2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP review | more refined, cheekier and corners like it should’ve all along


  • Handling finally sorted
  • As exciting as a super naked
  • Lots of SP-ness for the money

At a glance

Owners' reliability rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Power: 117 bhp
Seat height: Medium (32.5 in / 825 mm)
Weight: Medium (419 lbs / 190 kg)


New £11,800
Used £8,500 - £11,800

Overall rating

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

One of Yamaha's greatest naked bike success stories over recent years is the exciting and affordable standard MT-09. It’s positively flown out of dealerships since 2013, but it never handled as well as it could have - even the fancy ’18 SP version.

But the Japanese company have cured its ills for 2021 with a new engine, electronics and crucially, a more road-friendly chassis. The 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP takes those improvements a step further with higher-spec suspension, as well as fancy paint, a more luxurious seat and for the first time, cruise control.

Not only is the MT-09 SP now more refined than before and even cheekier it carves through corners like it should’ve all along, thanks to a lower front end that places more weight over the front wheel. In SP trim, not only do you get a more sophisticated ride, it’s also a lot of exciting naked bike for relatively little money. It still feels like a tall, shimmying supermoto at speed, but it’s always controlled and has impeccable low speed manners when you just want to take it easy. It’s a class act.

The 2023 Yamaha MT-09 SP sees a price hike to £11,310, but it isn't alone. All rivals have also become more expensive.

This bike replaced the 2018-2020 Yamaha MT-09SP.

How will the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP fare against its rivals? Watch this space to find out...

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine

An issue with the original MT-09 was its reluctance to hold a line, especially in low grip conditions. It was too high at the front and its forks too gummy, so unless you forced it hard into a corner to put weight over the front wheel, it didn’t want to dig in.

Now the MT-09 and SP have the same lighter, stiffer new frame with a lower headstock that cures its handling woes at a stroke. It goes exactly where you point it and the SP’s fully adjustable KYB forks and Öhlins rear shock add an extra layer of plushness and control.

The 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP has better handling than ever before

A crisp-handling, grippy 190kg naked powered a shouty 117bhp three-cylinder engine is about as fun as it gets on the road, especially now the new MT-09 SP handles so well. It’s just as capable and exciting as a big bhp super naked, but for a fraction of the price. You could argue it’s even better - it’s always more involving revving a smaller engine than running around at tickover on a bigger one.

Compared with Triumph’s Street Triple RS and KTM 890 Duke R it’s flightier and more supermoto-like, making it more playful, but it can also be calm and relaxed for normal riding.


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

The 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP's engine feels alive with horsepower and torque

Like the standard MT-09, the SP uses the same inline three-cylinder engine, heavily modified for lightness and more sparkle. Capacity grows from 847cc to 889cc, power climbs from 113bhp@10,000rpm to 117bhp@10,000rpm and torque is up from 64lb-ft@8500rpm to 67lb-ft@7000rpm.

The outgoing motor was never lacking but now it’s even more alive with a wider spread of power and more grunt to whip the front wheel up in third gear off the clutch. Fuelling is on the prickly side of smooth, but never a distraction and the Yamaha sounds so angry at full throttle you’d swear it slipped through Euro5 while no one was looking.

Reliability & build quality

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

2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP should prove pretty good when it comes to reliability

MT-09s aren’t just affordable and enjoyable to own, they’ve proved to be durable and trouble-free over the years, too. The engine, chassis and electronics have evolved for the 2021 version, but the changes are modest and shouldn’t affect reliability.

Our Yamaha MT-09 SP owners' reviews show nothing of any concern when it comes to reliability. In fact, it scores the maximum five stars. The previous MT-09 SP didn't enjoy such glowing reviews, with a few comments about parts quality, but there's nothing we'd class as a major prevailing issue. Besides, many of these parts, such as brake levers, are swappable for aftermarket versions that will offer a more pleasing experience.

Value vs rivals

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

From the way it’s finished to its giant-killing performance the MT-09 SP naked is great value and it slips in a few hundred quid cheaper than its main rivals: the KTM 890 Duke R and Triumph Street Triple RS but is around £500 more than the Aprilia Tuono 660.

The 2022 Yamaha MT-09 SP price rose to £10,650, and in 2023 rose again to £11,310.

2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP review on MCN


4 out of 5 (4/5)

A new ride-by-wire system and six-axis IMU facilitates a full set of rider aids, shared by the standard MT-09 and SP. The Yamaha has traction, slide and wheelie control (which you can turn off for max naughtiness), cornering ABS and a very sweet quickshifter and autoblipper.

Both MTs also have a new 3.5in colour multi-function TFT dash, which may sound small but is perfectly readable and suits the Yamaha’s minimalist style. Unlike the base model, the new SP also comes with cruise control, which on an exposed naked, really helps reduce right wrist ache at constant windy motorway speeds.

The TFT screen on the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP

New bodywork and LEDs are the same as the standard model’s, as are its adjustable footpegs and handlebars. Like the ‘18 MT-09 SP this new version is finished black, blue and silver, like an R1M superbike and has a double-stitched seat and clear lacquered ali swingarm.

The lacquered aluminium swingarm on the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP

Brake fluid reservoirs are dark-smoked and the brake levers, bars, rear sprocket and slippery DLC fork stanchions are all black. It may not cost a whole heap more than the base model, but it’s so nicely finished you feel like you’re getting something special for the money and a Yamaha worthy of its SP badge.

The 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP with the optional Urban Pack

You'll also be able to add extra practicality and personalisation through the vast suite of optional extras Yamaha are offering.

Available add-ons include an Akrapovic exhaust, luggage and a selection of packs: Sport, Weekend and Urban (pictured above).

