By Loz Blain
October 19, 2014
It's taken me about nine years, but I finally understand what Yamaha's going on about with its "torque sports" MT range. After spending a couple of weeks with the MT-09 (or FZ-09 as it's known in America), I'm convinced. Not only is Yamaha on the right track, but the MT-09 is the kind of machine that could cause a mini-revolution in the motorcycle market. Lightweight, super cheap and blessed with one of the best new engines we've seen in years, the MT is barrel-of-monkeys level fun in just about any real-world riding context. And boy did we have fun putting this video together!
The MT-09 starts out with a brand spanking new, 847cc, three cylinder crossplane engine that sits awkwardly in between the middleweights and the liter bikes, somewhere in no man’s land. That engine slots into an overgrown street supermoto body, kinda similar to the Ducati Hypermotard or Husqvarna Nuda, but with a slightly wider seat.
Personally I don’t reckon it’s much of a looker. It’s better in person than in pictures, but the proportions seem a bit wonky and front-heavy. The headlight looks like they forgot some plastic somewhere, the dash is kind of tacky and off-center and all three paint jobs are pretty ordinary, with the best of the bunch being this "racing blue" one with the lairy wheels on it. Yamaha usually makes the best looking Japanese bikes in my opinion, but this one's a bit of a munter.
So given that motorcycle riders tend to be notoriously image-conscious, how did this thing become one of the hottest selling bikes of 2014? Well, it comes down to two things – that engine, and an amazing price tag. It's an absolute bargain.
Once you're on the road, the first thing you notice is how light and nimble it feels. Wet weight is about 188 kg (414 lb), and it's very narrow in the middle. The second thing you notice is the engine – whooooo, it's a stunner.
Triumph had the market cornered on modern triple engines for a fair few years there, but they couldn't stay a secret for long. Three cylinders delivers the perfect mix of characteristics for a road bike – grunty and torquey down low, smooth and predictable through the rev range, and they keep pulling as the revs get higher. Take a look at the MT's fat torque curve below, big fat twisting muscle right through the rev range. I've put in the GSX-R600 for comparison and the difference in development philosophies should be instantly evident.
Read more here: Video review: Yamaha's MT-09 (FZ-09) puts the fun right where you want it
The video is in the second post: