The MT-10 has an engine to die for - right up there with the best European super nakeds, but the chassis has a more conservative Japanese flavour to it. Like the Kawasaki Z1000, Suzuki GSX-S1000 and Honda CB1000R it’s a little less racy than its engine. Fully adjustable KYB forks and shock, lifted from the R1, are set on the soft and cossetting side and the old-generation Bridgestone S20 tyres have decent grip, but they’re not as sharp and quick steering as a sports tyre.But the Yamaha is still hugely competent and never puts a foot wrong.
Sure, it doesn’t pinball from corner to corner, changing direction like disco laser beam, like its expensive rivals, but the steering is predictable, the handling is forgiving and there’s lots of feel for what’s going on beneath you.Lightly modified R1 brakes are strong, but not class-leading and whether it’s the different compound pads or the new Bosh RU ABS system, they actually have more feel than the R1’s on the road. They’re more pleasurable and tactile to use. And although the MT-10 doesn’t have the latest six-axis internal gyro powering its traction control, like the R1 (only wheelspeed sensors), the system works brilliantly. Unlike the KTM 1290 Super Duke, for example, the system lets you pull wheelies with the TC left on. There’s lots of legroom and the riding position is spacious, but the seat can be uncomfortable after a few hours’ riding.
Yamaha have decided you don’t need a peaky 200bhp R1 race engine for the road. They’ve moved the power lower down the revs, where you can reach it and shortened the gearing by two teeth on the rear, just to make sure. Power delivery isn’t unlike the original, gruntier 2009 R1.
They’ve altered 40% of the R1’s engine internals, stripping away a lot of its titanium and magnesium components to suit its lower-revving, more torque-laden character, which also means it’s cheaper, so the MT-10 costs less than all its European rivals. The crossplane unit is a masterpiece of an engine. It howls, growls and wails like a Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP racer at full whack, has the punch of a V4 exiting corners and a power delivery so elastic, an electric motor would seem clunky by comparison.
The throttle response is peachy, too, so long as you leave it in ‘standard’ mode. A and B modes are too sharp for accurate cornering…or wheelies. Who said Euro 4 had to be boring?
Yamaha has a great reputation for build quality and reliability and the MT-10 follows this envied tradition. It’s based on the current R1 and early gearbox recall aside (which doesn’t affect this model), there have been no major problems reported.
The MT-10 is great value for money for what is essentially a naked version of the R1 (which is 50% more expensive). It’s priced similar to its Japanese rivals and a lot cheaper than its European super naked rivals.
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As well as R1 brakes, suspension, engine and chassis you also get cruise control, electronic rider modes and traction control as standard. There’s also a full array of official Yamaha accessories available to make the MT-10 racier (quickshifter, rearsets and racing levers) and more touring focussed (tall screen, luggage and comfort seat).