The First Bike Under Yamaha’s ’Faster Sons’ Banner

Yamaha’s sport-retro "Faster Son" number one, the XSR700, has passed its test within the European market and is headed to North American dealerships for the 2018 model year...and the Hipsters rejoice! Based largely on the proven FZ-07 (MT-07 overseas) platform, the XSR sports a reinterpretation of a vintage design for a modern-retro look that is clearly meant to draw in the hipster/Millennial crowd as well as those with an appreciation for classic design elements. It isn’t all about the looks though, the mill churns out a claimed 73.8 horsepower and 50.2 pound-feet of torque to push the 410-pound wet weight, so there’s no shortage of thrills to be had on Yamaha’s mid-size roadster. The XSR700 was well received by our brothers and sisters in Europe, but I largely ignored it since it wasn’t available here. That has since changed, so here we go.

Continue reading for my review of the Yamaha XSR700.

Design

2018 Yamaha XSR700
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By all accounts, a comfortable little ride that's ideal for around-town hops, and one that serves as a blank canvas for custom-bike builders.

Yamaha’s “Faster Sons” philosophy is to take a heritage look and apply today’s technology to make a faster, better handling representation of that vintage style. The XSR700 is the first bike to be released under the "Faster Sons" banner. The design team took inspiration from the seventies-tastic XS650, but clearly as more of a guideline than an actual rule. Call me old fashioned, but when I hear the word “retro,” I kind of expect to see laced wheels. Someone at Yamaha disagrees (probably several someones) as evidenced by the cast rims I’m seeing here.

Standard forks with blackout sliders lead the way under a similarly achromatic round cyclops headlight can and tripletree. Though the XS650 sported a chrome front fender, Yamaha opted to shoot a metallic-gray finish on a fender that leaves one with the distinct impression that it has been cut down. Not only does this fit into the custom vibe established by the painted lower forks, but it touches on roadster territory as well.

The upper lines play along the aluminum fuel-tank cover and down a slight drop to a shallow-scoop bench seat. I gotta say that Yammy missed an opportunity when it decided against the tuck-and-roll bench as it had on the 650, but at least it did something other than the usual flange tank that can cheapen the look so much, so kudos on the tank cover, folks.

The slight rise up the removable subframe to the pillion seat is another subtle departure from the 650’s lines, and of course, the lack of external shocks dates the XSR as a much later model but I’m OK with that ’cause I like the clean look. A round LED taillight and bullet turn signals finish off the rear lighting with a standoff plate holder that uses the plate itself as part of the fling control.

Lower-than-jockey footpegs place the average rider’s legs in a natural position with pullback bars that leave the rider plenty of room to lean in while retaining the ability to strike an upright riding posture. By all accounts, a comfortable little ride that’s ideal for around-town hops, and one that serves as a blank canvas for custom-bike builders.

Chassis

2018 Yamaha XSR700
- image 733410
The factory added all-around ABS coverage, but the system Yamaha uses is pretty smooth and unobtrusive, so most of the arguments against it go out the window.

Tubular-steel members make up the diamond-type frame and bolt-on subframe with the stressed engine pulling double-duty as part of the frame structure to help keep overall weight down. Suspension components come off the bottom shelf for this ride. The 41 mm front forks come with fixed damping and preload values, and the coil-over monoshock out back gets the obligatory preload adjustment and nothing else. Still, the 5.1 inches of travel should prove plush enough for the roughest streets, and methinks perhaps a set of knobbies would set the XSR up as a proper scrambler with numbers like that. As it is, the 17-inch Pirelli Phantom Sportcomp hoops serve as excellent street-touring tires for non-scrambler-like activities.

A pair of four-pot calipers bite the dual, 282 mm wave-cut discs with a 245 mm disc out back and all-around ABS coverage as part of the standard equipment package. No, you don’t get a choice on that last bit, but honestly, if this is your first bike it will probably be hard to find a new non-ABS ride by the time you get ready to upgrade. Besides, the system Yamaha uses is pretty smooth and unobtrusive, so most of the arguments against it go out the window. Most of them, anyway.

Suspension / Front: 41mm telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel
Suspension / Rear: Single shock, adjustable preload; 5.1-in travel
Brakes / Front: Dual hydraulic disc, 282mm; ABS
Brakes / Rear: Hydraulic disc, 245mm; ABS
Tires / Front: 120/70ZR17 Pirelli® Phantom Sportcomp
Tires / Rear: 180/55ZR17 Pirelli® Phantom Sportcomp

Drivetrain

2018 Yamaha XSR700 Wallpaper quality
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Much was done to keep this bike compact, and those efforts impacted the six-speed transmission as well with stacked input and output shafts that reduces the length of the overall drivetrain.

Fans of the brand will recognize the engine as the very same that drives the FZ-07/MT-07. The “Crossplane Concept” powerplant runs with an 80 mm bore and 68.6 mm stroke across two cylinders for a total displacement of 689 cc. A 270-degree firing offset gives the engine a distinctive idle and helps it to develop its full 50.2 pounds of grunt at 6,500 rpm. This comes backed up by 73.8 horsepower at 9 grand with a smooth, linear delivery. The XSR doesn’t sport any sort of rider mode feature for variable power delivery, though it really doesn’t need anything more than a steady right wrist and a dose of skill to keep it under control.

