YAMAHA MT-09 SP (2018 - 2021) Review

Highlights

  • Hottest version of the MT-09 on sale
  • fully adjustable Öhlins shock at rear
  • Well equipped with decent build quality

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Annual servicing cost: £100
Power: 113 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.3 in / 820 mm)
Weight: Medium (426 lbs / 193 kg)

Prices

New N/A
Used £8,200 - £10,000

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

For less than a grand more than the standard machine and cracking PCP deals available, the Yamaha MT-09 SP should always be the pick of the range to go for.

It finally gets the suspension it’s deserved all along, letting you unlock even more potential from the Yamaha’s superb engine and chassis. But with its still-vague front end we reckon they should’ve gone for Öhlins at the front to match the rear and fitted stickier tyres. Then it would be the full SP.

Ride quality & brakes

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

The MT-09 SP has a fully adjustable 46mm monotube Öhlins shock (also available as an official accessory for the standard MT-09), featuring a handy remote preload adjuster. You can easily reach it on the move, if you fancy a twiddle when you’re riding along.

Its classy yellow spring is actually softer than the standard MT-09’s (95N/mm versus 99.96N/mm). It gives the SP a plusher overall ride and a big improvement in stability and damping control. No longer does the Yamaha do its best impression of an 80s FZR600 with a knackered shock, when you’re hard on the throttle. 

Up front 41mm KYB forks are now fully adjustable (including high and low speed damping) and have progressive springs: 6.86N/mm for the first 75mm of travel and 9.32N/mm for the rest of the stroke. The soft bit is for comfort and helping the tyre find grip and the hard bit for support under heavy braking.

Why no Öhlins up front? Well, it would push the price into MT-10 territory…

The new front end is an improvement over the standard MT-09 set-up and works best when you can load the forks up hard on dry, grippy roads, but they don’t match the plush feel of the Ohlins rear. The MT-09 SP lacks the velvety ride of even the standard MT-10 and doesn’t have the balance of the (admittedly bouncy) MT-07.

Sitting low at the back and high at the front, the SP’s bars kick in your hands over bumps under hard acceleration and the front end lacks still feel in less than perfect conditions. Through slippery corners the MT is reluctant to turn and you feel you’re a breath away from losing the front.

There’s no question the SP is crying out for the latest generation sports rubber (its standard Bridgestone S20s came out in 2012 – tyres have moved on hugely since then) and with the extra grip, stability and rider confidence they would give, the Yamaha would really shine.

But when conditions are right, an MT-09 has never been able to cover ground faster, or been more fun. Wide bars and a commanding riding position will help you make mincemeat of sportsbikes through spiralling switchbacks and while the throttle still has a kick to it when you first crack it open, the quickshift-assisted gearbox is notchy and the brakes a little wooden (but effective), it doesn’t spoil your fun. 

Engine

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

No changes to the 847cc three-cylinder motor for the SP version. Like its MT-07 and MT-10 brothers and sisters the SP has a pathological appetite for name-your-distance wheelies, while singing its (slightly muted) gravelly three-cylinder tune from its underslung pipe. Accelerating from a closed throttle has been smoothed-out over the years, but it can still be on the jerky side around town and in slow corners. 

Reliability & build quality

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

The SP is really nicely screwed together with a flawlessly finished R1M-style paintjob, blue wheels and classy details like the Nanofilm-coated down pipes to stop discolouration.

We don't currently have any Yamaha MT-09 SP owners' reviews on the site. Leave one here.

Value vs rivals

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

Like all the MT range you get a lot of bang for your buck with the SP and priced to compete with the Triumph Street Triple R.

Yamaha MT-09 SP vs nearest rivals

KTM 890 Duke R vs Triumph Street Triple RS vs Yamaha MT-09 SP

We took the Yamaha around the MCN 250 test route with two of its closest rivals, the Triumph Street Triple RS and the KTM 890 Duke R.

