2022 Yamaha XSR900 – Neo Retro

2022 Yamaha XSR900 is the sweet spot in Yamaha’s model lineup.

Let’s get one thing straight. Retro bikes are not for everyone. However, it still does not change the fact that XSR has always been aesthetically pleasing to look at. It always finds a great balance of retro looks without going too far, and modern touch.

Yamaha updated the XSR this year, and as expected, it is sharing the platform with the famous MT-09. Although it may look like a mild update from a distance, it is different than the previous gen. Our MT-09 review from the last year proved that the new platform is improved pretty much in every way.

Like the previous generation, it is still a great-looking motorcycle pretty much from all angles. You get the round-shaped headlight that is probably the biggest indicator that this is a retro-looking bike, and it is fully LED lighting, which offers excellent performance when it gets dark.

Not all changes are positive with the new XSR.

Unlike the previous generation, it feels less special because it shares more parts with the MT-09, starting with the most obvious one, the TFT dash. The previous generation came with a round-shaped dash that was specific to the XSR, but not anymore with the new gen.

Another significant change that makes the XSR look less special is the new taillight design. It no longer comes with a round-shaped taillight. To make things worse, it’s not easy to see what type of shape the new taillight has, as it just looks like it is hidden under the seat.

Although I love the new exhaust sound, the muffler is one of the ugliest designs for a bike supposed to be good-looking. When you look at the MT-09, the same muffler design goes along well with its modern and ugly look of it, but it’s a different story here. It just looks like a giant metal box under the bike. It should have been a different design for the XSR.

I will stop nitpicking here and will go through the positive changes. Bar-end mirrors are an excellent choice and it is not just because of aesthetics. It gives you an excellent view that you don’t have to move your elbows like a chicken wing every time you need to look back with the traditional mirrors.

I’m surprised to see Yamaha decided to use one piece folding design for the rear foot pegs, which are painted in matte black. This gives the bike a cleaner look when you don’t use the rear foot pegs, and this is probably my favorite design feature that’s unique to the new XSR.

2022 Yamaha XSR900 has quite relaxed ergonomics as you sit upright. The seat is different, it is no longer a flat one-piece design. Now it comes with a bump that keeps the rider in place, so you don’t have to squeeze the tank as tight, which means it will be much more comfortable.

2022 Yamaha XSR900 comes with an 889cc triple CP3 engine which pumps out around 117 horsepower and 68.6 ft-lb of torque at 7000 rpm. Aside from the spec sheet, the triple engine is an absolute gem in the motorcycling world with its unique sound, torque curve, and overall performance.

As it shares pretty much everything about the drivetrain with the latest MT-09, the engine is updated from the old 845cc, which was already a great engine but Yamaha had to tweak it a little bit to comply with EU5 emissions. The new engine feels punchier in the mid-range, which makes it an even more wheelie-happy hooligan machine with retro looks.

Don’t let the spec sheet fool you. 117 horsepower may not sound a lot, but the bike weighs less than any other 900cc. In a straight line, it can keep up with sport bikes with much higher displacement and horsepower figures. Just the new lightweight aluminum frame itself offers 2 kg of weight savings and is also stiffer than the previous generation.


So the new XSR is faster than the old gen, Yamaha decided to update the brakes as well. There is a small but important change in the braking department. Though it still does not come with any fancy calipers, Yamaha changed the brake master cylinder with Brembo and it made a positive change in terms of the initial bite and overall braking feeling.

Suspension tune and overall ride quality were the weakest links with the previous gen MT-09 and XSR900, and happy to report that it is no longer the case. The suspension tune is spot on for this type of bike, not too firm or not too soft. KYB front forks are inverted and fully adjustable, which makes quite a bit of a difference.

Though you don’t get a fancy rear shock with the XSR even though the coil-over spring is painted in yellow. If you want fully adjustable top-notch Ohlins shock, you should go with the MT-09 SP. XSR900’s rear shock only offers preload adjustment.

On paper, the 2022 Yamaha XSR900 is placed in between MT-09 SP and regular MT-09 in terms of features, performance, and even the price tag. As mentioned above, it has basic suspension parts with limited adjustability options like the base MT-09, but it comes with some tech features available with the MT-09 SP, such as cruise control.

There are also important safety and riding aids improvements compared to the previous generation, including the Six-Axis IMU and all safety features that come with it, as well as different throttle maps. There are four different throttle map options and all of them feel much more fine-tuned than the previous version.

2022 Yamaha XSR900 comes with a new Quickshifter, it shifts so much smoother than the old version. The old version felt like you are shredding the gears if you use it at partial throttle and lower RPMs. That’s no longer the case with the new Quickshifter, and you can upshift and downshift smoothly, at any rpm.

The best part about the riding experience is, that everything works together quite well and smoothly. It has good ergonomics even for large adults. Buttery smooth triple engine sounds great and pulls like a freight train. Having a short wheelbase makes the bike dangerously fun on a straight line.

Typical Yamaha fashion, it offers a memorable riding experience. Without having too much power, you can have a lot of fun. More importantly, the bike also wants to have fun when you push it to its limits. On the other hand, it is quite easy to live with as a daily rider. It’s good on gas, easy to throw around, and almost as nimble as a 650cc naked bike.

The most significant improvement compared to the previous platform is the handling characteristics. It finally wants to lean, and the handlebar gives you accurate feedback and gives a lot of confidence while you are leaning. The bike feels quite competent even though it technically comes with the basic suspension setup and limited adjustment options.

Yamaha did a great job with the new platform which is shared by both MT-09 and XSR900, except for the design language. I still think the new XSR looks gorgeous, I just wish Yamaha kept the small details that made the original XSR unique. It’s no longer the case. Small details are as important as the rest of the bike, for a bike that’s meant to look cool and unique.

Overall, the 2022 Yamaha XSR900 is the sweet spot as it has the same performance as the MT-09 without MT-09’s controversial looks, with better daily riding features and a reasonable price tag. It is priced at $12,299 CAD with two color options and if you like the Neo-retro looks, the new XSR is a terrific choice.

For more details – please visit www.yamaha-motor.ca