Abarth, the Italian tuning company most known for modifying little Fiats has stepped into the two-wheeled game. Yamaha who as of late has been cranking out hit after hit, decided they wanted something with a short run and a lot of style. This is how we got the XSR900 Abarth.
The standard XSR900 is based off the extremely well-reviewed FZ-09 that Yamaha brought to market back in 2015. They share the same chassis and the same inline 3-cylinder power plant. The difference between the XSR is the body. The XSR gave the platform new styling, an edgier look that some called cafe. Those people were very wrong. While it’s a great looking machine, it’s no cafe racer. The riding position was too upright, and the bodywork was all wrong. It was much more of just a ‘standard’ motorcycle. And that’s not a bad thing. The XSR was never meant to meet any of these wild expectations that were set in front of it, it was just meant to ride and ride well. In that aspect, it succeeded.
And this is where Abarth comes into play. The XSR900 Abarth is a glorious matchup that was extremely unexpected. Yamaha is reserved and precise, building its motorcycles like the swiss build their watches. And Abarth? they are as quirky as they are quick, showing as much character as possible in the smallest of packages. So to see these names together can only result in a brilliant or absurd package, there is no in between. Luckily for all of us, The XSR Abarth is absolutely perfect.
The standard XSR may not be a cafe racer but it sure lends itself well to be turned into one. Abarth used the same principles they use on their cars and applied them to the XSR. This means the special edition Yamaha gets a full carbon makeover in the form of the half fairing, as well as the radical tail section. The LED tail light is neatly integrated into the tip of the rear seat cowl, giving the Abarth body lines like a bullet. On top of that Abarth gave the XSR true clubman handlebars, a welcome change in the world of clip-ons. If you don’t know what I’m talking about let me explain.
There are two types of handlebars in the world of motorcycles. First, you have your standard riser bars, the type you find on most of your ‘standard’ motorcycles, like the Ducati Monster, Triumph Bonneville, and even the stock XSR. Second, you have clip-ons, which are separate from left to right and they bolt directly to the front forks. Hence the wonderful term, clip-on. These are the types of bars you find on race-ready motorcycles like the GSX-R1000, CBR1000RR, and so on and so forth. They are used primarily to change the riding position to that of one that is much more aggressive, lending to more control in a race environment.
So now that you the different types of handlebars its time to understand what clubman bars are and why they are so significant on a bike like the Abarth. Clubman bars have a long standing history in the cafe racer movement. Back in the 70’s when cafe racers became prominent, clip-ons were not readily available to the average Joe. Clip-ons were race pieces used by the pros. So What did the club racers and folks that just wanted the look do? They flipped their bars upside down, naturally. This gave the cockpit a much more aggressive angle, allowing for better handling of the bike. Soon bars would be produced specifically to mimic the riding position of clip-ons while utilizing the standard bar mounts, and the clubman handlebar was born.
But now you can find almost any part for any motorcycle in the world, allowing most people to run clip-ons on everything down the line. That aspect of cafe racers is extinct. Or at least it was. The XSR Abarth sporting a true clubman bar is the perfect note to show how crazy the Italian company really is. It gives the cockpit such a distinctive character. Add in a gorgeous digital tachometer/speedo combo and you have a fantastic retro look.
On top of the gorgeous bodywork and fantastic cockpit, we are left with the same platform that won its fair share of awards. The 847cc triple puts out a crisp 115hp and 65ft-lbs of torque. The exhaust note is enhanced by the full titanium Akropovic exhaust system, that also saves the new Abarth some weight. Other amenities come in the form of a full suede seat and Abarth logos as far as the eye can see.
Only a total of 695 XSR900 Abarths will be sold, so they will be extremely exclusive. This is in fact a good thing, who wants to see a bunch of people riding around on the same bike as you? We unfortunately don’t have a release date or prices yet, but it should be coming soon. Until then we will have to drool over its pure cafe racer glory.