Triumph’s Street Triple RS is the go-to middleweight naked sportster, and it’s easy to see why: you get the performance to embarrass bigger bikes, a glistening spec and more handling than us normal folk can ever use. It’s very focused, though – if you loved the cheeky 675cc original this feels like a flat-barred R6.

Yamaha’s MT-09 SP doesn’t have the same outright handling or rush, but counters this with greater usability than the Triumph. It’s perhaps the best pure road bike here for ‘normal’ riding, and cheapest too.

But it’s KTM’s new 890 Duke R that wins. Punchy, light, easy to ride and oh-so-agile, the beefed-up twin is the trackday-ready tool you’ll genuinely want to ride every day.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

As well as the new fully adjustable Ohlins shock and KYB forks, like the standard MT-09 you get three riding modes, ABS, a three-stage traction control system, white on black digital clocks, quickshifter and an ‘Assist and Slip’ clutch.

Specs

Engine size 847cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 12v, inline triple
Frame type Cast ali diamond
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 820mm
Bike weight 193kg
Front suspension 41mm KYB forks fully adjustable
Rear suspension Single rear Ohlins fully adjustable
Front brake 2 x 298mm discs with four-piston radial caliper. ABS
Rear brake 265mm single disc with single-piston caliper
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption -
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost £100
New price -
Used price £8,200 - £10,000
Insurance group 14 of 17
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two year

Top speed & performance

Max power 113 bhp
Max torque 65 ft-lb
Top speed 145 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range -

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2013: MT-09 introduced at the back end of the year. Yamaha’s first production triple since the early 80s XS850, powered by a 113bhp 847cc three-cylinder engine, wrapped in a cast aluminium frame. Sensibly priced, it became an instant hit in showrooms, but budget suspension and a snatchy throttle spoiled what could have been a game-changer and a rival for the mighty Triumph Street Triple.
  • 2014: Fuel map updates
  • 2016: Three-stage traction control added
  • 2017: Major revamp. An MT-10-aping insect face, LED headlights, quickshifter, ‘Assist and Slip’ clutch, redesigned tail unit with LED rear lights, swingarm-mounted number plate hanger and a 5mm taller seat.

Where the original MT-09 had its damping (rebound only) squished and constricted in its left fork leg and just a spring in the right, the 2017 MT-07 had compression and rebound damping spread between its pair of forks, smoothing-out their action. 

MCN Long term test reports

MCN Fleet: A riding year with a Yamaha MT-09 SP

MCN Fleet: A riding year with a Yamaha MT-09 SP

Over the last six months our Yamaha MT-09SP test bike has been subjected to everything from 900-mile days, to commuting to fast-group trackdays. We wanted to leave you with our final thought on the SP and so here is we’ve found out… Best ride The A9 out of Inverness, fast, flowing and magical. The d

Read the latest report

Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA MT-09 SP (2018 - 2021)

3 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA MT-09 SP (2018 - 2021) 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-09 SP (2018 - 2021)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Engine: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Reliability & build quality: 4.3 out of 5 (4.3/5)
Value vs rivals: 4.7 out of 5 (4.7/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
Annual servicing cost: £100
5 out of 5 The perfect bike for UK roads!
21 August 2021 by Mt09SP

Year: 2021

Annual servicing cost: £60

Love the new SP, it makes perfect sense on the road with a great spread of usable torque and power. The looks are divisive but needs to be seen in the flesh to appreciate the concept. It's got a very non fussy/utilitarian look to it which does make it look a bit un-tidy in places but if you can look past this it's very well put together and feels quality to ride.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

Ride quality is excellent. I added a bit of pre load front and back to accommodate 14 stone weight and took a few clicks off the rebound/compression damping all round and its a lovely smooth ride that is still supportive when riding fast. Brakes are very good, not the sharpest on the market but more than strong enough for such a light bike. Of particular note is the rear brake, it has one of the strongest rear brakes I've ever used on a Jap bike. The worst thing about the bike is the seat is too uncomfortable. It becomes quite distracting after a couple of hours. Given the style of bike and its purpose though I can't mark it down for this. Yamaha sell a comfort seat for £215.

