YAMAHA XSR900 (2016 - on) Review
- Affordable MT-09 cousin
- On-trend retro styling
- Exceptional handling right out of the box
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£170|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
With the Yamaha XSR900 the Japanese firm hit the nail on the head. It looks great with its on-trend retro styling and, thanks to Yamaha’s extensive catalogue of accessories, is easy to personalise too. It’s both versatile and fun with everyday usability, very impressive for a bike that comes in an affordable price bracket.
- Related: Yamaha XSR900 Abarth first ride
The inline triple has come from the highly popular MT-09, with revised fuelling map and also comes with the added benefit of traction control and ABS as standard.
During 2016 MCN's Editor at the time, Andy Calton, ran a Yamaha XSR900 as a long-term test bike. Throughout the year he did big miles and made several changes to the bike, and came away smitten.
One you've read this review and our owners' reviews, you may consider joining the Yamaha XSR900 Owners' Club on Facebook.
New liveries for Yamaha XSR900 in 2020
Yamaha updated their naked retro XSR range for 2020 with two new liveries paying tribute to the Japanese firm's rich heritage.
Consisting of the MT-07-derived XSR700 and MT-09-inspired XSR900, both bikes will be available in a new 'Dynamic White' design, which celebrates Yamaha's historic racing success with a red, black and white fuel tank cover and red mudguard.
Completing the look is a set of gold rims, which also feature on a second colourway, specifically made for the larger-capacity, three-cylinder XSR900.
Known as '80 Black', the scheme is inspired by Yamaha's iconic RD250LC liquid-cooled two-stroke, which spawned the riding career of countless enthusiasts in the 1980s and is coated in a mixture of black, red and gold across the fuel tank and side covers below the black seat.
Away from the new colours, the 900 is also available in 'Garage Metal' and the 700 can be purchased in a 'Tech Black.'
Introducing two new 2020 colours for XSR900...— Yamaha Motor UK (@YMUKofficial) November 5, 2019
80 Black is inspired by the original special edition RZ250, which you might know better as the RD250LC!
Racing Red pays tribute to the iconic Yamaha Racing colours of the past. #FasterSons #XSR900 #SportHeritage pic.twitter.com/juj3JbUD1K
Watch: Yamaha XSR900 video review on MCN
Chad gets to grips with the XSR900 on the international press launch in the Canary Islands to see what he makes of this new retro.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
The handling is as good as it gets for a bike straight out of the box. The XSR is stable, with impressive feedback and mechanical grip. It’s hard to find any fault with it at all.
It runs the same shock and forks as the MT-09, but with different springs and settings to manage the different riding position and weight. It doesn’t have the Supermoto feeling of the MT-09, nor does the front end platter like the Tracer’s when you push it.
We discussed the XSR900's long-distance performance in a long-term test report, with Andy Calton stating "The XSR is not in its natural environment slogging up and down a motorway, but it can do it. The fuel range is a little annoying, but the engine won’t complain and it’s actually a pretty comfortable ride. The seat is a touch hard, but there’s no weight on the wrists and no bad vibrations. I wouldn’t want to be doing big trips on the XSR every other week, but the occasional high-mileage adventure would not be a problem."
EngineNext up: Reliability
The motor is the same 847cc Triple that features in the MT-09, producing the same power of 115bhp at 10,000rpm and 64.5ftlb’s of torque at 8,500rpm. Yamaha have also made improvements on the fuelling, which was always a weak point in the original MT-09 and is now nearly perfect.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
Despite its relatively low price, the XSR900 is built to an exceptionally high standard. The brackets, fuel tank and clocks are all made from aluminium and not plastic, further adding to the quality feel that this bike ozzes, even the bolts used on the bike are personal to this model.
We've got plenty of Yamaha XSR900 owners' reviews on MCN, and it scores highly. It's clear it's a very reliable bike.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
The XSR900 represents incredible value for money. It uses the MT-09’s brilliant triple engine and has put it in a machine that is bang on trend offering a brilliant bike at an exceptionally good price. It really is hard to see where Yamaha have saved on cost with this machine.
The MT-09 is an obvious competitor for the XSR as the donor bike used to create it and if you aren’t completely sold on the XSR’s looks, the MT-09 is much more modern and brash. It’s also £800 cheaper in standard trim.
But there’s no shortage of retro-inspired roadsters on the market these days from other manufacturers, either. BMW’s R nineT (£12,745) has buckets of retro chic but costs over £3000 more than the Yamaha.
Honda has the CB650R (£7199), which is A2 restrictable and so is down on power to the XSR. But is a great little bike with the same neo café styling and could be an economical alternative.
