The 2022 Yamaha XSR700 gets a few updates this year, and that’s as good an excuse as any to swing a leg over the retro-styled upright naked sportbike. The updates are both technical and aesthetic, so let’s go riding in and out of town.
- The 2022 Yamaha XSR700 is based on the modern MT-07 sportbike. In transitioning the angularly contemporary 2020s MT-07 into the 1980s-inspired XSR700, Yamaha didn’t touch the chassis or motor. Instead, Yamaha took a route focused on the riding experience. Thankfully, the brand didn’t use period-correct oddities like an 18-inch front wheel; only the ergonomics make a difference in how the XSR rides compared to the MT-07. Yamaha gave the XSR a rounder fuel tank, a taller and wider handlebar, and a dual-bucket seat. Oh, and Yamaha had KYB remove the rebound damping adjustability of the shock—gotta keep things authentic, apparently.
- Ergonomically, the XSR700 is the classic Yamaha intended to be. The seating position is comfortably upright and casual. The seat, pegs, and grips are right where I want them for all-around urban, suburban, and rural riding. The stepped bucket-style seat is cushy, though a bit narrow in the front where I tended to sit—a strategy that benefits shorter-inseamed riders at stops.
- The Crossplane Concept parallel-twin has been a favorite of ours since its introduction seven years ago. With a 270-degree crank that mimics the feel of a V-twin, the XSR700’s 689cc powerplant literally purrs. It has a wonderful throb at lower rpm and plenty of pull right through the midrange, making it equally effecting in urban and sporting environments. Despite a 10,000 rpm redline thanks to double overhead cams, not much happens after 8k rpm other than noticeable buzziness, so use the nicely shifting six-speed transmission as needed. It’s versatile, too, as it feels at home in the adventurous Ténéré 700, naked sport MT-07, and supersport YZF-R7.
- As much as we like the XSR’s engine package, we’d like to lobby for a few improvements. The fueling when completely closing the throttle or opening up the throttle from completely closed can be a bit notchy. If you have a deft wrist and take advantage of that skill, you can keep it smooth in both directions. However, if you don’t give the throttle your full attention, you’ll notice the slight jar. The transmission is superb, but the clutch is falling behind compared to the competition—it has neither assist nor slipper functions. A lighter clutch pull is always welcome, especially in traffic, and we skipped the rear tire a few times on downshifts during spirited canyon riding.
- The 2022 Yamaha XSR700 loves urban riding. While smaller uprights are great in tight quarters, they lack exciting motor performance. The XSR700 peels away from red lights with authority, even if you aren’t twisting the throttle to its stop. Plentiful low-rpm torque requires no effort to manage, and acceleration is a crack of the throttle away. Should you need access to a freeway, the XSR700 blasts up to 100 mph with gleeful ease. You won’t be intimidated when the traffic flow is over 80 mph, as it can be on Los Angeles freeways, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Fortunately, the XSR700’s agile handling doesn’t compromise stability at freeway velocities. Happily, even though it’s an upright naked motorcycle, you don’t feel like you’re going to get blown off at speed.
- Enthusiastic canyon carving is an XSR700 specialty. While it’s not for the 10-10ths rider, the XSR700 is more than capable of sporty riding when the road gets twisty. The broad powerband means you don’t have to spend much time shifting, so you can focus on technique and hitting your line. Should you find yourself off your intended line in a corner, the 410-pound XSR is more than willing to accommodate mid-corner corrections. If you put in too much body English, you’ll find yourself standing up the XSR700 to prevent completing the corner too soon. It’s not that the XSR corners abruptly—it’s just willing to execute your input without delay. Experienced riders will extract everything that handling attribute has to offer, while newer riders can correct lines with ease.
- Bumpy corners are kryptonite to the XSR700. The suspension does a fine job of absorbing bumps. However, it’s not so effective at settling the bike afterward. The shock has no damping adjustments, and it clearly needs rebound clickers to slow its movement. When hitting a rough patch, the back end jumps up too quickly, extending the time before the XSR gets settled. As the frequency and intensity of the bumps in the road increase, the problem feeds on itself. Smooth corners are no problem for the XSR700, and you’ll never even think about the shock’s behavior.
- The new front discs make a significant difference when you need to decelerate. The first time I went out on the 2022 Yamaha XSR700, I hadn’t read up on the changes—I wanted to go out with a clear head. One of the things I noticed was that the bike was willing to slow down much more aggressively than I remembered. Well, there’s a reason for that. The old XSR700 had twin 282mm discs, while the ’22 ups the diameter to 298mm. The initial engagement remains pleasantly gentle, with the capability of the larger discs revealing themselves when clamping down hard for a tight corner after a long straight.
- No matter where you ride the 2022 Yamaha XSR700, you’ll appreciate the Michelin Road 5 tires. We’re big fans of the rubber, as it helps the motorcycle perform better in several ways. Corner confidence is increased, handling is predictable, and the traction is there for both braking and accelerating.
- The other updates are a new LED headlight, a repositioned dash, and new switchgear. The headlight is still round, so it continues to match the dash and taillight, though, curiously, not the turn signals. Although the round dash unit looks like an old-school analog speedometer, it’s a reverse LCD display—modern, not retro. The new switchgear is intuitive; the displayed dash information is scrolled through with your left index finger.
- Yamaha gets an additional $900 for the XSR700 compared to the MT-07. You can’t justify the difference from a practical standpoint—the MT-07’s more aggressive ergos make it a marginally better sportbike, though not quite as good for urban use. So, you’ll pay the premium because you like the looks—a completely reasonable proposition. If you’re wondering where the paint scheme on the XSR700 came from, check out the tank striping on the early-‘80s Yamaha Seca sportbikes.
- The 2022 Yamaha XSR700 is a wonderfully versatile motorcycle that’s easy to live with. Because you can do so many fun things effortlessly on this motorcycle, it’s a hard one to resist when it’s in the garage. While we might wish for a few more retro touches—say, the exhaust—it will take a lot more than that to wipe the smiles off our faces.
Photography by Kelly Callan
- Helmet: Arai Defiant-X
- Jacket: Cortech Vader
- Back protection: Cortech Safe Tech
- Gloves: Racer Gloves USA Kansas
- Jeans: Noru Kodo
- Shoes: Fly Racing M16 Textile
2022 Yamaha XSR700 Specifications
- Engine: Parallel twin
- Displacement: 689cc
- Bore x stroke: 80.0 x 68.6mm
- Compression ratio: 11.5:1
- Valve train: DOHC; 4vpc
- Cooling: Liquid
- Transmission: 6-speed
- Clutch: Web multiplate
- Final drive: Chain
- Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable 41mm KYB fork; 5.1 inches
- Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted, cantilevered spring-preload adjustable KYB shock; 5.1 inches
- Tires: Michelin Road 5
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17
- Rear tire: 180/55 x 17
- Front brakes: 298mm discs w/ 4-piston calipers
- Rear brake: 245mm disc
- ABS: Standard
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 55.1 inches
- Rake: 24.8 degrees
- Trail: 3.5 inches
- Seat height: 31.7 inches
- Fuel capacity 3.7 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 58 mpg
- Curb weight: 410 pounds
- Color: Raven
2022 Yamaha XSR700 Price: $8799