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
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