YAMAHA MT-09 (2021 - on) Review
- Update of Yamaha's fun-loving naked triple
- Controversial new headlight design
- Reworked engine for Euro5 standards
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£200|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
Yamaha’s MT-09 gets its first major update since it hit showrooms at the end of 2013. Fast, light, punchy and affordable it helped reverse the Japanese firm’s then ailing fortunes.
But now the R&D dept in Iwata have reforged their howling three cylinder and like a fresh piece of tasty sushi, it’s been sliced, diced and rolled into a brand-new lighter, more powerful machine. The £8999 naked arrives in dealers in April with a bigger three-cylinder engine, new frame, styling, colour dash and electronic rider aids.
Its distinctive aesthetics remain but the MT-09 gets new plastics including a face-lift with LED projector headlights and position lights. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and all that, but its understated front end is at odds with the rest of the Yamaha’s beefy styling. It’s available in three colours: Icon Blue and Tech Black, which won’t get any pulses racing, but the slightly retro Storm Fluo of our test bike is the most fetching of the trio.
Yamaha have achieved their goal by elevating the thrill and credibility of the MT-09. It’s now taken a step closer to the image and appeal of the Triumph Street Triple RS and KTM 890 Duke R and comes alive on windy roads.
Gripes like the uncomfortable seat and uninspiring dash are relatively minor compared to the confidence, enjoyment and value (just £99/month on PCP) the new bike brings. Its outright performance will leave you wanting more from time to time, but it’s as happy to be as much a sturdy every-dayer as a bike to excite and constantly reassure.
Ride quality & brakesNext up: Engine
A new cast ali frame and swingarm is designed for more precise cornering. The more compact chassis is 2.3kg lighter with 50% more lateral rigidity and its forged wheels shave almost another kilogram for less gyro inertia.
Forks are shorter to place more weight over the front wheel, which used to be a problem and handlebars are higher to maintain its upright riding position.
Weighing just 189kg fully fuelled (4kg less than before), it’s now easier to throw around and combined with its impressive Bridgestone S22 tyres, has a front end that sticks and holds, even on damp and dirty roads. Four pot radial calipers and twin 298mm discs remain, but the master cylinder is now radial.
EngineNext up: Reliability
There were never any complaints from the previous engine but now the MT-09’s throaty Euro5 triple grows from 847cc to 889cc thanks to a longer stroke.
It has new pistons, conrods, cams, engine cases, clutch and gearbox with taller first and second ratios. Power is up from 113bhp to 117bhp (still at 10,000rpm) and torque boosted from 64lb-ft@8500rpm to 67lb-ft@7000rpm.
It will struggle to match a KTM twin, but it’s suitably grunty and only begins to gasp when tapped out on a motorway. The new exhaust's MotoGP-like shriek can be unsettling at first but adds to the MT’s character.
In-depth: The Yamaha MT-09's exhaust tech
First published 8 January 2021 by Ben Purvis
Yamaha’s engineers have spent countless hours on the dyno and the road trying to perfect the sound of the 2021 MT-09, with its heavily revamped 889cc triple. But how, and why? Read on to find out...
With strict limits to meet, the first job was to minimise noises elsewhere on the bike. As well as giving more leeway within the legal limit by reducing things like gear whine, this meant engineers could make the exhaust and intake notes more noticeable.
Yamaha have also kept withing the noise limits by using Sound-absorbing perforated steel sections on selected parts of the silencer walls help cut noise, while the shape and internal pipe length tunes the exhaust note.
Where the old bike had three long header pipes, merging into one shortly before the main silencer, the new MT-09’s pipes are joined into a single, large exhaust much earlier.
That’s because Euro5 emissions laws require catalytic converters to get up to operating temperature more quickly than Euro4, and moving the cat closer to the exhaust outlet is the solution. Other than that, the belly-mounted silencer looks superficially similar to before, but inside it’s very different.
Internally, the old model’s silencer had three chambers. The exhaust gasses were piped into the central one, where they’d bounce about before accessing a connector pipe into the rearmost chamber. From there, a longer connector pipe ran all the way to the front chamber where the gasses had to make another U-turn.
The new bike has what Yamaha call a ‘1.5 chamber’ muffler. There’s a single internal wall that separates the rear two-thirds from the front third. The main pipe takes the gasses through the front chamber and releases them into the large rear one, which is shaped to help reduce sound as they bounce around inside it before entering the front chamber via a large hole in the separating wall.
From there, the gases make a 180-degree turn before entering two pipes connected to exhaust exits on each side of the silencer. This means the four exhaust gas U-turns required for the old design have been cut to two, which results in a free-flowing pipe, gives designers more flexibility over length and shaves 1.4kg of weight.
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
The engine has evolved from the previous version but is still based on the same tried and tested architecture. We wouldn't expect any new reliability issues. The new dash feels a bit plasticky, which is disappointing.
Our 2021 Yamaha MT-09 owners' reviews show nothing concerning on the reliability front.
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
For £50 less than the Yamaha you can get the more powerful, four-cylinder Kawasaki Z900.
Just like an R1 superbike the MT-09 now has a six-axis IMU to provide traction, slide and wheelie control and cornering ABS, none of which encroaches on the bike’s general feel.
It also comes with a quickshifter and autoblipper as standard and although the downshifts need a good stab, the system is splendidly effective and robust feeling, as well as producing a satisfyingly addictive crackle and pop through the gears.
