Yamaha MT-07 LAMS: Still got it
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Yamaha’s MT-07 LA was one of the first purpose-built LAMS bikes to arrive in the New Zealand market, but how has the learner legal MT-07 fared nearly half a decade on from its initial release? More importantly, is this still the #1 LAMS bike you want to buy to get into motorcycling?
Before the bike was even released in late 2014, and with a close friend having already put money down on the bike pre-release, I knew there must be something incredibly appealing about Yamaha’s first purpose-built LAMS machine from the outset.
Yamaha imports two distinct variants of the MT-07 into New Zealand, with the main difference between the LAMS spec — the LA — and the full power HO (High Output) versions of the MT-07 being the LAMS bike’s sleeved CP2 engine, which has a reduced capacity of 655cc versus the 689cc of the HO. This brings power and cubic capacity to within the LAMS limits of <660cc and 150kW per tonne, but if you think the LAMS MT-07 is lacking oomph you’ve got another thing coming.
While the throttle stop is typically LAMS restricted, the way the MT-07 LA delivers its power is unlike many of the other restricted learner approved bikes in the circa 650cc category. For instance, Suzuki’s SV650 is restricted at the throttle body and at the ECU, but it delivers its power down low in the rev range.
Rev that bike out and it feels like it hits a brick wall in terms of power delivery as the revs climb, necessitating the rider to short-shift to get the most out of the bike. The MT-07, on the other hand, features silky-smooth power delivery from woah to go. There’s no feeling that the bike is restricted in its power and it revs cleanly to the rev limiter.
It might sound like a bit of nit-picking against one of the Yamaha’s main competitors, but smooth and predictable power delivery is one of the best traits a learner machine can have, especially once a rider has enough confidence to venture onto the open road and start overtaking traffic.
After a few years in the marketplace Yamaha gave the MT-07 a facelift, which if I’m honest, I’m glad they did. There was just something about the small headlight of the previous model that never sat well with me. While the bike looked muscular with its wide 14-litre tank immediately behind the small headlight, the bike’s proportions seemed wrong.
Thankfully, the main update made for the 2018 model year was to slap a bigger headlight on the MT-07 amongst a few other more subtle changes. The result is a bike with the same performance pedigree, but even better looks.
Also new for the facelifted bike are minor tweaks in the handling department. While not a major update — like all-new suspension would have been — Yamaha upgraded the handling with increased damping and stiffer springs up front and new rebound adjustment out back.
Yamaha also saw to it that rider comfort was addressed with a new seat, although there is not much visibly different to it.
If there is one area I wish Yamaha had hit with the upgrade stick, it would be the MT-07’s switchgear, which remains the bike’s biggest weak point. While everything else on the bike screams quality, the switches feel to be a cost-cutting measure — with the worst offender being the indicator switch which lacks tactile feedback to the rider.
So, after spending some time with the updated MT-07, is it still the bike you want to be swinging into motorcycling with?
For starters, it is still one of the best picks for someone new motorcycling who wants a bike that will last the distance. Not only is the build quality of the MT-07 right up there with the best in the business (bar those annoying switches), but the way in which it delivers its power means that while you will get used to the level of grunt the bike has to offer the MT07 LAMS is more than capable of serving as a long-term option for the Kiwi motorcyclist.
Though the competition in the LAMS sector has undoubtedly only become more fierce, the MT-07 LA is a bike that not only has a proven track record as an excellent bike overall, it has four years of happy riders singing its praises to back it up.
There is one fly in the ointment in the case for the MT-07 against the rising number of bikes in the LAMS class, and that is its $11,599 price. Much of its competition is selling under $10,000, so price-conscious buyers might look past it. But I’d encourage them to give it another look. The Yamaha MT-07 is right up there in terms of the best LAMS spec bikes on offer in New Zealand.