DUMB & DUMBER 2022 | DUMBER THAN EVER | Bike Tests
Retro bikes in the snow? Whose dumb idea was that?
In the winter of 2021 AMCN reinstated the once-annual Dumb & Dumber ride with Deano, Pete and Phil Harlum riding three totally inappropriate learner-legal bikes down to New South Wales’ Alpine region for a run through the snow. Despite the freezing cold conditions, we had so much fun that we decided to repeat the process this year, albeit stepping up the madness with a greater participation rate, not a single fairing or screen in sight, and a beefed-up route that would take us to the tiny town of Walwa on the Victorian side of the mighty Murray River.
Feedback after last year’s event suggested that Dumber & Dumber is still extremely popular with AMCN readers, and this is also the case with motorcycle manufacturers who, except for one that didn’t come to the party, all made the requested bikes available to us – seven different bikes from seven different manufacturers, piloted by seven blokes with various levels of Dumb & Dumber experience.
Opting once again for inappropriate machines for the expected chilly conditions, the theme for this year was retro, so eligible bikes needed to be available, current and if not totally retro, at least retro-inspired, or described as thus by someone in a marketing department somewhere.
Of the seven contenders, four bikes stood out for being authentic retro offerings, while three will probably look a little more retro in 30 to 40 years or so. On the other hand, all of the assembled riders were definite retro offerings.
Kawasaki’s W800 Street falls into the authentic category and was piloted by multi-Dumb & Dumber participant Phil ‘Kawasaki Lover’ Harlem. Joining Phil was D&D virgin Mark ‘Cat Piss’ Peterson on the gorgeous Moto Guzzi V7 Special, Dean ‘How many beds do we need?’ Mellor on the twin cylinder Royal Enfield Interceptor 650, and Sean ‘Robbie Williams’ Mooney on Triumph’s Bonneville T120.
In the ‘retro if you’re visually impaired’ section was Ralph ‘Riding Onesie’ Leavsey-Moase on the single-cylinder Husqvarna Vitpilen 401, and Pete ‘Murray Cod’ Vorst on the Yamaha XSR900.
Finally, Mark ‘Hard Quiz’ Fattore made his way up from Melbourne on his lonesome, piloting the CFMoto 700CL-X Heritage. Mark, aka Mav, was working for CFMoto at the time, so we didn’t let him say anything about the bikes, and we only let him talk if he promised to go to the bar.
The weather report for the coming three days was looking totally appropriate for a totally inappropriate motorcycle ride, with forecasters predicting heavy snowfalls above 1000m and rain below that.
Dumb & Dumber: Day 1
For the Sydney crew, Day 1 consisted of a trip of just under 500km to Walwa on the Victorian side of Mt Kosciusko.
The group, which also included our always fashionably late photographer Mark ‘Rooftop Tent’ Watson in his warm and cosy Toyota Prado met at Pheasants Nest south of Sydney for the journey down the Hume Highway to Yass.
After a splash of fuel and splash of the boots in Yass, our route took us to Tumut via Wee Jasper Road. After some fabulous winding roads, with Pete ‘Google Maps’ Vorst leading the way, we ended up on a snotty, slimy, muddy backroad in Wee Jasper State Forest that would’ve better suited enduro bikes than some of our portly 200kg-plus retro rigs. As we worked our way up one particularly slippery section, we wondered how much more mud was up ahead of us, but then we crested a rise and were presented with a firmer gravel-road offering, and from then on, we had little more to deal with than corrugations, washouts and potholes. Fun times indeed!
We eventually popped out on to a sealed road where a sign presented us with two routes to Tumut; one was 31km via a sealed road and the other was 27km via an unsealed road. The decision wasn’t hard; we’d had enough mud for the day so opted for the longer of the two routes and were soon in Tumut for more fuel and a late lunch of deep-fried Amazeballs from the excellent Tumut River Brewing Co. We had dropped into this establishment on last year’s Dumb & Dumber ride and had made it our mission to revisit this year.
