Bikes

Yamaha MT-10 Review

Phil Suriano’s Yamaha MT-10 Review with Price, Specs, Performance, Ride and Handling and Verdict.

In a nutshell:  Unmistakable in appearance and unforgettable to ride, Yamaha’s MT-10 may be the new naked that you can’t, nay, shouldn’t miss.

Yamaha MT-10 Specifications

Price $17,999 + ORCs Engine 998cc Inline four-cylinder four-stroke, DOHC w/four valves per cylinder Power 118kW at 11,500rpm (claimed) Torque 111Nm at 9000rpm (claimed) Exhaust 4-into-1 system w/stainless steel muffler Gearbox 6-speed Frame Aluminium deltabox Front Suspension KYB 43mm USD, adjustable w/120mm travel Rear Suspension KYB monoshock, adjustable w/120mm travel Front/Rear Wheel 5-spoke cast aluminium 3.5 x 17 / 10-spoke 6.00 x 17 Front/Rear Tyre Bridgestone Battlax 120/70-17 / 190/55-17 Front Brake Dual 320mm ventilated discs w/4-piston Nissin caliper and ABS Rear Brake 220mm ventilated disc w/2-piston Nissin caliper and ABS L x W x H 2096mm x 800mm x 1110mm Wheelbase 1400mm Seat Height 825mm Weight 210kg (wet) Fuel Capacity 17 litres

Big and bold, with in-your-face styling, there’s nothing subtle about the MT-10, the newest – and largest – member of Yamaha’s ‘Masters of Torque’ family. 

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On first impressions, the MT-10 does stand out. In appearance, it’s a bit of a cross between The Terminator and a Transformer, at least that’s how it looks to me… The aggressive, mass-forward silhouette of the new MT-10 follows the MT family look, but certainly ups the ante to make the king of this range the most imposing. R1 headlights nestle in their own angled pods, while the small shroud above them masks the dash and makes for a reasonably effective wind deflector, as well.

Yamaha MT-10 Review

The fuel tank, air intakes and secondary plastics are all similarly aggressive, but arguably more “organic” looking than the treatment on other MT models. Also, the front indicators, slung off the radiator, were almost invisible from some angles.

On the whole, it’s an impressive package, but to some, there’s almost too much going on and all the various styling touches aren’t really integrated into a cohesive whole. But style is an individual thing and I liked it a lot.

To describe the MT-10 as a stripped-down version of the YZF R1 is to do it a disservice; it’s much, much more than that. To clarify, the MT-10 and R1 do run the same frame, swingarm, suspension configuration and engine basics, but in the case of the MT-10, all these elements have been modified to better suit the “torque performance” mantra, as well as this new arrival’s real-world performance focus.

There’s a little more flex in the frame, the swingarm is anchored closer to the frame for a shorter wheelbase, the subframe is steel (instead of the magnesium version on the R1), and the suspension has been revalved, all changes aimed at making the MT-10 a better, more liveable day-to-day riding proposition.

Yamaha MT-10 Review

But it’s the engine that’s experienced the most change compared to the R1. Where the R1 engine did its best work near the top of the rev range, the same 998cc crossplane four has been retuned for the MT-10 to deliver a lot more torque, with the meatiest section in the mid-range.

The change in engine character comes thanks to a new and heavier crankshaft, modified camshafts, redesigned combustion chamber and intake ports, and a lower compression ratio. Peak power drops from the R1’s 147kW to 118kW (claimed), but I’m sure most riders won’t even notice the missing horses. As a sidenote to this, the spread of torque means you’re not banging through the gears on variable speed twistys to keep the engine in its sweet spot. When you are shifting, the slipper clutch-assisted six-speed ‘box makes things smooth and effortless.

Being a modern supernaked and pitched against the likes of BMWs S1000R and the Aprilia Tuono V4, the MT-10 packs in a fair bit of rider-assistance tech, including three engine maps, three-stage traction control, cruise control and ABS.

ABS is pretty much a given on many bikes these days, but the adjustable traction control and engine mapping is welcome, while your right wrist will thank you for the cruise control.

Yamaha MT-10 Review

The engine map settings rotate through ‘Standard’, ‘A’ and ‘B’ modes. Power output doesn’t actually change, just the nature of its delivery. Standard is smooth and progressive, A is a little more direct and B much more snappier. Personally, B was too direct for me, and I spent most of my time in Standard mode. I’d suspect B mode may come into its own on track days, and if that’s your bag, you’ll want to seriously consider adding the quickshifter – a $419 optional extra.

Also available in three rider-adjustable levels, the traction control was far less intrusive than I imagined. I found Level One to be barely noticeable, Level Two adds a more noticeable level of grip and control, while Level Three is more-or-less a wet weather mode, ensuring you keep it on two wheels when it’s bucketing down. The traction settings were fun to play with and certainly didn’t detract from the fun I had with this bike. The system’s also intuitive enough (in the first two levels) to pick the difference between wheelies and losing control.

Both the traction control and engine maps can be changed on the fly and have a memory function, but the bike needs to be stationary to turn the latter off.

On the cruise control, it’s engageable in fourth, fifth and sixth gear, with a simple ‘increase/decrease’ operation via the left-hand switchgear, with a ‘resume’ function as well. It’s not super-sensitive, either, so small changes in throttle position, like when you’re going over rippled tarmac, won’t upset it. Roll on – or off – the throttle more forcefully and the system disengages; same if you pull in the clutch or dab the brakes.   

Given my 5’10’’ frame, I found the riding position comfortable, with the pegs and bars within easy reach. Options include a ‘comfort seat’ for tourers and rearsets for racers. A 12V socket to take a navigation device is standard, with the MT-10 set up to take panniers, a larger screen and wind deflectors, too. 

In motion, you’re feel like you’re over the front of the bike, giving – for me, at least – a greater feel of control with more direct response, especially with the steering.

An electronic steering damper helps here, but manoeuvring the MT-10 was never a struggle for me, even at slower speeds. 

Time spent on the other MT models gave me a greater appreciation for not only the MT-10’s massive wad of mid-range torque, but also just how easy it is to ride. The full digital instrumentation packs in all the info you’ll need, with a prominent speedo and more subtle tacho strip and fuel gauge, while a cluster of warning lights caters to other functions.

Yamaha MT-10 Review

Combined with its softer suspension settings and more relaxed riding position, the retuned engine will appeal to a lot of riders that want to mix up day-to-day commutes with some longer weekend runs and a multi-day trek, as well as a track day or two.

Given my experience on the MT-10, it’ll be able to handle all those tasks easily. Given its level of usability and grin-inducing grunt, the MT-10 is recommended. Another factor in its favour is price. At $17,999 (+ ORCs), it’s cheaper than its European rivals, by almost $1,500 compared to the BMW, $6,500 compared to KTM’s Super Duke R and more than $8,000 against the Aprilia. 

However, the MT-10 does carry a premium over Japanese rivals like the Kawasaki Z1000 and Suzuki’s GSX-S1000 (the CB1000R would normally be in the mix here, too, but it’s not part of Honda’s current range). For me, the MT-10 does a lot, lets you do a lot and, most importantly, makes you feel good doing it – what more could you ask for? 


Phil Suriano

Phil Suriano