Our bikes: A year with the XSR900

Were those bars a good idea? What about that af­ter­mar­ket seat? Time to re­flect af­ter nine manic months with the XSR

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -

Awise Ja­panese philoso­pher (prob­a­bly) once said: “You only truly know a thing when you study it, clean it and study it again…”

As my time with the Yamaha XSR900 comes to an end it’s time for re­flec­tion. It’s been a pretty hec­tic year for Yamaha’s (slightly) ret­rostyled MT-09 spin-off. It’s had to en­dure a bit of ev­ery­thing. From a daily 30-mile com­mute, to some long-haul blasts and even some track ac­tion… the XSR has cov­ered some se­ri­ous ground. And as the mileage creeps closer to the 5000 mark, it has to be said that the bud­get all-rounder has coped re­mark­ably well.

That snarling triple is as sharp and ea­ger as ever and never fails to put a wide smile on my face when a whiff of throt­tle is ap­plied. And all this for well un­der £8k. The XSR is proper value for money as well as de­liv­er­ing all of the above, it also of­fers the op­por­tu­nity for easy cus­tomi­sa­tion.

Yamaha’s of­fi­cial ac­ces­sory list is pretty ex­ten­sive and I must ad­mit to get­ting a bit car­ried away when com­pil­ing a list of must-haves. I wanted to cre­ate some­thing true to the XSR ethos and was soon grap­pling with a set of span­ners in a bid to get a more unique look.

I’m pleased with where I ended up, al­though there are some parts that are stupidly ex­pen­sive and add lit­tle – see the HIT or MISS low­down (right).

And while I love the look the bars give the bike and the at­ti­tude it be­stows on what is oth­er­wise a fairly vanilla pack­age, they are not the best thing for a 48-year-old with a bad back and achy wrists!

On re­flec­tion, I ad­mit that I should prob­a­bly have gone for flat­ter/ Scram­bler-style bars.

There are other ar­eas of con­cern given a ses­sion of study-clean-study, now that the bike’s been through nearly nine months of ac­tion and a cou­ple in win­try con­di­tions. The header pipes are more orange than… well, a very orange orange and the back light cowl­ing is dam­aged… prob­a­bly from a tail pack I fit­ted for a 400-miles-in-a-day blast to New­cas­tle.

The af­ter­mar­ket seat soaks up wa­ter like a sponge and the sus­pen­sion is ad­e­quate but not re­ally ready for se­ri­ous track ac­tion or even a high­spir­ited ride on some se­ri­ous twisties. I’ve tried to soften it a lit­tle by de­creas­ing the re­bound damp­ing on the front and rear. I messed around with preload a bit but went back to the stan­dard set­tings as I found it steered best. In truth, few XSR own­ers will pile on the track miles or ride the bike be­yond its nat­u­ral ca­pa­bil­i­ties. A £500 af­ter­mar­ket shock would help greatly if the need arose.

I’ve also spent most of my time with the XSR in the Stan­dard rid­ing mode. A-mode is a lit­tle jerky, es­pe­cially in traf­fic and B-mode feels too muted, even in the wet.

The XSR of­fers a slightly more stylish, re­fined MT ex­pe­ri­ence. And it is ca­pa­ble of any­thing, other than re­ally hard­core rid­ing – and if you want to do that buy an MT-09 or even an MT-10 if you can find the ex­tra cou­ple of grand.

But if you want a bit of style with some pretty se­ri­ous speed, the XSR of­fers that in spades.

‘The ac­ces­sory list is pretty big and I must ad­mit to get­ting a bit car­ried away’

Andy’s time with the XSR’S been a blast

SCREEN Puig Screen, £84.99 MISS I wanted some­thing to hide the mess be­hind the clock. But this screen has barely done that and it of­fers no ex­tra wind pro­tec­tion. I think they give the bike a pur­pose­ful look and are fine when rid­ing back roads. But they are a pain – quite lit­er­ally – on long hauls. BARS Low ta­pered han­dle­bars, £103.99 HIT Re­placed the OE S20s. They’re OK but lack feel and are quite worn af­ter 1500 miles. I’d like to try Pirelli Di­ablo Rosso Corsa 3s. TYRES Bridge­stone, S21s £220 a pair MISS

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