With bikes and riders fuelled up, we suited up for a damp and chilly ride to Tumbarumba via the bumpy Old Tumbarumba Road. We then headed west from Tumba before turning south on to Jingellic Road, and we all enjoyed stretching the legs of our retro steeds along this fun bit of blacktop before the sun dropped behind the hills and the ’roos came out to play.
Before we knew it, we’d crossed the Murray River at Jingellic and we were into Walwa, where Mav had already checked us in to our two huts at the picturesque Walwa Riverside Caravan Park after his solo ride up from Macedon in Victoria. Mav’s route had taken him via Yea, Bonnie Doon, Myrtleford and Huon on the 700 CL-X Heritage.
Once changed into our casual kit, we beckoned the Walwa Hotel to send its finest courtesy bus, as we were all too knackered to walk the one kay up the road to the pub; well, it was drizzling, after all. The new publican obliged by personally running us to his fine establishment in his missus’s Subaru Forester, making two trips to ensure we all spent plenty of coin there on food and booze.
That night the locals introduced Pete ‘I love mini beers’ Vorst and Mark ‘Do these mini beers make me look big?’ Peterson to… mini beers, which consisted of some awful sweet liqueur with cream on top, served up in a seven-ounce glass. They both took to them like ducks to water, while the rest of us stuck to actual beers.
At the end of the night the publican ferried us back to the caravan park. Dean ‘Can’t count’ Mellor had made a basic miscalculation when he booked the accommodation, so a few blokes – Deano, Watto and Pete – had to roll out their swags to avoid sharing double beds with other fellas.
Dumb & Dumber: Day 2
Day 2 dawned under cloudy skies while the Murray River flowed with a strength that would’ve challenged Johnny Weissmuller. We hatched a plan the previous evening to head into Corryong to fuel up and grab some brekky before pointing our bikes uphill towards the snowline.
The brekky rolls went down a treat, as did the tasty coffee, and we were soon saddled up and heading out of town before heading back into NSW and on to Khancoban, and then further along the Alpine Way. Some rectification works to prevent rocks from falling on the road saw us mucking around at a red light near Murray 1 Power Station for 30 minutes or so, which had photographer Watto looking nervous; he wanted to get in and back out of the white stuff before the forecasted record snowfalls hit. After all, Day 2’s plan needed to stay fluid in case the weather or NPWS rangers turned us away from our intended destination – Dead Horse Gap.
When the red light went out, we were off… with photographer Watto mumbling something about stopping when we saw snow. Of course, when we saw snow we kept riding, because the road was so bloody enjoyable, and a few of us thought the red light going out signalled the start of a race. We eventually pulled up at Geehi Picnic Area for a break and a bike swap before a furious Watto rolled in around 10 minutes later, berating us for not stopping at “the best photo op in history!”… or some such thing.
It’s true, we had ridden through some spectacular country, with trees and the sides of the road covered in a fine powdering of brilliant white snow, and we offered to backtrack for Watto, but he reckoned “the best shot ever” would no longer exist due to the rotation of the planet and subsequent repositioning of the sun.
Watto needn’t have worried, because not much farther up the road was the “second-best shot ever”, for which we duly stopped so he could make some photographic art. Riding beneath the trees with big clumps of snow falling from their branches was somewhat surreal; it wasn’t actually snowing… but it seemed as if it were.
We pressed on to Dead Horse Gap where we messed around for a couple of hours, making snow angels, having snow-fights and grabbing some selfies with Olaf the snowman and generally being tourists.
On the return run we had to take it easy across the top of the mountain as we knew there was ice on the road, as demonstrated earlier by Mark ‘Legs out’ Peterson. Back down into the relative shelter of the tree line, we found a great spot off the side of the road for a snow drag race, which ended up being the slowest race in the history of motorcycling, engines revving, wheels spinning and virtually no forward progress without a push from a mate. It’s amazing how hot you can get with a bit of physical exertion when the mercury is hovering around zero.
