The Yamaha Demo Truck came to town! Conveniently enough they came to the bike shop thats just 2 miles from my office so what better way to spend a long Friday lunch than to test ride a new bike?
They had a pretty solid spread of the current Yamaha lineup inluding the Bolt C-Spec, Bolt R-Spec, FJR, FZ-07, FZ-09, FJ09, R6, R3, Raider, Stryker, VStar 1300 Deluxe, VStar 950 Tourer & XSR900.
My riding buddy has been shopping for an older ZX-6R for a track bike so she wanted to take the R6. The yamaha heritage graphics or whatever they call it looks stellar though.
But as previously mentioned my steed of choice was the XSR900. I’ve been itching for a chance to check one of these out ever since I first heard about them. I never was a fan of the FZ-09's looks since I’m a bit too much of a hipster to forego a classic looking round headlight.
We got to go on a quick 20 minute ride around the neighborhood to get a feel for the bikes. Unfortunately the guides are pretty strict and don’t allow any shennanigans but I can’t really blame them. I just wish we got to explore a bit more of the bikes’ capabilities.
So this will be a quick first impresssion type of ride review. My current bike is a 2007 Suzuki SV650. I consider these to be quite similar bikes but there are some major differences between the two.
I think the bike overall looks really great, but there are a few things that kind of bother me. The color scheme looks good and all the little details like the lights, guages, the plate right under the seat, etc. all look the part. However, the who “belly” of the bike just looks really busy. They make it look good enough by blacking it all out, but there’s just a lot going on that just doesn’t quite look right to me.
I didn’t get to push it hard so this will be more about its general manners and rideability when cruising or maneuvering a slow speeds. In this regard the bike is great. The upright seating position, wide bars, and low center of gravity means the bike is super easy to manuever right from the get-go. It’s curb weight is fairly similar to my SV650 but it definitely carries it much lower. When I got back on the SV it felt much more top heavy.
The seat was shaped nicely and cupped my fairly standard-size ass well, but it was very firm. I was plenty comfortable, but larger folk might not like it as much.
The seating position is very upright with a surprising amount of leg room. I was rather surprised at how much more aggressive/sporty the riding position of my SV was in comparison. So I found myself wanting to be in more aggressive position to better suit the nature of the bike.
I’m only 5'8" with a 29" inseem but I think a taller rider would still be comfy.
This motor is a peach. It was begging me to crank it up, it was terribly frustrating because I wanted to see what it could really do. After a mile or so I switched the engine to “A” mode which is the most aggressive setting and even then the on-off throttle response was smooth but sharp. The SV’s throttle is way snatchier.
The clutch lever pull was nice and light and shifts were wonderful snick-snick affairs. No false neutrals or any complaints.
Overall and What I’d Change
I really like the XSR900, but I didn’t quite fall in love with it, at least not yet. It definitely has my attention, but I really need to wring it out to see how it feels when you really let it cut loose.
The one thing I’d change is the handlebars. A little more forward lean would better suit the nature of the bike.
I still love my SV650 and I don’t exactly have the cash to drop on a brand new bike, but if I did the XSR900 would be on the list.