17 November 2023

Yamaha’s XSR900 gets GP treatment

Yamaha XSR900 GP

Yamaha’s forthcoming XSR900 GP is so much more than a café racer.

Sophistication reigns in the engine and the 900 benefits, as do so many other of the Japanese manufacturer’s machines, from track technology trickling down to a phenomenal street bike.

Paul Browne reports.



Back in the early nineties, the pit lane at a Moto GP race was made up of a bevvy of 500cc two-stroke machines.

Mick Doohan, a young Valentino Rossi and Max Biaggi took their lead from Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz  in the class.

They did so on machinery which was devoid of traction control, sophisticated data management, cameras, lean angle measurement or anything like it. Airbag suits were unheard of, the kit was basic and the racing was fierce!

Both on and off the circuit these guys were legends.

Of course, now MotoGP has developed to such a high standard that rider safety is brilliant.

Production of phenomenal speeds and record-setting performance every time they go out is now to be expected.

Trickle-down bike-onomics

Yamaha XSR900 GPThe technology trickles to other classes and to the bikes we ride on the road.

Machines such as Yamaha’s MT-09 are just one of those street bikes. Since its launch, it’s spawned a whole range of machines that use the same design.

The rather epic MT-10, the MT-07, the MT-125 and the MT-300 are only half the story.

Other classes of bikes that use the same triple engine and the same chassis include the Tracer and the XSR.

All the 900s are propelled by the same cross-plane 890cc motor.

Another feature that the new XSR900 GP enjoys is the suite of Yamaha electrics.

As with most of the range, the fuelling maps can be tailored to the rider’s style as well as to the riding conditions. Rain, Street and Sport are standard. Wheelie control also makes an appearance.

Still, the best feature in recent years has to be the Yamaha Ride Control 6-axis IMU. This offers the rider all sorts of ‘wonderful’, including slide control and lean angle-aware traction control.

There’s even a quick shifter and an A&S clutch!

Well framed

Elsewhere, the learnings from MotoGP are evident.

The Deltabox frame was introduced way back in the eighties on their GP bikes. It’s a testament to the innovation that the Deltabox was, that the new XSR900 GP still uses an evolved version of the same design.

Adding a set of fully adjustable KYB suspension on both the front and rear makes it work perfectly.

Art of the motorcycle

The original XSR is a classically designed machine. But now we’ve been treated to something very special indeed.

Yamaha has taken the XSR and made a model which nods its head to those epic two-stroke machines. The bike’s styling is all about the winning YZF500 from back in the day. The technology is used to apply what the manufacturer has developed in the thirty years since the two-stroke 500s last ran.

One of the other things that made a big difference to a 500s corner speed and handling were the wheels on which it sat.

Yamaha XSR900 GPPart of making the bike handle so well is the fact that Yamaha uses Spinforged wheels, which can also trace their lineage back to the racing class.

Sitting a pair of Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S23 tyres on them marks the new XSR as more than a café racer in cool clothing.

As a piece of motorcycling art, it’s exceptional.

That eighties styling is beautiful. The side panels, the seat cover on the tail unit as well as details such as the shape of the nose cone are all very classy indeed. They even use quick-release ‘D’ ring fasteners.

The XSR GP will be available in the new year from Yamaha dealers. You’d have to wonder, with all this tech, would it be faster than the YZF in the right hands…

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