The Victoria-based SR500 Club now has a substantial national membership. Based on an appreciation of Yamaha’s 500cc, single-cylinder road bike, the club has expanded rapidly since it started in December 1998. Demand for membership among SR owners, TT500 riders who have converted their bikes for road use, and riders wanting to get into single-cylinder bikes has been so strong that the club now operates nationally. The rush of members doesn’t surprise foundation president, Chris Manhal.
“The SR500 is a cult bike. There’s an international appreciation of the virtues of this model and it makes sense to have a club in Australia which helps owners maintain and enjoy their bikes. We’re collecting all available information on the model and will end up being a ‘one-stop-shop’ for SR enthusiasts – people who appreciate the simplicity, functionality, performance and aesthetics of this link with motorcycling history.”
Released in 1978, the SR500 was Yamaha’s attempt to cash in on nostalgia for the period when 500 singles were the preferred mount of serious riders. The SR500 eventually led to the SRX600 and Yamaha now produces a 660 road single. Although, the reputation of the SR500 remains so strong, that Yamaha has continued to produce it both for the Japanese domestic market (in 400cc form to take advantage of registration laws) and for the European market where its popularity has never diminished.
The SR500 Club was co-founded by Paul Newbold and Chris Manhal. Paul had previously written to SR owner and Two Wheels columnist, Peter Smith, suggesting he start an SR500 register. Smith wrote back in good humour stating he had no wish to become a clerical assistant for a motorcycle gang and suggesting Newbold do it himself.
In the meantime, Paul had made contact with Chris through seeing his modified SR500 in Streetbike magazine. Chris had had the same idea about a club and was collecting names of SR500 owners as he found them. The first meeting of the new club took place in December 1998. While many of the current bikes in the club are café-racer modified, quite a few are original. Club membership hovers around the 130 mark and is made up of members from all around Australia, as well as members from the UK, USA, Japan, NZ, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The joining fee is $20.00, with a yearly membership fee of $25.00. New members receive the previous club newsletter, an SR500 Club t-shirt and club sticker. International enquiries may also be directed to the club.