Yamaha XSR 700 & 900 Problems: 6 Known Issues (Explained)

The XSR 700 and XSR 900 are retro-style motorcycles produced by Yamaha.

Both bikes offer a solid combination of style, power, and responsive handling. If you are itching for a little city-ripper, the XSR 700 and the XSR 900 will scratch.

While both bikes have high points, there have been a few customer complaints and recall actions over the years.

We’re here to dive into the details of that statement.

Let’s hit it!

Yamaha XSR 700

Here are common problems of the XSR 700:

1. Odd Starting Problem

The XSR 700 comes with a starter button, which you have to press to start the bike.

However, you first have to insert the key in the ignition and turn it to the “ON” position.

Therefore, the normal starting procedure goes like this:

  1. Twist the key in the ignition to “ON.”
  2. Press starter button

However, some owners say the engine starts immediately after turning the ignition key without pressing the starter button.

Most of the owners traced the problem to the sticky starter switch.

The starter switch triggers the starter motor when you press the starter button. Typically, the switch returns to a neutral position once the bike starts running.

However, owners of affected motorcycles found that the starter switch didn’t return fully to its normal position after the engine fired.

As such, the switch kept triggering the starter motor when the engine wasn’t running. This is why the engine started even without the rider touching the starter button.

Besides the ghostly bike-starts-on-it’s own process,  having your starter stuck in position can cause a more obnoxious issue— a dead battery.

Is there a solution?

The simple solution to fixing the stuck starter-switch is:

  1. At the bottom of the starter-switch assembly, there are two screws.  Pop them open.
  2. Another small screw holds the half-moon cover over the moving parts.
  3. With the cover off, pull the half-moon piece attached to the wires out of the housing.
  4. Inside the housing, you’ll find the spring meant to return the switch to the “run” position.
  5. The issue is relatively uncomplicated; the spring is not strong enough to pop back if it’s depressed past a certain point. Besides the spring, the switch is designed adequately, with the connectors and detents there to secure the switch in “kill” or “run.”
  6. For smoother action, clean the debris out of the housing and moving parts therein.
  7. Remove the faulty spring out.
  8. Replace the spring with a more durable spring with a thicker gauge.

2. Loose Drive Chain Issue

This problem mostly affects XSR 700s released in the 2017-2018 period.

According to reports, the original bolts connecting the drive chain guard to the swingarm were prone to loosening. This can cause chain guard damage, as the loose guard can rub against the drive chain.

If this happens, it could lead to the rider losing control and may cause them to dump their bike in extreme scenarios.

Yamaha issued a recall once the problem was brought to their attention, directing dealers to replace the chain mounting bolts on the affected bikes with upgraded bolts.

If you’re the owner of a used Yamaha XSR 700 released between the dates mentioned in the recall, and you’re under if the previous owner had the chainguard bolts upgraded, take it to a Yamaha dealership so they can run the VIN and find out whether or not you’ve been upgraded.

3. Bike Won’t start in Gear

Some owners report that the XSR 700 motorcycle is almost impossible to start when the clutch is pulled in.

According to them, the bike only starts when the transmission is in “Neutral.”

This is not normal, as the service manual indicates that riders should be able to do this.

If you experience this issue on your bike, there are two likely causes:

Faulty Kickstand Switch:

Like most bikes, the XSR 700 has a safety mechanism that kills the engine if it goes into gear with the kickstand down.

This is to prevent riders from riding with the kickstand down.

However, if the kickstand is up and you still experience this issue, it may mean the kickstand switch is malfunctioning.

Faulty Clutch Switch:

The clutch switch prevents the bike from starting in gear without the clutch pulled in.

Without the clutch pulled in, the bike may move into gear when you’re not ready.

For instance, the motorcycle may move forward unexpectedly, putting you and others at risk.

The clutch switch can wear out over time and start to malfunction.

Possible Solutions:

  1. Ensure you’re not trying to start the bike with the kickstand down.
  2. Consult the service manual for details on how to troubleshoot a bad kickstand switch or clutch switch.
  3. Have a mechanic inspect both switches and replace them if necessary.

4. Excessive Motorcycle Noise

Many owners complain of what they describe as “recurrent noises” on the Yamaha XSR 700.

According to them, a “rattling” noise is audible on the bike and occurs either idle or during the ride.

While some try to block out the noise with earplugs, there’s no denying that this issue can make riding uncomfortable.

The likeliest causes for the rattling noises on the XSR 700 include the following:

I. Faulty Cam Chain Tensioner:

The chain tensioner ensures the tension in the cam chain is at the correct level.

If the tensioner is bad, the chain may go loose, which would lead to rattling noises.

However, you should also know that cam chain noises are common on Yamaha cam chain tensioners; a noisy cam chain is not necessarily a sign that the tensioner is bad.

Motorcycles aren’t quiet vehicles at the end of the day, and this little torque monster has a lot of power as a result of force generated by rattling moving parts.

II. Clutch Plate Rattle:

The XSR 700 models use a dry clutch, which is noisier than regular wet clutches.

In most cases, the rattling ceases when you pull the clutch in because the plates are under load.