A slightly left field option to consider is the Indian FTR1200 (£11,899). The huge V-twin is tuned for a rumbly 118bhp and it has plenty of retro touches and bags of character, too.
Head to head: Yamaha XSR900 vs Triumph Thruxton R
First published in MCN 28 December 2016 by Jon Urry
We pit the XSR900 against its biggest rival, the Triumph Thruxton R, to see which made the best cafe racer.
Tester Jon said: "The Thruxton R looks, feels and rides as if it was destined to be converted into a café racer while the XSR900 is brilliant bike ruined by its ill-conceived bolt-ons. It’s the difference between tailoring the bike from its design stages to be customised into an alternative style and attempting to force an existing model to become something it isn’t.
"The half-fairing and slightly lowered bars, not to mention the beautiful exhaust note, makes the Thruxton’s riding experience far more engaging and evocative of yesteryear – which is what you yearn for in a modern café racer. On the XSR the overly low bars cramp the riding position and make for an unpleasant and uncomfortable ride that only conjures up mental images of the next fuel stop and a chance to shake life back into your aching wrists and dry your wet arse."
The XSR900 comes with ABS and Traction Control as standard. There are three rider modes to compliment this, A, Standard and B, which change the throttle response but not peak power. There are also two levels of traction control, that can be changed on the move with the throttle closed or can be deactivated completely with the bike in neutral and at a standstill.
In 2018, the XSR900 got a fresh look with a retro-inspired paint scheme. A brighter Racing Red that pays tribute to the XS850 Yamaha produced in the 1980s was added to the line-up.
— Yamaha Motor Europe (@yamahamotoreu) September 21, 2017
In 2016 we treated our long-term test Yamaha XSR900 to the Cafe Racer treatment. Find out how we got on here.
|Engine type||12 valve ,Inline Triple|
|Frame type||Aluminium diecast|
|Fuel capacity||14 litres|
|Front suspension||43mm preload and rebound, inverted forks|
|Rear suspension||Single shock, preload and rebound only|
|Front brake||2x298mm four piston monobloc, ABS|
|Rear brake||245mm disc, two piston. ABS|
|Front tyre size||120/70 R17|
|Rear tyre size||180/55 R17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£170|
|Used price||£5,900 - £7,700|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||2 years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||116 bhp|
|Max torque||64.5 ft-lb|
|Top speed||150 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
|Tank range||140 miles|
Model history & versions
- 2016: Yamaha XSR900 launched.
- 2020: New liveries announced for XSR900.
60th Anniversary edition also available, for £7999
Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA XSR900 (2016 - on)
13 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA XSR900 (2016 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£170|
Annual servicing cost: £100
It’s a great bike. It has enough power to play but not crazy power where you can’t relax. I love it. Looks wonderful too.
Rides so well. Definite change in the three modes. I do ride it fairly hard on occasions. Handles very well.
Delivers just right and allows for it to be ridden fairly hard without complaint.
Three years down the line with only 12500 ish miles on the clock. It has no dramas.
If I’m honest I had a mate service it for a bottle of Mermaids Vodka. It cost £230 for the kit for mine and my wife’s XSR700 including the oil.
There are loads of extras available, I paid £123 for Pierelli Corsa’s from Demon Tweeks. Cheap as chips but feel super.
Annual servicing cost: £150
I would give 4.5
The ride is good, the bike feels solid and well planted to the road. The only time the rear end kicks out is if you give it a bit too much coming out of a corner. The bike loses a star here because, on a long ride you will find the seat a little hard. The brakes are decent but it may give you a little more confidence upgrading the discs or pads. However, the brakes are much better than other bikes I have ridden.
The XSR's 850 triple is an absolute torque monster. When 'balls out' mode is selected the throttle is on or off. This takes a little getting used to but once mastered that smile may as well be tattoo'd on because its going nowhere! It pulls in every gear, you get a decent amount of engine braking when off the throttle and its often difficult to keep the front wheel on deck. Lots of my riding buddies ride 1000cc sportsbikes and they are all impressed when they can't get me out of their mirrors. In my opinion, if you love the retro look, the bang for your buck from the XSR900 is real hard to beat
3 years in, the bike has never let me down
Being a 900cc, the insurance and fuel consumption is cheaper than all the 1000+cc bikes but still delivers smiles per mile!
The rider can choose from 3 ride/power settings. This is handy to tame the monster when riding around town. Also has traction control and anti wheelie. Some daily riders will use these but if this bike is a weekend toy like mine then you will no doubt leave these off.
