Review: Yamaha MT-10

It’s always a matter of putting things into perspective. In my previous review I wrote the Triumph Tiger 800 XCa demanded more input to enter a corner than my own BMW F 800 GS. And then you get a Yamaha MT-10 for a week’s test after which you hop back on your GS and can’t help but notice how much effort cornering takes on your Beemer. And how terribly slow it is!

Okay, comparing a 800 GS with a MT-10 isn’t fair but there’s one BMW model that has a lot in common with the Yamaha: the BMW S 1000 R. Both are based on a 200 hp inline-four racer that lost its fairing and exchanged a fair bit of horsepower for more mid-range torque.

Still, the MT-10 isn’t just a naked R1. The frame, swingarm and suspension may be identical but on the other hand there’s a tweaked engine, a chassis that’s modified for more comfort and the aggressive headlight section, which I happen to like. Especially in Night Fluo finish the MT-10 is very expressive. The other colors (blue or black) are just plain boring.

Master of Torque

MT stands for Master of Torque and good heavens, there is no lack of torque indeed. The MT-10 is a wild beast with a very exciting power source. It accelerates like crazy: from 5000 rpm you better make sure you hold those handlebars tight. At 9000 rpm this torquey master reaches its maximum of 111 Nm.

Riding peacefully is no problem either. The 160 horses were very easy to handle during the rush hour in the centre of Brussels. Of course the Master prefers to be somewhere else, where it can dive into corners and exit them like a bat out of hell.

The frame likes that dynamic riding style. It remains stable and firm, with predictable and light steering behaviour. Correcting your riding line in a corner is easy to do. The suspension in standard setting is sporty without being stingy and is fully adjustable, front and rear.

The soundtrack is just excellent. The characteristic sound of a four-cylinder engine with a deep, slow groll on top, which sounds even better once the engine is up to temperature.

Only the brakes could use some more teeth if you ask my opinion. They certainly do their job, but I expected more stopping power to keep all that violence on the leash.

1 2 3 STDRD A B

The explosive power of the crossplane engine regularly makes the front wheel very light. If you switch off the traction control it’ll go airborne in no time. When you switch the traction control on, you have three settings to choose from: 1, 2 and 3. Position 3 intervenes the fastest. The naming is meaningless and you’ll have to check the instruction manual or experimentally find out what those numbers mean. Sport, Road and Rain would’ve been better namings. Too bad my week’s test counted too many rain days to fully experiment with the different settings.

I have the same remark about the naming of the riding modes. Standard, A and B don’t say much. Sport, Race and Insane would’ve been so much clearer. The Standard riding mode is already quite dynamic and the MT-10 only gets more nervy when you switch to the A mode. In the B mode the throttle response gets just brutal. To me, the Standard mode was sufficient: the ride-by-wire isn’t too jerky though you can’t call it refined either. From standstill a smooth departure is a difficult exercise. Both the riding modes and the traction control can be set while riding.

Master of Touring?

Cruise control is standard on the MT-10 proving the Japanese attribute touring characteristics to this naked. Which is confirmed by the accessory catalog: heated grips, touring screen, panniers and a comfort seat are all there. The comfort seat is recommended because the standard seat is quite hard. Fortunately, there’s space enough to move around a bit.

On top of that the seating position isn’t too demanding, nor is the leg angle too sharp. So maybe it isn’t too crazy to think of the MT-10 as a sports tourer. Just keep an eye on the consumption. 7 l/100 km vanishes easily and if you ride a bit sporty that number quickly goes up to 8 and more.

Yamaha MT-10 vs BMW S 1000 R

To conclude, let’s briefly compare the MT-10 with the BMW S 1000 R. The Yamaha feels more exciting and agile, and is slightly more comfortable than the BMW. In addition the engine has more character although I experienced the BMW to be more performance-oriented overall. The German naked beats the Yamaha in terms of e-throttle and brakes. Their prices don’t differ much (£11,190 for the Beemer, £11,799 for the Yam) so which one you choose really is a matter of personal preference.

Conclusion

The Yamaha MT-10 stands for pure excitement. That’s already given away by its aggressive look and the engine effortlessly delivers on that promise. The inline-four guarantees adrenaline rushes while the excellent chassis and good sitting position get you in an even better mood. You’ll probably have to visit the gas station more often than you want to, the seat might be too hard and the brakes could be more performing. But despite that, this naked convinces easily. The MT-10 is a sure winner.

Photography: Foto PK

Pros

+ Distinct look
+ Exciting engine
+ Controllable power
+ Outstanding steering behaviour / excellent chassis
+ Comfortable sitting position

Cons

– Consumption
– Impossible to accelerate smoothly from standstill
– Brakes could perform better
– Useless namings of traction control settings and riding modes
– Hard seat

Tech specs

Engine

Engine type: 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves
Displacement: 998cc
Bore x stroke: 79.0 mm x 50.9 mm
Compression ratio: 12 : 1
Maximum power: 118.0kW (160.4PS) @ 11500 rpm
Maximum torque: 111.0Nm (11.3kg-m) @ 9000 rpm
Lubrication system: Wet sump
Clutch type: Wet, Multiple Disc
Ignition system: TCI
Starter system: Electric
Transmission system: Constant Mesh, 6-speed
Final transmission: Chain
Fuel consumption: 8.0 l/100 km
CO2 emission: 185g/km

Chassis

Frame: Aluminium Deltabox
Front travel: 120 mm
Caster angle: 24º
Trail: 102mm
Front suspension system: Telescopic forks, Ø43 mm
Rear suspension system: Swingarm, (link suspension)
Rear travel: 120 mm
Front brake: Hydraulic dual disc, Ø320 mm
Rear brake: Hydraulic single disc, Ø220 mm
Front tyre: 120/70 ZR17 M/C (58W)
Rear tyre: 190/55 ZR17 M/C (75W)

Dimensions

Overall length: 2095 mm
Overall width: 800 mm
Overall height: 1110 mm
Seat height: 825 mm
Wheel base: 1400 mm
Minimum ground clearance: 130 mm
Wet weight (including full oil and fuel tank): 210 kg
Fuel tank capacity: 17litres
Oil tank capacity: 3.9litres

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