Inspired by race bikes of the 80’s, Yamaha’s retro 2022 XSR900 in Legend Blue immediately drew us back to that bygone era. With subtle details like air intakes at the front of the tank and the round LED headlight standing out, it has a modern touch too.
Start up the 889cc CP3 engine and listen to that “Triple” sound. Before we even had the chance to throw a leg over, there was already a level of expectation of the performance the XSR900 was about to deliver.
Renowned for delivering punch throughout the entire rev range, the liquid-cooled, four-stroke, DOHC, cross plane engine not only provides an intoxicating soundtrack but produces 87.5kW of power and 93Nm of torque to propel its 193kg mass.
We found the Yamaha QSS quick shift system to be silky smooth as it stepped its way through the 6-speed gearbox in both directions, while the slipper clutch is useful for those faster downshifts, without fear of compression lock ups.
Noticeably, the clutch on the XSR is super light and rider friendly, especially for those with smaller hands. Cruise control is another nice touch and its operation is simple and really a must have on a bike, especially if freeways are a part of your standard daily commute.
Sitting on the retro XSR900 was more like sitting in it, again giving a nod to the detail inspired from the 80’s race bikes. On the ride home we made our way up “the old road” and even though it was wet, the Yamaha felt planted and safe. We had a ball.
An appreciated feature is the capability to change ride mode on the fly. It’s very handy, especially when it’s raining and you suddenly find dry tarmac. All that is required is to throttle off and change your mode and traction settings.
Yamaha’s XSR900 comes fitted with selectable riding modes and during our test period, we took the opportunity to check out each one. Rider Mode 1 is the most aggressive and Rider Mode 4 is rain mode. The other two sit somewhere in between, as you might expect.
If we were being picky, the throttle could be a little snatchy at times in Rider Mode 1, and we found noticeable performance characteristic differences between Rider Mode 2 and 3, which can sometimes be hard to pick on other models.
Electronic rider controls provide additional support (with many derived from the famed R1 superbike), and include a 6-axis inertial measurement unit that controls things like lean angle traction control, slide and wheelie control.
We found the suspension setup to be a little bit soft, especially when riding spiritedly, but for this reviewer, being 120kg, this came as no real surprise. Suspension on the front is fully adjustable, utilising an upside down front telescopic fork, with 130mm travel.
The rear suspension on the XSR900 utilises a swingarm (link suspension), with 137mm travel, and if we had further time we would have adjusted the suspension settings further to suit weight, which would help alleviate that hint of softness immediately.
That said, the XSR900 tips into corners very easily and we found it to be quite agile and lively. It was also more comfortable than we expected, and we didn’t feel cramped, which was a pleasant surprise.
We did notice after about 100km or so that the seat felt a little firm, but really that is to be expected on this style of bike. We also noticed that it’s really well balanced at low speeds, like when sitting in slow Sydney traffic.
Braking from the radial hydraulic dual 298mm discs, and rear single 245mm disc, both with ABS, was sufficient without being mind blowing. We achieved 160km to reserve and 168km on 9.5-litres, giving us an average of about 5.5-litres/100km.
Ergonomically, the rider triangle was spot on, the riding position was great and all controls were in easy reach. Positioning of the controls made them easy to find and initiate on the fly, although we would have liked to see the inclusion of auto cancelling blinkers.
The full colour TFT digital screen is easy to read in all lighting conditions and Yamaha’s menu system is simple to navigate, with some good information. The round LED headlight nestled up front looks great, and delivers good vision in low light conditions and night-time.
We did notice that lane filtering was a little tricky with the mirrors, as they stick out a fair bit. Flipping them upside down would help, but in saying that, they did offer clear, good vision and we think they look pretty cool for standards.
The 2022 Yamaha XSR900 is available in two colours; Midnight Black and Legend Blue (as tested). Pricing starts from $17,299 ride away, it’s backed by 2-year unlimited kilometre warranty.
Our test bike was provided by Yamaha Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Yamaha XSR900, contact your local Yamaha dealer.