With a die-cast cast aluminium frame and swingarm the MT-09 weighs just 188kg. This lightness helps maximise acceleration, agility, handling and braking performance. But the rear shock and front forks aren’t as beautifully-controlled as a Street Triple’s. The Yamaha’s front end is high and vague, especially in slippery conditions and if you push hard in the dry, the rear ties itself in knots. New monobloc brakes lack power and feel, too. The riding position is natural, comfortable and the seat low enough for shorter riders – but it’s hard and gives you numb bum after an hour’s riding.
Yamaha’s new inline three cylinder 847cc motor produces 115bhp and is the perfect powerplant for a roadster like this. There’s lots of lowdown grunt, a flat power curve and a rasping, Triumph-esque top-end. The sculpted 3-into-1 exhaust is tucked out of the way, allowing over 51° of lean, the same as an R6, but it’s far too quiet. You have three electronic riding modes to choose from (B, STD, A), thanks to the Yamaha’s ride-by-wire system, but the power delivery is very jerky from a closed throttle in the higher of the two modes and spoils the ride.
Although built down to a price, you’d never know it. The MT-09 is nicely finished and the paint is deep and robust. It’s too early to comment on reliability, but modern Yamahas rarely let you down.
If the MT-09 performed as we’d hoped, it would represent excellent value for money – undercutting the Triumph Street Triple by a couple of hundred quid. But its throttle response and suspension really lets it down.
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With such a competitive price tag, you wouldn’t expect the MT-09 to be brimming with all the latest biking bells and whistles, but it pretty well-equipped. It has three electronic riding modes, monobloc brakes and the exhaust has a ‘Nanofilm’ coating to keep it free from rust and stains.