YAMAHA MT-03 (2016 - 2019) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£140|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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.
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.
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 & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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.
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.
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.
|Engine type||Twin-cylinder liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves|
|Fuel capacity||14 litres|
|Front suspension||Telescopic forks, 41mm inner tube|
|Front brake||Hydraulic single disc, 298mm|
|Rear brake||Hydraulic single disc, 220mm|
|Front tyre size||110/70-17|
|Rear tyre size||140/70-17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||-|
|Annual road tax||£45|
|Annual service cost||£140|
|Used price||£2,500 - £4,000|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||41 bhp|
|Max torque||21.8 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
- Yamaha MT-125 review (2014-on)
- Yamaha MT-01 review
- Yamaha MT-03 review (2006-2016)
- Yamaha MT-07 review (2014-2018)
- Yamaha MT-07 review (2018-on)
- Yamaha MT-09 review (2013-on)
- Yamaha MT-09 SR review (2014-on)
- Yamaha MT-09 SP review (2018-on)
- Yamaha MT-09 Tracer review (2015-2018)
- Yamaha MT-10 review (2016-on)
- Yamaha MT-10 SP review (2017-on)
MCN Long term test reports
2016 Yamaha MT-03 long-term test
MCN spent 12 months living with Yamaha’s A2 licence-friendly MT-03 to see what this ‘small big bike’ is really like to live with. Related: 2020 Yamaha MT-03 review Here’s how we got on: Jump to Small bike that thinks big Can it keep experienced riders happy? Small bike big fun Going two-up S…
Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA MT-03 (2016 - 2019)
2 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA MT-03 (2016 - 2019) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£140|
Annual servicing cost: £140
This bike is a really good all round package. It's light, comfortable, economical, a lot of fun to ride and fast enough on UK roads. It actually feels quite sporty, especially once you learn to use the full rev range. A lot of bikers would dismiss a bike of this capacity as not being a "proper bike". Ignore them! I would say it's especially suitable for smaller riders or older bikers looking for something more manageable. The only things that should be improved are the gearing and the brakes. The first two gears are very low and the brakes stop well enough but can feel a bit mushy.
Overall the ride/handling compromise is very good. I'm quite light (70KG) and it works very well for me but if you're 100KG+ I suspect it may not be so suitable. The brakes work well enough, ultimate stopping power is good and there's ABS but the initial response and lever feel isn't great, it just feels a bit mushy. It's a comfy bike overall, easy riding position and reasonable seat. I can ride 90 minutes without a break no problem. I really wouldn't want to ride pillion though!
The engine is a little gem, it really is. Amazingly smooth right to the limiter and also very tractable at low revs. It has good pull from around 5000 all the way to the limiter. I've set mine at 11,500 (it's adjustable!) and regularly see the warning light flash up. It can be a bit addictive! Unless you're keen to lose your licence you actually don't need any more performance on busy UK roads. There is more than enough acceleration to overtake quickly & safely.
Overall I'd say the quality is very good but like most bikes, it needs looking after. I'm the third owner & the first owner put 16000 miles on it in 3 years so must have commuted on it and probably didn't spend much time cleaning it! There was superficial corrosion on the frame around the engine and the exhaust was pretty corroded but I'd say most bikes would look the same used like that. A small amount of effort and I have sorted both issues myself. The old chap I bought it off said it was in showroom condition so maybe I'm just very fussy! I've seen lower mileage ones that are absolutely fine. In all other respects the bike is very very good. It's done 19,000 miles in 4 years, starts on the button, the engine is still as smooth as can be and everything works as it should. There were a couple of outstanding minor recalls outstanding on the bike which Crescent Yamaha in Bournemouth took care of when it was serviced. No fuss & no cost to me.
I've had it serviced once, changed the brake fluid and replaced a rear tyre. All very reasonable. Since I've had it I've averaged 77mpg! If you're just cruising it will do mid 80's. Even going out for a mild thrash and it's never dropped below 65. Insurance is also very cheap, it hardly costs any more than a 125!
I think the bike is very well equipped. It has a very good dash layout, clear very easy to read & information you actually need and use. Big clear analogue rev counter, digital speed, gear indicator, fuel gauge, temp gauge always displayed. It also has an adjustable rev limiter, 2 trip meters, average & instant MPG and oil change indicator. Much more useable than the cheap mobile phone style instruments IMHO! I've fitted a Puig screen which is a lit more protective than the standard one and it had adjustable levers already fitted which I like because I've got small hands. I've stuck with the standard Michelin Street Pilot tyres, I'm sure the road warriors would name plenty that are "better" but this isn't a sportsbike. I think they suit the bike fine. There is also ABS which I'd say all bikes should have (with the option of turning it off) but no traction control. That's fine, it doesn't need it.
Buying experience: I bought privately off a really nice old chap who was giving up biking. He even gave me all his biking gear! The condition wasn't perfect and he wanted a bit too much money really but I felt kind of sorry for him. Having said that I'm so happy with the bike it doesn't really matter now & my mate is also very happily using some of his old gear!
The early models, had 2 major recalls. 1) Clutch. 2) Coolant Hoses. After 2000 miles I traded it for a new Honda 500.
Very uncomfortable after a 1hr ride.
other than the low first and 2nd gears, it performed ok.
The amount of recalls by Yamaha put me off their bikes.
Change the stock tyres to something better.
Buying experience: Brand new from a franchised dealer, which Yamaha failed to support and closed down.