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YAMAHA MT-03 (2016-on) Review

Published: 12 March 2019

Updated: 27 February 2020

MT-03 is light, engaging and has more than enough poke

Yamaha MT-03 tracking

MT-03 is light, engaging and has more than enough poke

  • At a glance
  • 321cc  -  41.4 bhp
  • Medium seat height (780mm)
  • Suitable for A2 licence
  • New: £4,499
    Used: £2,900 to £5,100 See all YAMAHA MT-03s for sale

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

The MT-03 handles brilliantly, is light, engaging and has more than enough poke to set it far apart from the smaller-capacity MT-125. It’s a worthwhile investment for any A2 licence holder.

Not to be confused with the previous Yamaha MT-03, which used a 660cc single-cylinder engine from the XT range in a naked street bike package.

In a bid to attract newer riders and A2 licence holders Yamaha released the R3 back in 2015 and the firm redesigned the sportsbike and turned it into the MT-03 the following year.

Yamaha are a clever bunch. They’ve been on a roll ever since they introduced the MT range back in 2013 with the hugely popular MT-09. They’ve expanded it by adding the excellent MT-07, a learner friendly single-cylinder MT-125 and the muscle naked, the MT-10.

Yamaha MT-03 cliff face

But they haven’t stopped there. Yamaha have used their successful machines as donor bikes, restyled them and named them XSRs to fit in their Sports Heritage segment.

They are going for domination by producing, adapting and redesigning their bikes to attract as wide an audience as possible.

And that’s exactly what they did with the A2 addition to the MT family line-up. Simply put, the MT-03 is the 2015 R3 in naked guise, much like the MT-125 is the YZF-R125 and the MT-10 is the Yamaha R1 without its fairings. But we’re not complaining.

Yamaha MT-03 from above

By using clever design and smart marketing Yamaha are reaching out to more customers and hopefully bringing a whole bunch of new riders into the fold at the same time.

And that is where the MT-03 fits into all this. Being A2 licence friendly Yamaha hope it will make an attractive stepping stone for new riders looking to progress through the ranks before one day owning one of the firm’s larger machines.

Ride Quality & Brakes 3 out of 5

The 41mm Kayaba fork is basic but does a good enough job of inspiring confidence when you push on, even on a bumpy surface. Both the front fork and rear shock are firm enough and Basically the same machine. The

key differences are in the styling and the handlebar position, which puts the decision down to personal preference. Although, the MT-03 does have a slight edge over the R3 in practicality thanks to its more upright riding position.

There’s something satisfying about riding a smaller-capacity machine, perhaps because you get to brush up against its limits, and the MT-03 is no different. With peak torque at 9000rpm the 03 requires plenty of left- foot action to get the most out of it. But when you back off the throttle it’s still very usable and easy-going, making it a really well-rounded machine.

Yamaha MT-03 front wheel

Engine 3 out of 5

All the R3’s fantastic qualities get passed onto the MT-03. It has all the benefits of a lightweight machine in a fun and engaging big-boy chassis, coupled with an incredibly flexible and free-revving engine.

The 321cc parallel-twin motor won’t lash out at new riders with eager wrists and it won’t complain if more experienced hands grab it by the scruff of the neck to see what it’s made of.

Build Quality & Reliability 5 out of 5

The overall build quality looks good enough with a few notable components like a swish dash featuring gear indicator, fuel gauge and shift light offsetting cheap-looking levers, brake pedal and switchgear.

Insurance, running costs & value 4 out of 5

Yamaha has priced the new MT-03 competitively at £4,499, which works out £300 cheaper than the R3 and only £400 more than the MT-125.

The MT-03 slots perfectly into the MT range as it’s another stonking machine with a hugely competitive price tag, just like the rest of its family.

Equipment 3 out of 5

The engine, chassis and wheels all remain exactly the same as the R3. The only changes are in the styling and a small ergonomic tweak. The MT-03 does away with the sports bike fairings and gets a standard MT headlight complete with LEDs (both front and rear), mini headlight cowl and a short, sharp tail unit.

Is it a worthwhile step-up from the MT-125? The MT-03 is £400 more expensive than its smaller sibling. But for the extra cash you get another cylinder, bags more power and torque and a proper big bike, which is still friendly and loads of fun. So yes, definitely. remain compliant and composed too.

Yamaha MT-03 dash

The front twin-pot sliding caliper complements the suspension set-up by only asking for a gentle squeeze be- fore returning plenty of stop- ping power, and there’s decent ABS as backup too.

The seat height remains at 780mm, which allows even shorter riders to plant both feet flat on the floor. And that’s about it as far as changes go, although Yamaha are also boasting over 20 accessories for the 03, far more than they offer for the R3.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2016
Year discontinued -
New price £4,499
Used price £2,900 to £5,100
Warranty term Two years
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £43
Annual service cost -
Max power 41.4 bhp
Max torque 21.8 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption -
Tank range -
Engine size 321cc
Engine type Twin-cylinder liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves
Frame type Diamond
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 780mm
Bike weight 168kg
Front suspension Telescopic forks, 41mm inner tube
Rear suspension Swingarm
Front brake Hydraulic single disc, 298mm
Rear brake Hydraulic single disc, 220mm
Front tyre size 110/70-17
Rear tyre size 140/70-17

History & Versions

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Photo Gallery

  • Yamaha MT-03 tracking
  • Yamaha MT-03 on the road
  • Yamaha MT-03
  • Yamaha MT-03 left side
  • Yamaha MT-03 profile view
  • Yamaha MT-03 coastal road
  • Yamaha MT-03 cliff face
  • Yamaha MT-03 cornering left
  • Yamaha MT-03 from above
  • Yamaha MT-03 tank
  • Yamaha MT-03 engine
  • Yamaha MT-03 rear wheel
  • Yamaha MT-03 seat
  • Yamaha MT-03 dash
  • Yamaha MT-03 front wheel
  • Yamaha MT-03 headlight
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