The liquid-cooled mill runs with four-valve heads and a DOHC valvetrain with a hot, 11.5-to-1 compression ratio that will put you at the premium pump every time. While the 270-degree firing order isn’t necessarily the smoothest in the world, the factory added a counterbalancer that tames much of the shake to prevent the old tingley-hands syndrome from setting in.

Much was done to keep this bike compact, and those efforts impacted the six-speed transmission as well with stacked input and output shafts that reduces the length of the overall drivetrain. A standard clutch makes the connection between engine and gearbox, and though I’m almost a little surprised, I understand that the factory probably did it to keep costs down.

Engine Type: 689cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline twin cylinder; 8 valves
Bore x Stroke: 80.0mm x 68.6mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Constant mesh 6-speed; multiplate wet clutch

Price

2018 Yamaha XSR700
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Whether you prefer the Matte Gray or the Raspberry Metallic, MSRP runs $8,499.

New units are expected to hit U.S. and Canadian showroom floors sometime in October, 2017, and it won’t matter whether you prefer the Matte Gray or the Raspberry Metallic, ’cause both will set you back a smooth $8,499 MSRP. Yamaha has you covered with a one-year limited warranty on your new XSR700.

Warranty: 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color: Matte Gray/Aluminum; Raspberry Metallic
Price: $8,499

Competitor

2018 Ducati Scrambler Mach 2.0
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2018 Yamaha XSR700
- image 733424
Retro is all the rage right now, and it seems like everyone is vying for a piece of that action.Since scramblers are really just modified "standards," these two bikes share a common heritage.

Retro is all the rage right now, and it seems like everyone is vying for a piece of that action. Ducati tries to capitalize on the Hipster movement by adding a decidedly seventies-ish, brown, orange and yellow graphic to its already retro-tastic Scrambler family to make the new “Mach 2.0” model. Since scramblers are really just modified standards, these two bikes share a common heritage.

Ducati starts out by cutting the front fender down to the bone for a custom appeal and followed it up with modern inverted forks. Blackout treatment is another constant with the fork uppers, tripletree and headlight can all sporting the black paint that finds the engine, swingarm and points in-between on the Mach. The Ducati has a more natural-looking tank, because well, it is a tank in the classic sense of the work and not a clever cover. A faux tuck and roll saddle enhances the Mach’s seventies pedigree, and though it doesn’t fit the target era, the plateholder hugger in back really cleans up the tail for an attractive rear end. Actually, I kind of prefer the looks of the Scrambler, but only just.

Besides being inverted, the Duc’s stems are about the same vanilla offering that you get from Yamaha, but the rear shock comes with adjustable rebound damping on top of the preload adjuster for a slight advantage to the Italians in the suspension department. Travel is comparable with Ducati claiming 0.2-inch greater range of motion at both ends. Yamaha gets some back in the anchors with dual front brakes up against a single 330 mm front disc on the Mach though both run with ABS as standard equipment.

Ducati keeps it classy with an air-cooled L-twin mill that boasts 803 cc with 73 horsepower and 49 pound-feet of torque, again comparable to the XSR and plenty for the 410-pound wet weight. Yamaha gets a final, and perhaps fatal, shot in at the checkout with an $8,499 sticker that falls well under the $10,795 MSRP on the Mach 2.0.

He Said

“Maybe it’s ’cause I remember the bikes from the 70s, but I really am not seeing all that much crossover. I get that they are just alluding to a time period, but I have to wonder if maybe they should have just owned it and gone all out like Honda did with its CB1100. We’ll see how it performs in the U.S. market; that will be the proof in the pudding.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, "This is a roadster version of the FZ-07, but with a more relaxed riding position. The bars are wider, higher, and pulled back a bit to give you that more upright rider triangle. A feature that I think is rather nice is the ability to easily customize the bike. Pop off the seat — yes, just that easy — remove four screws and the whole subframe comes off instantly making it a bobber. That kind is simplicity really appeals to me. It’s an awesome bike, and I’m glad to see it available in the American market."

Specifications

Engine Type: 689cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline twin cylinder; 8 valves
Bore x Stroke: 80.0mm x 68.6mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection
Ignition: TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission: Constant mesh 6-speed; multiplate wet clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Suspension / Front: 41mm telescopic fork; 5.1-in travel
Suspension / Rear: Single shock, adjustable preload; 5.1-in travel
Brakes / Front: Dual hydraulic disc, 282mm; ABS
Brakes / Rear: Hydraulic disc, 245mm; ABS
Tires / Front: 120/70ZR17 Pirelli® Phantom Sportcomp
Tires / Rear: 180/55ZR17 Pirelli® Phantom Sportcomp
L x W x H: 81.7 in x 32.3 in x 44.5 in
Seat Height: 32.1 in
Wheelbase: 55.3 in
Rake (Caster Angle): 25.0°
Trail: 3.5 in
Maximum Ground Clearance: 5.5 in
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal
Fuel Economy: 58 mpg
Wet Weight: 410 lb
Warranty: 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color: Matte Gray/Aluminum; Raspberry Metallic
Price: $8,499

References

2018 Ducati Scrambler Mach 2.0
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See our review of the Ducati Scrambler Mach 2.0.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: ducatiusa.com, yamaha-motor.com

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