2016 Yamaha XSR900

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Yamaha has tackled the “café racer” concept by restyling the fantastic FZ-09 platform. Sharing the Fizz 9’s chassis and awesome three-cylinder, the XSR900 drapes new styling on the controlled-filled alloy frame. With a hand finished aluminum tank cover setting off the retro theme, the XSR looks like it could chase coffee with an RnineT or new Triumph Bonneville. Although both should be wary of the Yamaha’s strident little triple. Changes from FZ-09 spec are minimal. The seat, a retro design, has been moved back 50mm to create a more “authentic” ‘80s feel; it’s also a little taller, at 32.7 inches. The fat handlebar is a little wider than the FZ’s piece, and now the bike comes with standard ABS and traction control. TC can be switched to one of two operating modes or off, while ABS is on all the time. A new slip/assist clutch arrives with the XSR as well. Stylistically, there’s a lot different here. Circular is the new square, with a round headlight hanging from real alloy mounts with “lightening” holes. A bracket under the seat repeats the theme, holding on until you get to the Bolt-esque LED tail light. The all-LCD instruments are also in a round binnacle. From every angle, this new Yamaha is tidy. In the flesh, the XSR is handsome and compact, appearing to be a nice combination of modern and retro. It feels small beneath you and should be a totally entertaining ride. Despite the extra heft, it’s 430 pounds wet, the XSR feels tiny. Even though the seat is moved back, it’s still a comfortable riding position. Yamaha will sell the simple brushed-aluminum-tank version alongside a special 60th Anniversary special in the familiar bumblebee scheme. The regular XSR will be available in April, with the yellow demon following in May. No word on prices, but you can bet it’ll be more expensive than the $8,190 FZ-09.