YAMAHA MT-03 SHOOTS TO THE TOP OF THE LIST OF RECOMMEND BIKES FOR NOVICES
Sneaking into the Yamaha range this year is the all-new MT-03, now with an engine more fitting of its alpha-numerical name.
Yamaha last had a bike in the range bearing the MT-03 name in 2015 with the polarising styled 660cc MT-03. It was phased out in mid-2015 after the arrival of the newer, similarly specced MT-07 (which was awarded Driven’s Bike of the Year at the time), but now for 2016 the MT-03 nameplate is back, and it’s fair to say it is better than ever.
If you think this is just an R3 without the fairing you’re sort-of right, but also quite wrong.
The 2016 MT-03 does share its frame and power plant with that brilliant little rocket, but take a closer look and you can see plenty of differences on the new bike. Starting up front, the fairing has been dropped in favour of a modern streetfighter-styled single headlight arrangement and low bars.
Instrumentation is still the same, thanks to the versatile R6 inspired unit from the R3.
The digital display and analog tachometer are easy to read, and the centrally mounted shift light brightly illuminates at 11,000rpm to ensure you know it’s time to swap up a cog on the 6-speed gearbox before hitting the 12,000rpm redline.
Follow through the bike and you’ll note the tank is different, now with scalloped indents up front on either side to accommodate the new handlebar arrangement and ensure riders can get full turning lock without jamming their hands up against the tank.
No self-respecting streetfighter can hit the streets without something cool hanging down low, and the MT-03 comes standard with a stylish belly pan which gives the little Yammie a muscular look.
On the road, the first thing I noticed was that the MT-03 is light. At 168kg with a full 14 litres of fuel, and without the added weight up front from a fairing, it is good at popping the front wheel on demand.
Though it is only 1kg lighter than the R3, it seems much lighter, probably due to the lack of downforce.
As with all small-capacity machines, there is a joy to giving the MT-03 full throttle and listening to the 321cc parallel twin scream its way up to the redline.
I’m not sure whether Yamaha has specifically tuned the air intake on the 03, but the sound of the little engine gulping in air was addictive, especially when blasting along motorway onramps.
With the same 30.9kW and 29.6 Nm of power on tap as the R3, I never felt the MT-03 was lacking in the power department and it is more than enough for a learner — which this bike is targeted at.
In the corners, like its R3 sibling, the MT-03 isa performer and, when you keep your momentum up, it proves to be plenty of fun, while remaining well inside the legal speed limit.
The biggest selling point by far, apart from the excellent price point of $6699 plus on road costs, is that the MT-03 is possibly the most affordable learner bike on the market that comes equipped with anti-lock braking as standard. This shoots it right up the top of my list of bikes I’d recommend for learners.
When looking at the MT-03 the only thing you’ve got to ask is, “Do I want the streetfighter or the racer?”. You can’t go wrong with either choice.
$6699 + on roads
321cc parallel twin
Possibly the cheapest bike with ABS, great little engine, excellent price point, wheelie fun!