Buying experience: I never intended on buying brand new but I got a great deal from my local dealership. Because the colour had been discontinued they knocked £1000 off the price and was offered £1000 in accessories! When they told me the PCP came in at £72 a month I was straight on the phone to the wife to give her the bad news. Our local Yamaha dealership are really laid back and very helpful and would really recommend.
Annual servicing cost: £300
Great torquey engine, perfect power for the road without delving into silly speeds. Looks good. Brakes a bit wooden but good enough. Throttle snatchy at slow speeds but not huge problem.
I've toured round Europe and Scotland fine with kriega luggage and a Givi tank bag (with special adapter ring that goes on fuel cap as tank not magnetic). Seat comfort is fine. Suspension is good enough too, with lots of adjustability. Brakes feel a bit wooden with not much feedback compared with a high end set up, but have enough stopping power.
Brilliant engine with good torque throughout rev range. I had an original street triple before and this is clearly a more grunty engine. Downside is around town and on and off throttle at low speeds it can be jerky, particularly in A mode. I had a remap done to my akra exhaust at a reputable place but still a bit annoying sometimes. I got 115bhp and 64ftlbs off the dyno which is I think what Yamaha quote. Hopefully they put the new mt09 2021 engine in there for next year which has even more torque and lower down the rev range.
Mine still looks good after 16,000 miles in all weathers, but I acf50 it in winter. No reliability issues apart from engine management light used to come on for no reason but dealer fixed it. No break downs and part failures. Parts and build quality as you would expect of a mid market bike.
Normally looking at best part of 300 quid for a normal annual service from official dealer. This year though needed a new chain and spockets (first change after 16,000 miles) and a few other bits, so was north of £600. Mpg is in line with what others have said, fuel tank slightly small but have never found it a problem.
I got Michelin Road 5s on as I ride in all weathers, they're good. Stubby black akra looks good, also have a short Dart screen which is mostly cosmetic but takes a bit of wind off at speed. Also have gb racing crash protection and tail tidy.
Buying experience: Got it privately when only 4 months old and 1200 on clock. Got a great deal 6500 at the time with the exhaust and all paper work. Thought it was too good to be true but it all checked out.
Annual servicing cost: £350
Great bike, but just a couple of things let’s it down, it would feel better if it just had 5 gears, gears are clunky, and desperately needs a steering damp
I’ve done 500 miles in a day, it’s very capable for a naked, seat is a bit firm, why aren’t seats comfy anymore?
Great pulling power, gears clunky and could do with loosing 4th gear, pretty good on fuel but tank too small. Panels on the tank are a waste of volume.
Has TC & ABS that’s all you need, my last bike a Tuono V4 was a pain too much tech.
Buying experience: Bought from a dealer for convenience, they do charge daft prices for used bikes
Version: 60th Anniversary
Annual servicing cost: £100
This is the 27th bike in my two-wheeled career - so I guess you say I have some experience ! From my RG125 Gamma 'L' plate, via sportsbikes, muscle bikes and hyperbikes (and lets not mention the scooters)...the XSR900 is my latest attempt to find the 'perfect' motorcycle. It needs to be - reliable, exciting, comfortable, flexible - and makes you turn back just for that final look as you are walking away. For me, the XSR900 is the best example of these traits I've found in 25 years of riding. I don't commute any more - so this bike is for fun - and that word sums up the XSR900 for me. It is a fantastic bike - exceptional in so many areas.
Ride quality is not up to the standard of my last bike which had Ohlins suspension - but you wouldn't expect that. The seat is pretty hard but you soon get used to it. The brakes were dramatically improved with a fluid change.
Fantastic engine mated to a really slick gear change. Power everywhere - very flexible with torque available at all revs. Sounds beautiful with an aftermarket exhaust fitted. I can't imagine wanting more power on the road than this (although maybe that is connected to my age - 50).
My bike is 4-years' old but feels like new. Some of the gaps between panels - and particularly the seat unit - are not perfect, but it feels like it will just run and run....No reliability issues so far.
Not had the bike serviced yet, but access is good without sports bike fairing panels to remove. Common parts with other machines and lots of on-line advice should make it good value to service. Approx. 55mpg so reasonable on fuel - and to be honest - life is too short ! XSR900 is not for trying to beat your fuel economy record.
Not covered in electronic this and multi-adjustable that - but she's all the better for it ! Suspension settings to standard, ride mode to A (for me) and just ride it. What more do you actually need to have a good time on two wheels ?
Buying experience: Bought privately - very smooth experience.
Annual servicing cost: £120
The XSR900 is a lot of fun in daily use. I've done the NC500 and a bit of island hopping on two occasions, Wales a few times and up to the Lakes & Dales and found that it really needs a bigger tank. From the outside it looks fine but only holds 14 litres whereas this needs to be at least 17-18 litres.
