Yamaha MT-07HO Review
Practical Motoring’s Yamaha MT-07HO Review with pricing, specs, performance, handling, and verdict.
In a nutshell: Combining impressive performance and aggressive styling with everyday practicality, our test of Yamaha’s MT-07HO proved it to be much more than just a ‘big brother’ to the MT-07LA.
Engine 689cc water-cooled DOHC 4V 4-stroke parallel twin Bore x Stroke 80.0mm x 68.6mm Compression Ratio 11.5:1 Lubrication Wet sump Induction Fuel injection Ignition TCI Transmission Constant mesh, 6-speed Final Drive Chain Max Power 56kW at 9000rpm Max Torque 68Nm at 6500rpm Frame steel, diamond-type Fr Suspension Tele forks, 130mm travel Rr Suspension Link-type swingarm, 130mm travel Fr Brake Dual 282mm ventilated disc Rr Brake Single 245mm ventilated disc Fr Tyre 120/70 ZR 17M/C Rr Tyre 180/55 ZR 17M/C LxWxH 2085mm x 745mm x 1090mm Wheelbase 1400mm Seat height 805mm Fuel Capacity 14lt Weight 168kg dry, 179kg wet Price $9,999 RRP Warranty 24 month/unlimited kms
MOTORCYCLING, LIKE LIFE, is full of uncertainties. But when it comes to motorcycle tests, one thing is certain: I can’t pick the weather. Last time I tested a bike, it was the coldest week in 30 years. This time around, it must have been Sydney’s wettest week. Ever.
While riding in the rain can be great, it ain’t THAT great, so my first few days with Yamaha’s MT-07HO were spent admiring it in my garage.
‘HO’ stands for High Output, which in this case means the full-fat version of the Yamaha parallel twin engine, not the lower capacity MT-07LA version that was specifically developed to suit the local LAMS market. Essentially the same as the FZ-07 available in other markets, the HO’s 689cc capacity and 11.5:1 compression ratio puts it outside of the our LAMS-legal specs, hence the LA being introduced with a 655cc and 11.0:1 version of the same basic engine. Stroke is the same across both versions, but the HO is bored out 2mm to 80mm for the extra 34cc of capacity – doesn’t sound like much, but it does make a difference.
The other main point of difference is that the LAMS version is now fitted with ABS braking as standard, while this is not offered on the HO. But that also means the HO is lighter by three kilograms than the LA; 179kg versus 182kg (wet), making it a very trim bike for its size and capacity.
Finally, the HO gets a “Racing Blue” colour treatment that’s the only colour available and exclusive to this version.
While chanting “rain, rain go away’” (it didn’t work, by the way), I gave the MT-07HO a good look over. As you’d expect from a naked, the HO has minimal bodywork, but what is there certainly adds to the new model’s presence. Compared to the larger MT-09, the MT-07HO’s inlet ducts are longer and more sharply angled, the tank now flows under the saddle and the headlight sits lower. Even the front mudguard has been worked over, giving the 07 a more aggressive, ready-to-pounce look compared to the MT-09.
This is accented by the 07HO’s minimal diamond trellis-type frame and little details, such as the visor-like cover over the headlight, as well as selective use of paint.
The electric blue/purple frame and rims (Racing Blue) are striking against the silver/faux carbon fibre black guards and tank. I like the colour scheme and the majority of people that stopped to comment on the bike gave positive feedback, too.
The seating is split, not dissimilar to sports bikes, with the pillion seat separate and raised, which adds to the HO’s aesthetics.
Like the MT-07 LAMS and MT-09, the HO’s exhaust is neatly concealed low and behind the right foot peg.
Overall, the bike looks great, but if I had to make one change, it would be to blackout that silver side brace panel that runs vertically to the pegs.
Under clear skies, I was finally able to take the HO out for a spin and test its real-world limits. Given the bike’s 805mm seat height (and my 1.78m – 5’10” – height), I was surprised at the ease with which I was able to straddle it. The tapered slim seat section close to the tank (that then flares out) adds to this clearance and comfort. The bars are flat and fairly wide, which combined with the seat and peg location, delivers an upright riding position. It’s all a matter of personal choice, but I found it comfortable.
On the road, the first thing I noticed was how simple the MT-07HO was to ride. Thanks to what Yamaha calls its ‘crossplane philosophy’, the torque at low revs is very noticeable, delivering a spread that can either move you slowly through traffic, or accelerate you swiftly into open spaces.
