Yamaha's MT-07 a monster that even novice riders can tame
Unlike riders in Europe, Yamaha's Australasian MT-07 comes with a learner approved badge for Kiwis but to prove it's more than a beginner's city bike, the Australasian launch took in some tough back country roads.
Heading out of Sydney this week, the ride route included city roads, rush hour traffic on motorways and a tour through the nearby Royal National Park, testing the capabilities of Yamaha's most serious Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS) bike yet.
MT stands for 'monster torque' with the MT-07 joining the MT-09 in the Yamaha range while the MT-03 is slowly put out to pasture.
The MT-07 doesn't disappoint in the power stakes with a class leading 57.6Nm of torque at 4000rpm thanks to a 655cc parallel twin. The engine is the same unit as found in the full power European model MT-07 but has had the bore reduced to bring capacity and power down to squeeze into the LAMS market.
Power delivery is responsive and linear giving the bike a predictable and easy to control nature. Weighing in at only 179kg fully fuelled you feel like you're riding something closer to a motorised pushbike than a full size 655cc bike at times.
While you could find a way to de-restrict the MT-07 and eke a little more power out of it there really isn't much to be gained and doing so you're more likely to hurt resale value (LAMS bikes legally cannot be modified to add more power) than gain any decent power. All seven bike journos on the launch seemed in agreement that power is more than ample as proved by some of my more skilled colleagues able to pop the MT-07 up onto the rear wheel and carry the bike in this position for some distance at will.
The MT-07 is equipped from factory with excellent tyres and brakes
Ergonomically the MT-07 is very easy to get along with. With an 805mm seat height and a well designed seat which is narrow at the front and wide at the back, riders of all shapes and sizes can be easily accommodated in all day comfort.
The narrow tubular frame is of all steel construction connecting to an asymmetrical swingarm that wouldn't look out of place on a machine priced double that of the MT-07's $10,999 plus on road costs.
From factory the MT-07 is equipped with either Michelin Pilot Road 3 or Bridgestone BattlAx tyres with a big 180 section on the rear.
While both are great tyres, my pick is the Pilot Road 3s which gave much more confidence in all conditions, especially the damp as we drove through the Royal National Park's twisty roads.
The roads in rural New South Wales, while generally maintained to an average level, were filled with dips and undulations which, when encountered mid-corner made conditions treacherous.
Thankfully the MT-07 is well equipped with quality 41mm KYB forks up front and an adjustable rear monoshock at the rear. I did find that on some roads the bike felt a little bouncy with my 92kg frame perched atop it. If I had to deal with the same conditions daily I'd probably amp up the preload on the rear to dial that out.
When I found myself a little wayward mid corner the great 245mm rear disk really bit in well and would always help me correct my line. When pulling up to a halt in a hurry was needed it was the twin 282mm front brakes with the progressive feel that is typical of almost all Yamaha bikes that brought the bike to a halt.
While sheltering from a rouge Australian thunderstorm Yamaha brought stunt rider Dave McKenna along on a stock MT-07 to show us how capable the bike can be. Throwing the bike about in wheelies, stoppies and a sustained burnout - all with a broken back from a training incident and in the pouring rain, it's safe to say that all in attendance were highly impressed.
When I first saw the MT-07 I wasn't a fan of the styling. I thought the headlight sat down too low and the bike was oddly proportioned. After riding it and having plenty of time to look at it in the flesh I'm now a fan. The low headlight and in turn low instrument panel mean that you have an unobstructed view of the road ahead while the generous steering lock of the bars makes managing the bike at low speed around town easy.
The MT-07 performed well on rural roads. Photo / Josh Evans
A great feature found on the bars is the starter switch which is integrated with the kill switch. Sliding the switch downward turned the bike on and a simple flick of the switch upwards kills the engine. While at first it was a bit confusing I soon realised it was another simple weight saving measure the Yamaha engineers had snuck into the bike.
The 14litre fuel tank sits up almost equal in height to the instrument cluster which results in a very muscular look from the rear quarter.
The only downside to the styling I could possibly see was the heavy use of plastic - which while keeping the weight of the bike down does open the door for wear and tear to appear on some of the plastic parts. Thankfully these are not only simple to replace needing just an Alan Key, but they're all up-gradable to even better looking accessory parts.
Available in four colours I found I increasingly preferred the Racing Red hue over the Deep Armour (purple), Competition White, and matt grey choices.
That instrument panel is an all new LCD unit with plenty on offer, including a gear position indicator, bike temp, outside air temp, multiple odometers and an average fuel economy gauge.
After a day of combined riding - city and country roads - my average fuel usage was 4.8L/100km - astounding considering the punishment the bikes were taking.
But it was airport dash to make my flight home to Auckland that the bike proved its worth. Thanks to a narrow build and those brilliantly positioned handlebars the MT-07 was incredibly easy to navigate to the front of queues of traffic, then punching ahead when the lights went green thanks to that brilliantly torquey engine.
There's a wide range of accessories available to suit the needs of any road going rider from add on equipment to make the 07 more sporty to a full touring kit complete with panniers and windscreen for the long distance rider. All available for purchase from Yamaha's online store.
A full range of accessories is available for customising the MT-07, including panniers (pictured)
After an all too brief time in Sydney riding I came to the conclusion that this bike really can cater for almost anyone. From casual commuter to hard core hooligan it can handle it all.