2016 Yamaha XSR900

Editor Score: 84.25%
Engine 18.75/20
Suspension/Handling 12.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 8.75/10
Brakes 8.25/10
Ergonomics/Comfort 7.5/10
Appearance/Quality 7.5/10
Desirability 7.5/10
Value 9.0/10
Overall Score84.25/100

Think of the new Yamaha XSR900 as an FZ-09 that went backstage for a costume change and emerged for act II in disguise. In the process the XSR was also wired to perform some on-stage acrobatics of which the FZ is incapable. Ticket prices went up, but so did the bike’s technological accountability.

We’ve been fanboys of the FZ-09 since its introduction in late 2013 as a 2014 model. The FZ had some initial teething problems such as inexcusably abrupt fueling (fixed), and too-soft suspension (not fixed), but its powerful three-cylinder engine, lightweight, and well-balanced chassis made for an exceptionally fun, do-anything motorcycle for a price that remains surprisingly affordable ($8,190).

More For Less: Aprilia Shiver 750 vs. Suzuki GSX-S750 vs. Yamaha FZ-09

The XSR900 retains all the elements we love about the FZ-09 while addressing the suspension issue with firmer spring rates and bringing to the table a host of modern electronics including ABS, traction control, as well as an assist-and-slipper clutch. The cost of these upgrades adds a notable $1,300 from the base model FZ to the base model XSR’s MSRP ($9,490 – Matte Gray/Aluminum, $9,990 60th Anniversary Yellow). The increased retail price also reflects the use of aluminum bits and pieces in place of the FZ’s plastic ones.


The XSR makes use of aluminum in place of plastic in areas such as the fender bracket, radiator cover, headlight bracket, brushed aluminum fuel tank covers, and rear fender. The 60th Anniversary model has gold-anodized fork legs and a yellow shock spring. Note the ABS ring and sensor.

According to their respective spec sheets, the FZ and XSR are identical in terms of wheelbase (56.7 in), rake/trail (25.0°/103mm), and weight distribution (F 51.0/R 49.0). This goes a long in explaining why the two feel so similar to ride. The XSR does gain a few curb weight pounds (414 lbs vs 430 lbs) from the use of aluminum vs plastic, but the XSR remains as flickable as the FZ when flogging canyon roads. Yamaha says the XSR’s seating position weights the front end by way of canting the rider slightly further forward, but this adjustment does nothing to really change the front end’s characteristics. First-gear wheelies become routine whenever the stoplight switches from red to green, which is always fun. However, when aggressively riding the XSR through the countryside, the front end can easily become nervous when exiting a corner under power, especially if a bump in the pavement is introduced.

Yard Built Yamaha XSR700 Tracker By Bunker Customs

The light front end is more exciting than scary, and it could probably be tamed with a steering damper, but feedback from the front end is vague. One solution to curing the XSR’s front end’s lack of communication might be to purchase and install the accessory clubman bars, which exchanges the XSR’s standard seating position for a cafe racer one that certainly, uncompromisingly, weights the front end.


Wheelieing away from red lights is standard practice on the XSR – and this from a guy who’s not exactly the world’s best wheelier. The above photo was taken with the XSR’s traction control set to #1, the least intrusive of the 1, 2, Off settings available. This means you can leave TC on and reap its safety benefits while not interfering much with your hooliganistic tendencies.

Improving the XSR’s handling are revised damping settings for the fork and shock, a longer shock spring, and the addition of longer, dual-rate fork springs. A much stiffer all-around motorcycle compared to the FZ’s sponge-cake settings, the XSR is better equipped for touching down all the wheelies you’ll be riding, as well as retaining better composure under hard braking and other aggressive riding maneuvers. Revised damping settings in the shock complement the XSR’s front end, making the XSR a sportier bike than its sportier-looking FZ counterpart.

2016 Yamaha Tracer 700 Announced For Europe; Expect to see it in the US as the FJ-07

According to Yamaha, “new ECU settings match the character of the bike.” Exactly what this means is a little vague, as no definitive explanation was given. What we can confirm is, like the FZ-09, the XSR offers three Ride Modes: A, Standard, and B, with very similar settings between the two platform mates, as in A being abrupt, Standard seemingly the best choice for pretty much all riding circumstances, and B just a letter in lieu for a Rain mode. Riding modes are chosen via a right-handlebar-mounted button, and can be switched while in motion.


The digital instrument cluster’s blocky, Atari Tetris look is actually very legible. The single gauge makes good use of a small space by providing tach and speed info as well as riding mode, TC setting, GPI, fuel gauge, clock, and idiot lights. Toggling through odometer, trip meter, and other information is also available. Note the right-of-center location of the fuel cap.

