Motorcycling is full of all kinds of people who love all kinds of different bikes. From tiny little pit bikes to big-bore, supercharged hyperbikes, there’s something for just about everyone. If you’re the type of person who loves nothing more than a nearly indestructible four-stroke thumper, then you may be very excited about this particular 1981 Yamaha SR500H that’s for sale.
It’s not just any SR500H, mind you. This one, quite strangely enough, is still in its crate. While Yamaha went on to make SR500s and slightly tweaked SR400s for various world markets all the way up until earlier in 2021, 1981 was the last year for SR500 sales in the U.S. The fact that they had a strong reputation for being nigh-on indestructible may well have meant that everyone who wanted one was happy with the one they’d bought, and found that they didn’t need a second one. Who can say?
In any case, for those unfamiliar, Yamaha developed the SR500 as a road-going version of its popular XT500 four-stroke enduro bike. When Iwata first introduced the SR500 in 1978, it had a 499cc, air-cooled, four-stroke single that made a claimed 31 horsepower at 6,500 rpm and just under 27 pound-feet of torque at 5,500 rpm.
Upon its introduction, it sported some extremely modern touches for the time—like disc brakes all around and self-canceling turn signals. However, by the time the second-generation rolled around, Yamaha went back to putting a drum brake in the rear due to some consistency issues with performance in their disc brake setup. It also reduced weight on the second-gen SR500s by a few pounds, also aided by the installation of a smaller flywheel on the second-gen bikes.
While it had an electronic ignition, one thing the SRs didn’t have was an electric start. That meant it was a classic, simple, no-frills, practically unkillable thumper with a kick-starter. Yamaha included a handy sight glass to help you identify when the piston is correctly positioned at top dead center, so you know when’s a good time to give it a nice, strong kick. Yamaha’s SRs became popular commuter bikes in many markets around the world because they were just so reliable.
That makes this particular bike a bit of an anomaly, because it’s still in its crate. It’s about to cross the auction block at the Mecum Las Vegas 2022 event. It’s offered in “as found” condition, and has reportedly never been assembled. It comes from the estate of the late Charles (Chuck) D. Hardin from Empire Cycle in Spokane, Washington, and is being offered at no reserve.
Mecum Las Vegas 2022 runs from January 25 through 29, 2022. Will this bike ever get assembled, or will the new owner opt to keep it as a time capsule? If you’re interested, you have some time to plan since November, 2021 has only just dawned as we type this.