Again, a clutch plate rattle isn’t indicative of an engine issue, just a characteristic of a dry clutch.

Yamaha XSR 900

Here are some problems common to the Yamaha XSR 900:

1. Loose Handlebar Mounts

According to reports, a design defect could cause the handlebar mounts on the XSR 900 to loosen.

The metallic threads of the lower handlebar mounts are painted. If the paint cracks, the space created by the separating paint may loosen the handlebar mounts.

Another culprit Yamaha’s diagnosis returned for loose bar-mounts was that the handlebar mounts didn’t get enough thread-locking adhesive during production, further increasing the handlebar mounts’ chances of becoming loose.

The handlebar mounts secure the handlebars to the motorcycle. If they loosen, the handlebars won’t be properly secured to the bike. Should this happen, a loss of control may occur, putting the rider at risk of a crash.

From our research, the issue mostly affects the 2015-2017 models. Yamaha issued a recall for the affected bikes, directing dealers to replace the lower handlebar mounts. The newer variant didn’t have paint on the threads and had more thread-locking adhesive.

If you detect that the handlebars on your bike are out of place, check the handlebar mounts. You can apply a thread-lock adhesive (e.g., Loctite) to prevent the handlebar mounts from becoming loose.

That said, the manufacturer addressed this issue directly with a recall. If Yamaha built your bike in the range of years listed in the recall statement above, you might as well get the parts swapped out free of charge to prevent any cracking paint from interfering later on.

2. Engine Stalls Repeatedly

Unlike the widespread issues we’ve addressed mentioned up to this point, this is less frequent.

While we have found a few XSR 900 owners who have complained about bike stalls, it’s generally the result of poor maintenance or storage procedures.

This isn’t an isolated issue, and therefore the culprits vary from case to case. For example, in some affected bikes, the engine dies while the motorcycle is idling or warming up.

In other cases, the engine dies when the bike is cruising at top speeds.

Diagnosing the cause of a frequent;y stalling engine requires a variety of troubleshooting.

You should also be reading our article which talks about 6 Most Common Problems With Yamaha TT600

Here are a few places to start looking for trouble:

  1. Malfunctioning throttle bodies
  2. Faulty ECU
  3. Faulty fuel pump
  4. Bad electricals
  5. Contaminated gasoline
  6. Bad Spark Plug
  7. Bike Running Lean
  8. Bike Running Rich
  9. Bad Igniter

General Pros and Cons of the Yamaha XSR 700 & 900

Here are the top-selling points and flaws of the XSR 700 and XSR 900 motorcycles:

Pros of Yamaha XSR 700 & 900

The following are some advantages of the XSR 700 and 900:

1. Unique Classic Styling:

The XSR 700 and XSR 900 are both parts of Yamaha’s Sport Heritage collection.

The series is essentially a nod to the classic models of the past. This explains why the XSR 700 and XSR 900 have many retroelements in their design.

If you love vintage bikes, you cannot go wrong with the XSR 700/900.

2. Powerful Braking Performance:

Almost every rider agrees that good brakes are necessary for safe riding.

Knowing this, Yamaha’s engineers created a set of brakes that provide maximum stopping power for riders.

The XSR 900 comes with dual 298mm front brake discs and a 245mm rear brake disc. Similarly, the XSR 700 features dual 282mm discs at the front and a 245mm brake disc at the rear.

Also, both bikes come standard with Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS). This feature prevents your wheels from locking up under hard braking. It also provides increased stopping power in wet conditions.

3. Relaxed Riding:

Tired of riding super-fast sportbikes that leave you sore and numb after?

Then, the XSR 900 or the XSR 700 may just be the bike for you.

The engines on both bikes provide a large amount of low-level and mid-level torque. As such, you don’t have to downshift so often when accelerating from low speeds.

This means you can cruise around at a relaxed pace with maximum riding fun guaranteed.

Cons of Yamaha XSR 700 & 900

Here are some shortcomings of the XSR 700 and 900:

  1. Odd Starting Problem
  2. Loose Drive Chain
  3. Bike Won’t start in Gear
  4. Excessive Motorcycle Noise
  5. Loose Handlebar Mounts
  6. Engine Stalls Repeatedly

What Do the Reviews Say?

“With the Yamaha XSR 900, the Japanese firm hit the nail on the head. It looks great with its retro styling and, thanks to Yamaha’s extensive catalog of accessories, is easy to personalize too. It’s both versatile and fun with everyday usability, awe-inspiring for a bike with an affordable price bracket.”

[Source: Motorcyclenews.com]

“The XSR 700 makes a serious statement. Designed to take a timeless feel built on historical icons, matched with tomorrow’s technology matched for a pure, entertaining riding experience. With deep torque and a super agile chassis, it’s for those who appreciate heritage and love to ride.”
[Source: Totalmotorcycle.com]

What’s The Resale Value On the Yamaha XSR 700 & 900?

Model Year Mileage Price($)
XSR 700 2018 2,046 7,499
XSR 700 2017 1,685 7,050
XSR 900 2016 3,349 7,999




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ⓘ  The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.