For years, whispers and speculations have been swirling around the possibility of Yamaha creating a sportbike using the wildly popular MT-09 platform. The void left by the discontinuation of the YZF-R6 in Yamaha’s supersport lineup has been glaringly evident. Though the Yamaha R7 filled the middleweight sportbike spot, it couldn’t quite match the sheer performance prowess of its predecessor, the YZF-R6.
Enter the much-anticipated and highly speculated YZF-R9, a potential savior to bridge this gap. Yet, until recently, all we had were a few patent trademarks with no official word from Yamaha about a new sportbike based on the MT-09 platform.
However, at the recently concluded Goodwood Festival of Speed, Team Blue finally made a captivating move, presenting the intriguing XSR900 DB40 prototype. This eye-catching creation took the flagship neo-retro machine, the XSR900, as its foundation but distinguished itself in numerous exciting ways. The suspense and curiosity surrounding Yamaha’s potential new sportbike reached a fever pitch as the crowd at Goodwood witnessed this remarkable display.
First and foremost, the XSR900 DB40 stands apart from its naked sibling, the XSR900, with a complete transformation. A full fairing now envelops the bike, accompanied by low-slung clip ons and higher rearsets, lending it a distinctly sportier setup. Only the frame, engine, and wheels are shared between the two. The bespoke bodywork of the DB40 is a striking departure from the XSR900’s design.
The front fairing exudes a boxy, retro-inspired aura, reminiscent of the iconic YZF-R1’s aesthetic. Meanwhile, the tail of the prototype adopts an 80s-inspired boxy design, in keeping with the current generation XSR900’s vintage vibe. In terms of suspension, the DB40 prototype incorporates an Ohlins rear shock, though not the same model found on the MT-09 SP. Up front, the bike features blacked-out inverted forks, adding to its formidable presence.
The XSR900 DB40, Yamaha’s prototype sportbike, emerges as a celebratory homage to four decades of the aluminum Deltabox frame in their sportbike lineage, with no clear confirmation on its future production. This frame, originating from the iconic 1983 YZR500 Grand Prix race bike ridden by Kenny Roberts, has since become a hallmark in models like XSR900, MT-09, Tracer 9, MT-10, and YZF-R1. While the DB40 evokes nostalgia and racing heritage, its physical existence as a prototype hints at a potentially exciting direction for Yamaha’s future sportbikes, fueling speculation and anticipation throughout the motorcycling community.