Yamaha XSR900 – Cool Cafe Racer or Slick Modern Speed machine??

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  • #15802
    Radar
    Moderator

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    The latest addition to the ever growing MT family is this lean modern twist on a retro theme, the XSR900. The meaty 3 cylinder engine turns up this time in a paired back, simple and clean looking bike. It sits somewhere between a 1960’s cafe racer and a 1970’s Japanese dirt bike in looks and stance. There is a hint of the ‘hipster’ special look to it, but it gets away with it just about.

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    Slick, modern, minimalist…

    The seat is a little high, but I am growing used to this irritating trend in modern bikes, and once that superb motor fires up and we pull away with the exhaust emitting a distinctive rasping bark I am a happy bunny. The controls are neat and simple and the three engine modes are a doddle to select on the move via a dedicated button on the RH switch back. The traction control only has two settings but again it is easy to switch between them. This may sound like a small thing, but these same operations are hideously complicated to undertake on my MV, and I find that irritating. So well done Yamaha in that one. The clocks, or should I say clock is a simple round affair reminiscent of the one fitted to the XV950, but still managing to convey the required information in a simple, effective manner. Better that the standard MT-09 and I also prefer it to the bigger, clumpier set up on a Tracer. It also plays well to the stripped, cool look of the bike.

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    Nicely done, but still prefer analogue clocks in pairs…

    More important than all this though is the bike is a hoot to ride, with a definite hooligan edge lurking behind that urban chic look. Fast and responsive, especially in the A ‘full nutter’ mode of the three available to choose from. The ‘STD’ is fine for most riding, but that ‘A’ map certainly has a crisp, immediate response, especially welcome when going for snappy multi vehicle overtakes. The bike feels frisky, naughty even. The slick 6 speed box, chassis and brakes back up the engine well and in the 70 miles I rode mostly on challenging A and B roads the bike generally cornered really well. Just a little front twitchiness was in evidence when really pushing on. I seem to remember both the MT-09 and Tracer had this characteristic too, so maybe it something to do with geometry of the frame set up. I have a theory that the upright riding position in coming into play here: The wind pressure on your chest pushing you back, causing you to inadvertedley pull back on the bars and give rise to that flighty feel from the front.

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    A bike that just begs to be ridden

    So overall, simple straight forward fun, with the ghost of the RD350LC somewhere in there. A great bike for less than £8000 new.

    Thanks to the Motorcycle mart of Kidderminster for letting me out on yet another demonstrator!

    #72481
    Radar
    Moderator

    I linked this review to a FB group when an owner of a XSR900 put up a picture of his. Good to have a bit of feedback from somebody has had one long term, four years in this case:

    Hello mate. Read your review and I would tend to agree with the majority of it. I never felt the front end be twitchy to be honest, maybe if I took it on a track… Which I plan to so at some point. The seat is bloody uncomfortable at anything over 80 miles, but some cycling shorts work great lol. I’ve also wintered it on the S21s and it’s been ok.. B mode really helps. A mode is mental and so sensitive to throttle response… Not great and a bumpy road. Caught me out a couple of times . So yeah great for a weekend fun bike, but commutes brilliant too.

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