Akrapovic exhaust for 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP


Engine size 889cc
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 12v, inline triple
Frame type Aluminium twin spar
Fuel capacity 14 litres
Seat height 825mm
Bike weight 190kg
Front suspension KYB 41mm USD forks, fully adjustable
Rear suspension Öhlins single shock, fully adjustable
Front brake 2 x 298mm discs with four piston radial calipers. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 245mm disc with single piston caliper. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 57 mpg
Annual road tax £117
Annual service cost -
New price £11,800
Used price £8,500 - £11,800
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 117 bhp
Max torque 67 ft-lb
Top speed 145 mph
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 175 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2018: SP version released five years after original MT-09 was launched. Fully adjustable KYB forks (with a softer springs), Öhlins shock and R1M-inspired colours.
  • 2021: New SP arrives.
  • 2023: Price hike to £11,310.
  • 2024: Price increase to £11,800

Other versions

  • Base model MT-09. Identical to SP with lower spec suspension, no cruise control and more modest paint finishes.

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 (2021 - on)

2 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA MT-09 SP (2021 - 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-09 SP (2021 - on)

Summary of owners' reviews

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Ride quality & brakes: 4.5 out of 5 (4.5/5)
Engine: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Reliability & build quality: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Value vs rivals: 5 out of 5 (5/5)
Equipment: 4 out of 5 (4/5)
5 out of 5 Best bike I’ve ever ridden
04 July 2023 by Bruce

Year: 2023

Great handling. Fantastic motor. Some budget bits. Brilliant quick shifter.

Ride quality & brakes 5 out of 5

The ride is stiff as you might expect but it handles brilliantly. It is so confidence inspiring. It turns in quickly and holds a line very well. I absolutely love the handling. I was very surprised to find how brilliant the slow speed handling is. It makes riding in traffic fun. Initially I thought the brakes were a bit lacking in feel and bite. I think they have improved as they have bedded in maybe I’m just more used to them. You can adjust the handle bar position. I moved mine further away. You can adjust the foot peg height by about 20mm. It is really quite comfortable except the seat is hard. I don’t tend to notice because I’m having so much fun.

Engine 5 out of 5

It really is a fantastic engine. I favour twins and four stroke fours bore me but this triple is a really good engine. It has lots of torque on tap and more than enough peak power. It is so easy to ride. It is deceptively fast because the power is so readily available. It’s also easy to ride in traffic. Only downsides are the throttle can be a bit on and off. Quick shifter is fantastic. The gear box is notchey on the way down when using the clutch.

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

I’ve had mine for a month and just over 1000 miles. A bit soon to say but no problems so far.

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

I also have a BMW R1250GS for touring and in comparison the Yamaha is cheaper to service and the intervals longer. I paid £11,400 for it new. I was looking for a fun naked and road tested a lot of bikes including BMW, Ducati, Suzuki and an MT-07. I knew pretty much instantly it was the one for me and I bought it because it was the best not because of the cost.

Equipment 3 out of 5

The tft screen is rubbish. The switches are fiddly and look horrible. The horn position is ugly. It really should have some side covers especially where the rectifier is clearly on show. The original tail section is ugliest thing I’ve ever seen but fine after fitting an Evotech tail tidy. Some of the wiring looks like cheap with lots of electrician’s tape. The gear shift and rear brake are pressed steel and the side stand is cheap steel tube. However, I don’t care because the rest of bike is awesome. There is lot of electronic control gubbins that does give me some reassurance that it won’t spit me off if I get overexcited with the throttle.

Buying experience: I bought from Steve at Completely Motorcycles in Cheltenham. He is really nice chap and they are nice honest company. It’s the third bike I’ve bought from them mainly because they’ve always given a good trade in price

5 out of 5 A marvellous bike, cruise rocks, change the pads
30 August 2022 by Steve Smully

Year: 2022

Bike does everything, 6 months and 2,500 miles in it commutes 55 miles to London and back once a week, cruise is wonderful for extended 40 and 50 limits, has also been on a track day, gets a bit squirrelly through fast changes of direction but manages the rest fine. Is good for nipping to the shops, back box is a useful add on, and rarely looses traffic light Grand Prix. It really does do everything!

Ride quality & brakes 4 out of 5

Original brake pads were naff actually, bought some EBC’s from the Yamaha dealer which improved things dramatically so definitely bin the originals, rest of the brake set up is fine. Suspension actually is pretty good for most road riding, struggled a bit on track but it is not really for that, great on road

Engine 5 out of 5

Gets very lively above 7,000 rpm, also quite punchy so it is rare I get full throttle in the first 3 gears pulling away from the lights. Have seen 132 mph on the dash on track, the back box limits speed on the road, sounds marvellous and more than enough power and torque. On the dyno it produces 65 ft lbs and 111 bhp at the rear wheel. So more than my old ZX636 and almost as much as a TL1000S, both fast bikes in their day

Reliability & build quality 5 out of 5

Appears to be well made and well put together, my first Yamaha and it is impressive

Value vs rivals 5 out of 5

Too new so no idea on costs for servicing, have managed 56 mpg right from the off which is better than most bikes I’ve owned, seems to be a cheap and cheerful bike

Equipment 5 out of 5

Up and down shifter goes from first to second but sometimes doesn’t want to move up to third so you roll off, roll back on then it does. Rest of gear changes up and down are fine. Cruise is amazing and works very well, heated grips fitted as a dealer option are great and integrated into the dash which is a nice touch. Stock S22 tyres are surprisingly okay, even on track!

Buying experience: Bought from the local Yamaha dealer, very easy and straight forward to deal with, they set me up with an online Yamaha owners account which was a nice touch and also works very well

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