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YAMAHA MT-03 (2020-on) Review

Published: 04 December 2019

Updated: 16 January 2020

Facelifted MT-03 gets more aggressive styling whilst retaining user-friendly appeal

2020 Yamaha MT-03

Facelifted MT-03 gets more aggressive styling whilst retaining user-friendly appeal

  • At a glance
  • 321cc  -  41.4 bhp
  • 74 mpg  -  228 miles range
  • Medium seat height (780mm)
  • Suitable for A2 licence
  • Used: £4,300 to £5,100 See all YAMAHA MT-03s for sale

Overall Rating 4 out of 5

Yamaha’s A2-compliant twin-cylinder MT-03 was launched in 2016 and has flown quietly under the radar, accounting for just 6% of European MT sales since the first MT-09 triples hit the showrooms back in 2013.

Keen to redress the balance and bag a larger stake in the A2 naked bike market, 2020 sees the ‘03 gain its first major update since its inception; receiving new styling, front forks, an LCD dash, a revised riding position and tweaked rear shock, with altered preload and damping settings, plus a stiffer spring.

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 MT-125 and middleweight MT-07.

Largely based on the fully-faired R3 sportsbike (updated for 2019) the 2020 MT shares the same dash, frame, and engine, with the tubular steel chassis, 321cc parallel-twin engine and ABS-equipped brakes all carried over from the original bike.

2020 Yamaha MT-03 headlight

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Ride Quality & Brakes 4 out of 5

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.

2020 Yamaha MT-03 rear shock

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.

Engine 3 out of 5

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.

2020 Yamaha MT-03 on the road

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.

Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5

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.

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 5

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.

2020 Yamaha MT-03 forks

Equipment 3 out of 5

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.

2020 Yamaha MT-03 dash

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.

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 2020
Year discontinued -
New price -
Used price £4,300 to £5,100
Warranty term -
Running costs
Insurance group -
Annual road tax £43
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 41.4 bhp
Max torque 21.8 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4-mile acceleration -
Average fuel consumption 74 mpg
Tank range 228 miles
Specification
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

History & Versions

Model history

2016-2019 Yamaha MT-03 Launched a year after the first Yamaha R3, the original MT-03 (not to be mistaken by the 2006 XT660-derived urban cruiser) also featured a 321cc parallel-twin engine, producing 41.4bhp. 

Complete with 41mm telescopic forks, styling on the first incarnation was slightly more reserved and spec was a little more basic, including a part-digital-part-analogue dash, rather than the new bike’s LCD display. A more relaxed riding position and softer rear shock spring also featured.

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.

Owners' Reviews

No owners have yet reviewed the YAMAHA MT-03 (2020-on).

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Photo Gallery

  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 right side
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 turning left
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 on the road
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 left side
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 engine right side
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 front and headlight
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 headlight
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 forks
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 dash
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 rear light
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 engine left side
  • 2020 Yamaha MT-03 rear shock
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