Road Test

Yamaha Yamaha XSR700 XTribute (2019) Review

The Yamaha XSR700 XTribute is Yamaha’s answer to the call for a retro-naked with back road ability. Here’s what it’s like to live with one.

YAMAHA’S XSR700 XTribute treads a well-worn path in the Yamaha product range. Take an already successful motorcycle and make it cooler.

Based on the XSR700, the XTribute payes homage to the iconic XT500 dirt bike of the late seventies and eighties. Adding chunky, flat-track inspired tyres, pseudo brushed aluminium fuels tank, wide scrambler bars, and short-cut mudguards.

But with so many of these retro-style machines on the market at the moment, just looking cool is no longer enough. Riders want the complete package and rightly so, a bike without rideability is like a curry without chilli – what’s the point? Maintaining the XTribute’s credibility is the frame and engine from the MT07, a perky yet manageable package. Great for old and new riders alike, it’s even a2 compatible after some quick and inexpensive work is carried out.

Yamaha XSR700 XTribute (2019) video review

Yamaha XSR700 XTribute price

At £7,799, the XTribute comes in at £700 more than the standard XSR700. A You Yamaha Motor Finance PCP deal could see one in your garage for just £105 p/m based on a £1634.

Competition for the XTribute comes in the form of:

Ducati’s Desert Sled - £9950

 Triumph’s Street Scrambler - £9300

 Husqvarna 701 Svartpilen - £6999

 Royal Enfield Himalayan - £4199

 Moto Guzzi V85TT £10899

Yamaha XSR700 XTribute engine

With the 689cc 75hp MT07 engine at its heart, the XTribute is a spirited and enjoyable ride, without any of that seat of your pants fear you get from bikes with double its output. Its CP3 (Crossplane Crank three-cylinder) engine has the firing of the pistons spaced at 270°, giving the bike the off-beat sound and feel of a V-twin. It’s clear after just a couple of miles riding that the XTribute feels more torquey and powerful than the 75hp and 50lb-ft of torque would suggest. It’s a punchy wee beast, with a crisp delivery and best of all, it loves to rev!

With a proper cable operated throttle – some what of a rarity these days – the XTribute is a lovely machine to operate. The power deliver is a perfect match for its retro styling. It isn’t too quick but it’s no slouch either. You’ll easily leave all that four-wheeled rubbish behind you at the lights, and the motor only feels out of sorts way above motorway speeds.

Thrumming back and forth to the office and running errands, I’ve never seen less than about 60mpg from the bike. Even sat at 75mph on the motorway with no weather protection, a huge rucksack on and textiles flapping in the breeze, it’ll still return about 67mpg. With those figures in mind, tank range in normal use about 140miles making the XTribute fun yet frugal.

Suspension

With the retro-looking suspension gaiters on the front forks, you’d be forgiven for thinking the XTribute’s setup was bespoke for this model. It is in fact the same forks shared across both the MT07, XSR700 and the XTribute – although compared to MT07s I have ridden in the past, it seems to have been fiddled with for a more scrambler-like ride.

Around town the XTribute is a comfortable and compliant machine. With a fair bit of dive on the brakes from the non-adjustable forks. With just mechanical pre-load adjustment on the rear shock, dialling out the bounce will be near impossible.

Brakes

Upfront there are Yamaha’s one-size-fits-all calliper made by in-house experts Sumitomo. They are more than up to the job of stopping the bike and have surprisingly good feel and feedback at the lever. The ABS is a little bit too intrusive for my liking, cutting in on a dry road in a straight line on the front. The rear brake is a single piston sliding caliper with surprisingly good bite making it excellent at keeping the bike under control around town.

Handling

Out on the open road the lack of rebound and compression damping makes itself known when you begin to push on. It’s that niggly bounce you get that continues for a few seconds after hitting a road undulation. That said, the riding characteristics are lively and a bike that keeps you on your toes is no bad thing in my mind. It makes the thing so much more engaging to ride, you can never claim an engaging bike to be a boring bike now can you!?

Some of the handling could be sorted by fitting the Öhlins NIX 22 cartridge kit that Yamaha sell as an accessory. They comprise of a 22mm piston and include compression, rebound and spring preload adjustment and can be complimented by an Öhlins STX 46 rear shock. The cartridge kit comes in at £667 and the shock at £593, although they are by no means necessary items.

