2023 Yamaha XSR900

Yamaha’s XSR 900


The other day when we were at the World Of Yamaha showroom out Sandton side, we glanced at what we thought was a used XSR900 on the floor. We were mistaken – it turns out that it was, in fact, a brand new model for 2023 – and the guys were busy running it in…

Pics: Black Rock CST

Words: The Team

Of course, we offered to assist with the running in process, after all, nobody does mileage like we do. Sadly, they told us to bugger off and that they would call us when the correct amount of kilometres were on the display and so, we sulked off.

Just a week later, the phone rang and we were asked if we’d like a spin, just in time for the guys annual Nampo pilgrimage. 

We spent day one at the once famous Midvaal Raceway. It’s a cool spot to do photo’s, but the track is looking quite sad – and at R500 per person for the privilege, it’s an expensive outing.

Day two on the bike was the trip from Gee Pee, out to Bothaville in the Vrystaat for the Nampo show and back again – so we really got to know this bike quite well.

Then we had to get the bike back to Yamaha in time for their weekend demo day – and we were actually quite sad to see it go.

Here’s why:

Great looks.

Great suspension.

A fiiine 900 triple engine with a sweet gearbox and quickshifter.

As nakeds go, Comfortable for that longer trip.



That’s it! End of story.


Ok not quite. There’s lots to tell. Yamaha has put together a great package that includes a lot of technology.

The TFT screen is small but it tells all.
Racey suspension front and rear.
The bar end mirrors look great and are perfectly functional.

It’s one of the most interesting looking bikes around and the retro looks do appeal to our lot in a “less is more” kind of way.

Initially this model was brought in, in quite limited numbers. It is one of those bikes with looks that you either really like, or you don’t. 

But every person that saw this one through the few days we had it, likes it. A lot.

And on our Nampo visit, we were plied with questions like:

How much does it cost?


How fast can it go?

It easily pulls to speeds in excess of 200 KPH.

How did you handle the long ride? Is it comfortable?

Yes, it is, it basically has a perfect rider triangle, but you can’t really do sustained speeds for great distances. It’s a naked after all, and that little screen is purely for looks.

Oom… Can it wheelie?

It can sometimes.

Can I pop my lady on the back?

For short distances, yes.

Is it heavy on fuel?

Not too bad, we used 12 litres on the 280KM ride to Bothaville.

And that was kind of a summary of what we were asked, but there is more to tell like the tonne of tech that goes into a very unassuming looking bike.

This retro roadster boasts a tubular-steel subframe, and a longer swingarm.

Yamaha repurposed the die-castYamaha updated the KYB suspension, which pairs a fully adjustable 41mm inverted fork with a preload- and rebound-adjustable rear shock.Yamaha increased the fork’s spring rate by 7%, boosted compression damping by 31%, and reduced rebound damping by 27%. The rear shock got a stiffer spring and, they say, 35% more compression damping, and 11% less rebound damping.

The nett result is a fairly stiff setup that makes you want to ride, well… faster.

On the electronics front, it seems that Yamaha pinched from the R1. the 900 has Lean-sensitive traction control, slide control, wheelie control, and cornering ABS. Its 6-axis IMU-based system automatically syncs slide and lift control to the selected traction-control setting, in modes 1 and 2, but users can customize with the Manual Mode or turn off the rider aids completely.

The latest engine displaces 890cc, and Yamaha claims that the bike’s redesigned intake system, cylinder head, camshafts, and exhaust give it 6% more torque (68.6 lb-ft at 7,000 rpm) and 11% better mileage than the previous engine, while keeping it all Euro compliant.

The torquey Triple spreads great power across the rev range, with great grunt down low – and from the six thou mark, she literally takes off. Honestly, it’s such a lekker motor that just wants to play.

The motor is coupled to a six-speed gearbox with a quickshifter that delivers clutchless upshifts and downward stomps very smoothly. 

Yamaha gives you four rider modes, designated by number err… (1, 2, 3, and 4).

Modes 1 through 3 provide full power but with progressively softer throttle response. Mode 4 reduces power and provides the gentlest throttle response for low-traction or wet conditions. We rode in mode 1 for most of the d aluminum frame underlying the MT-09 and coupled it to the extended swingarm found on the Tracer 9 GT Sports Tourer.

The bike is fitted with a Brembo radial master cylinder which gives the XSR great feel at the front brake lever. Dual 4-piston front calipers with 298mm discs and a 1-piston rear caliper with a 245mm disc provide great stopping power. All of this is complemented by Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tyres.

You adjust modes on the handlebar switches, but the scroll wheel on the right bar is quite pernickity to use while wearing gloves.

In terms of rider comfort, you can adjust the bars and footpegs to your liking. We left it as it came from WOY – it needed no setup. But you can rotate the handlebar clamps 180 degrees  to move the handlebar forward and up. The footpegs can also be repositioned higher and a bit further back.

Feeding you info is a 3.5-inch color TFT screen with a tachometer at the top of the layout with the speed and gear indicator in quite large font. Although it’s smaller than most modern bikes, It’s all clear and well laid out. You can quickly gather critical data at a glance. Did we mention cruise control? Nope? Well presto – it’s standard fare and we used it a lot on our journey.

A flooded road makes for a great pic with the Yamaha front and centre.

This bike is a lot of fun as is evident from our riders for the day:

Garth Taylor: This bike is one of the most exciting pocket rockets I’ve ever ridden.

Stefan van der Riet: What a cool bike, from the looks to the performance. It’s got the soul of a retro racer but the heart of the fantastic MT-09 just with a more refined ride in my opinion. 

Kyle Lawrenson: This is absolutely one of my current favourite nakeds. So much personality. It really is a brilliant package. Something quite special. Yamaha builds such a great triple engine…

Sean Hendley: I’m significantly larger than the other riders but I still had a blast on this head turner. Its just so much fun everywhere!

Some Features:

Yamaha CP3 engine

Six-Axis IMU with multiple rider-aids

Bi-directional quickshifter

Some Specs

Engine: 889cc, liquid-cooled, inline-triple

Power: 117 hp

Torque: 68.5 lb-ft

Weight: 192.7 kg

Seat Height: 810 mm

Chat to your Yamaha dealer.

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