Superb engine no issues
I've had issues with starter switch sticking and had two replaced now. I'm unsure what will happen after the warranty runs out, is this classed as an inherent fault?
Annual servicing cost: £180
Best all-round bike in 30 years.
Brakes are fine. Not Brembo sharp but more than sufficient for the bike. More progressive than immediate. The suspension it where this bike can be a let down. I personally found the shock to be too stiff for my 78kg and at high speeds on rough B roads it could get out of shape. I upgraded the suspension which has transformed the handling for me. Even factoring the cost of the upgrades the overall cost of the bike is better than the competition. Riding position is all day comfortable and a little less focused than say a Striple so big miles are easily achieved. I have put some SW Motech Legend bags on mine and it really has become as versatile as a sports tourer. An OEM fly screen adds a tiny bit of wind protection but I prefer the clean air of a naked over the buffeting of a fairing.
Quite simply the best engine I have every owned. Singles, twins, in-lines I've had them all but for all day usability on every type of road then, for me, it's perfect.
Considering the price this is built to a really high standard. I have ridden mine through two winters now and with ACF50 it still looks good. A little furry on the banjo bolts and discs which I hadn't coated but they soon cleaned up. The ignition switch started sticking which Yamaha replaced immediately through warranty. In my experience Yamaha are good when it comes to warranty issues. Starts first time and no other issues in 6k.
Living on the south coast servicing can be expensive so the annual service varies between £160 - £200 depending where you go. Valve service intervals every 24k (Are you listening Triumph?!) so overall pretty good. Winter riding I get 56mpg and even riding the twisties in 3rd/4th it doesn't drop remarkably.
I like simplicity. I'm not interested in TFT's or semi-active this and keyless that, so this has as much technology as I would ever want. The three rider modes do change the throttle response but I leave mine in standard all year round. TC1 is fairly unobtrusive so if wheeling is your thing fill you boots. TC can be turned off. Hepco & Becker for tank bags and SW Motech for side bags I have found to be the best luggage options.
Buying experience: Bought from Lamba Motorcycles. All done over the phone and my experience was good. Got an 'ex display' model for £7,500. Bargain.
Going over this bike it's difficult to see how Yamaha has done it for the money. Finish is superb with smatterings of aluminium where others would use plastic. The single clock is a piece of design genius and looks the dogs danglies. The engine is brilliant, pulling smoothly from low in the rev range right up to the red line. Weighing only 195kgs, whack it in riding mode A, crack the throttle and watch the world go into reverse while you struggle to keep the front wheel down. Fantastic! (Of course, the throttle goes both ways!). Nice, smooth gearbox with a reassuring 'clunk' when it goes into first. Great extras including riding modes, slipper clutch, ABS and traction control. Some may find the seat a little high at 830mm, I'm 5'7" with 31" inside leg and I can just about get both feet down on the balls of my feet. Bang for bucks, the Yamaha XSR900 defintely delivers.
Brakes are ok and give good feedback but could be improved by installing braided lines, I'm being really picky here. After an hour I'm feeling the lack of seat padding and after two hours my backside is screaming for a break. Could no doubt be improved by using an Airhawk. There are some that may find the seat a little high. I'm 5"7" with a 31" inside leg and I can just touch the ground both sides on the balls of my feet. If you're not a confident rider try before you buy. On the upside the XSR handles as well as any bike I've ridden out of the box. It's planted in the twisties and will embarrass a few sports bikes ridden well.
For me the engine is the real centrepiece of the bike. It really is a cracking engine and delivers its power all the way to red line so smoothly, it's a joy to ride. Loads of power on tap and there's very little to beat the sound of a screaming triple.
No problems at all. My bike is 2-years-old and isn't showing any signs of age. All-in-all, it looks great and hasn't missed a beat.
Running costs are about what you'd expect on a bike like this. Not cheap but not pricey either.
For a sub £9k bike the equipment on offer is quite astonishing. Three riding modes, perhaps confusingly called B, Standard and A. B mode is effectively rain mode and soften everything off, Standard is where most people will be happiest and A quickens it all up and makes delivery that much sharper. For me, A is where the fun lives. Three traction control levels, if you include switching it off altogether but I'm not really sure why you would on a road bike. Of course ABS is now included as a result of European legislation. Also as standard is a slipper clutch that seems to work great, I can't get the back wheel to lock on down shifts.
Buying experience: Bought used from Wigan Yamaha and the overall experience was very good. Everything sorted before I arrived and the bike looked superb.
great looking and fun bike - also well made
Rides fine, not got the more sophisticated feel of my last bike (ZX6r 636) but perfect for what it is. A lot more comfortable than I thought it would be, and pleasantly surprised with the lack of buffeting from the wind.
