2024 Yamaha XSR900 GP Review Alex riding Legend Red for BikeMatters

Style and substance, this is nostalgia ultra. The 2024 Yamaha XSR900 GP presents as a retro racer that is oh-so modern. It’s no direct replica of an old model, rather taking little bits from the YZR500, TZ250, 80s racers, and historic racing bikes of Yamaha’s past and playing all to the soundtrack of the fabulous 890cc CP3 triple from the MT-09.

The XSR900 GP is an amalgamation of retro racing nostalgia and flair with modern tech, and capable of all manner of riding styles. A B-road blast, turning heads in town, or even making you feel like a top-quality GP-level rider – speaking of, joining us at this launch in Portugal was none other than Niall Mackenzie!

It’s already a recipe for success, and since its reveal has rapidly become one of the most highly anticipated bikes in years – particularly for riders who are after a new bike with plenty of heritage behind it, and one that takes the framework of the XSR900 and adds a sportier position with clip-on bars and re-located footpegs, a new 5-inch TFT dash, fully adjustable KYB suspension, and a full electronics suite.

Now judging from our social pages alone it’s already immensely popular, and with that unique retro flair and modern tech, it’s bound for success, isn’t it? With a morning at Circuito de Estroil and an afternoon on beautiful Portuguese roads the prospect – let’s get to it.

2024 Yamaha XSR900 GP in Legend Red and Power Grey

Yamaha XSR900 GP Price, Colours, Availability

Priced up at £12,506 and ready for a first-wave delivery in late May into early June.

Two colour options are available for 2024, the legendary Marlboro racing colours, known as ‘Legend Red’, and the ‘Power Grey’ variant which looks seriously sleek. There’s no doubt in my mind that Yamaha will follow up with special edition units that pay homage to previous racing greats, and if not then the custom scene will certainly take a keen interest here. Some of the test models did have a slightly bubbling beneath the 'XSR900' logo on the fairing, but I’d expect that to be addressed in the final models ready for sale.

Yamaha expects these units to land in the UK dealership network in late May, with units trickling through from then onwards. The pre-order list is long, so you may want to get down to the local dealership to find out their approximate wait time if you’re interested – as mentioned, it’s a very popular bike…

For those after accessories, fear not. The Racer GP pack feature the lower fairing, tinted screen, Akrapovic exhaust, and rear tail tidy, available for an additional £2,950. Plenty of other options, too, though be very aware that your purchase price may go up and over those rose-tinted glasses you’re wearing!

Yamaha XSR900 GP at Circuito de Estoril

Style & Heritage – Retro Racing History

Obviously the style here is spot on, but further than that, it’s the intricate details and touches, the pins and bolts that hark back to days of old. That’s the key here, the Faster Sons philosophy is to take on the essence of the past and where Yamaha came from, and take this to a modern performance conscious rider who may also want to pick apart the racing and sports bike heritage on display.

You can see the influence of the TZ250 in the tail section, including painted number boards and 90s TZR250 D-ring fasteners, and as a note does actually feature a pillion seat under the cowling, and some smart pillion pegs that tuck away nicely along the subframe (sorry if your other half is reading this, and you’ve distinctly told them there’s only room for one).

Moving forward we find the Deltabox-style frame, with tweaks made to accommodate a sportier position found in this GP – alongside the clip-ons and adjustable footpegs (two positions, set in the upper position as standard).

Yamaha XSR900 GP with Racer GP pack

At the front, and the half-fairing. It’s a blend of styles, but most obviously pointing towards the YZR500 and the 1980s as a whole. Then are the new clip-ons mounted above the top yoke with machined tops, the R-clips that connect the struts, and the more modern twin projector beam headlight.

The lower fairing is a part of the Racer GP pack, or as a standalone option, and otherwise, the engine is a stressed member that appears to hang in the balance. That look could be a bit marmite, and initially, I wasn't a fan and thought it was distinctly lacking a lower fairing to complete it. But over the day of riding, I grew to quite enjoy the look.

