The MT-09 has been refined for 2017. Here is our review... Test: Jeff Ware Photography: Kris Hodgson, Jeff Ware
Why change a good thing? Yamaha’s MT-09 has been a top seller globally since it was released in 2014. With some small refinements and a major restyle for 2017, Yamaha have made a great bike fantastic…
The launch of the first model MT-09 was held at The Farm in late 2013. I remember how big the grins were on everyone’s faces after the first session that day. The bike was out there, it was like nothing we had experienced yet. A sort of naked cross motard with a mega grunty, yet still revvy, inline 120-degree triple engine. I recall laughing in my helmet while hooning around having a mini slide battle with Cam Donald, and an even bigger laugh about the fun of that session once we got back to the garage.
I knew then that the bike was going to be a hit and also a blank canvas for great custom projects, which it has proved to be.
Fast forward to 2017 and the bike has had a makeover. It now looks a whole lot more MT-like, in fact it looks a lot like its big brother the MT-10 (here). The forks are also now adjustable and there are a few other improvements you can read about in the techo breakout below.
So, the main bit, what is the bike like to ride and is it worth the extra few grand over the old price? There are sure to be some bargains out there for the outgoing model at the moment… Firstly, yes, it is worth the extra. It is a better bike… Here’s why.
The very first thing that really stands out to me as I hope on the 2017 MT-09 for the first time is how much the redesigned flatter and taller seat changes the riding position. The bike is so roomy, with a natural reach to the cool looking fat ‘bars and plenty of room between butt and ‘pegs for my lanky legs. The footpegs are well placed, too, not too far back – not too far forward. The gear lever and rear brake lever are at a nice height and the clutch and front brake levers also just right. The switchgear is basic, stylish, easy to feel yet functional and I like that. I hate scrolling through endless menus, too, and that is something that I don’t have to do on the MT-09. The LCD streetfighter style dash, offset to the right towards the throttle side, is easy to read. I hit Mode and select B, then with my left hand select TC2, then reach forward and select Trip1 and zero it. Easy, ready to go…
The mirrors give a nice view and I adjust them, pull in the clutch and select first. Clunk! Wow. This bike is low km, so I will give it some slack, but that is a serious bang into first gear (it doesn’t subside throughout the test period either).
Clutch take-up is good at low speed as I head off through town but any aggressive starts as I start to play up off the lights result in a bit of a grabby shudder. I conclude that the clutch is damaged from wheelies by the previous rider!
Once off the line, however, the MT-09 now has a quickshifter for those shifts and the clutch is not needed. I do find first to second and second to third a bit clunky, though, so use the clutch until the upper gears at times, where the shifter is better.
After a pleasant 45-minutes on a freeway, motoring along vibe free at 115-120km/h (some vibes in the ‘bars from 130km/h), where I am surprised at the lack of neck straining wind from the front of the bike (must be the shape of the headlight directing wind away from the rider’s face) I conclude that the MT-09 would be a bloody good long-distance commuter too, particularly with that leg room.
I hit a bit of traffic on the notorious Pennant Hills Rd in Sydney and the MT-09 makes mince meat out of it. Lane splitting is easy, although the mirrors do stick out around 15mm more than the ‘bar ends so I’m a bit more cautious than usual. The engine temp does not go above 98ºC even in the traffic jams and there is very little heat around my legs. The seat is still comfy after an hour and I’m impressed with the bike so far…
Talk about versatile. As soon as I’m out of town I get busy on the bike and boy is it fast! I forgot how good these engine’s are. At 113hp and 65ft-lbs they are not superbikes but the way this bike delivers power off turns, I would be leaving my sportsbike mates in my fumes today.
The bike is fitted with Dunlop Sportmax, a great tyre, and the way it is hooking up and firing off turns is so fun. Grab third gear and forget the rest. Even out of the slower turns the bike pulls a tall gear and still wheelstands with the TC off or tries to with it on.
I try A Mode TC2 and the bike fights itself. The aggressive engine delivery is too much for TC2. TC1 is better but really, with A Mode selected I find no TC the best option but I really need to hang on and focus as the bike is super angry…
Mode B and STD are nicer options, with TC1 for hard riding and TC2 for dodgy conditions proving to be my fave settings as I head through Wiseman’s Ferry area.
Fuelling is not mentioned in the press info but mapping is better than it was on the previous models I have ridden, particularly initial throttle opening.
The ABS is great. I test this on purpose and it works well, while during my normal riding it does not interfere or engage but as always, very nice to know it is there.
