Tanshanomi's Snap Judgments

Yamaha SDR200

Wed, March 23rd, 2011

NOTE: The SDR200 was never imported to the U.S.

1986–87 Yamaha SDR200
It only puts out 34 horsepower, but with a powerband that's remarkably manageable for a small two-stroke and only a skosh over 250 lbs of bike to pull around, a hard-accelerating SDR is a very addictive endorphin rush.
Under perfect conditions, after the proper physical discipline is developed and the limits of the tiny chassis are clearly understood, the SDR's handling is theoretically phenomenal. In the real world, not so much. The rear shock is substandard, the steering is downright hyperkinetic, and the ultra-short, 9-inch-wide chassis is easily upset by road irregularities and even abrupt shifts in riding position. Fortunately, the brakes (identical to the TZR250 of the same era) are serious enough to effectively haul you back down from unadvised romps through the gears.
The SDR combines many of the desirable elements of the SRX-6 with a stunning, chromed trellis frame and an almost severe minimalism. Unique, upscale touches like the cast-aluminum airbox are surprising. The inelegant, knotted-up exhaust header is the only visual misstep, costing the bike half a point.
A small, high-strung, two-stroke single that's constantly driven near redline is never going to tolerate lackadaisical maintenance like a big, loping four-stroke. But the SDR was built using seriously good components and they've stood up to abuse remarkably well.
The SDR is a 2-wheeled go-kart. It's too small, too uncomfortable and too twitchy for normal transport. My mandatory two points off for non-US-market bikes drops its category score to a big, fat goose-egg.
The SDR200 is a rarity: a small-bore bike with uncommon beauty and performance that commands respect of any rider who boards it.
The SDR200 is a very potent recreational drug with no medicinal value.