The English sometimes called it the “commencer lever,” and it’s a rare streetbike today that asks your leg for a kick to get going. Even Royal Enfield puts an electric starter (along with the kick lever) on its Bullet 500 variants.
But it’s that very commitment to kick-only starting that’s key to the fundamental charm of the Yamaha SR400.
The nice thing here is that this fuel-injected 399cc single is not hard to start when you follow the drill. In this round of testing with hundreds of miles under its belt, the bike has started on the first kick all but one time and never stalls. Thank the hearty flywheel inertia and an ECU that knows how to keep the thumping pulse alive, hot or cold.
Peak power is just 22 wee ponies, which sometimes means the motivated Nissan Rogue driver can give you a run for your money. But you’ll be having a peak life experience shifting perfectly at the 7,000-rpm redline all the way to an indicated 95 mph in fifth. That poor bastard in the Rogue will hardly know he’s alive.
With any luck, he’ll realize he’s been wasting his life and learn the purity and focus it takes to kick himself into a singular means of better living.