YAMAHA MT-03 (2020 - on) Review


  • A2-friendly naked bike
  • Modern looks and tech
  • R3 engine is very free revving

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Power: 41 bhp
Seat height: Low (30.7 in / 780 mm)
Weight: Low (370 lbs / 168 kg)


New £5,300
Used £3,600 - £5,300

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
3 out of 5 (3/5)

The A2 licence friendly middleweight class is a tough old place to be, and you really need a unique selling point to help you stand out from the crowds. Something, it has to be said, that the Yamaha MT-03 does struggle with.

Initially launched in 2016, the MT-03 is effectively a naked version of the Yamaha YZF-R3 - the Japanese firm's A2 sportsbike - and while this is no bad thing at all (especially considering Yamaha race the R3 on the world scene) the issue is that the bike it is based upon is also, well, a bit budget if we are being brutally honest.

To be fair to Yamaha in the 2020 update, which saw the MT-03 gain inverted forks as well as a new LCD dash, it was given a bit of extra bling but when you compare it to the likes of the KTM 390 Duke with its TFT dash and radial brakes, or even the Kawasaki Z400 which has a cool dash but lacks inverted forks, the Yamaha is a bit behind the curve.

Not without its fans (there are a few MT-03-specific forums and Facebook groups out there) the MT hasn’t quite replicated the sales success of its bigger siblings and only equates for 6% of all MT family sold in Europe. If you are after a light, fun and easy-going A2-legal middleweight for urban use that won’t break the bank it isn’t a bad option, it’s just not the best in its class.

Yamaha are pitching this bike firmly at young riders, aged between 20 and 30, wanting something with big bike appeal – offering a stepping-stone between the L-plate-friendly Yamaha MT-125 and middleweight Yamaha MT-07.

Watch: Yamaha MT-03 video review

In this video our Dan Sutherland takes the two smallest Yamaha nakeds - the MT-125 and the MT-03 - to task to find out if they're the top of the class.

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
3 out of 5 (3/5)

Don’t be put off by the fact the MT-03 has a pretty basic-looking tubular steel chassis, it is effectively a naked YZF-R3 and that’s the bike Yamaha race in the World Supersport 300 series.

In 2020 the MT’s riding position was revised very slightly, making it a bit more relaxed, however the major update came from the telescopic forks being replaced by chunkier 37mm inverted items.

More a visual improvement than a performance one, the MT is set quite softly on its suspension but can still be hustled along at quite a rate through a set of bends – well, once you have junked the hideous OE rubber and fitted some proper European-spec alternatives.

A light weight of just 168kg makes it really agile and manoeuvrable at low speed while a low 780mm seat height is reassuring for newer riders.

2020 Yamaha MT-03 rear shock

Far from an intimidating bike to ride, the MT is fun and while much like the chassis the single two-piston conventionally-mounted brake caliper looks a bit budget, it performs admirably and has a reasonable ABS system as standard.

If you want to upgrade the MT’s chassis, spend your money on quality rubber, a set of braided brake lines and some high-friction pads – that’s all the racers do in WSS300.

Well, aside from a suspension refresh but that’s a bit overkill on the road. While it has pillion pegs, the soft rear shock does struggle a bit (you can adjust its preload) and the motor hasn’t got much left to give so progress is slow...


Next up: Reliability
3 out of 5 (3/5)

As with the chassis, the MT-03’s parallel twin motor is taken straight from the YZF-R3. Best described as ‘sufficient’ the 321cc twin has liquid-cooling and makes a reasonable, if not outstanding, 41bhp with 21.8ftlb of torque.

Fairly charming (if a little slow) it emits quite a pleasant exhaust note and has a smooth and linear power delivery that makes it ideal for urban use, helped by a lovely light clutch action and slick gearbox.

Out of town, once you feed it some berries it can zip along at a merry pace and is happy to rev to over 11,000rpm and reach motorway speeds.

2020 Yamaha MT-03 on the road

However its trump card is its economy with mid-70s mpg figures equalling a range of over 200 miles from its 14-litre tank.

A lot of owners stick on a loud pipe, which can make the MT sound remarkably fruity, but doesn’t release much more power as the little twin is giving all it has got already!

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The MT-03 is built in Indonesia and not Japan, however this isn’t really an issue in terms of build quality and the Yamaha is quite well finished.

As with any budget bike, if you take care of it you will be rewarded and if you let the cleaning slip you will be punished, but overall if it looks good you should be alright.

There are few major areas of concern when buying used and owners report that the exhaust rots through (replacements cost from as little as £150) and stone damage (or crash damage) to the radiator is also fairly common, so fit a guard.

The two-piston caliper can seize on its slider but a rebuild kit is only £30 and is an easy DIY job or one that will take a trained mechanic less than an hour to do.

The biggest concern when buying a used MT is crash damage as newer riders and a bike that generally lives in an urban environment equals low speed spills.

Stand at the back of the bike and look down it to see if the bars are straight and also inspect the levers/pegs/mirrors for scrape marks. If the bike has a non-OE exhaust can, treat it with caution as it could have been replaced due to a ding.

