2022 Yamaha XSR900 first ride review | Much Faster Sons!

2022-XSR900-Visordown-Review

The 2022 Yamaha XSR900 gains the updates of the latest generation MT-09 and MT-09 SP, although some not insignificant chassis tweaks up the ante further

Details
Manufacturer:
Category:
Naked
Price:
£ 10200
Overall
Not rated

2022 Yamaha XSR900 | £10,200 | 890cc | 119ps (117bhp) | 193kg | 810mm seat height

WITH retro and café racers gaining popularity in the 2010s, Yamaha jumped on the Neo-Retro bandwagon with its XSR900 and 700 variants. They mixed the likeable and accessible character of Iwata’s naked bikes, with a funky retro style to become instant hits across the world.

For this year, the 2022 Yamaha XSR900 has undergone its most transformative update, gaining all the improvements to the latest generation MT-09 (a bike it is very closely related to) along with some model-specific changes to really set the model apart.

To find out what the new bike is like to ride, we headed off to Tuscany, for an XSR-themed immersion event and a 170km road ride around the stunning Italian countryside.

2022 Yamaha XSR900 price, colours, and availability

The new 2022 Yamaha XSR900 is landing in the UK in June this year and will be available in two colours, Midnight Black, and Legend Blue – as ridden. Legend Blue is obviously a not to the iconic racing Yamaha’s of the 70s and 80s, with more than a passing resemblance to the Gauloises race bikes from Grand Prix.

The price of the XSR is interesting, as it comes in at £10,200 in the UK. That means it perfectly splits the stock MT-09 (£9,400) and the trick MT-09 SP (£10,650). Being that the new XSR shares so much with both machines, yet looks so wildly different, should be a big draw for many riders. I’m not going to bash the MT-09, I think it’s a great bike, but its styling took a kicking when it was announced. Does that make this latest XSR900 the MT-09 for people who don’t like the look of the MT-09?

2022 Yamaha XSR900 Price and PCP example

Term

Monthly

Price

Deposit

Mileage

Interest

Final payment

36-mth

£119

£10,200

£2,163.50

4,000 p/a

7.9% APR

£5,332.50

*Speak to your local dealer for more information

What’s new with the 2022 Yamaha XSR900?

As mentioned, the XSR gains all the mechanical updates of the latest generation MT-09 and SP models. That means it includes the new 117bhp, 890cc CP3 engine, new frame, spin forged wheels, electronics package, cruise control (found on the SP), and TFT dash. The suspension uses bespoke settings for the new XSR while it also features a Brembo radially mounted master cylinder (like the MT-09 SP) and it sits on decent Bridgestone S22 hoops.

Collective updates aside, the XSR900 also gains some bespoke changes, with the most notable being in the form of a new swingarm for the model. It uses the same basic item as found on the latest generation Tracer 9 and GT. It’s around 60mm longer than the previous model XSR900 and the current MT-09s which means the bike has a wheelbase around 50mm longer than before.

Another more subtle tweak is the riding position, which is slightly more upright, relaxed and neutral. Oh, and of course, there is the much tidier looking styling and that retro race bike inspired seat unit.

2022 Yamaha XSR900 engine

As mentioned above, the 2022 XSR900 gets the same engine as the latest generation MT-09s, in identical trim, putting out identical numbers. 114bhp peak power and 69lb-ft of torque are the headline numbers, and they back up my claim that the CP3 is one of the most riotous triples in the sub-1,000cc class. For this year the XSR boasts six per cent more peak torque than the outgoing model, a meatier mid-range and three per cent more peak power. It’s punchy all the way through the mid-range, bothering the traction control system even on warm roads and with cosy tyres. Push it further up the rev range and you’ll be egged on all the way to the rev limiter and rewarded with a seriously tasty exhaust note to boot! Yamaha has tweaked the airbox of the XSR compared to the MT-09, and it sounds very different. It’s got this rich, throaty induction noise that you don’t get on the MT. It’s possibly because the induction ducts of the MT-09 point straight out to the front, almost under the handlebar. The inlets on the XSR are smaller, and positioned right under your helmet, perfectly poised to inject some aural delight into your lugholes.

