This slick motorcycle was originally born in Japan and only sold on the Japanese Domestic Market, so, although they can occasionally be found in Europe or the US, they’re few and far between, just rare Grey Market imports of which a scant number travelled over to the UK in around 1986/7.
When Yamaha engineers began to develop this machine, they quickly clocked that a DT frame wouldn’t work on the proposed slimline Whippetty sport machine, so they developed the signature chrome-plated trellis frame as the bike’s exo-skeleton. Coupled with its minimalist bodywork, this contributes so much to its original good looks.
So with all that available power, combined with its unique light lattice frame and slim tank giving it a featherweight weigh-in of only 105kg (dry), its weight to power ratio means the SDR can get to a cracking claimed top speed of 100mph. Its speed, combined with its sylphlike 9.5-litre fuel tank, earned it the nickname of ”The Whippet’ back in the day – tiny, but fast as a greyhound.
As for riding one – it’s small and svelte, but a delight when the two-stroke power kicks in and it rockets forward with its smooth as silk, six-speed gearbox. The brakes could maybe be a little tougher but they are from a bygone age and brake technology has come a long way since the 1980s so it’s not really fair to criticise it for this, it’s just a product of its time.
This unique machine, small but perfectly formed, is thought to be possibly where Ducati took its inspiration from when designing the Ducati Monster in 1992 and we all know what a success story that turned out to be. Perhaps Yamaha missed a trick not making more and releasing them onto the mass market – who can say – would just be great to own one!!