Like the FJ-09 – the sport-touring edition of the FZ-09 – the XSR comes equipped with ABS and traction control. And, like the FJ, ABS is non-switchable while TC can be adjusted between 1, 2, and Off when the bike is not in motion. Unlike both the FZ or FJ, the XSR comes equipped with the latest trend in clutch technology, an assist-and-slipper clutch. Besides reduced clutch pull, the technology provides smoother downshifts while reducing the effects of reverse-engine torque through the drivetrain (see Yamaha explanation video here).

The interesting thing is, Yamaha chose the Sport Heritage version of the three (FZ, FJ, XSR) as the model to carry all these modern rider aids. Whether these modern accouterments will be attractive to the millennial biker tired of riding a cafe-customized XS750 remains to be seen, but XSR should at least be able to pull some millennials into dealerships with its industrial, bare-bones styling.


Many, including me, will prefer the subdued looks of the Matte Gray/Aluminum paint scheme of the base model XSR. Riding Gear: RSD Zuma jacket, Bell Bullitt helmet, Speed & Strength Rust & Redemption gloves, Speed & Strength Black Nine shoes.

If Yamaha says the riding position is slightly more forward than the FZ-09, it can’t be by much and certainly not worth complaining about. The only problem I had with comfort is a seat that doesn’t provide much fore and aft movement, but worse are the tank cutouts that the inside of my knees were constantly resting against (I had the same problem with the tank cutouts on the Thruxton R). The adjustable front brake lever is a nice touch.

2016 Yamaha XSR900
+ Highs

  • TC/Assist & Slipper clutch/ABS
  • Improved suspension
  • Wheelies galore
– Sighs

  • Nervously light front end
  • Uncomfortable fuel tank cutouts
  • Fugly frame-mounted boxes

Besides a wallet-size compartment under the seat, the XSR lacks any storage, but also doesn’t provide any anchor points for easily attaching a bungee net. The XSR also carries over the same floppy blinker stalks found on the FZ and FJ models, but its use of aluminum instead of plastic in places like headlight and front fender brackets, rear fender, radiator shroud, fuel tank covers, and subframe is a nice styling exercise.


The frame-mounted box holds various electronic devices, the matching one on the left side holds only an air intake temperature sensor. It is assumed these exist in the same place on the FZ-09 but are hidden by that model’s faux air scoops. The decision to forego relocating these eyesores on the XSR was, most likely, an economical one.

The XSR900 is the newest member of Yamaha’s expanding Sport Heritage segment of motorcycles that includes the Bolt C-Spec, SR400, and VMAX (that’s quite a disparity of performance!). Of the four, the XSR represents the most versatile among them, and the best bang-for-your-buck motorcycle outside Yamaha’s own FZ-09 or FZ-07. One thing that’s for certain, the growing range of models developed around the wonderful 847cc Triple powering the FZ, FJ, and XSR is a welcome expansion, serving the performance and styling needs of a growing variety of riders.

The 2016 XSR900 is a part of Yamaha’s corporate demo fleet. If your local dealer doesn’t have an XSR demo model, check out Yamaha’s Events website for a chance to take one for a spin. And just try to keep the front wheel down – we challenge you!



2016 Yamaha XSR900 2016 Yamaha FZ-09
MSRP $9,490 – Matte Gray/Aluminum
$9,990 – 60th Anniversary Yellow
$8,190 (all colors)
Engine Capacity 847cc 847cc
Engine Type Liquid-cooled DOHC inline 3-cylinder 4- stroke; 12 valves Liquid-cooled DOHC inline 3-cylinder 4- stroke; 12 valves
Bore x Stroke 78.0mm x 59.1mm 78.0mm x 59.1mm
Compression 11.5:1 11.5:1
Fuel System Yamaha Fuel Injection with YCC-T Yamaha Fuel Injection with YCC-T
Transmission 6-speed 6-speed
Clutch Multiplate assist-and-slipper wet clutch Multiplate assist-and-slipper wet clutch
Final Drive Chain Chain
Front Suspension 41mm inverted fork, adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.4-in travel 41mm inverted fork, adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.4-in travel
Rear Suspension Single shock, adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.1-in travel Single shock, adjustable preload and rebound damping; 5.1-in travel
Front Brakes Dual 298mm discs Dual 298mm discs
Rear Brakes 245mm disc 245mm disc
ABS Dual electronic control ABS (front and rear controlled separately) N/A
Front Tire 120/70-17 Bridgestone Battlax S20R 120/70-17 Bridgestone/Dunlop
Rear Tire 180/55-17 Bridgestone Battlax S20R 180/55-17 Bridgestone/Dunlop
Seat Height 32.7 in 32.1 in
Wheelbase 56.7 in 56.7 in
Rake/Trail 25.0°/4.1 in 25.0°/4.1 in
Overall Length 81.7 in 81.7 in
Overall Width 32.1 in 32.1 in
Overall Height 44.9 in 44.7 in
Curb Weight (Claimed) 430 lbs 414 lbs
Fuel Capacity 3.7 gal 3.7 gal
Colors Matte Gray/Aluminum, 60th Anniversary Yellow Armor Gray, Raven, Impact Blue
Warranty One year One year


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  • john burns

    Say, are those Dr Scholl’s or Rockport Walkers?