Having run an MT-09 in 2021 for most of the year, I knew which engine modes that would be best suited to my right wrist. I always found the MT-09 a bit snatchy in Mode-1 (the raciest of the four options), with a brutally direct throttle that makes picking the bike up out of a corner a tricky thing to do. Instead, I slot into Mode 2, with the throttle map now softening just a tad. You can then alter the T/C and wheelie control separately, something you’ll definitely need to do if you’re into popping some wheelies! Head further down the modes and each of the two remaining take you to an ever more sedate and gentle place, with Mode-4 basically becoming your defacto rain mode. Here you’ll have limited power (the only mode to do that) super soft throttle and high traction control.

One factor riders will need to take into account is the fairly small fuel tank on the bike. At 14-litres, it’s not huge, and while it is nine per cent more efficient than the previous model, we still managed to pretty much empty the tanks in around 160 clicks. So after just ninety miles of riding, I was just tripping the bike into reserve. Some other bikes were showing more mileage though, pointing to riding style being a big factor in how far the XSR900 can go between fuel stops.

2022 Yamaha XSR900 handling and brakes

With bespoke settings for the suspension and that new swingarm set-up, we were all very intrigued to see how the new XSR handled on the beautiful Tuscan roads. With a significant increase in wheelbase (around 50mm), I was expecting the XSR to feel a bit more cumbersome than its shorter sibling. That’s not really the case though. Around town and out on the road, it still feels lively and eager to drop into a turn. It might not dart from side to side with quite the urgency of the MT, but it's definitely not what you’d call tardy in the turns.

What it does have that the latest generation MT-09 doesn’t is a sense of poise in faster corners, planting itself firmly into the road as we sweep around the hairpin at the first photo stop. And there is another plus of that extended backside on the bike; it’s now much more composed under really hard acceleration. It’s likely something that is helped by the revised suspension settings, but I have a feeling it’s more to do with swingarm, and when you really wind on the power out of slow corners and click up the gears, this bike is much more civilised and stable. The MT-09 in this scenario has a tendency to shake its head, not so much as to slow, but enough to make you want to ride around the issue. That behaviour is totally overcome with this model, making the XSR900 feel like an extremely classy machine.

There is one handling trait the chassis changes have made much more difficult though, the wheelie. Hoisting a minger on the MT-09 is as easy as flicking your wrist, it’ll wheelie on command, whenever and wherever you are. The XSR is a much different bike, needing more provocation, and lower levels of electronic interference to get the desired result. It’ll still do it, you’ll just have to readjust your technique if you are stepping over from the current MT-09 to this bike.

With the 2022 Yamaha XSR900, you also get a swanky Brembo front master cylinder. It’s a small part that makes a big difference to the way the bike rides. It’s basically bringing the XSR up to the level of the system on the MT-09 SP, although it actually feels better on the XSR thanks to its slightly softer suspension. It’s got a classy plush feel to the level and is much nicer than the sharp feeling level on the stock MT-09. It allows you to pick the amount of braking power for a given situation accurately, be it hauling up from speed or trail braking into a downhill hairpin. Bravo Yamaha!

2022 Yamaha XSR900 comfort

It’s a tail of two halves when it comes to the comfort of the updated XSR. Let’s start with the positives, the riding position. It’s new for this year and more relaxed than before. The pegs a two-position adjustable and the bars obviously also offer some degree of customisation. On this front, it’s a great thing to sit on. Sporty enough that you can throw some shapes if needed but overall nice and neutral. You get a hint of buzz through the bars and pegs at bang-on 5,000 rpm, although that’s pretty much all but gone by 6,000. All fairly good so far.