The run back down to Geehi for another bike swap was a ripper and although there were plenty of wet patches through the twisties, there was no ice. We backtracked to Khancoban, filled up the bikes and headed back to base at Walwa, where we virtually repeated the previous night’s frivolities, courtesy Forester and all.
Photographer Watto snored so much that night from all the red wine he’d consumed that he eventually did the right thing by the rest of us and set up camp in his Prado’s rooftop tent.
Dumb & Dumber: Day 3
We awoke to drizzling skies on Day 3 and Mav was the first cab off the rank in the morning, saddling up early for his solo ride back towards Melbourne. The rest of us took a bit longer to get going but after a coffee we were soon heading up the road for the obligatory photo outside the Walwa Hotel. We’d had so much fun here over the previous two nights that we all agreed a return visit one day would be mandatory. We then backtracked to Tumbarumba for brekky, where Deano had a panic after ‘misplacing’ one of batteries out of his heated gloves. Once found (thanks Sean) we headed back to the Doom Highway for the run back home. Pete peeled off early to spend the weekend in Cowra, while the rest of us continued north toward our respective home bases, only stopping for food and fuel.
All up our ride was around 1300km and despite the snow, the ice and the inappropriate bikes, we all had a bloody great time, and we all made it back home in one piece.
Bring on Dumb & Dumber 2023!
CFMoto 700CL-X Heritage
Weight: 205kg (wet)
Seat height: 800mm
Fuel capacity: 13L
Pillion rating: 3.5/5
(full review here)
Years riding: 43
Willing and able
Heritage styled! That’s how CFMoto describes the 700CL-X Heritage. I’m not sure what part is ‘heritage’ but all the parts that matter are modern and at $9490 ride away, it’s arguably the best value for money bike in the bunch.
The Heritage is powered by a sprightly 693cc liquid-cooled parallel twin, with eight-valves, and double overhead cams that’s a rev-happy unit. There’s 55kW on tap at 8500rpm and 68Nm of torque at 6500rpm and, as good as the rest of the package is, the engine is the star of the show for me. The CFMoto isn’t left behind in a straight-line drag with the exception of the Yamaha and when you add in the composed handling, in the right hands it’s a real sleeper.
Suspension is handled by fully adjustable 41mm KYB upside-down fork and preload and compression adjustable KYB monoshock. Even with my 110kgs on board, suspension performance was sweet for the speed we were doing – not bad for a sub-$10-grand package – I’ve ridden far more expensive bikes with less-composed suspension.
The Heritage uses the same steel-cradle frame as the 700 CL-X Sport that I’m a big fan of and it’s an altogether composed motorcycle. Seat height is a reasonable 800mm and, with its high handlebar, and sit-up-and-beg riding position it’s a comfortable ride for long or short rides, although taller riders might find the seat to peg distance a bit cramped, as I did.
The seat is as well shaped and as comfy as they get, and the Heritage even comes with cruise control, however with a tank capacity of just 13-litres you’ll need to pull in for fuel before you truly test the endurance of your posterior.
The Heritage offers two ride modes – Sport or Rain – but with no IMU on board, Rain mode simply restricts power. It’s a significant reduction and handy when the conditions get slick.
J.Juan hydraulic disc brakes get the 205kg (wet claimed) stopped well, with a single 320mm disc on the front and four-piston radial-mount caliper giving good bite and feel, and single 260mm disc bitten by a twin-piston caliper on the rear. With the same weight and pace as its Sport sibling, which has superb brakes, I’d have preferred its double-disc setup on the front for a little more power when you’re hitting the corners hard.
In the snow and slush that we rode in though, the Heritage was king and easily won the snow-drift drag race completing three laps to the other bikes’ one. This was certainly down to a combination of my superior weight pushing the rear down into the firmer staff and the flat-track-esque Pirelli MT60 tyres that provided excellent grip in all conditions we rode in.
For the money the CFMoto is excellent value for money. For under $10,000 you get ABS, two ride modes, adjustable suspension, cruise control and an enthusiastic engine. On top of that it’s comfortable, handles and has a quality of fit and finish of a bike twice its price.
