Review of the 2016 Yamaha XSR900 Motorcycle

2016 Yamaha XSR900

Yamaha naked bikes have been on a roll lately: the 2011 FZ8 defied (then) conventional wisdom with its middleweight pluckiness and stripped-down styling until the three-cylinder 2014 FZ-09 came in hot with a bigger engine and a cheaper price tag. The FZ-09 became Yamaha's biggest seller until the smaller, nimbler, and even more, affordable two-cylinder FZ-07 stole the show. 

Enter 2016, and there's a new (naked) kid on the market: the Yamaha XSR900. Powered by an 847cc triple derived from the FZ-09's engine, the XSR 900 packs a narrow aluminum frame, adjustable throttle modes, and adjustable traction control. A few retro-style details class up the XSR's presence, thanks to the use of real aluminum bits finished with snazzy lightening holes. Even the tank is finished with brushed, clear coated aluminum — a nice touch in this plastic age. Though the use of real metal adds a touch of weight to the bike (bringing in the total mass to 430 pounds, versus the FZ-09's 414 pounds), we'd say the tradeoff is worth it. 

On the Road

The view aboard the XSR900 reveals a high contrast digital gauge that easily overcomes the glare of sunlight. Accelerate off the line, and you'll immediately feel lightness at the front end which, almost invariably, culminates in a wheelie. The acceleration is crisp and thrilling, and the lightness of the front end puts a punctuation mark on the bike's nimbleness and eager personality.

Handle a corner, and the XSR feels noticeably more responsive than the FZ-09; such are the benefits of the new bike's stiffer suspension, which came in response to the feedback that the outgoing model was too squishy. Also improved is the engine fueling, which feels smoother and easier to control. 

Don't expect a ton of long-distance comfort aboard the XSR900 (or any naked bike, for that matter), as its lack of wind protection can be fatiguing over the long haul. But around town, this minimalist retro-futuristic ride is entertaining enough to make up for its less-than-practical sides.


  • Engine: 847cc inline 3-cylinder
  • Fuel economy: 44 mpg (est)
  • Transmission: 6-speed manual with slipper clutch
  • Curb weight: 430 lbs
  • Front suspension: 41mm inverted fork, adjustable preload, and rebound damping; 5.4-in travel
  • Rear suspension: Single shock, adjustable preload, and rebound damping; 5.1-in travel

Bottom Line

Riders looking for a sedate naked bike experience would be better served elsewhere (the retro-styled Triumph Bonneville comes to mind). But for those seeking an animated, lively, and somewhat challenging ride (with seemingly endless wheelies to spare), the 2016 Yamaha XSR900 delivers miles of smiles to spare.