It’s worth noting that in standard trim the bike does get a bit of a head wobble on if you go (a long way) above motorway speeds. It’s not a violent head shake, more of a warning that the bike is stepping outside its comfort zone. I can’t decide if it’s tyres or suspension, or a combination of the two.

Can you take a Yamaha XSR700 XTribute on a green lane?

Simple answer – yes. And you’ll love it, as long as it doesn’t get too muddy! I ventured down a couple of local lanes near me on a sunny day and had a great time sliding the back end of the bike around and pulling skids. Ground clearance was an issue a couple of times, but this is predominantly a street bike. Any extra curricular tricks up its sleeves are purely a bonus in my eyes.

Equipment

The XTribute is fitted with one of Yamaha’s cool looking and easy to read reverse displays. The background is dark with the digits and information backlit and brightly illuminated. It’s a fantastic system and one that’s shared with the MT09 SP. The dash is clearly laid out and very easy to read regardless of lighting level and angle of the sun.

The inner section of the dash relays the main information to you, with a large rev-counter and speedo dominating the design. Included options that you can scroll through are trip meters (x2), current and average MPG, air temp, engine temp and time. Flicking through the options is done through the buttons on the side of the binnacle though and not through the switchgear.

The XTribute comes without a quickshifter and to be honest, it’s not really needed. The gearbox is extremely slick and handles clutch-less upshifts and downshifts with ease.

As mentioned above, ABS is fitted and can be disabled – a 2nd gear burnout seems to do the trick – although the switches on the dash don’t control it.

Three things we love about the Yamaha XSR700 XTribute:

  • Engine – frugal yet fun, punchy but unintimidating
  • Retro-styling
  • Awesome exhaust note, even with the baffle in

Three things we don't:

  • High speed wobble
  • ABS slightly too intrusive
  • Akrapovic can is an option

Verdict

It can be far too easy to overlook retro nakeds like the Yamaha XSR XTribute as a mere styling exercise. But in truth, after riding many miles on the machine I’ve come to realise it’s a very enjoyable machine to own, with an engine and chassis combo that will excite new riders and entertain older hands in equal measure.

It is a little annoying to find the Akrapovič exhaust is an option – especially as it appears in almost all the promo pics with that fitted – and to be honest it is one of the key things that makes this bike so attractive.

Regardless on your preferred choice of end can, the XTribute is still a cool bike and if you’re looking for accessible fun and exclusive looks – this really is a lot of bike for your money.

Yamaha XSR700 XTribute specs

Engine type

 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves

Displacement

 689 cm³

Bore x stroke

 80.0 mm x 68.6 mm

Compression ratio

 11.5:1

Maximum power

 55.0kW (74.8PS) @ 9,000 rpm

Limited power version

 35.0kW

Maximum torque

 68.0Nm (6.9kg-m) @ 6,500 rpm

Lubrication system

 Wet sump

Clutch type

 Wet, Multiple Disc

Ignition system

 TCI

Starter system

 Electric

Transmission system

 Constant Mesh, 6-speed

Final transmission

 Chain

Fuel consumption

 4.3l/100km

CO2 emission

 100g/km

Chassis

Frame

 Diamond

Front travel

 130 mm

Caster angle

 24º50

Trail

 90mm

Front suspension system

 Telescopic forks

Rear suspension system

 Swingarm, (Link type suspension)

Rear travel

 130 mm

Front brake

 Hydraulic dual disc, Ø282 mm

Rear brake

 Hydraulic single disc, Ø245 mm

Front tyre

 120/70 ZR 17M/C(58V) (Tubeless)

Rear tyre

 180/55 ZR 17M/C(73V) (Tubeless)

Remark

 EU4 compliant

Dimensions

Overall length

 2,075 mm

Overall width

 865 mm

Overall height

 1,120 mm

Seat height

 845 mm

Wheelbase

 1,405 mm

Minimum ground clearance

 140 mm

Wet weight (including full oil and fuel tank)

 188 kg ABS

Fuel tank capacity

 14L

Oil tank capacity

 2.7L

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