Saturday, 30 July 2016

Family Ties - Yamaha XSR900

The time had come to finally throw a leg over the Yamaha XSR900, let's do it. 

Motor/Throttle/Clutch + Gearbox

Built upon the MT09 platform, the XSR900 shares the same delightful 847cc triple pot engine with claimed power and torque output figures unchanged, indicating nothing internal has been modified or substituted for this incarnation.

Out of the crate, the XSR900 throttle response is tamer to that of the MT09, it's still far from perfect - especially on small throttle transitions - however in stock form, it is better, smoother, softer?

Clutch action and gearbox feel are identical to that of the 'Niner, that said, the XSR900 seems to have a much quieter clutch basket and does not produce the same rattle the MT09 does when in neutral with the lever out.


Right, have Yamaha sorted out the budget suspension this time....................?? Ah, that'd be No.

It is true to state that the stock suspension of the XSR900 is improved to that of the MT09 - however, it's still very basic.

The front has much better rebound damping due to a valve change, however without changes to the overall configuration this can only help so much. Dual-spring rate offers a stiffer feel with less dive under braking,  however there is no compression damping at all. That said, the XSR900 is better behaved than a stock 09.

At the rear the shock continues unchanged and suffers from the familiar squat and untamed unload when getting on the throttle.

The ABS brakes front and back have acceptable lever feel and pull up well, nothing to complain about for this type of bike.

In terms of road manners, the XSR is relatively compliant, albeit a little vague. It'll go where you point it, it just won't give you confidence you're heading there on your terms or as directed.

The three stage traction control intervenes quite early on TC2 (max) and it'll chop a wheelie before you get going, other than that it was a non-issue. Just bump the setting up to TC1 (min) or TC0 (off) and you'll be fine.


Now this is strange.

The seat is higher than the 09 and set further back with a wider tank between the rider and the bars, requiring one to stretch a bit more to wrangle the controls.

Furthermore the plastic tank covers minimise the amount of cutout in the tank around the inner thigh and knee area - exactly where you would pinch your knees.

It's odd, but this design makes it feel like there is a 'puck' attached to the tank and it produces a very noticeable lump when trying to lock to the bike.

In Conclusion 

The XSR900 is a great thing to look at, I personally love the aesthetics of the bike and think Yamaha have really melded current technology with retro style in a remarkably pleasing way. 

I love the central clock style dash - it's extremely clear and adds to the bikes' retro appeal with a Casio Calculator feel. 

The aluminium pieces provide both visual accents and a real differentiation from other bikes of this type, almost like a 'factory custom' look - I dig it. 

Like for like, the XSR900 is a softer, more agreeable and more civilised member of the MT family, perhaps the distinguished Uncle, rather than older brother - after all the MT10 is here and the XSR is not trying to be a brawler.

Post Script

Riding this bike back to back with my MT09 it was very hard to remain objective, and being essentially the same bike, it was difficult not to draw comparisons. 

Let it be known that my 'Niner is no longer stock and has been treated to suspension work and a minor throttle adjustment.

It was actually quite vindicating to ride the XSR900 which is proclaimed to be a more refined package in comparison to a sorted MT09, with the suspension upgrades and throttle tweak the MT09 is propelled into another league - seriously (more about this in a coming post) 

........If only once, some class has been observed. 


  1. Hi,
    I really really wonder for your impression on MT 07 after your experience on MT 09&XSR 900.
    Although 07 is cheaper than 09, as a rider who tried both bikes I FIRMLY believe that 07 WILL destroy 09 (and many many others!) on BENDS! But this is my experience so I would really like to hear yours ; ) Best regards&rides

    1. Hi Fuat,

      I've had minimal seat time on the MT07 (LAMS) so cannot really comment on performance or road manners.

      If I can organise a test I'll be sure to get a post up.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Hi BitSar,

    Out of interest ... now the MT09 has been 'updated' to include the traction control, ecu mapping and other XSR900 refinements which would you take if given the choice? or with the updates does it really just come down to which you like the look of more?

    Ride safe,

    1. Hi Dave,

      Interesting question.

      Personally I prefer the ergos of the MT09.

      That said, additional to the ECU + TCS updates to the 2016+ MT09, the XSR900 has slightly better sorted front suspension, so this might add further confusion to the mix.

      In terms of aesthetics I really dig the XSR900 styling - that said, I also enjoy the aggressive stance of the MT09.....arh!

      I think if I was forced to choose I'd still take the 'Niner.

      Thanks for reading.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing this great blog.Very inspiring and helpful too.Hope you continue to share more of your ideas.I will definitely love to read.
    brandon auto repair