Yamaha stresses that this isn’t an out-and-out racing bike, but rather a naked bike with some sporting pedigree – you can pootle around town fairly comfortably, or tuck in and blast down the B-roads.

Yamaha XSR900GP 2024 on Estoril Circuit

This GP distinctly appeals to a number of riders – those with the aforementioned rose-tinted glasses on, yearning for days and bikes of old, the retro race fan who wants something new and modern but with plenty of racing and/or two-stroke heritage style to park up and ogle at, then finally those who want the style of a classic racer, but not the accompanying pitfalls (maintenance, lack of electronic assists, overall difficulty to ride).

In any case, pull up to any bike meet or red light and this will attract attention. It certainly did everywhere we went in Portugal!

XSR900 GP with CP3 triple engine

Engine – XSR900 GP’s star of the show

Famed for its use in the MT-09 (and Tracer 9 GT+ that I love so much), we move to the 890cc CP3 engine. Torque everywhere, the motor feels like a pure extension to your wrist, and mated to a 6-speed gearbox with assist and slipper clutch and third-generation quickshifter, it’s quite possibly one of the best motors on the market today.

Power figures sit at 117 bhp at 10,000 rpm (redline is about 10,500 rpm), and peak torque is found at 7,000 rpm. Whilst our track visit to Estoril was evidently quite short and more of a photo and video opportunity, it was still more than enough to showcase the raw potential of this motor in this format. I can’t imagine many owners will head straight to the track, but a machine dressed as a GP racer does need to walk the walk!

On the road it was a pleasure to ride with. Smooth yet energetic and responsive enough to pick up in any gear, the quickshifter also works supremely well, allowing you to shift both up and down regardless of if you’re opening or closing the throttle – so you can blip down a couple of gears whilst accelerating to go for that quick overtake. Downshifts are accompanied by lovely burbles and bangs from the underslung exhaust, a truly addicting noise in an increasingly low-emissions-centric and Euro5+ dominated world - which this motor of course adheres to.

As a final note on the engine, it’s particularly exciting to see Yamaha dip its toes into R9 territory…

Yamaha XSR900GP front wheel brakes and suspension

Handling – Suspension, Brakes, Wheels

As you’d expect for a GP-themed bike, the rider’s triangle is angled forward to put weight over the nose, and the suspension has been adjusted accordingly with this in mind. Key to that is the high-spec fully adjustable KYB suspension setup, with the speciality Yamaha 17-inch spinforged wheels front and rear trod with Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S23 hoops.

Naturally, with the Deltabox-style frame, sharp responsive handling is a benchmark that carries over here – and with tweaks made to the engine mount brackets and headstock brackets, plus a CP3-first aluminium steering tube and thicker subframe plate, it’s well set.

Despite weighing 200 kg wet with a rather long 1500 mm wheelbase, the GP feels agile on its feet and lightweight when changing direction, yet maintains stability in acceleration and deceleration.

Yamaha XSR900 GP on track at Estoril

With a softer spring at the rear than the XSR900 as more weight is towards the nose, you can adjust the rear preload with a twist dial instantly, and the upside-down front forks for preload, compression and rebound. Effectively this bike can be fine-tuned to suit your needs, though you can’t escape the semi-sporty race position during longer days in the saddle.

Utilising a new 16mm Brembo radial front master cylinder, the braking felt sharp and controlled on first initial application, and when progressively loaded you can rapidly slow up – and trigger the hazard lights that’ll flash on sudden braking. There is a twin 298mm disc brake up front, with a 245 mm single disc at the rear, and a few ABS settings to control how much intervention comes in.

Overall, handling on the XSR900 GP is top quality, whether out on twistier roads, fast-paced sections, or cruising around town. It’s still a naked bike, after all, so it has to tick these boxes!

