Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Retro has never been this cool - Yamaha XSR700 Review

Today I was lucky enough to take out Yamaha's new XSR 700 on a 230 mile round trip to Newbury and back, riding through the Cotswolds and the North Wessex downs with a good mixture of town, motorway and B road riding.
Retro is cool!
Cosmetically, the bike is top notch - no paintwork's better than Kenny Robert's yellow and black 'speedblock' scheme and especially when it's complemented by the funky exhaust and a beautiful XSR logo stitched into the back of the seat. Another great thing about this bike is the amount of customisable options that you have, this bike is the perfect blank canvas for you to customise and make it your own. Yamaha provide a high level Akrapovic exhaust system which looks fantastic, as well as this there are canvas saddle bags, short fly screens and replacement solo seats - these are to name but a few of the long list of accessories available.
Small details like this just add to the oomph
The clocks are minimalist in terms of physical size but they hold quite a lot of information. There is a gear indicator, digital rev counter and temperature readings for both the bike and the slightly chilly March weather that we've been having. This bike also comes equipped with ABS (which I never had to test out luckily) and shares the same frame and engine as the popular MT-07, which could well be the secret to this bike's brilliance.

As a strong admirer of twins, I naturally loved the engine. It's silky smooth, revving freely through the gears and that gets me onto another thing - this thing is so easy to ride. It almost reminds me of riding a Suzuki Van Van for that huge turning circle and steady motor. It'd make a great bike for A2 license holders as this bike is easily restricted and will be perfect with new riders that want a bit of 70s style thrown in to their ride.
The bike complements the MT07 engine well
The seating position is comfy and well designed to a relaxed, upright riding position. Due to the style of this bike you really do sit 'on it' rather than 'in it' - there's no big tank to wrap your legs around and there's no clocks visible in the corner of your eye. You're upright, tall and have a fantastic field of vision, being able to see above most cars. However, I do think that this seating position may affect shorter riders which may be something to consider before you fall in love with one but the seat is low enough for the average rider I'd say.

The bike handles superbly around those tight, twisty bends and bombing around little round-a-bouts in town. The front end can feel a little floaty at speed and your neck muscles will be screaming at you to slow down but what else would you expect from a bike like this? And that's the biggest thing with the XSR... It isn't pretending to be anything it's not, it's a proper old school motorbike. Just an engine, wheels and handlebars - a proper 'man and machine' job.
Old and new... and yet both brand new?
Unfortunately I have a couple of niggly issues with it but nothing that takes anything away from the bike. First of all the mirrors seem very far apart and close to you, so I found myself throwing my head around a lot more to have a quick peek in my mirror. The gearbox is pretty clunky at times too but in a way I think it adds to the character and 'old school' charm of the bike. However the biggest issue that I found, (which drove me nuts at first until I got used to it) is that the indicator switch is practically microscopic and is so far down I kept thinking I was going to toot the horn. However, I soon adapted to it and can safely say I thoroughly enjoyed the 230 mile trip (except for a few neck workouts on the motorway sections...).

To conclude, I think this is great bike for new riders and older ones maybe wanting to feel like they're a teenager again. I think with great handling, cool 'retro' looks and a motor with more than enough power for a bike like this, Yamaha have certainly created a glorious, solid motorbike. Pricing is just over six grand... so at around a thousand cheaper than a Ducati Scrambler... I know this would be the one I'd empty my wallet for.
I'm just thankful it doesn't have retro brakes...

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