Yamaha MT-09: Beyond the hype

Published: 08 July 2013

Completely new large capacity bikes are rare in these austere times, and for one to be formed around a brand new engine – which so firmly breaks with the maker’s recent tradition – is even more unusual.

But triples are where it’s at right now, and Yamaha has been wise to couple the configuration of the moment with further rider feedback around use, emotion, and pricing.

We are demanding greater flexibility from our bikes as more and more of us use them for a wider range of riding enjoyment and benefits. An emotional connection to justify the space in your garage isn’t necessarily enough in isolation anymore.

The ability to mix weekend kicks with weekday commuting skills is shooting up the table of requirements, unbreakably shackled to the keenest awareness of value for money since litre superbikes price tags started with an eight.

With £3-5k being the hotspot in dealers’ rapidly diminishing used stockpiles, there’s little opportunity for manufacturers to tempt us onto a new ten grand bike.

But we could feasibly be swayed by a sub-£7k newbie, brandishing an attractive finance deal and a bulletproof warranty.

It may not be time travel, but the market is certainly seeing a shift back to the values that once drove incredible growth in motorcycling. Affordable, fun, edgy bikes, pressed into mundane duties, then let off the leash come the weekend.

The MT-09 is certainly aiming to deliver that versatility, and without the requirement for a GCHQ full of super computers to ensure the wheels are spinning at the right rate for your angle of lean, throttle position, and sense of self importance.

Only ten years ago a middle of the range naked would have slipped beneath the radar regardless of its skills – just like Honda’s CB900 Hornet did. Few hated it, even fewer loved it, and vast numbers simply failed to acknowledge its existence.

The MT-09, though, has caused a storm, and so it should. We should all care about bikes like this, they’re made for today’ needs, roads, extents of legally tolerable hedonism, and our ever more pressured pockets. And it’s unlikely to be alone in the model range.

Future Models
Yamaha Europe’s head of product planning, Oliver Grill, admitted to MCN that the MT-09 – at least as we see it here – won’t be the only incarnation of the triple. While Yamaha denies the development of any further three cylinder motors, there’s no doubt that the new CP3 motor would suit a variety of other applications.

Faired models are expected to be unveiled as early as the end of the year, most likely in half-faired form, delivering Fazer levels of versatility, but with all the benefits of a lighter and more agile, characterful, package beneath.

As manufacturers jostle for market share in the burgeoning adventure sector it follows that Yamaha could consider bikes like Ducati’s Hyperstrada and Honda’s Crossrunner as fair game, using the chassis and engine platform in as many different model extensions as possible, as Honda has with it’s three-strong CB500 range, and NC700 pairing.

The only application we’re unlikely to see in the near future is a sportsbike. Grill insists that Yamaha’s sportsbike ideology is firmly routed in the use of four-cylinder engines, and spy shots of the forthcoming YZF-R1 replacement suggest that it will be an inline four. So we might have to wait a while for that MV or Triumph-beating supersport triple.

MT-09 vs Street Triple
Yamaha’s new MT costs less, is lighter, more powerful, has more torque and more adjustability, but while the spec sheet battle looks decisively one-sided, Yamaha has a battle on its hands to beat the UK’s favourite – home brewed – naked.

MT-09, £6799 Street Triple, £6999
Engine Liquid-cooled 847cc (78x59.1mm), inline triple, 12v, 6-speed, chain drive Liquid-cooled 675cc (74x52.3mm), inline triple, 12v, 6-speed, chain drive
Claimed Power 115bhp @ 10,500rpm 105bhp @ 11,850rpm
Claimed Torque 62ftlb @ 8500rpm 50ftlbs @ 9750rpm
Chassis Aluminium CF diecast diamond sectional frame, aluminium symmetrical double-sided swingarm Aluminium beam, twin spar
Suspension Front: Inverted 41mm fork, rebound adjustable. Rear: Link type monocross with horizontal shock, rebound & preload adjustable Front: non-adjustabe Kayaba 41mm inverted fork. Rear: non-adjustable Kayaba monoshock
Claimed weight 188kg (kerb) 183kg (kerb)
Brakes Front: 2 x 298mm discs, radial 4-piston calipers Rear: 245mm disc with pin-slide caliper Front: 2 x 310mm discs, 4-piston calipers Rear: 220mm disc with single piston caliper
Front Tyre 120/70 R17 120/70 R17
Rear Tyre 180/55 R17 180/55 R17
Fuel Capacity 14 litres 17.4 litres
Contact www.yamaha-motor.eu/uk www.triumph.co.uk
Available September 2013 Now