We’ve thoroughly enjoyed Yamaha’s middleweight FZ-/MT-07 since it came out back in 2015, so it was no surprise when EIC Tuttle became somewhat smitten with its neo-retro XSR700 iteration. With a higher, wider handlebar, a taller, cushier seat and firmer suspension than the standard FZ-07, plus the FZ’s signature light, flickable handling, spirited Crossplane-concept parallel twin and strong brakes, the XSR700 is an ideal daily commuter and weekend canyon carver.
We decided to add one to our long-term fleet, but with a few tweaks; as a commuter and daily runabout luggage was a requirement, with a garage full of comfy touring bikes we figured we’d never ride it two-up and there were a couple of “just because it looks cool” additions we wanted to make as well. So we ran it through Yamaha’s Genuine Accessory catalog and bolted on a set of Adventure Saddlebags ($505.98, including required Support Bars), a Solo Seat ($114.99) and Rear Rack ($119.99), a Smoked Micro Cowl windscreen ($174.99), a Radiator Guard ($149.99) and Radiator Side Covers ($119.99). The canvas-and-leather saddlebags are fairly small, but with ABS linings they hold their shape, making it easy to stuff them with the necessities: an extra pair of gloves, layers, a rain suit or a few groceries. Or, in the case of the photo to the left, some sandwiches and iced tea for a picnic lunch in the mountains.
As the XSR has broken in, we’ve noticed some quirks that weren’t apparent on our first ride. The old-school look Pirelli Sportscomp tires grip well enough in corners, but they have a tendency to wander on rain grooves—a minor annoyance at worst. More concerning is our test bike’s increasingly clunky gearbox; downshifts, especially when the bike is cold, require a hard push, and even when warm it’s not the smoothest tranny we’ve tested. Perhaps chalk it up to needing an oil change? We’ll report back after we’ve investigated. Otherwise, however, the XSR700 has continued to prove itself as a quick, fun, relatively comfortable sport standard, and with average fuel economy of 57.2 mpg it’s a stellar commuter (just keep it under 75 mph for optimum comfort).