2022 Yamaha XSR900 vs. Kawasaki Z900RS

Whenever the rivalry between Yamaha and Kawasaki is discussed, the two motorcycles that paint the discussion are mainly the blue-eyed boy Yamaha YZF-R1 and the green poison Kawasaki ZX-10R. However, there is more to the story than just the liter-class rivalry, as there are several bikes from both bike manufacturers that are head-on rivals.

Two such bikes are the Yamaha XSR900 and the Kawasaki Z900RS – the two best neo-retro roadsters from the Japanese giants. The Yamaha XSR900 and Kawasaki Z900RS caught the world’s attention at EICMA held in different years, with the XSR900 at EICMA 2015 and the Z900RS at EICMA 2017. To date, both motos managed to keep the game neck and neck.

But now a new XSR900 has arrived in 2021, which has upped its game with a slightly revised fuel tank and tail section and new electronics. Meanwhile, the Z900RS has remained unchanged since 2017. Are the changes to the Yamaha XSR900 so good to give it a significant advantage over the Kawasaki Z900RS? We compare these two motorcycles exhaustively to find the answer.

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Yamaha XSR900 vs. Kawasaki Z900RS: the numbers speak

To meet stricter Euro 5 emissions standards, Yamaha has increased the size of the Crossplane inline-triple engine from the previous iteration of the XSR900. The 847 cc engine came out to accommodate a new 890 cc inline three-cylinder engine, which was more environmentally friendly and more powerful than before. The new 2022 version of the Yamaha XSR900 retains this upgraded, liquid-cooled, 12-valve, 890cc inline three-cylinder engine, which claims an output of 117 hp at 10,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 68, 6 lb-ft at 7,000 rpm. .


On the other hand, the 948cc liquid-cooled inline-four engine of the Kawasaki Z900RS engine has remained unchanged since the motorcycle’s debut in 2017. The inline-four mill of the Z900RS has an additional cylinder and is larger than the 890cc inline. -three engine of the XSR900. However, the Z900RS’ inline-four runs at a lower compression ratio of 10.8:1 compared to the XSR900’s 11.5:1. This results in a lower power output of 109.5 hp at 8,500 rpm, but a higher torque output of 72.3 lb-ft at 6,500 rpm. These two motorcycles here receive 6-speed gearboxes with assistance and slipper clutch.


While the Kawasaki Z900Rs higher torque output should give it an edge over the XSR900 in urban conditions, the Yamaha here is nearly 50 pounds lighter in comparison. The lower curb weight and higher power output help the XSR900 achieve a better power-to-weight ratio, giving it a slightly better quarter-mile time.

Yamaha XSR900 Vs Kawasaki Z900RS: Driving Aids

With this latest update, Yamaha has ensured the XSR900 joins the league of best-equipped bikes in the house of triple-adjust forks. It now has a host of electronics and driving aids, including the six-axis IMU with cornering ABS and tilt-sensitive traction control, slip control, engine brake control and control wheel. All of these features have taken the agility and safety of the new Yamaha XSR900 to a new level.


Compared to the XSR900, the Kawasaki Z900RS feels a bit basic, with only standard dual-channel ABS and traction control. The Z900RS’ partially digital instrument console with a small LCD panel between two rounded analog modules seems more in line with the neo-retro theme. But the XSR900’s color TFT unit is far more informative and futuristic to look at.

Yamaha XSR900 VS Kawasaki Z900RS: Neo-retro steering

Both the Yamaha XSR900 and Kawasaki Z900RS have the charm of conventional neo-retro roadsters, making them stylish machines. However, with the recent update, the Yamaha XSR900 has put more emphasis on the “neo” prefix.


In addition to the color TFT instrument console, the XSR900 also benefits from more modern LED lighting all around. It also looks muscular with the beefier fuel tank, taller aluminum swingarm and new cafe-racer-like seat with a bump in its design.

Both bikes here feature fully adjustable inverted telescopic forks with a 120/70 ZR17 tire up front and a rear-linked monoshock with a 180/55 ZR17 tire in the rear. However, the Z900RS has a shorter wheelbase of almost 1 inch, which should add a slight agility in its favor.

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2022 Yamaha XSR900 vs. Kawasaki Z900RS: Our Pick

In its updated form, the new Yamaha XSR900 has become more “neo” than “retro” with a more muscular design. But when it comes to neo-retro roadsters in general, a cleaner look with more emphasis on the “retro” part is always appreciated. This is where the Z900RS steps forward with its more old-school essence in its design. However, looks are indeed subjective, and many might prefer the novelty of the XSR900 more.

If you move past the form part, things become a little clearer. The XSR900 has additional new-era features like full LED lighting and a full TFT instrument console and has a long list of driver aids, none of which are offered in the Z900RS, even as options. Adding more woes for the Z900RS is its higher asking price of $11,949 – nearly $2,000 more than the better-equipped Yamaha XSR900.

So. If you are someone who makes reasonable decisions considering all factors, the Yamaha XSR900 is the one your brain should choose, based on the best specs it claims. However, some people keep their hearts before their brains for motorcycles. And, for them, the Z900RS could please with its more “retro” side despite a higher price.

Sources: Yamaha, Kawasaki

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