YAMAHA HAS CAPPED OFF ITS MT RANGE WITH THE HYPER-NAKED MT-10
While Europe has had the pleasure for what feels like months, the wait is finally over and Yamaha’s naked MT litre bike hero - the MT-10 has made its way to godzone.
We jumped on a plane to the Sunshine Coast with Yamaha New Zealand to try out the MT-10, and its smaller-capacity stablemates on the roads surrounding the proposed Sunshine Coast Tourist Trophy course.
Naked bikes, without extras such as fairings, appeal to a large number riders because of their up-right riding position.
Yamaha Australia’s national communications manager, Sean Goldhawk, said the now complete MT range was “a step up strategy, we want to get them young and keep them for life.”
The 17-litre fuel tank and airbox combo gives the MT-10 a wide, solid presence.
It’s a move in the right direction as the naked segment is easily the most accessible for new riders. Thanks to the easy-to-get-on-with ergonomics, a full range of naked bikes makes sense considering we all get the urge to upgrade to bigger and better bikes in time.
The MT-10 is the pinnacle of the Yamaha’s MT range and is derived from Yamaha’s flagship bike, the YZF-R1, the crowning achievement of the their supersport range. However, there is more to the MT-10 than simply being a naked R1.
Although the MT-10 shares many components with the R1, including its deltabox frame and R1 derived Kayaba (KYB) suspenders, much has changed in the transformation from class-leading superbike to hyper-naked.
The engine of the MT-10 has been developed directly from the R1 unit. Internally, the 998cc crossplane crank four-cylinder has changed by a factor of 40 per cent. The changes to the engine were all about achieving the monster torque the MT range is named after.
Now instead of producing the 112.4 Nm at 11,500 rpm of the superbike, the naked MT-10 makes peak torque 111 Nm at 9000rpm. Outright power has also changed, dropping from the unusable (legally) on the street 147.1kW to a much more street-ready, but still insane, 118kW.
The MT-10 — peak torque of 111 Nm at 9000rpm — is just as much fun on one wheel as two.
In keeping with the street theme of the MT-10, the complex cutting-edge electronics of the R1 have been swapped for more conventional systems. It still comes with three-stage traction control and ABS as standard, but thanks to the addition of an electronically controlled throttle the MT-10 gains something the R1 is unlikely to ever have — cruise control.
Whereas the R1 has all the latest tech, it commands a higher price point of $27,499 plus on-roads. The MT-10 on the other hand cuts the price down to an even more attainable $19,999, so you’ll get change from $20k.
Styling-wise the MT-10 resembles the R1 in its stance, but when you look closer there are plenty of visual changes other than from the removal of a fairing.
Up front the twin LED headlight arrangement is maintained from R1, but now the “face” of the bike resembles a samurai’s battle mask instead of a MotoGP machine.
The subframe has been changed out for a bigger unit with the capacity to accommodate a pillion passenger, although your pillion will need some pretty short legs in order to come along for a ride as the rear pegs are mounted rather high. It is likely children would be the only ones comfortable to join in on rides with the standard pillion arrangement.
During the launch I worked my way up to the MT-10 by riding the entire Australasian MT range. I started the day becoming reacquainted with an old friend, Driven’s Bike of the Year in 2014, the MT-07. Not a lot has changed with the MT-07 since its debut, apart from it now being available as both a learners-approved spec machine with the Australasian-only 655cc parallel twin engine, and now as the MT-07HO, HO standing for high output so you get the global-spec engine with its full 689cc capacity and corresponding jump in power.
Next I jumped on the MT-09, a bike I hadn’t previously had a chance to ride. Riding the MT-09 in its naked form is quite different to the Tracer version we have ridden. While riding aggressively to keep up with the pack, I revelled in the sound of the triple’s intake. It was so soulful and raucous I’d be tempted to put it ahead of even the MT-10 in terms of sound.
When I finally made my way up to the MT-10, it felt like the leader of the pack it’s meant to be.
Swinging a leg over the seat of the wide 17-litre fuel tank and airbox combo gives the MT-10 a wide, solid presence from the cockpit. Looking up from the tank is a colour LCD display. There’s no analog tachometer like other bikes in the Hyper Naked segment, just a fresh colour display with integrated digital tachometer along with a big speed readout — a much-needed feature considering the speeds this bike is capable of achieving.
Twisting the throttle on an abandoned section of former highway resulted in power wheelies in both first and second gears, while more experienced riders were pulling sustained wheelies up the road at will.
Wheelie good fun on an abandoned highway.
Yamaha says the MT10 is the shortest bike — in terms of wheelbase — in its class at 1400mm, wheel to wheel. This translates to some incredibly nimble handling.
Combined with the large 190/55 rear section tyre, wide handlebars, and that R1 derived KYB suspension the MT-10 is a force to be reckoned with on the streets.
Lunch provided an opportunity for repairs after the harsh roads of the potential TT course punctured a couple of unprotected radiators on the MT-10 bikes. The stylised MT-10 radiator guard is an optional accessory. All patched up, we saddled up for the ride deeper into the hills.
Setting the gearbox in third gear the MT-10 was in its sweet spot for ultimate backroad fun. Twisting the throttle resulted in the thick band of torque the CP4 engine is tuned for and shifting up to fourth for longer straights kept the engine on the boil. Although off the showroom floor the six-speed gearbox doesn’t have a quickshifter, one is available as an optional accessory. Yamaha NZ has yet to confirm the price here, but going by the indicated Australian price, it will be an investment worth ticking the box for.
After our final photoshoot it was brought to our attention that if we didn’t shake a leg, we’d miss our flight back to New Zealand. With the powerful MT-10s all needed by the Aussie journos to finish their shoots we had our pick of the remainder of the range for our bolt back to the hotel to collect our gear. With odd numbers of the MT-07 and MT-09, the five members of the Kiwi contingent saddled up on the four MT-03s and solitary MT-09 Tracer.
To say that this was the highlight of the launch isn’t an overstatement. To me, the amount of fun we had riding the wheels off the little 321cc MT-03s through the Australian back country proved the strength of the MT theme. It showed that it doesn’t matter which bike in the range you choose to ride, there is a sensational amount of fun waiting to be unleashed in every single one of them.