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Racing a Yamaha XSR700 X-Tribute at the Bike shed Festival

Visordown entered the retro-styled Yamaha XSR700 X-Tribute to race at the Bike shed Festival; Here’s how we got on.

The Yamaha XSR700 X-Tribute. Not exactly a thoroughbred race machine… but nonetheless, a fitting retro-styled moto that's ideal to rag around Lydden Hill Circuit at this year's Bike shed Festival. 

Similar to most track and race days, my Saturday started at about 6am. Not complaining though, as a day packed full of racing, cool bikes and even cooler people was about the commence. Truth be told, I was both nervous and excited because this was my first ever motorcycle race. OK, I was sh*tting it. 

After a sensible blat down the A2, I arrived at Lydden Hill race circuit where the bikeshed Festival was already in full swing. Not one sad face was in sight. The people who attend and work at the festival really want to be there, and are passionate about motorcycles. You get an immediate sense of this as soon as you pull up into the paddock. 

And what’s nice is that the festival is dog and family-friendly. Good vibes all-round y’all. 

After signing up to compete and a 9.30am race briefing the action almost immediately began. The first group to practise was the Street Bike Cup, followed by the 125cc’s, Retro Racers, Easy Riders, and finally my group the Journo Cup (mixed motorcycle group). Needless to say, the nerves were building as I watched people raz around the undulating boot-shaped circuit. 

Practise on the Yamaha XSR700 X-Tribute

As a noobie ‘racer’ things started off slow, which is a good thing because the urban-cool X-Tribute is most certainly not a racing machine. It’s front and rear suspension is as soft as French Brie, and the dual-sport tyres make any spirited riding somewhat interesting… 

Despite the uber-soft setup and lack of immediate grip, the XSR’s stunning 689cc parallel-twin motor makes up for the chassis pitfalls. The engine is silky smooth and packs enough punch to put a smile on your face. Plus, the addition of an Akrapovic slip-on end can makes it all the sweeter. The setup issues -for the most part - could be mitigated by grippier street dedicated tyres and thicker fork oil. However, the rear shock [for me personally] needs to be swapped out completely.  

Also, if you like to lean more that 25° then it’s worth removing the humungous hero bobbins on the footpegs. There won’t be much of them left after a twenty-minute track session if you don't.  

After about ten minutes of learning the circuit, picking my brake markers, and choosing what gears to use for each corner, it was qualifying time. Overall, I clocked a 5th place, about a second off the fastest XSR700 X-Tribute rider within the Journo Cup group.

Qualifying results - Journo Cup

Pos

Name 

Best Time

1

Paul Young 

47.802

2

Carl Stevens 

48.961

3

Marc Potter (also on an XSR)

48.917

4

Alastair Latimer

49.811

5

Harry McKenzie

50.985

6

Mike Booth

51.125

7

Ross Sharp

52.215

8

Callum Price-Tydd

53.101

9

Aaron Travell 

53.258

10

Jonathan Bentman

53.937

11

Mark Richardson

54.582

12

Dave Redgate 

54.773

13

Gerge Beattle 

56.957

14

Kane Dalton

57.240

Racing the Yamaha XSR700 X-Tribute

Sitting out on the grid after a warm-up lap and my nerves seemed to disappear, although to any bystanders I still looked like a deer in headlights. After a good start and about two corners, the group split into about four subgroups, with the fastest four riders disappearing into the distance. I was not one of these riders. Mike Booth on a Triumph Scrambler 1200 was in my sights, but he was consistent and very fast - the battle for 5th was on. 

After 7 laps of getting my head down, I was on his tail. But he was not having a noob like me pass by him with ease - which made it more of a mental battle. On most of the corners I had the XSR’s rear tyre on the edge of the grip level, even having a couple of squeaky bum moments on the penultimate hairpin. So, the reality sunk in that I had to take him coming into a corner instead of coming out of it. Handy, as the XSR X-Tribute felt pretty good on the brakes.

A few more laps went by and the commentators were apparently loving the fight, then suddenly the last lap flag was displayed. Sh*t. “It’s now or never”, I told myself. 

And on the last corner of the last lap - a bit like Rins on Marquez - I managed to nip past him and dash to the finish. A great end to a good clean battle, with my mother and imaginary fans losing their shizzle. Or more likely not...

A quick 5th position celebration wheelie to end of an awesome day of racing was in order. Admittedly, the XSR X-Tribute is a bit of a wheelie machine and is one of the most balanced bikes on the back wheel I’ve had the joy of clutching up. Although, don't do it on the road as the rozzers will crucify you. 

 Race results - Journo Cup

Pos

Name 

Diff

1

Paul Young 

 

2

Carl Stevens 

11.242

3

Alastair Latimer

13.946

4

Marc Potter (also on an XSR)

19.172

5

Harry McKenzie

32.608

6

Mike Booth

32.846

7

Ross Sharp

1 lap

8

Johnathan Bentman

1 lap

9

Callum Price-Tydd

1 lap

10

Aaron Travell

1 lap

11

Dave Redgate 

1 lap

12

Gerge Beattle

1 lap

13

Matt Hull

3 laps

14

Dave Schofield

3 laps

No podium, but what a cracker of a race. And the XSR700 Tribute was a proper hoot. 

Summary of XSR 700 X-Tribute

The suspension on the XSR is too soft - even for the road - and would need to be modified if you were looking to go round corners at a solid pace. In an ideal world, it would benefit from stiffer springs and thicker oil in the front forks, plus a new [stiffer] rear shock spring. These simple changes would make the XSR so much more enjoyable to ride. In addition, the dual-sport tyres could do with changing. Yes, they look cool, but they aren’t the best in terms of outright grip - some Road pilot 5’s would do the trick. 

Besides that, it’s lovely and involving to ride. With no traction control electronics to get in the way, it’s a simple, fun, and easy package. The seat is mega comfortable too. 

Although the X-Tribute has the appearance of a scrambler it isn’t one. Keep it in town and on A/B roads, and you’ll be happy as Larry. 

Read the full review here.

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club (@bikeshedmc) on

Our thoughts of the Bike shed Festival.

Those guys and gals at the Bike shed certainly know how to organise an event. The whole day was simply epic. It’s events like this which make motorcycling so special. If you missed out this time be sure to grab your tickets for next year. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

Bring the family and the dog, there’s something for everyone. 

Click here to find out more.

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