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
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.
- Related: 2021 Yamaha MT-09 and MT-09 SP, the story so far
- Related: 2013 Yamaha MT-09 review
- Related: How Yamaha made the new MT-09 howl
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.
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.
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||-|
|Used price||£7,700 - £9,000|
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)
No owners have yet reviewed the YAMAHA MT-09 (2021 - on).