Engine 5 out of 5

The engine is the bikes pièce de résistance. It's grunty, fun, characterful and perfect on UK roads. Its most at home on twisty A and B roads. It's got so much shove from low down and pulls like a train right up until 10,000rpm. You find yourself short shifting and riding the torque all the time. If you're wanting something to rev and rev perhaps consider the Street Triple RS instead. For me, I think the MT makes more sense on the road. Mode 1 makes the fuelling quite prickly but it just adds to the character, you need mode 2 if you are riding it round a city for long spells. The clutch is a bit snatchy when the bike is cold, it was worse with the original engine oil from the factory. This improved with fresh fully synth. Engine sound is superb, gives the rides a great noise but its not obnoxious for everyone else.

Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5

Yamaha could have tidied up a few cable runs and metal work without detracting from the image too much. Rear brake lever looks cheap for instance and the cables running down the RH side of the bike underneath the seat could have been better thought out. But on the whole its very well built. Typical Yamaha reliability expected.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Superb value. Summer 2021 expect to pay £9895 out the the door at any UK Yam dealer. Don't pay a penny more! Also, don't listen to anyone who tells you you'll invalidate your warranty if you service it yourself. This simply isn't true, use Yamaha parts, keep your receipts and your warranty is fine. Servicing is a doddle, no plastics to remove. 17mm sump plug, oil filter cap wrench (65mm/14 flats) and job done.

Equipment 5 out of 5

The perfect amount of technology for a bike like this. The TCS is excellent, its never invasive but comforting to know it's there. You don't want too much adjustment on a bike with 120bhp but you do want the option to turn it all off, superb. Cruise control is a God-send for longer journeys. Tank pad and side grips are about the only essential accessory, don't bother with the screen, it ruins the looks and detracts from the whole point of having a naked. Comfort seat is probably worth getting if you're going to use the bike for long trips. Get a screen protector for the TFT, it is quite a soft plastic so can be scratched if you're not careful, they sell these at screen angels. Ask your dealer to leave the film protector on that it comes with from the factory. The demo bike I rode was scratched to death. TFT dash is again superb for this type of bike. It gives you exactly what you need and nothing more. Its very clear well laid out. The thumb wheel is a bit crap but once you have your options set you only need to touch that to reset trip mileages. The Evotech radiator guard is cheaper and looks better than the Yamaha option. Needs a tail tidy, 3 options for this....Yamaha, R&G or Evotech.

Buying experience: Yamaha dealers are everywhere, very handy if you have problems (you won't). £10,202 list price, I paid £9895 in the height of summer when there was a 2 month waiting list. You'll probably better this if you buy off season.

4 out of 5
13 April 2021 by Jack

Year: 2019

Bad=small tank, but this can also be a positive, as it's NOT a comfy ride despite extra seat padding. There is a funny feeling in the rear, not a let go sensation, but something just doesn't feel 100%.I also own a 2018 MT09 and, while the plushness isn't there, I'd rather track this bike than the SP.

Ride quality & brakes 3 out of 5

Grit ya buttocks and take some pain suppressants.On a bumpy road you'll have hemorrhoids after a couple of tank loads

Engine 5 out of 5

BLOODY BRILLIANT DONK.Downshifts,why,it's always just there.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5
Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Ignore my rating,had to put something,as I do it myself.Hey how hard is it to change oil/filter.Always sell my bikes before any major serving due.

Equipment 3 out of 5
5 out of 5 Great value & exciting bike to ride.
06 March 2021 by Bish 1964

Year: 2019

Annual servicing cost: £130

A fantastic all round bike. Great fun to ride. With good riding position.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Reliability & build quality 4 out of 5
Value vs rivals 4 out of 5
Equipment 4 out of 5

The olins suspension on the SP version is an excellent addition. I also fitted quite a few extras and like the nose faring.

Back to top