2018 Yamaha MT-09 first ride review
For someone who spent a lot of time in his late teens learning to ride a motorcycle on one wheel, naked streetbikes will always top my list of favourites. And given the rave reviews it has received internationally, I was really looking forward to riding the Yamaha MT-09 almost every international review told me the bike is an absolute hooligan, powered by a stonker of a triple cylinder engine. But Yamaha India being unable to give us a test bike for the longest time meant I couldn't test it. We finally did get a test ride, albeit a very short one, in Thailand. The test location was err painfully small for the MT-09. We rode the bike in what essentially is a parking area inside Yamaha's Thailand facility. The ground is used as a training circuit for its YRA or Yamaha Riding Academy, and is probably less than a quarter mile long.
The MT-09 is one of Yamaha's best selling middleweight motorcycles internationally and is also on sale in India
Coming to the motorcycle, the MT series has always been all about sharp design and compact dimensions and the 09 isn't any different. The menacing design of the projector beam equipped headlights, minimal bodywork and slim seat mean business. And by business I mean the bike's ability to engage and enthuse the rider, irrespective of whether he's just jumped off a 200PS superbike or has never ridden anything larger than say a KTM 390 Duke. While the former crop of riders are sure to appreciate its lightness and the nifty performance, inexperienced riders are sure to like the MT-09 for its friendliness and progressive power delivery. Of course, to help novice riders the bike features a comprehensive electronics package including traction control, riding modes and not to mention, ABS as well. It also comes equipped with a slipper clutch, apart from which the update last year also saw the MT-09 get adjustable suspension.
The Yamaha MT-09 is powered by an inline triple cylinder displacing 847cc and also uses Yamaha's famous crossplane crankshaft technology that debuted on the YZF-R1 first
The riding posture is aggressive yet comfortable and I also liked the fact that the seat isn't split, which makes it easy to slide slightly back whenever needed. Coming to the powertrain, the MT-09 benefits from Yamaha's trademark crossplane technology that has been employed here in an 847cc, inline three cylinder engine. Outputs stand at 115PS and 88Nm. Yamaha tells us when the MT-09 project was on the design board, they considered various engine formats parallel twin, V-twin, inline triple as well as an inline four, but settled for the inline triple as it offered the best in terms performance and low weight.
With its instant throttle response and strong bottom end grunt the Yamaha MT-09 is a hooligan when it comes to wheelies
And tipping the scales at 193kg wet, the MT-09 is not too heavy. In fact it feels surprisingly light and nimble on the go. Despite the limited time in its saddle and the diminutive size of the test track it was easy to see why the MT-09 is a huge hit internationally. Throttle response is instant and fueling precise, while refinement levels are top notch be it the engine or the six-speed gearbox which makes for a very premium feel. But what impressed me the most was the fact that while ridiculously easy to ride even for a novice, the MT-09 is also quick to turn into an absolute hooligan. The MT-09 loves wheelies, power slides and stoppies. It's almost as if the bike was always meant to be a stunt machine! Lots of bottom end torque means the front wheel comes up at the drop of a hat and the MT-09 makes wheelies ridiculously easy with its kind of performance and chassis balance. Needless to say, the chassis and suspension also make the bike easy to tip into corners.
The Yamaha MT-09 is quick to tip into corners and has a stable, planted feel when leaned over
The brakes offer a progressive feel as well and on the whole, there's a smoothness to everything. The ride was way too short but initial impressions are that the Yamaha MT-09 the perfect recipe. It is light, friendly, fun to ride and powerful enough to suit various groups of riders. As a middleweight, it makes far more sense for a market like ours than litre-class machines, just like its rivals, like the Ducati Monster 821, Triumph Street Triple S/RS, Kawasaki Z900, MV Agusta Brutale 800 and the soon to be launched Suzuki GSX-S750. And that calls for the comparison test of the year! Now to wait for Yamaha India to get us a test bike in India. The only spanner in the works for the MT-09, for now, is its steep pricing. It comes in via the CBU route and retails at Rs 10.88 lakh ex-showroom New Delhi, making it the second most expensive middleweight naked after the Brutale 800. If Yamaha can start assembling the bike in India and price it lower, the MT-09 has what it takes to make the competition sweat.
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