Yamaha has retained Olivier Pain and Michael Metge to race in the 2015 Dakar Rally.
Rumor Mill: Yamaha To Make R400 and R650
Yamaha is set to put into production two new sporty bikes — the R400 and R650 — according to “Young Machine” a Japanese motorcycle magazine. If true, this would fill a huge void in the manufacturer’s beginner sportbike bike lineup. It would make sense, considering the success of Suzuki’s SV650 (which later morphed into the Gladius and is now the SFV650), Kawasaki’s Ninja 650 (ER-6 in other markets), and even Honda’s CBR500R.
The validity of this claim is suspect, considering Japanese magazines have long been whispering rumors of a R250, which Yamaha India announced last year would be put into production in 2014 for emerging markets like India and Asia. Adding fuel to the R400/650 fire, Yamaha recently revealed a twin-cylinder engine to journalists alongside the three-cylinder which will power the FZ-09 (see photo below). The company has also gone on record saying it will be shaking up its product lineup, meaning the R400/R650 rumors might actually hold some weight this time around.
Granted, the engine shown was of unknown displacement, but it could conceivably be used in this application. Consider also the relatively low cost of producing a Parallel-Twin and Yamaha would be wise to use this engine (or a version of it) for an affordable competitor to the aforementioned Suzuki, Kawasaki and Honda. If the 650 Twin does make it to production, the 400cc version would likely use a sleeved-down 650 for markets like Japan, similar to the Suzuki SV400 and Kawasaki Ninja 400 before it.
Considering Yamaha’s only true beginner sportbike bike, the R-125, isn’t even sold Stateside, the introduction of a noob-friendly 650 Twin is a welcome addition to the lineup. Here’s hoping this story makes it past the rumor stage and into production.