Factory Special: The new Yamaha XSR 900 GP goes into production

The new Yamaha XSR900 GP neo-retro motorcycle
Every time we think the motorcycle industry’s heritage segment has reached its zenith, another major manufacturer cashes in and the cycle continues. This time it’s Yamaha’s turn, with the announcement of the remarkably provocative Yamaha XSR900 GP.

Yamaha doesn’t have as big a range of modern classics as, say, Triumph or Royal Enfield. But the Japanese marque has more skin in the game than most. Their ‘Yard Built’ initiative is one of the biggest OEM-led custom build programs around and has yielded numerous top-shelf custom Yamahas over the years.

The new Yamaha XSR900 GP neo-retro motorcycle
That’s probably why the Yamaha XSR900 GP looks more like a high-quality custom build than an OEM release. Seriously, just look at it. From the fairing and tail bump to the pixel-perfect livery and tiny lights, this is one of the slickest—and boldest—factory specials we’ve ever seen.

And if the XSR900 GP looks familiar to you, that’s because Yamaha has shown it off before. It’s essentially a production-ready version of the stunning ‘DB40’ prototype that they revealed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed earlier this year. Except this one has fresh paint, and all the accouterments to make it street-legal (in most countries at least).

The new Yamaha XSR900 GP neo-retro motorcycle
It’s not hard to see where Yamaha got their inspiration. Since bagging its first premier-class motorcycle racing title in the 70s with the legendary Giacomo Agostini, the manufacturer went on to embed itself in racing history throughout the 80s. With a historic roster that includes ‘King’ Kenny Roberts, Wayne Rainey, Max Biaggi, and Valentino Rossi, Yamaha’s racing pedigree is among the best.

Yamaha’s racing program also produced what would become a hallmark of their motorcycle design—the iconic Yamaha Deltabox chassis. First used in the 1982 YZR500 OW61 Grand Prix race bike, it’s still used on several Yamaha motorcycles today—including the XSR900.

The new Yamaha XSR900 GP neo-retro motorcycle
Yamaha’s philosophy when developing modern classics is all about “respecting the origin, learning from the past, and creating a better machine for the modern-day rider.” So the XSR900 GP is more of a contemporary homage to Yamaha’s Grand Prix racing heritage than a replica.

The XSR900 GP’s bodywork shows shades of the iconic Yamaha TZR250 and YZR500 OW01, with the same boxy aesthetic that dominated the 80s and 90s. The attention to detail is astounding, with visible fasteners along the side of the multi-part half-fairing, and a tiny rectangular LED headlight that almost feels illegal.

The new Yamaha XSR900 GP neo-retro motorcycle
Just as much consideration has been given to the cockpit area. The XSR900 sheds its handlebars in favor of racy clip-ons, and its digital display has been relocated to tuck it right up into the front of the fairing. Tubular fairing stays branch out from in front of the fuel tank, while the upper fairing stay bolts mimic those on the TZ250 and use a beta pin—something Yamaha hasn’t done on a production bike before.

A boxy cowl covers the XSR900’s passenger seat. It features a slim bum stop pad at the front, and a pair of slits to reveal the brake light at the back.

The new Yamaha XSR900 GP neo-retro motorcycle
But it’s the Yamaha XSR900 GP’s retina-searing livery that truly makes this factory special a knockout. The red and white come straight from Wayne Rainey’s 1990 YZR500, punctuated by period-correct yellow ‘number boards,’ and silver finishes for the chassis and swingarm. Notice how the edges of the graphics run parallel to each other and then to the angle of the front fork?

Under all that luscious bodywork is a regular XSR900… sort of. Yamaha has tweaked the frame and reinforced the swingarm, to match the sportier feel offered by the clip-ons. The clip-ons have been set higher than a dedicated race bike, so that the riding position isn’t too aggressive, and the bike also gets a slightly thicker seat and adjustable foot controls.

The new Yamaha XSR900 GP neo-retro motorcycle
The XSR900 GP also borrows its donor’s adjustable KYB suspension, Brembo front brakes, ABS braking, and a full set of electronic rider aids. It gets new switchgear and bar-end mirrors though, and its rotary-forged aluminum wheels wear Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S23 rubber.

Powering the XSR900 GP is the same brilliant 889 cc triple-cylinder mill as its stablemate. It’s a peach of a motor, with 117.4 hp and 93 Nm on tap, and a throttle feel that encourages spirited riding. Yamaha claims that the XSR900 GP boasts a higher top speed and better acceleration though, thanks to the aerodynamic properties of its fairing, while the air ducts that flank the fairing serve to help dissipate heat from the radiator.

The new Yamaha XSR900 GP neo-retro motorcycle
There’s no word on exactly when Yamaha will start rolling the XSR900 GP out to dealers, but we do know a few things. You’ll be able to get it in two color schemes, ‘Legend Red’ (pictured here) and ‘Power Grey.’ And you’ll be able to pay extra for lower fairings, a different license plate holder, a tinted screen, and an Akrapovič exhaust system.

It also doesn’t appear to be a limited edition model, which is good news. But it hasn’t been announced for the US yet either—and considering that its tiny lights surely won’t meet with US legislation, we’re not sure if or when it will reach America.

The new Yamaha XSR900 GP neo-retro motorcycle
One thing’s for sure—the Yamaha XSR900 GP is more gorgeous than a production motorcycle has any business being. And considering that the base model XSR900 is one of our favorite modern motorcycles, this one’s just shot to the top of our wishlist.

Source: Yamaha Motor Europe

The new Yamaha XSR900 GP neo-retro motorcycle

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