With the gearing, I found myself seldom using any more than the first three of the HO’s six gears around town. At the lights, the bike accelerates quickly from a standing position, enabling the rider to clear traffic easily. While it can get you up to licence-losing speeds easily, power isn’t ‘snap-on’ – acceleration is strong, but very linear.
The combination of that meagre 179kg weight and the bike’s gearing resulted in amazing manoeuvrability through city traffic. Regardless of which gear the bike was in, it comfortably moved me through a wide range of speeds in tight traffic without fear of lurching, etc. Being able to easily stand over the bike made moving through tight traffic hassle free, too.
A typical work commute for me involves a mix of heavy inner city two/three lane roads with narrow lanes and quick bursts on expressways. The MT-07HO handled all with aplomb.
On the highway, the bike comfortably sat on 110km with very little effort from the engine – I’m sure it’s capable of much, much more. When you needed an overtaking burst, the torque delivered by the Yamaha parallel twin was once again ideal. Kick down a gear, or just wind on more throttle; if one option didn’t deliver the pickup required, the other did.
As with all naked bikes, you will get battered by the wind on the MT-07HO. But hey, stick a fairing on it and it’s no longer a naked, is it? A flyscreen is available as an accessory, as is a touring kit, but Yamaha are currently working on an MT-07 Tracer, so if touring’s your bag, maybe wait for that version to come out, as it’ll likely pack the ABS brakes and some additional kit.
The one and a half hour trip to my destination included a solid hour of highway riding, so I felt the buffeting, and in my case, a screen would be a bonus.
That said, after dismounting from my first long run on the HO, I was pleasantly surprised at how good I felt. For me, it just confirmed what a great riding position the MT-07HO has.
- The pillion seat is a separate piece, raised above the rider’s position – sportsbike style. While this adds to the aesthetics, my test pillion still found the seat comfortable for a short around-town trip. At 72kg, my pillion didn’t seriously impact the bike’s handling and acceleration, either.
- Handlebars, wide enough to give you a strong riding position, are still narrow enough to easily pass between stationary traffic – a must for any good commuter.
- Over the past couple of weeks, I have noticed a couple of MT-07LAs that have replaced the standard mirrors with after-market bar end mirrors. This, I’m sure, is purely a personal choice, as I found the factory mirrors to provide excellent visibility, without detracting from the bike’s looks.
- The sound from the factory exhaust system, while it’s certainly not going to get your neighbours complaining, is still sufficient to let traffic know you’re there. But there were a couple of occasions where I felt some louder pipes could have been beneficial. As per the mirrors, I’ve seen MT-07LAs with aftermarket exhaust systems, which add a little extra poke and sound.
- The MT-07HO comes standard with Michelin Pilot Road tyres, which are perfectly suitable for most regular riding needs, but a set of stickier Pirellis or similar would add to the fun factor on weekend rides.
- At this point, the MT-07HO is not available with ABS.
- Suspension was firm and great for cornering, yet easily absorbed several nasty pot holes and surface imperfections I encountered. Interestingly, when travelling over said potholes, I didn’t get the earth-shattering jarring up through the ‘bars you can get with some bikes – a good thing.
- On fuel consumption, around the city I was averaging around 16.6km per litre and would expect a fair degree better on the highway. With a 14-litre tank capacity, range is approximately 232kms.
- The MT-07HO dash is clear and easy to read, with the digital instrumentation enabling all the key information – speedo, tacho, gear position and clear fuel gauge – to be seen at a glance. Aesthetes will appreciate that the dash display blends in with the handlebars and provides an uncluttered view for the rider.
So, what do we think?
As a commuter bike for full-licence holders, I would thoroughly recommend the Yamaha MT-07HO. Its combination of power, light weight, responsive handling and a comfortable riding position make it a gem in city traffic. But as a bonus, you get a bike that’s very enjoyable for weekend rides and one that’s able to keep up with a lot of its sportsbike brethren, too. In the right hands, I reckon it could show up several those larger capacity machines. Not bad for a bike that lists for only $9,999, including GST.
While a good first post-LAMS bike, I believe the MT-07HO is better suited for returning riders – those that want something they can wind the wick up on and enjoy in a number of scenarios without being in the ‘head-down bum-up wrists-cranked’ riding position that only adds to your physio’s income.