Yamaha’s XSR900 has been in line for an update ever since the launch of the all-new MT-09 a year ago. Now the firm has taken the wraps off the new model and it’s a huge step forward from the old one both in terms of technology and appearance.
The XSR900′s formula has always been to take the structure of the MT-09, including its CP3 triple engine and aluminum frame, and wrap it in bodywork that’s vaguely retro without being a tribute to a specific model. For 2022 that recipe isn’t changed but the ingredients have all been renewed.
Related: 2021 Yamaha MT-09 First Ride
The engine is now the latest, 889cc version of the CP3 instead of the previous 846cc unit, and with the extra capacity comes another 4 hp, taking it to 117.3 bhp at 10,000 rpm. Torque is up too, from 64.2 pound-feet to 68.6 pound-feet, peaking at 7,000 rpm instead of the previous 8,500 rpm.
As well as the new engine, the latest XSR900 gets the cast alloy Deltabox frame from the MT-09, with varying wall thickness to help get the best mix of weight, flex, and rigidity, as well as the same spin-forged wheels that first arrived on the MT-09, reducing both rotating and unsprung mass for a boost in performance and handling.
However, the chassis isn’t a direct carryover. For the XSR900 Yamaha has added a much longer swingarm to the mix, increasing the wheelbase from 56.7 inches to 58.9 inches, while the overall length is up from 81.7 inches to 84.4 inches. Above the new swingarm sits a subframe that’s designed specifically for the XSR900, carrying a cafe-racer-style seat with an exaggerated hump behind the rider’s perch, along with extended, foldaway passenger footpegs for anyone brave enough to clamber onto the pillion pad.
While the longer wheelbase might not suggest sharper handling, Yamaha expects the new XSR900 to be quicker turning than its predecessor thanks to the lightweight wheels and a head pipe that’s mounted more than an inch lower than the old bike’s, dropping the top yoke and bars in the process and reducing steering inertia by 14 percent. The bike is 4.4 pounds lighter than its predecessor too, with a curb mass of 426 pounds.
When it comes to styling, Yamaha has taken the switch to a Deltabox frame as a cue to bring the bike’s appearance forward by a decade. Where the previous XSR900 was arguably loosely inspired by 1970s designs, the 2022 model is intended to be a 1980s throwback.
It’s not a slavish replica of any particular model, but the tank shape is reminiscent of older Yamahas while hiding the same acoustically tuned airbox as used on the MT-09. Underneath, the exhaust is unaltered too, and while the belly-mounted pipe is unlike anything from the 1980s, at least it means there’s no bulky side-mounted muffler to mar the bike’s appearance.
Overall, the bike’s profile is a big step forward from the previous XSR900. The old model’s headlight always looked a little too high, but the lower-slung chassis of the new one solves that problem. Visually, the rider’s seat is mounted much further back too—a change that gives a more genuine representation of older bikes and also probably accounts for the need for a longer swingarm to make sure the center of gravity isn’t biased too far rearward.
Swingarm aside, the suspension and brakes come straight from the MT-09, with a KYB fork and matching shock, allied to radial calipers operated via a Brembo radial master cylinder. The technology, too, is like the MT-09′s, with a high overall specification including a six-axis IMU that allows the use of cornering traction control, cornering ABS, and Yamaha’s slide control system, with a variety of user-selectable settings. The power delivery can also be tailored, with four modes to choose from, and there’s a bidirectional quickshifter as standard along with an assist-and-slipper clutch. Cruise control and anti-wheelie are both standard, along with a small, 3.5-inch color TFT display. In Europe, the bike is set to reach dealers in February next year, along with a range of accessories including an optional fly screen and Akrapovič exhaust.