Husqvarna Vitpilen 401
Weight: 151kg (kerb)
Seat height: 810mm
Fuel capacity: 9.5L
Pillion rating: 2/5
Rider: Ralph Leavesy-Moase
Years riding: 50
For the ages
I’m not sure if it was because I was the only Dumb & Dumber virgin, but as the oldest rider in the group, I somehow ended up with the only LAMS-approved bike. Just getting out of Pete’s driveway was test for a guy who spends most of his time behind semi-wide handlebars – the clutch lever and throttle felt like they were positioned somewhere between my boots and knees.
First gear could climb a mountain and is redundant for anything other than crawling through traffic. But work your way through the gearbox to sixth and you realise the 373cc single is a rocket. The technically advanced single smooths out after about 3000rpm, losing the typical nature of a thumper and taking on a more refined well-balanced revvy thrum.
It is happiest between 5000rpm and 9000rpm and, strangely for a learner bike, its cruising sweet spot is a smudge over 7000rpm when you’re doing 125km/h. There is next to no vibration from the 32kW engine and it has to be one of the easiest motorcycles I have ever ridden. The two-way quickshifter is brilliant and the brakes are super-sharp with plenty of feel.
And all of that is after the first five or ten minutes of riding. I grin and bear the next few hours. The seat doesn’t get any worse by Mittagong, or even Yass, and while it has a quality feel, like the backlit switchgear, I am starting to come to terms with the feeling Sean won’t give up the T120 and Pete ain’t relinquishing the XSR.
I can’t read anything in the instrument pod that will keep me occupied to the next fuel stop – the data is way too small for a guy who wears glasses. One surprising element is the way it never feels like it lacks power. It storms up the steepest hills and, on a very quiet piece of road, it managed an indicated 162 bananas. Knock a tooth or two off the rear sprocket and it would still pull with authority.
We swapped bikes and Deano scurried off into the distance on the dirt road south of Wee Jasper. Then it positively disappeared, once as we hit the sealed twisties near our first night’s stop. It then swept the floor clean on the road to Geehi Hut down on the Snowy River – this was starting to get ridiculous.
From Geehi to Dead Horse Gap I was back on the little beastie and had one of the best rides in years. It is a fabulous motorcycle, and so much fun and reward on offer if you’re prepared to apply thought and skill to your riding. Or, you can just jump on it and ride it well knowing the quality WP suspension and a tight chassis will teach you everything you need to know. The little underdog was becoming my hero, it’s offers incredible value at $7895 (ride away) and I was starting to wonder if I had become prejudiced against smaller motorcycles in my old age. I bet I’m not the only one.
Kawasaki W800 Street
Weight: 221kg (kerb)
Seat height: 770mm
Fuel capacity: 15L
Pillion rating: 4/10
Rider: Phil Harlum
Years riding: 34
Upon sighting the Kawasaki W800 Street, I felt a sudden urge to line up 14 garbage cans in the Arnold’s carpark and jump them wearing a white jumpsuit, just like Arthur ‘The Fonz’ Fonzarelli did in that epic episode of <i>Happy Days<i>.
The W800 certainly conjures up those thoughts with its spoked 18-in front wheel, round LED headlight, handsome engine design and classically shaped tank. I was also glad to see that Kawasaki, knowing where this bike was bound, had fitted some genuine accessories in the form of heated grips and a very handy rear rack, in my opinion the rack made the back end not only more functional but also made it look far better.
An early morning departure also enabled me to utilise the welcome warmth of the heated grips and great spread of light from the headlight that looks to be of the exact same style as the one fitted to the Z900RS. With pulled-back ’bars and conventional uncomplicated dash that includes an odometer, clock and trip meter, however, a few mod cons in the form of a central panel as standard on the Z900RS would have been very welcome, there is not much happening in front you to divert your attention.