Like the previous bike, this one handles really well and as I fire through the twisties I realise that Yamaha have really done their research on this improved riding position as it has changed the entire character of the bike, making it ride like a well set-up nakedbike rather than a motard. I feel more natural going fast and I do not have to hang off as much or adapt to the bike as much as I had to previously. The ‘bars feel in a better, more road bike, position now so, in short, it doesn’t feel like a dirt bike anymore and therefore handles much better.
The forks offer good support into turns on or off the brakes, with the addition of the slipper clutch now making the bike much more stable and inline into turns than it was previously. Compression damping in the forks is OK, but there is still a fast-ish initial dive, while high speed sharp bumps are felt a bit harshly. At the back, the same basic shock remains. This one was set one notch from hardest on spring, which was OK on smooth bitumen but harsh on bumpy roads so I backed it off a notch. It could do with more damping control but hey who really cares for this price I would buy the bike if it had a wooden stick for a shock as that is an easy upgrade if you get serious.
On the whole the 2017 MT-09 is a cracker of a bike that looks good, rides even better and won’t break the bank.
I suggest you go and try one if you are after some naked fun!
Second 2017 Yamah MT-09 Opinion: Kris
When Yamaha launched the MT-09 I was impressed, power and acceleration was astonishing and the price was very attractive. That said, power delivery could be harsh and snappy, with Yamaha obviously struggling to control the beast’s aggressive nature, while suspension was very basic. The potential was great, but in my opinion at least, it needed a reasonable investment in tuning and suspension. Not a big ask when you considered the RRP.
The announcement of the 2017 updated model was of particular interest because higher spec suspension and a more advanced electronics package were offered. We received this model straight from the Australian launch, including a track portion, so I’m not sure how the suspension was set up when we tested the bike.
Ergonomics are great and being motard/naked themed, a tall, upright seating position and wide ‘bars with relatively lengthy stretch to the ‘pegs ensure good comfort and easy rider input. Moving around on the seat and supporting your weight through the ‘pegs are both easy as can be.
Straight up fueling is more refined, riding between Standard and B mode. You can feel both are smoothing that low end power when you’re using the throttle normally. Snap the throttle open however and there’s a real punch of power. The addition of the slipper and assist clutch ensures rapid engine braking or aggressive downshifting don’t unsettle the bike, allowing for some great fun in line with the MT-09’s more hoon-like nature.
The quickshifter is also a nice addition, although the gearbox is quite clunky. Gear shifts are positive, there’s no missed shifts and engagement is instant, but it’s audible and can be a bit off-putting at first. Of course this bike has very limited kilometres at this point!
Traction control is also a great safety device and when we traveled through some sections of poor unsealed road I could feel the traction control restraining power. It’s an ideal addition because frankly the MT-09 just screams to be ridden hard and performance remains aggressive enough to catch you out.
Front suspension is greatly improved with great smooth road performance, which maintains a good standard over rough conditions once softened up from the track settings. Front end feel and support was good for me, while the rear shock over the big bumps was kicking me up and off the seat over the extreme potholes or road divets. Brakes remain a good setup, with plenty of power.
Overall the MT-09 offers a really unique nakedbike option, with motard styling, handling and ergonomics, an incredible triple-cylinder engine and lots of modern technology, like the RbW, modes, quickshifter, slipper clutch and of course the improved suspension. It’s a far better package with the 2017 additions and upgrades if you ask me, and with the asking price of $12,229 plus on road costs it’s hard to beat value wise.
Sure I’d buy it with plenty of mods in mind, but the base package is strong enough that I could happily live with the 2017 MT-09 as an every day machine stock standard. The one downside I did notice is that the exhaust is a single-piece system, meaning you need a full system to replace it, which adds to the cost, and the standard system is pretty ugly! Yamaha do have an Akrapovic full system for just over $1100 though, not a bad deal!
2017 Yamaha MT-09 Tech Talk
New MT-09 features for 2017:
- Newly styled twin-eye 4-bulb LED headlights
- 6-bulb LED position lights with winglets
- 30mm shorter tail with integrated 3D light
- Redesigned seat, flatter and 5mm higher
- Rear fender/license plate holder with single-sided mount
- Assist & Slipper (A&S) clutch
- Quick Shift System (QSS)
- Higher specification front suspension
- Flat muffler surface with restyled end cap
- Instruments integrated with headlight assembly
- Radiator side fins and enlarged air intakes
- Front turn signals relocated beside radiator
Featuring a bore and stroke of 78mm x 59.1mm to give a displacement of 847cc, the four-stroke DOHC four-valve engine runs with a compression ratio of 11.5:1. Forged aluminium pistons are fitted with fracture split (FS) conrods and the 78mm diameter pistons run in direct-plated cylinders, which ensure effective heat dissipation.
