It really is no secret that I felt like Youngy was punishing me (what for I don’t know), when he allocated rides for last issues LAMs Adventure test, but it does seem that I am back in favour with our most revered Deputy & Road Test Editor because when we suited up for this Urban LAMs test I was pleasantly surprised to find my name tag swinging off the all new Yamaha XSR700 and had we been given free choice this would have been my pick of the bunch so our relationship will now be a little less frosty moving forward.
This thing looks the goods for mine, a tasteful blend of Retro styling with all the mod-cons of todays technology along with a nice seat height (815mm) and weighing in at a not too heavy 186kg the XSR700 is very user friendly with nice wide bars and an upright riding position and not the worst seat I have ever sat on. I was looking forward to giving this little beauty a run because I am a big fan of the Yamaha MT-07 which we had as a long-termer at Gassit HQ and the XSR700 shares the same donk so I knew that it would be fun before I even turned the key. The 655cc inline twin engine is unique to Australia with a tune specially maximised for our LAMs market. The 270-degree crank gives a feeling of strong acceleration when you open the throttle from zero and it keeps giving right to the top of its range, it is hard to believe that this is a “restricted” motorcycle. The digital dash with kph, revs, gear indicator, clock and fuel gauge is stylishly minimal but also easy to read. The clutch is firm but easy and works well in conjunction with it’s silky smooth gearbox, and the standard exhaust has quite a pleasant throaty burble about it, everything on this bike looks and feels like quality which put up against other bikes in the ballpark of its $10,999 price tag, I think is fairly reasonable value for money. I felt that the XSR was a firmer ride than the MT07 it especially feels a little stiffer in the rear and a little more planted but still light and agile. Once you are up and running at a rate of knots it is also comforting to know that you are able to safely wash that speed off when required and the twin 282mm wave discs up front and rear 245mm stoppers do a good job of it, although our model was brand spanking and could have benefited from a bit of a tweak of the rear brake but I suggest that will probably be just a bedding in issue. ABS is standard and is a bonus too if a situation arises that may call for it’s assistance.
We had a very cool early morning start at the Queen Victoria Market to get in a few neat snaps for a nice opener to this spread so as the sun came up, and the double shot latte’s went down, fortunately for us the previous night’s rain had all but dried up and it was time to get out amongst Melbourne’s inner city madness for a nice blat out to one of Dadswell’s yuppie Dockland cafés for some lunch and a few detail shots. After an amazing pulled pork roll and a shot of caffine I felt like having a little afternoon siesta but alas we had to push on and do a few hot laps of the city to complete our urban test, the XSR is perfectly at home in the urban jungle, it is narrow and short and punchy and just loves being flicked around little streets, lanes carparks and roundabouts and will pull up in the tightest of places and tuck out of the way nicely on the footpath if your local by-laws permit. I have had the opportunity to play with the XSR after hours and on the weekends too and I have run it through all of my regular routes and it has performed really well, it has a healthy full-size feel just like many other unrestricted naked sporty bikes and easily reaches freeway speeds with no lag, it is comfy enough and I think it is not only a superb entry level bike for a new motorcyclist but even experienced riders will walk away with a big grin if provided the opportunity to give it a good squirt. The only real problem that I have had with XSR was keeping Sports Editor McCann from pinching the keys most days.
Although the XSR looks tough and cool as it sits on a showroom floor, recent years have seen an increase in popularity of both new retro styled bikes and the customisation of older genuine retro machines with custom shops and retro events gaining momentum year upon year and Yamaha have been clever and taken the custom scene into consideration when releasing these new models, you will find an abundance of genuine Yamaha parts & accessories for your new XSR that will help you bang an individual stamp on it whether you want a scrambler look or café racer style you can head to Yamaha’s Y-Shop online and surf the Genuine Parts Catalogue and then share the links with friends and family so that they have your next birthday or Xmas present covered. For some the Retro scene may not be your caper but I still think the XSR looks modern enough to hold it’s own against any of the other naked sports bikes in it’s category I have really enjoyed my time on it and I reckon the XSR is a good looking unit and represents good value for money, so if you have eleven large burning a hole in your pocket and are looking for performance, handling and quality then the XSR700 should definitely be added to your list of must check out Lams bikes.