I was pleased to find the engine had enough grunt off the bottom to get away swiftly but also had a pleasing noticeable surge from around 4500rpm that meant getting away from a stop or open-road overtaking was an easy affair. It also meant the W800 was quite capable of maintaining an appropriate cruising speed on the freeway, unlike my noble steed on last year’s Dumb & Dumber jaunt (AMCN Vol 71 No 01).
Speaking of the freeway, the W800’s ergonomics were the only thing I struggled with. While quite comfy on my short commute to work, it was nowhere near as endearing for hours on the Hume Highway on the return trip. In the position where the seat was comfy, I found leg room to be limited, and in the position where leg room was better meant the seat was very hard, so a compromise was hard to find.
Lucky the engine was in its happy spot on the highway, and relatively vibe free. The exhaust’s note was also a pleasant companion. Thanks to the optional rack, I was able to attach my Nelson Rigg CL1060 Touring seat bag with ease while not taking up too much room on that thinly padded but long single seat.
I thought the W800 also handled well enough to maintain decent pace on the open road, it was noticeably better without the added weight of the seat bag on the back despite having the rear preload would up to maximum. In the snow the heated grips were a welcome inclusion and while not a cheap option are far cleaner in look than any aftermarket option.
While the awkward riding position meant the W800 wasn’t everyone on the trip’s cup of tea, I wasn’t unhappy every time it was my turn to ride Kawasaki’s retro offering.
Moto Guzzi V7 Special
Weight: 189kg (kerb)
Seat height: 790mm
Fuel capacity: 21L
Pillion rating: 4/5
Rider: Mark Peterson
Years riding: 35
For those unfamiliar with Moto Guzzis, the experience of riding, or even starting up the V7 is unlike any other bike on the planet. The transverse 90-degree V-twin engine thrusts the bike sideways on start-up or when you blip the throttle and then settles down into a quiet burble from the twin chrome exhaust.
It’s a beautiful motorcycle and full of character which is on display from the moment you click – or should I say clunk – into first. That agricultural sound and feel continues right through the six-speed ’box and throughout your journey on the V7. There’s not a reliability issue, it’s just the way it’s meant to be. There was some talk around the campfire of there being false neutrals to be had around third gear, but I never experienced it.
The 853cc transverse twin is capable of a modest 47.8kW of power at 6800rpm and can punt the 223kg (kerb) Italian along at a reasonable pace, it just takes a little while to get there. Leaning on the 73Nm of torque available at 5000rpm rather than trying to ring its neck is the way to go, and you’ll be rewarded with solid drive out of corners, the ability to doddle around in just about any gear you like at any speed, and if so inclined, even get some wheelie action going.
The V7 wears a non-adjustable 40mm conventional fork on the front of the steel-cradle frame and twin preload adjustable shocks on the rear. Surprisingly, the V7 could scratch with the best of this bunch, it’s stable without being cumbersome, and nimble without being twitchy. Ground clearance is the limiting factor but with a comfortable riding position and stealthy sporting ability it’s as happy plodding along the highway as it is scratching on back roads, and it really surprised me how much fun it was to ride.
The extra sprung weight of the shaft drive system only made itself known on the dirt road between Wee Jasper and Tumut along which the rear Dunlop Arrowmax struggle to keep contact with the ground, but to be fair, they were conditions well outside what Guzzi intended for the V7.
Braking is handled by a single 320mm disc gripped by a four-piston Brembo caliper on the front and 260mm disc and twin-piston caliper set up on the back. Braking is adequate for the job, but if you’re used to modern brakes, you’ll find the V7’s setup a bit underwhelming.
A two-channel ABS system kept everyone right side up and is the only rider aid on offer, apart from the switchable traction control system. When things got slippery, I rode with traction control system turned off. The system cuts power too abruptly when it senses slippage and throws weight on the front wheel – not what you want when you’re trying to float across an icy road.
Of all the bikes on test the V7 was the surprise package for me and that started from the minute I saw it. It’s a beautiful bike that can do it all if you take you your time. It’s got quirks but that’s what Moto Guzzists call character and the V7 sure has plenty of that.
