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Opinion: Yamaha XS 650 and Yamaha XSR 700

MT-07 as XS 650 heiress?

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Uli Holzwarth on Yamaha’s desperate efforts to convert an MT-07 into an XS 650 heiress so that she can surf the current retro wave.

D.And don’t get us wrong: I have nothing against retro motorcycles. On the contrary, I am pleased that after many years of uniform design in the manga comic style, there are finally motorcycles at dealerships that even warm the hearts of classic enthusiasts. More and more manufacturers have recognized the signs of the times and are trying to swim with the retro wave.

Opinion: Yamaha XS 650 and Yamaha XSR 700

MT-07 as XS 650 heiress?

Spoken Marketing "Faster Sounds"


"The oversized lamp pot looks like a foreign body.", says Uli Holzwarth.

This is exactly where the Yamaha XSR 700 lacks. Because you can see at first glance the "classic" version of the huge pull-ups that were needed, the very successful and – by today’s standards – stylistically quite handsome Yamaha MT-07 somehow to trim to classic. No wonder that the supposedly traditional ingredients such as the oversized lamp pot of the round headlight and the LED rear light, which is also too large, look more like foreign bodies on this strained structure. This also applies to the towering aluminum covers of the tank due to the MT-07 frame, which give the XSR 700 a strangely humped profile. No, for me the Yamaha XSR 700 doesn’t show any classic approaches, just the limits of the modular system!

And because maybe even one or the other at Yamaha saw this, the XSR 700 was quickly given a new philosophy called “Faster Sons”. In the most beautiful marketing jargon, this should be understood as “motorcycles that are influenced by the past but are designed for the future”. Aha.

Confused accumulation of darkest possible components

Classic chic? A cover would have really made sense here.

In this specific case, the Yamaha XSR 700 should pay particular respect to the Yamaha XS 650 and continue its tradition. However, this can only be obvious if, like these creatives in their philosophy, two wheels, a motor and the frame as the connecting genetic elements between old and new are considered sufficient. Dear people, just a reminder: This is what about 99.8 percent of all motorized two-wheelers have looked like for over 100 years!

Which is why the still very lively XS community reacts with some amazement to this convulsive derivation of traditional values. Ulli Lotzsch, a veteran of the XS scene for over 40 years with several of these 650 twins in the garage, loves the Yamaha XS 650, “because it is so well proportioned, acoustically spoiled with its wonderful sound, offers a relaxed attitude and increasingly gets admiring glances from young and old ”. For the 73-year-old, the Yamaha XSR 700 lacks these characteristics: “It consists of a confused accumulation of metal and plastic elements that are as dark as possible, because that’s very cool at the moment. Those who suffer from this should be happy with it – it will probably work. However, functionality would not be enough for me as the sole selling point. I cannot find a relationship to the Yamaha XS 650. "

A question of personal taste

Classic faux pas: traditionalists love analog instead of digital advertisements.

XS 650 forum member Manfred Schopf sees it similarly: “The fascination of modern motorcycles in terms of performance, fuel consumption, chassis or ABS, but they just don’t look like ‘our’ motorcycles anymore. If various manufacturers want to jump on the current train – with pleasure. The Yamaha XSR 700 has nothing to do with the ‘best design from the Yamaha past’. ”Period.

Whether a motorcycle looks good is of course always a question of personal taste. For me, however, good design reveals itself at first glance, it doesn’t need any explanations. And certainly not a crude philosophy as with the XSR 700. I would therefore like the "quick sons" to look again with their fathers in the rearview mirror. They could certainly explain to today’s handlebars what Yamaha once stood for. And thus perhaps prevent motorcycles like the Yamaha XSR 700 from being thrown by the retro wave exactly onto those inexorable cliffs of customer taste on which so many half-baked concepts – by no means only from Yamaha – have been shattered.

Uli Holzwarth is a senior editor at MOTORRAD Classic.

Uli Holzwarth: The Yamaha MT-07 is a great motorcycle and certainly a good basis for other model variants with which development costs can be refinanced cheaply. As the starting product for a retro blend that refers to the genes of the Yamaha XS 650, the modern styled twin is a classic mistake for me. And that’s why the "Faster Sons" marketing boom is just embarrassing.

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