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First look Yamaha XSR900 – the legend is reborn

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Yamaha's new XSR 900 is powered by the same Euro 5-compliant 889cc CrossPlane 3 engine as that of the Tracer 900

Yamaha's new XSR 900 is powered by the same Euro 5-compliant 889cc CrossPlane 3 engine as that of the Tracer 900

The XSR 900 gets styling reminiscent of those bikes our parents rode back in the day

The XSR 900 gets styling reminiscent of those bikes our parents rode back in the day

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Yamaha's new XSR 900 is powered by the same Euro 5-compliant 889cc CrossPlane 3 engine as that of the Tracer 900

Back in the eighties, a time well remembered by motorcycle column editor Finn Gillespie, Yamaha was making waves with a new concept in motorcycle racing; the Deltabox frame. Bikes such as the FZR then came to the market and were renowned for their superior handling and agility on both the road and track.

Jump forward to today and the Japanese giant is making a range of bikes under the ‘Sport Heritage’ banner. One of these is the XSR, which is available in several capacities. The one we like is the 900, which has been around for a number of years now. This week the latest model was unveiled and the legend has, indeed, been reborn.

The new steed looks fantastic. There are a whole load of styling nods to those bikes that our parents rode back in the day. While pieces like the recesses in the tank hark back to a different style of riding as much as different bikes, clever design features such as the hidden tail light, side panels and the saddle hump all look the part.

The exposed frame and engine show the beast’s intentions while that round headlamp and its simple bracket ‘tip their hats’ to a time when ABS and TFT screens were science fiction.

But that’s exactly what it has. Clever LED lighting is complimented by a TFT screen and a rider’s menu. ABS is standard are all housed in a machine that pays homage to the past with a cool Yamaha racing blue as an alternative to the black. The menu continues with that ABS breaking system being served through a Brembo braking set-up. All of this sits in place on a set of fully-adjustable upside-down forks. Down the back, the mono shock is also adjustable for a tailored ride.

In behind that TFT screen, where the clocks would have been on those eighties legends, is where all the wizardry lives. The new bike has an incredibly advanced ride control package. With this the rider can set and adjust the traction control system, which is lean sensitive, as well as both the slide control and front wheel lift systems. All of this comes from the companies R1 and its ongoing development in superbike racing.

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The XSR 900 gets styling reminiscent of those bikes our parents rode back in the day

The XSR 900 gets styling reminiscent of those bikes our parents rode back in the day

The XSR 900 gets styling reminiscent of those bikes our parents rode back in the day

Powered by the incredibly smooth Euro 5-compliant 889cc CrossPlane 3 engine that we know and love from the Tracer 900, this bike has a deep bucket of usable and enjoyable torque. It’s housed in a lightweight Deltabox-style chassis, which is complimented with a set of lightweight Spinforged wheels. The evolution from then until now is clear to see. The bike’s longer swingarm allows it to feel a lot more planted, particularly in the twisty stuff.

The electrics package continues with the machine’s quickshifter for clutchless changes. It even has a slipper clutch for the downshifts. Then there’s cruise control for when you’re trying to behave yourself a little better.

We’ve ridden the current model extensively and it’s the kind of machine that lends itself to an enjoyable riding experience in any situation. We can expect the first of these beauties to be here at the end of next spring when pricing will be announced. The current model sells for €11,699.

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