NEW Yamaha MT-07 Review (2021)

 

Patronising biking cliché number 38; ‘Yeah mate it’s not too bad for a first big bike’. I can feel my toes curl as the Honda CBR600RR rider (matching Repsol leathers too – nice touch) metaphorically pats me on the head as he unfurls said insult while we queue for fuel. The worst thing is that I now feel duty bound to stand-up for the MT-07, a bike I don’t even own, as we head off from West Meon towards Petersfield. Pathetic…yes, but I’m a middle-aged man on a motorbike, sorry.

I take full responsibility for what happens next even though today was supposed to be a gentle easing back up to speed after ten weeks lockdown and my longest period off a bike since 1984. It wasn’t the MT-07’s horsepower or nimble chassis that allowed us to leave CBR man far behind in less than three miles. It was the engine’s flexibility and the riding position’s ease-of use that made the most of every fleeting break between seemingly endless solid white lines that let me put half a dozen slower vehicles between me and him. If Dorna held MotoGP on the A272 on a Tuesday afternoon, it’d probably be won by an MT-07.

Yamaha’s 2021 MT-07 is not just a great ‘first big bike’, it’s a great bike…full-stop. Just like the previous MT-07 and the one before that. Except this one looks funkier, has cleaner emissions, much better tyres and is even easier to ride well.

 

For and against
  • Flexible-and strong power delivery
  • Light, flickable, easy handling
  • New styling looks awesome in the flesh
  • Pillion provision
  • Tough competition from Triumph Trident
  • Patronising comments from the ‘bigger boys’
Yamaha MT-07 2021 Review Price Spec_06

At just 147kg without fuel you don’t get much metal for your money. Thankfully, that’s a good thing

 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 Price

£6899 on the road is competitive for a machine that rides this well but this year there’s stronger competition. Triumph’s new 660 Trident costs just £300 more, has a three-cylinder engine with more power, more gadgets and an even snarlier soundtrack.

For many, it’ll come down to the right finance package, availability of bikes and whether your dealer might chuck in some desirable extras.

Yamaha’s official finance offers a PCP package a 6.9% APR where a typical example is to pay a £2000 deposit and then £75 per month for 36 months, leaving a final payment of £3015.

One thing the MT-07 has always had going for it is rock-solid resale values. Even now you can easily pay £4000 for a six-year-old example. That makes buying a new one even more appealing. None of the worries about previous abuse or incidents and you know that by the end of the finance you should have a bike worth much more than the final payment.

 

Yamaha MT-07 2021 Review Price Spec_23

72bhp makes the MT-07 more of a Jack Russell than a greyhound. Never underestimate a feisty terrier

 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 Power and torque

Yamaha’s 2021 MT-07 passes the latest Euro-5 emissions regulations and in order to do that Yamaha have made some tweaks to the engine internals and added an extra catalytic convertor at the front of the exhaust pipe where it exits the engine. The original 2014 MT-07 had an all-new emissions-friendly engine that made it much easier for Yamaha to uprate it as the new regulations came in place than some of its rival that had been around for much longer. As a result, the MT’s Euro-5 peak power is only reduced by one bhp to 72 and I guarantee that absolutely no one who buys one will notice. Torque remains the same at 50lb-ft, and what you will appreciate is how slick and strong the power delivery is throughout the whole rev range. Like most parallel twin engines, the sweet spot is in the midrange with plenty of shove for confident overtaking. What’s always been great about the MT-07 is that it hangs onto the power at higher revs too, giving a bit more flexibility to be in the ‘wrong’ gear if you misjudge and overtake (for example) and still have enough drive to be confident.

 

Yamaha MT-07 2021 Review Price Spec_16

One of the best engines in 21st century motorcycling. Additional catalyser for Euro 5 is effective-but-ugly

 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 Engine, gearbox and exhaust

Water-cooled, fuel-injected twin cylinder, with a six-speed gearbox. Anyone who grew up riding older twin cylinder motorcycles will remember how they were described as having ‘character’, which was a euphemism for ‘rough and inconsistent power delivery that we can’t fix without adding a couple of extra cylinders’. High-tech digital ignitions and fuel-injection have mostly fixed this, but some manufacturers try to re-engineer this feeling of uneven ‘character’ because human beings are daft, and it turns out that we like it. Yamaha gives their 689cc motor a crankshaft design that means both cylinders fire in quick succession with a relatively long gap before the firing cycle. This gives the engine a lumpy sort of a feel, without being difficult to use.

The clutch is light and while the gearchange needs a deliberate prod to engage gears (our test bike only had 500 miles on the clock, we’d expect the gearshift to lighten-up with a few more miles) it always goes in and finding neutral is a doddle whether the engine is cold or hot.

What all this means on the road is that the MT-07 is easy to get the best out of. It feels powerful without being intimidating. Running up and down the gears, plenty of accessible power, smooth fuelling, forgiving if you find yourself in the wrong gear and just as enjoyable ducking and diving through traffic with confidence as cutting through the lanes on your favourite Sunday blast.

For new and more experienced riders alike the way a bike’s engine feels and responds to the throttle is one of the pleasures of being on two wheels. The MT-07’s motor has always been a belter and the new one is no different.

 

Yamaha MT-07 2021 Review Price Spec_17

14 litre fuel tank gives around 200 miles range

 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 Economy

One of the benefits of being a relatively recent engine is that the MT-07 motor was designed with emissions and economy in mind. It has always been frugal, typically delivering 55-60mpg and more with ease.

Our low miles test bike’s engine was still relatively tight and averaged 57mpg while we had it. That’s partly because the MT encourages slightly less reverential riding and also because it was my first few rides since lockdown, and I might have been a little more clumsy with the throttle than usual. I’d expect that mpg figure to increase a little once the bike passed 1000 miles because almost all bikes these days seem to need that distance for everything to bed-in properly.

