They say there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain. So it’s little wonder that I’ve had trouble deciding whether I love our dressed-up Yamaha XSR900 or hate it.
Fitted with Yamaha’s accessory ‘Low Tapered’ handlebars and bikini fairing but the same 847cc three-cylinder engine as in the MT-09, this XSR is one of the most painful and exhilarating bikes I have ridden.
Beyond the ‘Sport Heritage’ XSR’s accessories is basically an MT-09, one of Australia’s favourite nakeds, but with aluminium mudguards and headlight brackets, a stitched seat and slightly firmer suspension – and for just $1000 more than the MT-09.
Like the MT-09, the XSR produces 86kW at 10,000rpm and 85Nm at 11,500rpm. But that performance seems much greater thanks to Yamaha’s crossplane engine, with a 120-degree crank, which means linear and super-strong torque via near-identical combustion and composite torque waves.
The sweet spot: wherever and whenever you want it.
The XSR also comes with updated software to soften the previously over-sensitive throttle, something heavily criticised in the early MT-09. Plus, it has three riding modes: Standard, for everyday riding; A, for more explosive power; and B, which offers 20 per cent less response than A and is great for wet weather. For safety, it has the MT-09 Tracer’s traction control system, which can be turned off when you’re stationary. And for stopping power, the XSR’s brakes aren’t sticky or soft and the ABS works well, even if it does come on a bit early.
There’s also strong grip through corners and a six-speeder with well-spaced ratios and a slipper clutch for easy gear changes.
So what’s the problem? The accessory handlebars are too raked and arguably too low, meaning there is a lot of pressure on your wrists. Also, Yamaha’s rearsets weren’t fitted to our testbike, so my weight was set forward and my knees slid past tank scallops that could have otherwise been gripped.
It only takes a few minutes of riding before you discover these flaws – even fewer at low speeds and in traffic.
That’s not to say that the Yamaha accessories aren’t a good buy if style is your priority, and the factory rearsets would help. The fitted parts look great and no-one said cafe racers had to be comfortable.
With the standard XSR900, however, you get all the benefits of the MT-09 plus neo-retro styling and a comfortable riding position. For us, that’s hard to beat.
SPEX | YAMAHA XSR900
TYPE: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 12-valve, in-line triple
BORE & STROKE: 78.0 x 59.1mm
Compression ratio: 11:5.1
FUEL SYSTEM: EFI
Type: Six speed
Final drive: Chain
POWER: 86kW at 10,000rpm
TORQUE: 87.5Nm at 8500rpm
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR:
FRAME: Cast alloy diamond
41mm USD fork, adjustable for rebound, 137mm travel
Monoshock, adjustable for preload and rebound, 130mm travel
FRONT BRAKES: Twin 298mm discs with four-piston radial calipers and ABS
REAR BRAKE: 245mm disc with twin-piston caliper and ABS
WHEELS & TYRES:
WHEELS: 3.50 x 17-inch (f), 5.50 x 17-inch (r), multi-spoke alloys
TYRES: 120/70 ZR17 (f), 180/55 ZR17 (r) Bridgestone Battlax S20
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES:
WEIGHT: 195kg (wet)
SEAT HEIGHT: 830mm
FUEL CAPACITY: 14L
PRICE: From $12,999 ($NZ14,499), plus on-road costs and accessories
Warranty: 24 months, unlimited kilometres
Colours: Matt Grey, Rock Slate
Bike supplied by:
Yamaha Motor Australia
Ultrasuede seat: $393.25
Seat cowling: $576.40
Carbon fairing: TBA (about $700)
Rearsets (not fitted): $979.12
– Smooth power delivery to high rpm
–Strong grip through corners
– ‘Low Tapered’ handlebars are too low and raked
– Needs rearsets with above
Article by Deputy Editor, Sean Muir