A competent retro throwback for those who want a performance-driven parallel-twin but not the futuristic Transformer-like look of its MT-07 brethren.
Story by Costa Mouzouris
Photos by: Ben Quinn
In 2015, Yamaha brought the FZ-07 into North America, and the bike was exclusive to Canada that year, having skipped the U.S. market entirely. What was remarkable was that despite being limited in availability to only north of the border, Yamaha Canada managed to bring it in at a remarkably competitive price, though part of the deal was that it lacked ABS. The bike has done well for Yamaha, and it has been refreshed this year and renamed the MT-07, aligning it with its European nomenclature.
The MT-07 features modern styling with angular lines and a Transformer-like headlight pod, and will likely prove as popular as the original. However, maybe you’re not keen on the MT-07’s aggressively angular silhouette. Maybe you prefer more subdued styling, but would also like to enjoy the MT-07’s light weight, nimble handling and remarkably powerful engine. Well, Yamaha’s solution was to bring the XSR700 to Canada this year, a bike that has been available in Europe since 2016. Based on the MT-07, the XSR700 features styling with a retro flair.
Although even long-time riders might not see the resemblance, Yamaha’s literature for the XSR700 claims it “pays tribute to the iconic Yamaha XS650.” Well, we can’t see it, either, but at least like its XS650 ancestor, the XSR700 is powered by a parallel-twin. The XSR700 has a bulbous gas tank, a traditional round headlight nacelle, a taller handlebar that’s pulled back slightly and plastic panels below the tank that hide some of its mechanical bits; it also has a new sub-frame that sits more level than on the MT-07, though it raises the seat height by 10 mm to a rather tall 835 mm.
A Competitive Engine
Bolted into the frame is the now familiar liquid-cooled, 689 cc parallel-twin with a 270-degree crankshaft that Yamaha calls a “crossplane concept.” The engine produces 74 hp and 50 ft-lb of peak torque, which is quite strong in its class. That’s about 7 hp more than the Kawasaki Z650, and about on par with the Suzuki SV650X. Despite its high output, the engine runs on regular fuel, and valve service intervals are set at a lengthy 42,000 km.
The riding position is more upright than on the MT-07, with a bit more legroom due to its slightly taller seat. The tall seat does make it a bit of a stretch to reach the ground with both feet flat, but it’s flatter and more supportive than on the MT. Looking down from the seat you’ll find a large, round LCD display that includes a bar-type tachometer, large speedo digits, dual trip meters with fuel reserve countdown and a fuel economy computer, clock, gear-position indicator and ambient temperature gauge. It’s a rather comprehensive display for a bike in this category, and even includes an ECO indicator that lights up at light throttle settings should you need to conserve fuel after the reserve countdown starts counting down.
Claimed fuel consumption is 4.3 L/100 km, which should…