A lot of you were interested when Yamaha unveiled its XSR900 in November, and the one critical piece of news that was missing was the price.
Yamaha has now filled in that blank for us, though the news may not be what many riders were hoping for. The XSR900 will list for $9,490, or $9,990 in the 60th anniversary yellow and black paint scheme Yamaha has slathered on several of its models this year.
Why do I say the price may be a let-down to some? Well, Yamaha has been on a roll with undercutting the competition. Recent new models like the FZ-09, which shares the three-cylinder engine in the XSR900, and the FZ-07, brought more performance per dollar to the market than any of the competition. I expect more than a few potential buyers looked at the XSR900, looked at something like the Ducati Scrambler Icon at $8,895, noticed the MSRP of $8,190 on the FZ-09 and wondered if they could get an XSR900 for the cost of a Scrambler.
Reality check time. The XSR900 may share the engine with the FZ-09, but it's a different motorcycle. I'm sure Yamaha could have built a neo-retro (I didn't make up that self-contradictory term; Yamaha uses it) cafe racer for $8,190, but probably not with many of the cool bits that make the XSR different. When our scouts on the ground in Italy saw the XSR900 at the EICMA show, the first comment they sent home was about the lack of plastic on this bike. From its metal brackets to its unpainted aluminum surfaces, the XSR900 is a bike built not to look cheap. So it's too much to expect it to be priced cheaply, especially since you also get modern running gear, like ABS, traction control, an assist-and-slipper clutch and adjustable suspension.
I find it interesting the way Yamaha has combined modern and retro: the round gauge and the round taillight look old, except for the thoroughly modern LCD screen and LED lights inside them.
To be honest, though, I don't trust myself to evaluate anything that attempts to tap into the interest in retro style. I've been around long enough that I actually owned a 1970s Honda CB back in the 1980s, which greatly lessens my need to join the hordes running up the prices of 1970s Honda CBs today. It was fun the first time around, but I don't need to repeat the experience. So I've generally watched the retro wave from a distance, without feeling any need to dive in or try to surf it.
So, what say you, readers? Now that you know what it will cost you, what do you think of the XSR900?