In one sense the XSR aims for the heart more than the head, because its performance is almost identical to that of the MT-09 (which is updated this year), and its extra appeal is based on its retro styling. It’s a little more expensive than the MT but few riders – especially those who grew up on Yamaha’s racy RD two-strokes in the Seventies – will begrudge that, given its nostalgia-inducing styling and neat detailing.
The XSR is also respectably practical. It returns 40mpg or more even when ridden hard, and has light controls, useful mirrors, clear instrumentation and a tolerably comfortable seat. And it’s designed for easy customisation, via accessories including a fly-screen, aluminium seat hump and canvas panniers. The way that Yamaha’s Faster Sons concept blends classic style and modern performance is clever, and the XSR900 hits the spot on both counts.
Price tag of our bike: £7999 in 60th anniversary yellow (£7849 in grey or turquoise)
Photography by Jonathan Godin & Matthijs van Roon