Full of character, quite low geared and 'pokey'
Build quality is fantastic. I can't find anything 'cheap' on it anywhere
Not sure about servicing costs yet, but being a naked triple and with 6000 mile intervals it should be OK
Full of latest must haves - traction, modes etc, and the dash is a really clever, solid and pleasing piece of kit. First bike I have had with ABS
Buying experience: Fair deal - Mototechniks in Stowmarket - nice people to deal with
Great fun bike, & great value too. It's a lot faster than it looks and when well ridden, will keep up with all but the most committed sports bike riders. And when you just want to cruise, it fills that duty equally well. A bike for all moods and modes. Recommended.
high quality, firm and planted. Good at doing both commuter and weekend play duty.
Love it! Great power and triple thrum. Torque right through the rev range.
Well made, good quality parts. No issues to date.
Not much 'equipment' on the bike, but it is a naked after all. Luggage options not that clear, off set tank filler makes tank bag selection awkward, saddle bag option limited etc. But if you want a tourer get a Tracer etc. Where i it well equipped is though is things like a slipper clutch, ABS, traction contorl and engine power modes etc.
Version: 60th anniversary
Annual servicing cost: £70
could be my last sport bike, has all i need
seat gets uncomfortable after couple hours, about usual for factory seats
had to change oil twice. did myself at $70 dollars total. no other maintenance costs. 50 miles to the gallon, driven hard.
for the dolllar, you get slipper clutch, abs traction control and three drive modes.
Buying experience: motorsportsnation in plainfield connecticut, no place better to buy. my sixth bike from them. always take care of you.
Version: 60th Anniversary
Great looks, wonderfully usable engine and great handling
Uncomfortable at 'high' speeds due to its nakedness. I had the rear suspension turned down 1 click, and it's now much nicer. Nice to feel sat in the bike, rather than on top of it, especially at roundabouts and sweepers (previous Fazer S2 felt a bit tall in comparison). Pillion is small, but OK, although lack of grabrails may concern some. 200 mile round trips are OK, but dual carriageways and motorways can be a bit tiring. Boredom, mostly, while sat in lane 2 following the oblivious texters and reps...
Utterly brilliant. Grunty, barking acceleration in any gear (steering goes strangely light in 2nd and 3rd) always brings a smile. Effortless overtaking. cheeky burble on the overrun.
No problems so far, after 3500 miles - I've not even had to adjust the chain. I keep the bike covered with a healthy dose of anti-corrosion, and a quick wipe down gets it looking like new.
Running costs are OK, with insurance relatively cheap for a 50 year old. The add-on parts are stupidly expensive, though - £200 all-in for a (OK, they look the biz) radiator guard and side covers, anyone? Rear tyre will be up next...
Funky clocks are great - everything in one place. Would love an Akro pipe, but the one that's available is obviously built for the MT, so looks odd on the XSR. Come on, Yamaha. If you're going to get a styling exercise done so well, Yamaha, get a nice round Akro sorted. And give me one for good measure. BUT why no helmet lock? And I'm guessing that the underseat storage area reflects the hazards of smoking, so I'm now only given space for 10 fags instead of 20 on the Fazer.
Buying experience: Dealer purchase from Flitwick Motorcycles in Bedfordshire. Friendly. Faultless.
I have 100 miles on the new XSR900 and this review is spot on with the exception of the slipper clutch which it also has. This bike is very fun and I was looking at Ducatis and Triumphs, but chose the Yamaha. The only niggle on the bike was the sticker shock for insurance. It's more expensive than the Ducati Multistrada 1200S that is also in the garage. Surprised!
Ride is great, a bit stiff, which I prefer. Feels similar to bikes more expensive. There are a couple things that you should know - this is a tall bike for a standard, and feels wider under your back side than a Ducati SF848 or Triumph Street Triple.
Haven't really gotten to wick it up yet, but the bike works great under break in conditions. Will get on it a bit more after 1000 miles.
Bike is spot on so far. Fuelling, suspension, brakes, etc are all as advertised with no issues.
No costs for service so far. It's a Yamaha and they're known for excellent reliability with proper maintenance. I'll follow the manual and do the first service at 1000 miles which includes an oil change, chain clean/adjust, and clutch cable lube/adjust.
Bike is well set up as stock. Features are spot on for what I wanted. Tyres work well, but will likely change them out when ready to another tire - Pirelli or Michelins instead of the stock Bridgestones.
Buying experience: Purchased from local dealer who beat all advertised prices.