In the ever-escalating arms race that is manufacturers' attempts to deliver the coolest retro-inspired motorcycle, Yamaha added to its arsenal this week with the new XSR900.
The XSR900 follows on the heels of the XSR700, which was announced earlier this year. Both are retro-styled versions of the incredible popular FZ series of bikes (or MT series in Not America). The XSR700 carries the engine and chassis of the FZ-07; the new XSR900 gets its muscle and bone from the FZ-09.
The FZ-09 was one of the world's best-selling motorcycles in 2015, so it makes sense that Yamaha would be eager to expand on the bike's success. This was done last year in the form of the FJ-09 (aka MT-09 Tracer), now it seems Yamaha wants to use the platform to pursue the retro-cool market.
According to Yamaha, the XSR900 draws its inspiration from a custom FZ-09 designed by motorcycling wünderkind Roland Sands. That bike, the "Faster Wasp," had been inspired by the TZ750 ridden by flattrack legend Kenny Roberts in the 1970s.
Unlike Roberts' old two-stroke, however, the XSR900 is powered by the same 850cc inline triple found in the FZ/FJ/MT-09. It carries most of the same features, too, including ABS, traction control, assist and slipper clutch, and the unholy joy of roughly 115 hp in a relatively light package (434 lbs. in the case of the XSR900).
Like with the FZ-09, the XSR900's traction control has three modes. Riders can opt for minimal or maximal intervention, or switch the system off completely. Unlike the FZ-09, the XSR900's riding position will be a little more relaxed.
Yamaha is eager to see its Sport Heritage bikes (which, outside the United States, include the Star Bolt and the XJR1300) develop into a kind of sub-brand, a la Ducati's Scrambler series. So, they plan on offering a raft of accessories for both bike and rider.
According to Yamaha: "Several globally famous professional custom builders... will be producing 'Yard Built' custom bolt-on parts for the XSR900."
The XSR900 will be available in Europe in February. It's uncertain, however, whether it or the XSR700 will make it Stateside. Write to your Congressman.