly not fast.  But here’s the bottom line.  Driving it feels so good.  But in Thailand you don’t want to be running a motorcycle very fast.  WIth a death rate that the second worse in the entire world, it doesn’t matter how fast a man’s reactions are.  Here we have the stupidest drivers in the world.  These people are capable of anything and the police are not at all interested in penalizing them for their moronic driving habits.  If I need to be doing a lot of highway driving I’m taking my Honda Civic.  But for driving around town and on two lane roads the Yamaha SR-400 is just about perfect.

I really cannot even begin to describe how this bike drives other than to say again, it’s very addictive and it just feels good.  Perhaps this video can do what no mere words can ever do.  I did find several temples by the way, but there will be another time coming soon when I will be able to find the one I had been looking for, when I can feed the fish and forget about all the world’s problems.




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