XSR700: Yamaha embraces the neo-retro craze with “modern classic” MT-07 makeover
As Yamaha embraces the neo-retro frenzy that has taken over the motorcycle industry, its XSR700is the first model inspired by the Yard Built custom series to go into massproduction. The brand new vintage-styled MT-07 (FZ-07) variant draws influencefrom the Faster Sons concept motorcycle, with its name paying homage to the iconicXS650 twin from the 1970s.
The basisfor the XSR700 is the MT-07 roadster, and in technical terms there isn’t much toseparate the two models. Engine, frame, suspension and brakes are identical, asYamaha understandably relied on a very competent package that has hit the bestsellers’ list in several countries. The 689 cc twin with the crossplane 270-degreecrank pushes out 74.8 hp (55.8 kW) and 68 Nm (49.9 lb-ft) of torque, which is morethan enough for a vigorous ride from the 186 kg (410 lb) motorcycle.
The vintage effect is provided by elements such as the headlight, the aluminum fuel tankand the tail/seat unit. Complemented by scrambler-style handlebars, the resultarguably owes more to Ducati’s Scrambler than the Faster Sons custom thatYamaha states as a source of inspiration.
Availablein Forest Green and Garage Metal colors, it will go on sale in November,apparently after a proper presentation at EICMA in Milan, Italy. The XSR700will be escorted by a substantial catalogue of model specific accessories aswell as a dedicated clothing line. The only thing that remains to be disclosedis the price tag. In Europe the MT-07 costs in the range of €6,000 to €6,500(US$6,500-7,000) depending on the country, and goes for $7,000 in the US. If the XSR700 attracts a similar price tag, it would make fora pretty attractive value-for-money bike.
The modernclassic scene has boomed in the last few years, encouraged by thephenomenal success Triumph has enjoyed with its Bonneville series. Individual custombuilders have flooded the global market, offering a huge variety of builds rangingfrom rejuvenated old motorcycles to modern models obscured behind retro designs.
Severalmainstream manufacturers have also jumped in for a slice of the pie. Honda came up withthe CB1100 classic roadster and BMW invested on the R NineT, yet itwas Ducati that hit the jackpot with the already iconic Scrambler. TheItalians report a 22 percent sales hike for the first half of 2015, with almosta third of this achieved single-handedly by the Scrambler – 9,000 units by Junefor a motorcycle that hit the markets in March! Can they produce them fastenough?
Yamaha is acting upon what appears to be a carefully designed strategy. For several years it has been marketing the Yard Built custom series as a collection of one-offmotorcycles by renowned custom shops from all over the world. All these customsare based on the Sport Heritage lineup, spearheaded by the mental V-Max and alsoincluding the XJR1300, XV950 and the SR400.
A few days ago Yamaha announced acompetition for its European dealers to create their own customs based on the aboveSport Heritage models, using only official after-market parts and accessories. Laterin the year, the same competition will open up to the public. Sounds like a veryclever way to form a bond with customers, create a lot of publicity and market theaccessories’ range all at the same time.
The FasterSons custom project is a Yard Built spin-off series, not necessarily restrictedto specific models. Yamaha uses this concept to sponsor fashionable events likethe Wheels and Waves in Biaritz, France in June, headlining with a parade ofYard Built customs and the public debut of the first Faster Sons custom, a ShinyaKimura café racer take on the MT-07. The XSR700 unveiling came less than amonth later. We should expect more such models from Yamaha in the near future.
Thecompetition is definitely planning several more modern classics. Triumph isabout to reveal a new liquid-cooled 1,100 cc Bonneville engine and is rumoredto use it in at least three different models: a classic roadster, a scramblerand a bobber. Some of these have already been photographed during testing. BMWwill almost certainly present a scrambler version of the R NineT, while Suzuki issaid to have a Gladius-based scrambler on the way.
Is this goingbackwards or, as Yamaha eloquently put it in the video presentation below, born tomorrow?