Yamaha claims the new 3.5in colour multi-function TFT dash is designed to produce ‘the least distraction possible’ but the small, unimaginative and plasticky unit feels like an afterthought.
There's a whopping 55-strong range of touring, cosmetic and performance accessories, including everything from a tail tidy, to rearsets, tank pad, panniers, heated grips, crash protection and a full Akrapovic exhaust system costing £1588.
The MT-09 also shapeshifts with the ‘Weekend’ and ‘Urban’ packs that include add-ons such as a screen and top box.
A comfort seat is also available for £217, which could be worthwhile as the stock saddle can feel a little slippery at times and actually comes standard on the higher spec MT-09SP. The SP version costs £10,199 and also has higher-grade KYB forks, an Öhlins shock, cruise control and a host of blacked out components.
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, 889cc, 12v, inline triple|
|Frame type||Cast aluminium perimeter frame|
|Fuel capacity||14 litres|
|Front suspension||41mm USD forks, fully adjustable|
|Rear suspension||Single shock adjustable preload and rebound damping|
|Front brake||2 x 298mm front discs with four-piston radial calipers. Cornering ABS|
|Rear brake||245mm rear 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||-|
|Annual road tax||£96|
|Annual service cost||£200|
|Used price||£7,800 - £8,800|
How much to insure?
|Warranty term||Two years|
Top speed & performance
|Max power||117 bhp|
|Max torque||67 ft-lb|
|1/4 mile acceleration||-|
Model history & versions
- 2013: MT-09 arrives in dealers end September 2013.
- 2016: MT-09 facelift revealed.
- 2017: Revised MT-09 launched.
- 2021: New Yamaha MT-09 revealed.
Yamaha MT-09 SP has a higher spec including Öhlins suspension and costs £10,199.
Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA MT-09 (2021 - on)
3 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA MT-09 (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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£200|
Annual servicing cost: £249
Overall amazing motorcycle, with lots of power and very nice suspension. It loves to be leaned into corners, as a matter of fact its the first motorcycle I was able to scrub in tyres so fast. Now on the negatives the build quality is a big mismatch with exposed ugly brackets, stupid placement of seat lock (under the seat), and most of all absolutely no space for storage under the seat. Electronics has been splattered all over place while there is massive empty hole left right behind the engine and the seat, could have moved most of it in there allowing for at least some storage under the seat, oh and placement of the horn sticking as sore thumb...Have no idea how one of the owners got service cost at £150 as all the dealerships are asking for £249
Superb brake feel and suspension of SP model. Just feels extremely well planted and gives a lot feel of what the motorcycle is doing.
Nothing new to say, just brilliant
Reliability should be as expected with no surprises, however build quality is questionable, with really strange choices from engineers and designers.
Again no idea how same owner is getting 67mpg as it only does 50mpg at best leaving you with 110miles before reserve light turns on.
The TFT screen is too small and has some tiny font making it difficult to see (not that I spend any time looking at it :D ). Could have more control to enable to choose engine braking power, quickshifter speed etc, but can't complain for the price
There’s not to much to criticise about this bike. a small display or possibly the style. However, once you ride and get to know this bike, it’s a real joy to ride and own. Every time you finish a ride, your left looking forward to the next ride. It can’t help but grin from ear to ear when you crack that throttle open.
There’s plenty of feeling from a very strong front brake set up, the rear brake brake is not quite so impressive but the rarely are.
The best it about the motorcycle, the CP3 engine has always been a cracker, it’s now got markedly better. The star of the show on this motorcycle
The suspension holds the bike up well, it has great feeling in fast corners and keeps the line well. It’s a Yamaha, absolutely no reliability issues.
It got all the rider aids you will ever need. The lift (wheelie) control is great, letting you lift the front wheel a little higher on each setting before gently bring the wheel down. You can also turn it off if your experienced wheelie merchant and it wheelie all day long.
Version: Euro 5
Annual servicing cost: £150
Only a month into ownership, but I am overjoyed with it. Surprisingly economical, I've now done 2000 MLS, motorway, A roads, B roads Rural and Urban. Not resetting the computer, It's averaged 67mpg. Yes, it's in the UK, and I haven't been hanging about. Stylish, it gets lots of rubbernecks lol, and the finish is of high quality, if a little detailed to clean quickly. I am trying to avoid the rain however. Extremely easy to change direction, with the low centralised mass design and the superb geometry and suspension improved over the previous models. I actually prefer the huge underslung exhaust. Why on earth anyone would want to change it for an aftermarket one escapes me. A commanding riding position gives confidence to meander through stationary traffic, with the narrow profile. On the move, slick upshifting and superb auto-blip function are great.
A competent all rounder, on a trip, you would want to stop every 120mls. Wind blast will get to you! As a commuter, hard to beat I should imagine, as it's so light and easy to ride, not at all tiring. Ride Quality: The best! Brakes: Very good rear, fronts too. To be honest, coming down a slip road, making use of the auto-blip, is more fun scrubbing off speed as you enter the roundabouts.
I've always loved triples having owned an old Triumph T150 and a BMW K75, but this is triple heaven! So much grunt, you can be in top at 40. The fuelling is spot on, with no percievble (To me) flat spots. Economical, smooth and versatile, it does everything
Radiator cover. The standard seat is comfortable for most, not really a pillion machine I reckon. The Bridgestone S22's are a quality fitment for such a value machine, and cross the T's and dot the I's when it comes to the ride.
Buying experience: Placed my deposit in October 2020. Dealer purchased from TK Cope in Colchester. Paid £8999 when it arrived in April.