Abarth 695 XSR Limited Edition car. Although calling the XSR a new model is a bit of a stretch of the imagination.
Sting in the tail?
To be brutally honest, the XSR900 Abarth is an exercise in styling rather than a tuned to the hilt special. Taking the standard XSR900 as a base, Yamaha has left the chassis and engine untouched and instead modified the bike's aesthetics using various bolt-on extras. As well as an absolutely stunning 'afterburner' carbon pillion seat cover you get a carbon nose fairing (taken from the XJR1300 Racer) and a carbon front mudguard. Attached to the motor is a road legal stainless steel Akrapovic exhaust system boasting twin stack titanium silencers while the suede seat gains a bit of red stitching. Add to this a tail tidy and a few final touches of grey paint with some scorpion Abarth logos lacquered in it and it all adds up to quite a stylish package. And one that at £9,999 is just £1,700 more than a stock XSR, despite the fact it is limited (like the car) to just 695 units worldwide. But, as you can spot from the images, there is one addition to the XSR that I haven't mentioned - its bars...
I have no problem at all with items being added to a bike in the name of fashion, just not when they ruin the fun. And in the case of the Abarth replica, those bars almost destroy what is in every other way a brilliant motorcycle.
The swallow tail bars (which are an official Yamaha accessory for the XSR) are really extreme, not only in their downwards angle but also their position on the bike, forcing huge amounts of weight onto your wrists. On the Abarth you almost feel as if you are lying flat on the bike, which I guess is kind of authentic to retro cafe racers, but for a modern road bike it is way too extreme. At slow speed it only takes a few miles before you are shaking life back into your aching wrists. And if you hit a bump in the road it's agony. Up the pace and things do improve marginally as the wind effect supports your body slightly, helping reduce the strain on your wrists. But it's still fairly uncomfortable. However, there are a few (small) upsides to these bars.
I am a massive fan of the XSR900. Its triple engine is an absolute barnstormer and the chassis and electronics equally impressive. It's one of those bikes that just makes me grin when I ride it and is pure joy on the road. And the Abarth rep very nearly makes it even better. The look is fantastic and the pipes, half fairing and dashes of carbon really work. The 'afterburner' pillion seat cover itself is a work of art, absolutely stunning to look at and it gives the tail a sharp look from behind. The grey paint with the Abarth logo is sporty but subtle (the eagle-eyed may spot it is a different shade to the car's paint) and I like limited edition vehicles and their associated exclusivity.
If you are into retro bikes, but want one that performs with modern spirit, try an XSR900 for size as they are brilliant. But if you are considering the Abarth replica, take one out for a spin and see if you get on with those bars as for me they ruin the riding position and I'm not sure if the front fairing will allow them to be swapped for less extreme ones without running into interference issues.
Yamaha XSR900 Abarth PH Clip - watch the video here
YAMAHA XSR900 ABARTH
Engine: 847cc inline triple, 12v
Power: 113hp@ 10,000rpm
Torque: 64.5lbft @ 8,500rpm
Top speed: 140mph (est)
Weight: 195kg (wet)
MPG: 44mpg (est)