Ride On: 2018 Yamaha XSR900 (RD 900 LS special edition)

RETRO is the name of the game with this thing of beauty. The RD 900 LS badged bike is based on the 2018 Yamaha XSR900 platform, but captures the full sports heritage of the cafe racer from yesteryear.

It is not however powered by a 2-stroke like the original RD range from years gone by, rather it’s much more powerful, utilising a fantastic 899cc liquid cooled 3-cylinder engine that offers not only lightning fast response, but good economy and loads of fun.

The tank that feeds the 115hp engine is only 14-litres and while that sounds a little on the small side, we managed to get about 300km of riding pleasure thanks to the excellent economy of the fuel injection system.

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It’s powerful, with 87.5Nm of torque, and makes a great commuter bike, as well as offering a good option for someone looking for a fun weekender. It certainly offers a great way to travel to work every day.

There’s some simple but effective technology too, with three riding modes; A, Std and B, which will provide noticeable changes to the handling and performance of the bike.

‘A’ will provide excellent and instant throttle response but can be a handful in traffic. ‘B’ is a little soft but great for heavy traffic when you aren’t in a hurry, or the roads are wet, while ‘Std’ is a great mix of both, with smooth throttle response and power on tap.

There is also traction control with three different settings. The mode button was a little tricky to find at first while the traction control button is large and hard to miss. A little strange but easily forgiven when riding on the open road.

The seat is pretty hard though, but the riding position is very comfortable. Longer distances will be easy, thanks to excellent handling in all riding conditions. The clutch is light and the brakes are responsive too.

All the controls are in easy reach and everything is where you would expect it to be, save for the mode and traction control button oddity. With that ride mode button being quite small, it’s also a little hard to use with winter gloves on.

As a standard 2018 Yamaha XSR900 this bike is available in Rock Slate, Garage Metal and Midnight Black. It’s priced at $12,999 plus on-roads. With the special paint scheme (there’s a couple available) and side panels, it hits the tarmac at $14,499 plus on-roads.

Our test bike was provided by Yamaha Motorcycles Australia. To find out more about the 2018 Yamaha XSR900 (RD 900 LS special edition), contact your local Yamaha dealer.


Riding experience
Style and comfort
Technology and connectivity
Overall bike performance


Pros - the retro look; riding position; on-road presence.
Cons - hard seat; no storage.
Tony Cavanagh
Tony Cavanagh
Tony Cavanagh has always had a thing about cars. He usually owns two at a time (there may also be a motorbike in the garage as well). Excessive maybe, but a car guy is a car guy. He's driven everything from Minis (the original ones) to V8 Commodores and 4WDs, as well as little go fast Japanese buzz boxes and hot hatches. He loves everything automotive, and doesn't have a clear favourite – yet.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> the retro look; riding position; on-road presence.<br> <strong>Cons - </strong> hard seat; no storage.Ride On: 2018 Yamaha XSR900 (RD 900 LS special edition)