The 120º crank delivers a regularly-spaced firing sequence at 0º, 240º and 480º, and it is these even firing intervals that ensure a linear delivery together. Compared to an in-line four-cylinder with a 180º crank, the MT-09’s three-cylinder powerplant transmits a stronger feeling of combustion torque to the rider because its combustion torque waves and composite torque waves are virtually identical.
The EFI system features twelve-hole injectors designed to deliver an atomized fuel spray with a droplet size of only a few microns. These injectors are attached directly to the cylinder-head, a design that ensures the highly precise injection of fuel directly at the valve skirt to give good fuel efficiency.
Another feature, which is designed to enhance the engine’s strong torque characteristics, is the downdraft intake system, which utilises three intake funnels of unequal length, these different intake passage lengths create slightly different conditions in each cylinder to create complementary power and torque curves.
New for 2017 is the inclusion of an assist and slipper clutch, offering 20 per cent lighter lever action and minimising the effects caused by high levels of back torque and excessive engine braking. This gives improved control and gentler handling characteristics when downshifting aggressively. The assist and slipper clutch is also responsible for the solid engagement, while a Quick Shift System (QSS) has also been added as a standard feature.
The MT-09 is also fitted with an integrated single-piece three-into-one exhaust system and features a new exhaust cap in line with the 2017 styling update.
The Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) is a ‘fly-by-wire’ system and senses every throttle action made by the rider, and the ECU instantaneously actuates the throttle valve to give an immediate engine response. This is filtered by the Modes which offer varying levels of throttle response. Riding modes are Standard, A – sharper response for sportier riding, and B for softer throttle response and urban or wet weather conditions.
The MT-09 chassis is a control filled aluminium die-cast unit that is split into halves and bolted together at the headstock and rear pivot point. The swingarm is also CF aluminium die-cast, with the two sides welded together.
The suspension on the MT-09 has been updated for 2017 and now features compression damping as well as the existing rebound adjustment on the front 41mm forks. On the rear shock rebound and preload adjustability is offered, as with the outgoing model. The shock is house in a horizontal position beneath the seat contributing to the bike’s centralisation of mass.
Braking is by 298mm floating stainless steel rotors and radial-mount four-piston calipers. Sintered pads are fitted standard and the rear disc is a 245mm unit with a pin-slide caliper. Wheels are 10-spoke alloy.
Styling-wise the MT-09 was always hit and has taken this further, with newly styled twin-eye four-bulb LED headlights and six-bulb LED position lights with winglets.
On the rear a 30mm shorter tail features an integrated 3D light, with a redesigned seat, both flatter and 5mm higher, offering easy position adjustment. The rear fender/license plate holder is also now mounted with a single-sided mount from the swingarm, instead of the tail.
Designed to fit all sizes of riders, the MT-09 has an almost motard-style seating position with tall ‘bars with low ‘pegs. The 14L fuel tank features deep knee recesses and stylish curves. The ‘bars are tapered cast alloy and feature a new slide type starter switch that incorporates the kill switch. The LCD display includes a gear position sensor as well as tacho and speedo, the hex type mirrors are compact and the forged alloy brake and clutch levers and pedals are lightweight.
Specifications: 2017 Yamaha MT-09
Price: $12,229 + ORC
Warranty: Two-year/unlimited kilometre
Colours: Night Fluro, Tech Black, Yamaha Blue
Claimed power: 84.6kw[115hp]@10,000rpm
Claimed torque: 87.5Nm [63lb-ft]@8500rpm
Claimed weight: 180kg dry
Fuel capacity: 14L
Engine: 847cc liquid-cooled inline three-cylinder four-stroke, 78 x 59.1mm bore x stroke, 31mm IN and 25mm EX valves, 11.5:1 compression, RbW (YCC-T), Modes, QSS
Gearbox: Six speed, constant mesh
Clutch: Wet, multiple-plate, assist and slipper
Chassis: Die cast CF aluminuim two-piece, die-cast aluminium CF swingarm Wheelbase: 1440mm,
Rake: 25º, Trail: 103mm
Suspension: Front: Inverted 41mm forks, compression and rebound adjustment, 137mm travel.
Rear: Link Monoshock, preload and rebound adjustment, 130mm travel.
Brakes: Front: Four-piston radial-mount calipers, 298mm stainless steel rotors.
Rear brake: Single-piston slide caliper, 245mm stainless steel rotor.
Wheels & Tyres: Light alloy, 3.50 x 17in & 5.50 x 17in, Bridgestone S20 120/70 – 17, 180/55 – 17.
Dimensions: Seat height: 820mm, Overall Height: 1120mm Overall Length: 2075mm
Instruments: Digital multi function display