The Yamaha MT 09 is another super naked bike. It has that menacing look made of bold lines and a futuristic approach. It seems as it was designed for a future sequel of a Matrix movie. The Japanese giant manufacturer went for the dark side on the looks and power. Read on and find out what I loved, what I didn´t, and what is new for the Yamaha MT 09 this year. Besides the impressions on the bike, I will also tell you about the discovery of two accessories that made my life easier.
In case you didn´t know, the term MT that defines this line of bikes by Yamaha comes from “Masters of Torque”. It is entirely accurate since every forum you enter that has the name of this bike series in it says precisely that. Moreover, the massive torque of these bikes is one of the main reasons people buy them. But here´s the deal with the 2018 model: Yamaha needed to improve an already outstanding motorcycle. According to most specialised media, the Yamaha MT 09 was the line´s sweet spot. It wasn´t as big as the Yamaha MT 10 or as small as the MT 07; therefore, they set out to make better what was already good.
Suspension – This was everybody´s major complain about this bike in all previous incarnations. Users complained that the rear suspension was too loose and didn´t feel confident in such a speed-friendly bike. In my opinion, that was entirely true. The rear suspension was not modifiable and too soft. If you were down the road and hit any medium sized bump, you could feel the weight of the bike leaning you to the front. After this became big news, the company took riders´ feedback and intervened. The result is a suspension that is fully adjustable and improved. We will see the results in the bike´s test, but it was one of the significant modifications for this year.
Lights – Besides the improved design that looks amazing, the QUAD LED headlight and tail light do make a difference. The Yamaha MT 09 is big and powerful enough to make short to medium trips a great experience. Also, LED lights in this disposition can be your best ally for any night-time riding in complete darkness. Moreover, they are very useful in the city too; especially the LED tail lights, but we´ll discuss more of that at the test section.
Slipper Clutch – Well, for a bike that is as fast, torquey and powerful as the Yamaha MT 09, this is a complete must. If you are an experienced rider and want to take on a curve more aggressively, you need to rely on downshifting. It is just the way to do it. While in previous models this wasn’t an easy task, with the addition of the Yamaha assist slipper clutch it is a delight doing it. Also, the smoother transitions make city riding a complete blast of fun. Thumbs up for Yamaha for their move.
It is not a big and heavy bike as you would expect due to its motor and capabilities. Besides, it is a driver-centric design that makes it very comfortable. The differences with the smaller Yamaha MT 07 in size are almost not distinguishable. On the other hand, fuel consumption is drastically different. It goes from 58mpg on the Yamaha MT 07 to only 44mpg on the Yamaha MT 09. Besides, the fuel tank is precisely the same size; therefore, you get less distance covered in one sitting.
Just the looks of this bike when you see it parked makes your heart beat faster. I am an old school guy that has gone past the twenties, thirties and is on the verge of finishing his forties. I´ve been around quite a bit and rode almost any bike you name. Why do I make this point? I make it because I am a die-hard naked sportbike kind of person. Although that is my background, I loved that the Yamaha MT 09 does look like out of a ninjas´ movie. The looks are menacing, with modern, daring lines.
Once I threw my leg over the seat and took the position, I realised how comfortable this bike is. To give you an idea, the riding position is almost as if you were riding a bicycle. Your back is entirely straight; your hands way on your side and your feet touch the ground. Moreover, for being a super naked bike, it is more comfortable than many of my café racers.
I flipped the electric starter on my right hand, and it started flawlessly. The sound is also accelerating. In front of me, the all-LED electrical panel lit up and showed me everything. I rolled it slowly into the pavement and gently opened the throttle. The result was an absolute blast of adrenaline going up and down my spine. This bike is really torquey and powerful. It feels as if it was a little too much to drive it in the city. That being said, you can´t have enough fun if you are an experienced racer as I am. It just flies in front of everybody´s eyes.
Besides the torquey effect, I would like to add that the slipper clutch and the improved suspension made this bike justice. At least, in a city environment. The transition between the gears is flawless and smooth. You can go from one to six without any effort. The bike maintains the torque in every gear, and the controlled suspension makes you feel safer.
What did I do next? I got tired of the red and green lights of the city and took this beast of a bike out for a ride in the open road. Although it outperformed my expectations in the city, I wanted to know how it handled the open road. The Yamaha MT 09 is a one-for-all bike because of size, specs and features. It should have an excellent performance on the open road for it to be a complete motorcycle.
