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Cool As Ice

Yamahas XSR gets the MotoGP treatment

Back in the early nineties the pit lane at a Moto GP race was made up with a bevy of 500cc two stroke machines. Mick Doohan, a young Valentino Rossi, Max Biaggi, Wayne Rainey and Kevin Schwantz were all riding in the class. They were doing so on machinery which was devoid of traction control, sophisticated data management, cameras, lean angle measurement or anything like it. Air bag suits were unheard of, kit was basic and the racing was fierce!

Both on and off the circuit these guys were legends.

Sophistication reigns in the engine

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. The technology trickles to other classes and to the bikes we ride on the street.

Machines such as Yamahas MT 09 is just one of those street bikes. Since its launch it’s spawned a whole range of machines that use the same design. The MT 07, the rather epic MT 10, the MT 300, the MT 125 are only half the story. Other classes of bike 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.

The technology trickles to the bikes we ride on the street

Another feature that the new XSR GP enjoys is the suite of Yamaha electrics. As with most of the range the fuelling maps can be tailored to the riders 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!

Yamahas XSR GP also benefits from the learnings in MotoGP. 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 XSR 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.

The XSR is the classically designed machine. But now we’ve been treated to something very special indeed. Yamaha have taken the XSR and made a model which nods its head to those epic two stroke machines. The XSR 900 GP. The bikes styling is all about the winning YZF500 from back in the day. The bikes technology is all about applying what the manufacturers have developed in the thirty years since the two stroke 500s last ran.

XSR 900 GP

More than a café racer

Standard equipment on the new machine is a full colour TFT display with smartphone connectivity. There are multiple choices of displays. These include one made to look like an analogue-style tachometer!

One of the other things that made a big difference to a 500s corner speed and handling was the wheels it sat on. Part of making the bike handle so well is the fact that Yamaha use 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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