Not many MT’s get stolen, but just to be safe always check the same key operates the ignition and seat lock and that the steering lock still works.

Our only Yamaha MT-03 owners' review gives the bike 5 stars across the board. If you don't agree, you can leave your own review now, or check out the 2016-2019 ones here.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
3 out of 5 (3/5)

A frugal bike to run in terms of its fuel economy and insurance costs, the MT-03 does have slightly short service intervals of every 3500 miles, however this is really just an oil and filter and check over so won’t break the bank.

Pleasingly the valve clearances only need looking at when the bike hits 25,000 miles – which is pretty unlikely to have been reached by now!

Costing £5299 new, prices for used 2020 MT-03s start at £4000 for bikes that have virtually no miles on them, which makes it pretty tempting when you consider a similar age KTM 390 Duke is £4300 and Kawasaki Z400 £4700.

2020 Yamaha MT-03 forks

Will the MT hold its value as well as its rivals? If you look at the used market there are a lot of MT’s out there (the older generation) so competition is high and therefore prices low whereas the number of Z400s and Dukes seems less so they tend to hold their value better.

Many MT-03s are sold to MT-125 owners who are upgrading where the Duke appeals to a wider range of riders due to its cool looks and high-spec chassis.


3 out of 5 (3/5)

Not exactly bursting with technology, the MT has ABS and did get a new LCD dash for 2020 (which has a gear indicator and fuel gauge) but it lacks connectivity and while the forks are inverted, the brake caliper isn’t radial in its mounting.

Yamaha sold a ‘Sport Pack’ alongside the MT-03 that consisted of a tank pad, fly screen, radiator guard and tail tidy, which is handy to have, and even an Akrapovic exhaust end can, which is even cooler.

2020 Yamaha MT-03 dash

Generally, if the Akra is fitted it means someone haggled hard and got it free from the dealer when they bought the bike so don’t pay extra for one!

A fair number of MTs have top boxes fitted (Yamaha sell their own) and crash protection is (sensibly) also quite common. Other than a new set of tyres, better brake pads and these extras, there isn’t much you would want to add to an MT-03.

You've got a choice of three colours for the 2020 Yamaha MT-03: Ice Fluo (silver), Icon Blue or Midnight Black.

There's a wide range of aftermarket accessories available for the MT-03, too. Companies like R&G and Bikerzbits will offer a raft of extras to personalise your bike, from crash protection to luggage, tail tidies and heated grips.


Engine size 321cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled DOHC parallel twin
Frame type Tubular steel chassis
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 780mm
Bike weight 168kg
Front suspension 37mm upside down forks, non-adjustable
Rear suspension Single shock, pre-load adjustable
Front brake 298mm single disc, two-piston caliper. ABS.
Rear brake 220mm single disc, single-piston caliper. ABS.
Front tyre size 110/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 140/70 x17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 74 mpg
Annual road tax £55
Annual service cost -
New price £5,300
Used price £3,600 - £5,300
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year unlimited mileage

Top speed & performance

Max power 41 bhp
Max torque 21.8 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 228 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2006-2015 Yamaha MT-03: Confusingly, the first MT-03 was powered by an XT660 engine. A funky looking naked with impressive handling, it never really caught on.
  • 2016-2019 Yamaha MT-03: The MT-03 is relaunched as a small capacity naked bike with Dark Side styling. Powered by the YZF-R3’s 321cc parallel twin motor, it makes 41.4bhp and is A2-legal. Also sharing the YZF’s chassis, it has agile handling but somewhat basic components that include telescopic forks, part-digital/part-analogue clocks and a single two-piston brake caliper.
  • 2020: The MT-03 is revised with updated suspension, fresh styling and a new LCD dash.

Other versions

  • Yamaha YZF-R3 – Updated at the beginning of 2019, the first-generation R3 was launched back in 2015 and was the platform for the original MT-03; sharing the same engine, chassis and wheels. The only real thing that differed was the naked bike styling, with the YZF boasting a fully-faired sportsbike look. For 2020, it’s much the same story, with the latest MT-03 again sharing the same brakes, chassis and engine as the 2019-on R3 (which actually come from the previous incarnation). Despite lacking the full fairing, it weighs just 1kg less, fully-fuelled.

MCN Long term test reports

2016 Yamaha MT-03 long-term test

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 Super-

Read the latest report

Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA MT-03 (2020 - on)

3 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA MT-03 (2020 - on) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your YAMAHA MT-03 (2020 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Engine: 3.3 out of 5 (3.3/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Equipment: 3.7 out of 5 (3.7/5)
4 out of 5 Worth trying one as a 1st bike.
28 September 2023 by Old Biker

Year: 2022

Bought for my eldest Grandson as his first bike. Excellent build quality and handling, not a quick bike but predictable and safe for inexperienced riders.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Proved itself to be a very good bike, no complaints about comfort. Pillion not carried so cannot comment.

Engine 4 out of 5

Power delivery fine but not an R1!