Yamaha 5-inch TFT Dash

Full Electronics Suite for the Retro Racer

There is naturally quite a lot to cover in the electronics department, with the XSR900 GP housing all of the latest electronic rider aids that you may need. A 6-axis IMU, Yamaha Ride Control (YRC) with 3 rider modes plus two custom modes, a 5-inch TFT dash with phone integration (and free Garmin map support for turn-by-turn navigation, cruise control, a new layout for the switchgear with rocker indicators and a joystick as opposed to the previous scroll wheel. 

Diving deeper into the lean-sensitive rider electronics, you have traction control and slide control, lift control, brake control system, and the ability to tweak all of the rider intervention systems in the custom modes. If you’re after a full GP racer effect from the 70s, you can go full power and as little intervention as possible – or you can create a ‘super rain’ mode with everything as easygoing as possible.

I spent the majority of the day in Sport mode, with a few goes at Street, and Rain. They work just as you’d expect, with the direct power delivery and full-throttle action available in Sport, and a dulled experience for adverse weather riding.

Road ride XSR900 GP

Yamaha packed a pre-loaded smartphone under the seat and connected it up to the dash for us, so despite being led by a lead rider on the 200 km ride day, we also were able to switch the TFT (which I had in the analogue theme) to show a live map with directions.

It also showed the current speed limit of the road you’re riding, which was quite a nice touch. The TFT was clear and updated quickly, and the MyRide app from Yamaha allows your smartphone to pair nicely. You will also find a USB-C socket up front hidden beneath the top fairing if you need to route a charger.

Particularly useful was the TFT integration with the MyRide app, particularly for maps navigation along the route, handily providing speed limits for the current road where possible – and navigating the menus which the switchgear was extremely effective. All in, an impressive electronics package is on hand, here.

Yamaha XSR900 GP riding on track

Yamaha XSR900 GP Spec and Features

Rounding up the XSR900 GP, we have the final specs and features worth shouting about.

You'll find a 14 Litre tank, and though obviously difficult to provide a final range figure on a limited first test including a brief track session – nevertheless I’d expect around 150 miles per fill-up (that’ll have to be confirmed in future reviews).

You have a seat height of 835 mm, mostly due to a thick seat padding, but despite this towards the end of the day in the saddle my legs were getting quite cramped up – it is a sporty position for your legs, after all. Rider comfort may not be at the forefront of the mind, however, and it’s unlikely any rider would be after this model purely for comfort and long-distance touring in mind - there are other models in the Yamaha range far more adept at that.

Mirrors are bar-end mounted, and provided a good view behind you, with little to no vibrations at speed – and speaking of, at the top end the bike remained serene and seated.


A flock of Yamaha XSR900 GP motorcycles

2024 Yamaha XSR900 GP Pros and Cons


  • A beautiful use of the CP3 triple motor, great fun to ride.
  • Simply stunning, with plenty of heritage and details the more you look.
  • A full state-of-the-art electronics suite.


  • Slightly uncomfortable over long distances.
  • Add the Racer GP pack and you're looking at a £15,000 motorcycle.
Alex and the Yamaha XSR900 GP

Yamaha XSR900 GP – A Retro Racer Conclusion

This Yamaha XSR900 GP simply wows from a stylistic point of view, as not only is it the embodiment of Yamaha’s racing heritage and road bike history, but a signifier for what makes the tuning fork brand hit the note just right every time.

Matching that nostalgic heritage and history with the phenomenal CP3 motor and state-of-the-art electronics package is of course going to be an absolute delight to ride – and that it was. As far as launch rides go, having the feeling of wanting to get back out on the road instantly can often be fleeting, but not here.

A perfect synergy of style with substance is found, here, and it’s quite possible that at the latter end of the launch calendar for motorcycles in the UK – it turns out there was something worth waiting for. If you can stomach the price (whether paying in full or in monthly instalments), just know this bike is nothing short of something spectacular to ride.

A big thanks goes to Yamaha UK for having us on the launch, head to their website for more information on what could be the bike of the year…

2024 Yamaha XSR900 GP review