There I went, to the highway away from rush hour, cruising at ease among cars. This bike, as I said before, maintains the high torque throughout the gearbox. It is possible to pass vehicles effortlessly regardless of the speed. Although the three-in-line engine is marvellous, the suspension wasn´t so great. It still felt a little soft and made you a little doubtful when the time came to really push the bike. Despite the fact it was at its hardest setting, I felt some awkward movements. I am not saying it is a dangerous bike, but it still needs some work in that department.
In the ride back to delivering the bike, I discovered a great addition. It had a revolutionary accessory that is called SBM. The name stands for Smart Brake Module and means that the motorcycle detects when you lower speed, also when you don’t apply the brakes. In a motorcycle like the Yamaha MT 09 with such a smooth slipper clutch, it is very tempting to slow it down that way. I do it all the time, release the throttle, downshift and take the curve without the brakes. This can be tricky since the brake light won´t be lit if you are not touching the brakes. This little device will do exactly that: turn on the brake light if it senses your speed is decreasing. Needless to say, several of my bikes have that now, including street-ready café racers.
The Yamaha MT 09 is an excellent bike for those looking for a one-for-all ride. Besides making a flawless work on the streets, the Yamaha MT 09 works great on the open road. We will review it in one minute, but the best thing is the bang for the buck. The Yamaha MT 09 is a perfectly priced, really complete package.
All finishes have the same MSRP for the Yamaha MT 09. You can choose your bike in Matte Raven Black (tuxedo bike), Ice Fluo and Team Yamaha Blue. Although you can get one of these used in the market, the newest additions make it a better bike. If you buy one used and want to come close to the specs of the 2018 model you will spend more than buying it new. The price for 2019 is of $8,999, and, if you ask me, it is a hell of a lot of bike for that money.
The Yamaha MT 09 Tracer is the full-on touring version of the hyper-naked Yamaha MT 09. Besides some significant modifications for the open road, this bike employs much of the MT 09 features. For example, the slipper clutch, brakes, engine and transmission are identical. It does come with a “touring mode” for better gas consumption that extends the distances covered with a single tank.
Also, there are some road-ready additions to it like the adjustable windscreen. It is very convenient; you can switch positions with a one-hand pull upwards. Also, the heated grips that are not present in the Yamaha MT 09 are present here for riding in colder weather.
Besides these extra functions, the aesthetics of the bike is completely different. You get the feeling that is less spicy and more of a grown-up machine. Not that I consider myself a grown-up when I am close to bikes, but it gives you that touring-bike feeling. It is torquey as the Yamaha MT 09, but with the fuel consumption on “touring mode”, it transforms into a quiet beast.
The addition of a storage room on the sides in the shape of hard cases is very convenient as well. Also, the ability to move the handlebar forward and the improved mirrors are very functional.
To kick off this section, I would like to talk to you about another accessory from the same brand as SBM that works marvels in any bike. It is called STS and stands for Smart Turn System. What it does is very simple, but also very important: it turns off the directional indicators when it senses that you have completed your turn. If you are a car driver, you know that cars often have this same feature. Well, if you drive a car, you very likely leave them on when riding your bike. This accessory is simple to install and solves that right away.
Heated Grips – This is an accessory that is very recommendable if you will use your Yamaha MT09 for the open road. Especially when you ride in cold weather.
Windscreen – Another great addition for those willing to use the Yamaha MT 09 in the open road. Trust me, it makes a huge difference.
Yoshimura Full Exhaust Systems – This is among the most expensive additions to the Yamaha MT 09 but the one with the most significant effect. It will sound ten times better and will also improve its performance.
I would highly recommend submitting your motorcycle details in the form below, to get an exclusive member offer for the Smart Turn System. I can assure you, you will not regret it and will grow to love this system after the first few miles with it.
If you are looking for a do-it-all, fun, reliable bike that is a blast to drive and is road-ready, this is a great choice. The touring version is $4,000 more expensive than the Yamaha MT 09, but if that is what you will use it for, it is worth it. Neither of them is on the high side of the price category for the specs of the bike.
Have you tried one yet? Do you agree with my take on it? Share this article with fellow riders and your thoughts about the Yamaha MT 09 here; I would love to hear about your experience.