Royal Enfield 650 Interceptor
Weight: 202kg (kerb)
Seat height: 804mm
Fuel capacity: 13.7L
Pillion rating: 3/5
Rider: Dean Mellor
Years riding: 42
If retro is what you’re after, retro is what you get with Royal Enfield’s Interceptor 650, especially methinks in this Canyon Red colour scheme.
Unusually, it was a sunny day when I picked up the Interceptor, followed by a sunny weekend, and for the few days before our Dumb & Dumber adventure I went for rides down to the shops whenever some milk or bread needed fetching, I cruised along the beachfront whenever the swell needed checking out, and went for several blasts into the hills just to get away from my laptop.
It isn’t the performance that had me coming back for ride after ride; after all, its parallel twin only musters modest a 35kW and 52.3Nm. Likewise, the handling is nothing to write home about and the braking performance is best described as adequate… but I still couldn’t get enough of it.
When it comes to simple, straightforward motorcycling, not much comes close to the Interceptor. Sure, it has fuel injection and ABS, but other than that it’s all old-school analogue, so no selectable ride modes or TC systems to play with, or be distracted by.
Yes, the Interceptor is far from the most powerful retro bike on the market, but it still has enough grunt to outrun most of the traffic from the lights, as well as to cruise comfortably on the open road. And it sounds great with its 270° crank, albeit over-muffled, enticing you to give it a handful at every opportunity.
Lighter than some of the larger capacity bikes on test, a fair chunk of the Interceptor’s 202kg kerb weight feels quite high in the frame, which can make the bike feel heavier than it is, especially at low speed. Having said that, it’s easy enough to manoeuvre in traffic thanks to the narrow seat that lets even shorties plant both feet on the ground, and the bike’s width is well suited to lane-splitting.
It steers quickly, too, no doubt thanks in part to its skinny 100/90-18 and 130/70-18 CEAT tyres, which offer decent grip on the road, and even a modicum of traction in slimy mud. As mentioned, the brake package is adequate, although that single front 320mm disc with its twin-piston caliper doesn’t provide a lot of feel at the lever, and the rear brake even less. Nevertheless, the Interceptor 650 pulls up quickly enough if you need it too, and the ABS system isn’t overly intrusive.
Loading luggage on to the Inteceptor 650 was a cinch; the seat is long and there are plenty of places to tie luggage to without fear of scratching bodywork. Once loaded up, I wound on three extra steps of rear preload, and despite that being the only adjustment available on the basic suspension, ride quality was good over a variety of surfaces.
Fit and finish is good for a bike at the price point, with deep and lustrous paint on the tank and side covers, shiny chrome bits and quality fitting – the only negative was the speedo fogging up after some wet-weather riding.
Of all the genuinely retro bikes on test, the Interceptor 650 is the most affordable at $10,990 (ride away), but it’s by no means the least desirable.
Weight: 236kg (wet)
Seat height: 790mm
Fuel capacity: 14.5L
Pillion rating: 4/5
(full review here)
Rider: Sean Mooney
Years riding: 30
Good and proper
First, a confession. I’ve never really been into Triumphs. I’ve always respected the name and its history, but the styling and mechanics of the old classics leave me cold – I’m more into old Italian, German and Japanese exotica.
However, when I laid eyes on the first Thruxton 1200 back in 2016, it was love at first sight. What a gorgeous bike, as are so many other modern Triumphs. I ended up buying a Thruxton for myself and, more recently, a Trident for my partner – the latter proving to be a real traffic-beating, twisty-loving bike. I’ll find any excuse to ride it to the shops.
I eventually parted ways with the Thruxton due to aching back and wrists, but I still miss that brilliant engine and gearbox combo. I was immediately reminded of this magic when I jumped on the new T120.
The T120’s fuel-injected, water-cooled, parallel-twin engine is a true motorcycling gem. Matched to a silky-smooth gearbox with a torque-assist clutch that makes light work of low-speed work, the big twin has heaps of torque anywhere in the rev range. What’s more, the engine note through the stock vintage-style pipes is superb.
