Yamaha's XSR900 Abarth goes up against retro rivals

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Laura Thomson gets behind the bars of Yamaha’s limited-edition XSR900 Abarth to see what’s what

What’s new?

This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing – a 113bhp, inline triple in a classic café racer body.

Yamaha has established itself as a strong contender in the ‘neo-retro’ scene with the XSR900 Abarth – a dramatically styled, limited edition version of the pre-existing model.

The XSR900 Abarth is the fruit of a ten-year collaboration between the Japanese bike builder and Italian sportscar manufacturer Abarth, and is matched perfectly to a special edition Abarth 695.

The XSR900 is powered by a 847cc engine

Only 695 of the motorcycles will be built, with less than 60 slated to come to the UK. At £9,999 it is not the cheapest in its class, but its combination of style, performance and uniqueness will ensure its popularity.

Looks and image

The XSR900 Abarth is, without a doubt, one of the most eye-catching ‘yard-built’ production models around.


A host of carbon components complement the Pista grey paint job, while a red Abarth stripe cuts horizontally across the tank.

While the carbon suits the colour scheme, its implementation is a little questionable. The ‘afterburner’ rear seat cowl, which curls around the tail light, looks slightly odd, as does the bulbous bikini fairing. That said, they aren’t deal breakers on the bike.

Retro motorbike enthusiasts will love the XSR900's styling

The full Akrapovic exhaust system, made of stainless steel and titanium, is a striking addition to the model, and almost justifies the £1,700 premium over the standard XSR 900.


Abarth scorpion badging features across the bike, while an aluminum plaque with the bike’s unique build number reminds the rider of the bike’s exclusivity.

Safety and practicality

With a middling seat height of 830mm, wet weight of 195kg and neutrally positioned pegs the XSR900 Abarth is an accessible model.

Its swallowtail handlebars are reminiscent of sporty clip-ons, and can appear intimidating and uncomfortable on first impression.

The XSR900 will appeal to retro riders

However, these bullish bars belie the comfortable ride and combined with the lumbar support on the suede armadillo seat, which pushes the rider forward onto the tank, make for a relatively comfortable ride, both at high speeds and low.

Value for money

At £9,999 – £1,700 more than standard XSR900 and just £800 less than Yamaha’s MT10 – you would need to be pretty invested in your yard built culture to opt for the XSR900 Abarth.

On paper, the additions to the base model may make this premium seem a tad excessive. After all, what you’re getting is an Akra exhaust, couple of carbon add-ons, bullish bars and wrist-ache.

That said, this is still a potentially cheaper and easier entry into the café racer scene than customising your own bike.

Who would buy one?

Yamaha is targeting a ‘mature and refined’ audience with the XSR 900 Abarth. And in the company’s own words, the bike should appeal to ‘hedonist’ and ‘show off’ riders.

Realistically, it will be bought by riders wanting the ‘yard-built’ feel, but with a production model price and reliability. With so few slated to make it to the UK, it will be as unique as if it was a custom.


Model: Yamaha XSR900 Abarth
Engine tested: 847cc three-cylinder
Price as tested: £9,999
Power: 113bhp
Torque: 87.5Nm
Max speed: 150mph
0-60mph: N/A
MPG: 5.2l/100km
Emissions: 102g/km

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