  • Luke

    The person I bought my FZ-09 from spent a lot of $ to fix the fueling, front end, and rear end of the bike. I love it, but I’d trade in a second for this one. Just more my style in the looks department and ABS would be nice (to be fair, his “fixes” were way more than this new bike, but far above my ability to tell as I’m not a track rider).

  • Old MOron

    Nice wheelie pic! And good review. I really like that Yamaha are putting effort into their Sport Heritage line. And it’s about time they offer bikes with ABS. Sheesh!

  • SRMark

    Instruments need to be analog, at least on the yellow version. Not a bad effort thought. Still, the FZ09 is a better buy.

    • DickRuble

      If only they fixed the f*O()$g suspension.

  • Born to Ride

    I don’t know what it is about the aesthetics of this platform that bothers me. I have seen this one in person, and while it is certainly a marked improvement over the FZ-09, it pales heavily to something like the my S2R1000 or a BMW R9T. Hell, even the CB1100 that was sitting next to it on the showroom floor had it looking like a cheap imitation of classic style. Very annoying to me as that engine seems to be universally loved by the incessantly wheelieing owners I see on the roads. Does my inability to accept it based on its merits make me shallow? Damn.

    • Ian Parkes

      I think that’s the main difference between the air-cooled engines and the modern jobs is the water-cooling plumbing. When these engines were hidden behind fairings, it didn’t matter but, since Aprilia created one of the first nakeds with the V-twin Tuono, we’ve had to look at ugly engines. While a lot people hailed that bike as a breakthrough in modern design I think one motorcycle mag editor nailed it , describing it as about as attractive as the back of a washing machine. Only Triumph, so far, have done a good job of putting all that stuff out sight. Half a point each to Ducati and BMW. But I agree this bike is much better looking than the FZ-09 and probably one of the best to have its plumbing on the outside.

      • Born to Ride

        I agree with what you’re saying, but I do have to point out that the Tuono didn’t really invent the class. If we are strictly talking water cooled nakeds… the Speed Triple came out in 94, followed by the speed 4 in 2001, SV650 in 1998, the Cagiva raptor in 2000, the S4 monster in 2001, Brutale 750 in 2001, and Honda 919 in 2002. The V-Twin Tuono came out in 2002 as well, putting it near the back as far as manufacturers of prominant water cooled nakeds go.

        • Ian Parkes

          Good stuff! Yeah sorry, clearly I wasn’t paying attention in the ’90s. I can remember the Tuono being special for something- now I’ve got to check.

          • Born to Ride

            Sadly you have now reminded me how badly I want a Cagiva Raptor, or a similarly awesome Suzuki SV/TL 1000 powered roadster.

        • Larry Kahn

          Scott Flying Squirrel, 1926.

          Hey Tom.

          • Born to Ride

            You win.

          • Larry Kahn

            I’m old.

          • Larry is not that old… yet. Dufuckincati!

          • Goose

            Yes he is.

          • Larry Kahn

            sixtyfuckinone! Outta middle age into early old age. Shoot me when I can’t wheelie anymore. Promise?

          • Ian Parkes

            Doesn’t qualify. It’s far too pretty. So that’s Triumph and Scott that have done it well.

    • DickRuble

      Agreed, the design is mediocre at best. It looks like a bumble bee pregnant with quintuplets.

  • EofA

    I dig it. It still amazes me that bike manufacturers waste their time on awful looking exhausts and huge rakes hanging off the fenders. It’s a waste of material and R&D because those 2 things are always the first to go immediately upon purchase. I do like this bike though. A tip of the hat to the vintage.

    • denchung

      If they’re ugly, it’s not because manufacturers spent a lot of money to make exhausts look that way. Don’t forget that most of the R&D for exhausts is to meet emission and sound level regulations. Manufacturers don’t really have a choice in the matter, regardless of whether they get replaced by the owner.

      • EofA

        Agreed. But they should have a rebate offer to send them back. It is pretty wasteful.

        • denchung

          Then that’d just end up costing them more money, which they’ll have to recoup from consumers.

          • Born to Ride

            Not to mention illegal in places like California and Europe with our strict emissions police. Didnt Vance and Hines have to pay CARB north of a million dollars a few years back for not stamping “not for highway use” on their pipes?

    • Born to Ride

      Any time manufacturers try to stylize exhausts and tidy up the fenders on their bikes, people complain about how hideous they are. Kawasaki Z1000 comes to mind.