Before I set off for Dumb & Dumber, I took the T120 on the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. It proved a very popular bike – I was often asked how old it was; many people are clearly convinced by the faux carbies and all that shiny chrome, despite the giveaway modern switchgear, brakes, wheel sizes and so on.
As for the T120’s performance in the snow and ice (and horrible half-frozen clay devised in the lower levels of hell to destroy motorcycles), it was pretty much flawless, and felt much lighter than its claimed 236kg (wet). ABS-equipped Brembos up front did a good job off pulling this weight up on slippery surfaces, and the bike’s relatively thin profile made it feel lighter and more nimble than, say, the Royal Enfield Interceptor 650 we had on the ride, despite having a much bigger engine.
Cruise control was appreciated on the freeway stretches (although I would have traded it for heated grips), but I can’t work to why some manufacturers (such as Triumph) make it that if you have to twist the throttle for a quick overtake, it won’t then settle down to the original speed setting – you have to reset it to the original speed each time.
As Pete Vorst wrote in his recent review (AMCN Vol 72 No 23), the bench-style seat is more accommodating than it looks. In fact, it’s more comfortable than nearly any bike I’ve ridden in the past few years (big adventure bikes excluded). Maybe that’s because it’s quite narrow and high, which works for me at around 190cm. I also agree with Pete that, as with all modern Trumpies, the finish and attention to detail is top shelf. Truly a modern classic… I didn’t want to give it back.
Weight: 193kg (wet)
Seat height: 810mm
Fuel capacity: 14L
Pillion rating: 3/5
Rider: Pete Vorst
Years riding: 41
When Yamaha released the 2021 MT-09 it wiped the floor with the previous generation MT. And seeing as the XSR is mechanically identical in every regard, expectations were high.
And the XSR didn’t disappoint. I put it to you and my companions on Dumb & Dumber 2022 that the XSR900 is the most fun, most refined and best overall motorcycle of the lot – prove me wrong, Ralph!
Let’s be honest here though, nobody is falling for Yamaha’s interpretation of a vintage motorcycle. The XSR is a thoroughly modern motorcycle, with modern electronics and materials and a ball-tearing triple-cylinder engine.
The 889cc CP3 triple is one of the loveliest amalgamations of metal on the planet and there’s 87kW of power and 93Nm of torque on tap, enough to keep the heaviest of wrist ringers happy. The triple is lovely, and is just as happy plodding along on the motorway as it is ripping into the bidirectional quickshifter while pulling massive wheelies which it does with ease.
Fast is useless without control and the XSR900 uses a six-axis UMI to control cornering-enabled traction control and ABS, as well as slide control, lift control, and there’s also a selection of ride modes available. When you’re riding on roads covered in tree dandruff, snow, dirt and ice, rider aids like these can really save your bacon – and they did. Despite the torrid conditions, the aids never became intrusive and to be honest the XSR is so composed and so refined I had traction control turned off to make use of the snow in the middle of the road.
Cruise control makes the highway slog doable and, with a very comfortable seat and riding position, the only thing I wished for was some heated grips and a screen to keep the frozen air off me.
If I have any gripes, it would be the range limiting 14-litre tank and that strapping gear to the back is less than easy. There are stuff-all points to attach straps to and to get my Kriega US-40 bag on the back – which has a plethora of strapping options – I had to remove the seat and lash it to the frame with the back of the US-40 secured with straps to the aluminium number plate bracket.
The pillion seat and tail section is neat, but it looks a little awkward in the flesh and I’m not sure your pillion would be that fond of you after a stint on the back, there’s barely enough room for a bag let alone another person.
I would have been content to stay on the XSR for the whole trip, and I’m the type that likes to ride everything and anything – but I enjoyed the XSR that much.
It may be a stretch to call the XSR a retro bike, but it certainly looks good especially in the heritage blue version we had. What it lacks in retro-ility, it makes up for in pure ability. The XSR900 was simply the most composed, fun and capable motorcycle on Dumb & Dumber 2022 and to top that off, at $17,299 it’s great bang for buck as well.