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Used in all weathers in Northern UK and zero rust or finish problems. Impressive for a bike at this price.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5

Standard equipment and tyres fine.

Buying experience: Bought from a well known Yamaha Dealer near Blackpool, an excellent buying experience and 1st Class Service.

3 out of 5 Say it with me, “It’s a great bike… for the price.”
25 September 2023 by TuxedoCartman

Year: 2022

Anyone who tells you this is the perfect beginner’s bike either 1) is trying to discourage others from pursuing motorcycling, or 2) doesn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground.Let’s learn the mantra now, because we will be repeating it a lot: “This is a good bike… FOR THE PRICE.”And it’s true. It is a good bike, IF the used market at the time you’re shopping resembles a neglected graveyard in an abandoned ghost town. At a new price of around $6000 USD, I found myself looking for seven and eight-year-old SV650’s and CBR500R’s. I found my MT-03 with 1750 miles on the odometer for a smidge under $4000 USD. I have friends with bicycles that cost twice that! “It’s a good bike… FOR THE PRICE.”

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

I do not know why this bike gets so much hate on its brakes. Honestly, they’re the one but I have no complaints about. No special love for either, but they do their job well. The ride quality, on the other hand… ouch. Very harsh, very jarring. BUT, full disclosure? I haven’t had a chance to play with the preload yet. I’m hoping bumping that up will settle things out better, because right now it rides terrible and handles equally as poorly.

Engine 1 out of 5

When Adam partook of the forbidden fruit, and evil came into this world, God kicked humanity out of the Garden of Eden… and gave us the parallel twin engine as punishment for our sins. I have never ridden a bike with a parallel twin that didn’t leave my hands tingling and itchy, like I’d been pushing a lawnmower all day, and the MT-03 is no different. In fact, it has the worst buzz of any such engine I’ve ever experienced. Oh, and is that not bad enough? Well then, let me tell you about it’s power band and gearing, where it’s only comfortably alive at above 6000 rpms, and it’s going to be screaming its head off doing 8000 rpms to do 70 mph on the highway. I will not be doing any bucket-list cross-continental touring on this bike anytime soon.But it *can* at least do freeway speeds, which is impressive because I remember when the older 250’s and 300’s we got in America couldn’t. So, ya know… “It’s a good bike FOR THE PRICE.”

Reliability & build quality 3 out of 5

I’ve had mine for less than a week, so let’s hope I look back on this review and eat crow in a few years. But so far… meh? You can tell without deciphering the VIN code that it was made in some southeast country that was NOT Japan. It’s lacking that certain solidity you get on Hondas, regardless of where they’re built (I had a CBR250R that, though made in Thailand, felt like a properly put together bike, and I had the fortune to own a CB400SF in Japan, that was the single greatest ride I’ve ever owned!) Nothing has fallen off yet, but it doesn’t inspire confidence either.But then again, “It’s a great bike… FOR THE PRICE.”

Value vs rivals 4 out of 5

What was that mantra again? Oh yeah… “It’s a great bike… FOR THE PRICE.” Only a fool would pay what American dealerships are asking for these brand new (literally had one tack on 40% in miscellaneous fees and charges to the advertised MSRP). But you’d be an equally big fool to pass up a cheap used one in favor of riding the bus. Again, it’s a quite capable motorcycle, in that it can carry you and a luggage rack of your junk around town or out on a freeway up to at least 90-miles-per-hour all while getting great fuel economy; it just won’t, ya know… blow the wind up your skirt while doing so.

Equipment 2 out of 5

I like the headlight. No, really, I’m genuinely impressed at both the quality of light as well as the spread it puts out. And… yeah, that’s about it. Instrument cluster is terrible, mirrors are terrible, space under the seat is terrible, he seat itself is terrible. Tires are terrible too, but hey can and will be changed. But it’s a $4k bike. I don’t think the Grom is any better on any of these things.

Buying experience: Both from a Harley Davidson dealer who took it in on trade. Got it for a smidge under $4000, WITH a free T-shirt thrown in! But seriously, though, I got lucky. I probably spoke to a dozen dealers in the surrounding five states (I am not afraid to travel to get what I want!), and none of the actual Yamaha dealers left me wanting to spend a dime with them. In fact, I had pretty much given up on finding an MT-03, and was going to go back to hunting on Craigslist for salvage-title CBR250’s and 30-year-old Miata’s when this one popped up. Dealer was advertising it at $4500, agreed to final price of $3899. And at that price, this is a GREAT BIKE!!!

5 out of 5 Perfect Bike for Me.
21 April 2022 by Tony M.

Version: MT 03 ABS

Year: 2021

Light weight and low seat height. No bad features

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Excellent suspension, never ridden it two up.

Engine 5 out of 5

Very willing engine.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

100% reliable

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Exceptional mpg, about 92 mpg average and cheap road tax.

Equipment 5 out of 5

Very comprehensive instrumentation.

Buying experience: Purchased from a Yamaha main dealer, excellent service and good trade in price given (in Leicester).

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