Much like the also-new-for-2020 Yamaha MT-125, the latest A2-friendly ‘03 gets a reshaped tank in-keeping with the updated front-end design.
Remaining at a capacity of 14 litres, it’s now shorter with wider shoulders and more pronounced air intakes, moving you further over the front end. Yamaha have then added to this by placing the bars 39mm higher and 19mm closer to the pilot.
The result is a more engaging riding experience, which is further improved by the well-balanced chassis and a kerb weight of just 168kg. This allows you to throw the bike into corners with ease, as well as change direction quickly – ideal for tackling the urban sprawl as well as the occasional weekend backroad blast.
The two-piston front and single-piston rear calipers are ample, hauling the bike up in a controlled manner, without any discernible intrusion from the ABS. Around town, the rear lever is also perfectly placed for low speed manoeuvring, with the non-adjustable front item also within easy reach.
Unchanged from the previous generation of MT-03, the free-revving Euro4-compliant engine provides a silky-smooth, linear power delivery that’s unintimidating for new riders.
Also producing sufficient performance for experienced pilots, looking for something frugal for the daily commute, there’s enough poke to keep up and stay ahead of the traffic on any road, with the engine producing almost no vibrations, adding to the long-distance comfort.
It’s not just about practicality either, with the modest twin-cylinder lump encouraging you to wring its neck wherever possible, producing a delightful rumbly tone, reminiscent of Kawasaki’s old ER-6 range, which only gets better as you surge towards the 14,000rpm redline.
This is helped further by a crisp gearbox action and feather-light clutch, delivering no missed shifts either up or down the cogs during our morning’s ride. A mixture of town work and drizzly mountain passes, despite this tester’s best efforts, the fuel gauge showed a loss of just one bar out of a possible six, too.
Based on a basic recipe first conceived for the 2015 R3, the Indonesian-built Yamaha MT-03 has matured into a nicely-finished package, with solid switchgear and well-finished paintwork.
Using the same basic design since its inception, owners appear to have no complaints about the previous incarnation – backed up by glowing reviews from MCN readers on our Yamaha R3 tests.
With a December 2019 launch price of £5099, the new bike is just £100 more than the outgoing model and £400 less than the fully-faired R3 (2019 pricing). Despite now looking more exciting and offering greater engagement with the improved riding position, the changes are probably not enough to warrant swapping out your first-generation MT-03.
Shrouding the improved LCD clocks, which remain easy to read in all light conditions, is a more aggressive dual LED headlight unit, helping to give the bike greater road presence and likely to appeal more to young riders than the previous machines conservative design. The taillight and indicators are also LED.
The inclusion of 37mm non-adjustable upside-down forks, which Yamaha say are now more rigid and provide greater feedback, also gives the bike more of a premium feel; looking like less of an everyday run-around and more like the A2-friendly supernaked that kids crave.
Unfortunately, in such a fiercely contested class, the Yamaha still looks quite bland, lacking the sophistication of Honda’s CB300R and the head-turning excitement of the thrapping single-cylinder KTM 390 Duke.
For some additional personalisation, Yamaha will also sell you a ‘Sport Pack’ consisting of a tank pad, fly screen, radiator guard and tail tidy. Also available is an Akrapovič end can, billet foot pegs, different chain guard and rear seat cover.