    • Bruce Steever

      How many different media outlets have to repeat this before you believe it?

      OEMs have to design parts to meet emissions and DOT regs. That’s why exhausts are huge. That’s why fenders and turn signals look goofy sometimes.

      Look at any concept bike, then look at the final production version. Do you think the “ugly parts” were put on by choice of the designers?!?!

  • Tim Quinn

    My wife and I have bought nine new Yamaha motorcycles in the last five years.
    Having said that, I sure hope the XSR900 looks better in person because….holy sh*t….it looks like a turd in these pictures.
    I’m sure it’s a blast to ride, but I just can’t get past the looks.

    • DickRuble

      They sure don’t last, those Yamaha motorcycles.. Who crashed most of them?

      • Tim Quinn

        No crashes…we see a bike on the showroom floor we like, we buy it.
        Well, we did until the $$$$$ for “toys” ran out. LOL!!!
        Did we lose some $$$$$? Yes.
        Did we have a hell-of-a-lot-of-fun? Hell Yes!!
        We plan on keeping our 2013 V Star 1300 Deluxe for at least three more years and we bought a new Harley Forty-Eight back in October that we plan on keeping for a long time.

      • Tim Quinn

        No crashes…just went a little crazy buying and selling motorcycles for a while. LOL!
        As I tell my wife, “But…but…John has almost $50K in his bass boat…now that’s wasting money, babe!!”

  • Craig Hoffman

    Update my FZ1 that does not look like a Transformer or a parts bin please. I like Yamahas and I like how my current bike looks. It is 10 years old now. Still going strong and set up to my liking, but it will not last forever. I guess I am one of the few, as the FZ1 was not a big seller. The new Suzuki GSX-F could do, it has a good motor that rips when modded, but somehow it looks like a squashed banana to me… Gimme another cleanly styled bikini fairing bike with a motor. Obviously I will buy it. Did just that before, original owner of old silver below 🙂

    • Travis

      Hey Craig, I’m with you, a 2008 FZ1, got it at a cracking price, still amazed at the low $$ and the great bike that it is. I want a second bike so I can take all the use of the FZ1 because it’s a keeper and I don’t want to give it up. With just a few setup changes, the FZ1 is one of the best bikes to have hit the market… That most didn’t get to enjoy either because the reviews didn’t do it justice or word of mouth.

      • Craig Hoffman

        Put an Ivan flashed ECU in it if you have not already. What a difference that made! It was the final piece of a puzzle Yamaha created with this bike.

        Evidently the FZ09, particularly the early models, benefit from ECU flashing as well. It is a whole new frontier of tuning these days!

  • Greybeard1

    No…right there, see?
    Right where it says “Seat height 32.7” “?
    Might as well say “Seat height fuck you!”.
    Make all the short jokes you want but I’ve got the disposable cash that none of these manufacturers are going to get.
    And to make the publishers happy, I don’t waste my money on print mags that only have 33″ high bikes to write about.
    GB out!

    • DickRuble

      Nooo… pleeeaase.. stick around… we need affluent midgets…We’ll go to ToysrUS and get you a tricycle or something..

      • Greybeard1

        Sit back, sonny, I’m headin’ for the Barbie section for some REAL action!
        In the mean time put your money where your yap is.

    • Prakasit

      I feel you Grey. Manufacturer would be wise to offer adjustable ergonomics. It will benefit both tall and short riders. Heck, we get it in cars, even bicycles.

    • Tim Quinn

      I’m kinda’ short myself, so I feel your pain.
      BMW wants your $$$$$ weather you’re short or tall….all they see is GREEN!
      Almost bought a new BMW with the low seat option earlier this year, but my wife talked me out of it.
      If BMW can make a bike comfortably fit a 6’2″ rider that with a little adjustment will comfortably fit a 5’6″ rider why can’t other manufactures do the same?
      In My brother’s S-Class Benz, the drivers seat can adjusted to comfortably fit a jockey or an NBA player.
      Another example of “If you got $$$$$…we’ll make it fit your short or tall ass!!”

    • Dimitry Kaplun

      Reason I bought a scrambler instead, and LOVING it. With a 29 inch inseam I can flatfoot it. And it’s light, almost like a BMX, and wicked fun. Check them out if you haven’t yet.

  • Jake

    “Whether these modern accouterments will be attractive to the millennial biker tired of riding a cafe-customized XS750 remains to be seen, but XSR should at least be able to pull some millennials into dealerships with its industrial, bare-bones styling.” Guilty! Former customized ’77 XS750 2D owner, Current XSR900 owner, age 30.

  • Ryan

    Why doesn’t Yamaha give us an “R” version of this engine/frame combo that can go toe to toe with the Street Triple R on handling and braking (and blow it away in a straight line)? An FZ09R would be sick.