The thing is, as some of you will know, I’m not a fan of hard seats on motorcycles. And the XSR has one of the hardest seats my backside has ever had the displeasure of meeting. It’s thinly padded and has all the contour of a Flat Earther's ‘globe’. While it’s true that it means your arse has a direct line to the road to feel what’s going on below, it had me wanting to pull up and stretch my legs after about half an hour in the saddle. The pillion seat is a similar story, and while it looks great (aping the boxy racers of the 70s and 80s, it’s as thinly padded as the rider’s seat and not really designed for long-term use.

2022 Yamaha XSR900 styling and design touches

This is the most exciting part of the new XSR900, it now actually looks like a bike, conceived and created from the ground up with a distinct design direction. The old XSR looked a bit thrown together like a university engineering class had given the bike building game a try.

That’s not the case this time, as from the headlight to the seat unit this is a very nice looking thing. It looks quite like an old FZR race bike was midway through some maintenance in the pits, and someone stuck a round headlight on it for some late-night on-road testing – not that this kind of thing ever happened, I’m sure.

There are also some very tasty design touches on the bike, and we aren’t talking decals and racing stipes here. First up is the aluminium undertray on the rear subframe. It’s something that a manufacturer would normally leave as is, probably constructed out of injection moulded plastic. Yamaha has given this element a fresh look by bolting on a piece of lightweight aluminium. Now the under-seat area of the bike is a focal point of the machine, and not something to hide.

Another neat touch is the flick down pillion pegs, that take a fair bit of spotting at first – I actually thought they’d removed them from the press bikes for aesthetics! Not the case though, they tuck in neatly to the subframe, really tidying up the back end of the machine. Neat to look at, not so great to use though. I hopped on the back of mate’s bike at a photo stop and was close to not being able to get my feet on the bloody pegs. Like the pillion perch, I don’t think they are designed for long-term use!

If there is another factor I wish Yamaha had taken a bit more time on, it’s the TFT dash. It’s the same as the latest MT-09s, big square, blocky and totally wrong for a bike like this. This is a retro racer in road-going trim. It really needs a big old analogue rev-counter, with a smaller TFT to tell you all the vitals and riding modes.

For those looking to add a little bit of extra to their XSR, obviously, Yamaha has a shedload of bolt-on goodies on its configurator you can mess about with. If you need some help with what to add, Yamaha also has three accessory packs for riders to choose from.

The Racer pack (£2,209.50) adds sexy CNC machined levers, brake and clutch, engine protection, a brushed aluminium front mudguard, a tail tidy, and the all-important Akrapovič full-system exhaust.

The Street pack (£591.00) gains a headlight grille, flyscreen, tank grippers, a tail tidy and a black aluminium front mudguard.

To really put the bike's comfort to the test, the Weekend pack (£558.40) gains some soft panniers and racks to mount them on.

2022 Yamaha XSR900 verdict

It’s easy to look at a bike like the XSR900 and think of it as a design exercise and nothing else, more style over substance, form over function. That is very much not the case though. The 2022 XSR900 is extremely capable, very potent, and sweet to look at. And it still would have been all three of those things had Yamaha simply updated the styling and chucked in the 2021 MT-09 updates. After all, the MT-09 and especially its SP sibling is a bloody good machine. That fact makes it all the more impressive that Yamaha decided to push things ahead even further for the XSR900, not just to improve the model, but to give it its own, distinctive character.

Yes, the comfort for me is a little flawed, and I wish they’d just spent a bit more time (AKA money) on that dash. But these are very small gripes that most owners will ignore or learn to live with.

So, it’s better looking than the MT-09, just as much fun, just as quick, just as tasty sounding, and more composed. Add to that list the fact that it is only 800 quid more than stock MT-09, and now try and think up some reasons you aren’t tempted to find out a little more about it!

To do just that, head over to: www.yamaha-motor.eu