 

Yamaha MT-07 2021 Review Price Spec_25

The new styling is beautiful.

 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 styling

Yamaha’s new look for the 2021 MT-07 and MT-09 has taken a while to get used to. First reactions from many riders to the press pictures were that the new LED headlight design wasn’t for them. And sadly, the Coronavirus pandemic meant we didn’t get any bike shows last year and so few of us got to actually see one in the flesh.

Now that I’ve spent time with it, I really like it. The redesign is about much more than the LED lighting, a lot of the panels are subtly different too. Add in the new colours which are brash without being gaudy and I think Yamaha have come up with a style that works as a whole and works bloody well. What made me even happier was when the ‘yoof’ walking past me to his Sinnis 125 scooter stopped, stared, and asked very excitedly, ‘Is that the new MT-07?’ before spending ten minutes devouring every curve. That matters because he is as likely to be buying one as any of my crusty generation.

 

Yamaha MT-07 2021 Review Price Spec_03

Suspension and chassis are the same as the previous model, but the standard Michelin tyres are a big improvement.

 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

The original 2014 MT-07 was criticised for having suspension that was slightly too soft and lacking control on bumpy back roads. Yamaha addressed this in 2018 fitting stiffer springs and adding more damping. The 2021 bike keeps the same chassis and suspension set-up as before but has a slightly revised riding position with handlebars that are a little wider. Even with all the additional emissions equipment, the weight remains the same at 184kg.

With so few changes you’ll be surprised to hear then that the 2021 bike handles much better than before. Much more confident both tipping into and leaning through corners. The reason for this is tyres. Many bikes in this price bracket have great chassis that are dulled by manufacturers fitting tyres that don’t do them justice. Previous MT-07s have suffered with this, meaning you, the proud owner of a brand-new bike are stuck with poor-performing rubber that prevents you enjoying the best of what your new bike can offer for anything up to 5000 miles – by which time, on a PCP deal, it could be close to trade-in time.

2021’s MT-07 has Michelin Pilot Road 5s fitted which are top-notch sporty road tyres that offer plenty of grip, with stability, and still last a good few thousand miles too. Finally the MT-07 gets to show what its chassis can do.

A chassis this good combined with a riding position that gives such easy visibility of the road ahead makes reading the road and enjoying the corners something that takes very little thought or effort. That’s handy for many of the newer riders who buy an MT-07, but equally it’s something the old hands will enjoy just as much.

  

Yamaha MT-07 2021 Review Price Spec_08

Bigger front discs solve a problem the old MT-07 never had, but, hey… bigger is better right?

 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 Brakes

New for 2021 are substantially bigger front brake discs. Yamaha claim it improves braking performance and, maybe it does if you’re really hammering the brakes, but I’m not a heavy braker and couldn’t really tell the difference compared to the last MT-07 I rode.

The brakes are strong; powerful when you need it, subtle and lots of feel when picking your way through traffic. Much of this is down to the suspension improvements that came with the 2018 update, allowing you to use the brakes as hard as you fancy... up to a point where the ‘better-than-they-used-to-be-but-still-a-bit-budget’ front forks run out of compression damping and travel and the ABS cuts in. They did it on the previous MT-07 when you rode it like an idiot, and they do it on this one too. But to be honest, if you’re riding like this, you’ll be expecting things to get a bit wibbly anyway.

The brake calipers, master-cylinder and plumbing are the same as before and I can see how having a bigger disc area would prevent build-up of heat (which leads to a fade in brake performance) under very heavy braking. But unless you’re at the front of the fast group on a track day I don’t see that ever being an issue for MT-07 owners. 

 

Yamaha MT-07 2021 Review Price Spec_24

Optional tiny flyscreen is more effective at directing windblast over your head than it looks

 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 Comfort over distance and touring

The seat height is an easy-reach 805mm making it just about confident enough for those less than five-foot-five. Thankfully, the relatively low footrest positioning means there’s just about enough legroom for taller riders too.

Unfaired bikes aren’t usually comfortable at high speeds over long distances because the windblast is directed right at your chest and head. My longest trip was two hours and after that, my neck, arms, back and backside were all fine. No aches, no pains and I’d have happily done more. I also did a 60-mile motorway blast on a different trip and, while I wouldn’t describe it as comfortable, it was certainly a lot less uncomfortable than I was expecting. Our test bike had the teeny-tiny optional flyscreen fitted, which I suspect makes more of a difference than you’d expect it to. It’s a £60 extra I’d be keen to persuade my dealer to chuck-in to sweeten the deal.

Passengers don’t have such a great experience though. The pillion seat is high-up, a little narrow and there’s nothing to hold onto. Short trips are ok, but anything further than a few miles needs a competent passenger happy to hold on tight.

 

Yamaha MT-07 2021 Review Price Spec_05

Simple clocks show speed, miles, revs, fuel, gear selected and time. If anyone knows how to reset the trip please call the BikeSocial office

 

Rider aids and extra equipment / accessories

The LCD dash has a speedo, a clock, rev counter, fuel gauge and mileometer/trip. There’s a handful of warning lights and that’s it. No optional rider modes, no traction control, just simple basic motorcycling for a simple price. Switching between displays is simple, like the current Tracer 700. Resetting the trip meter is still beyond this middle-aged rider despite running a Tracer 700 for a year. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Maybe I should read the manual…

Personally, I like the MT’s simplicity – all the information I need in easy line-of-sight. However, some people will prefer Kawasaki’s Z650 and Triumph’s Trident full-colour TFT displays. The Triumph has switchable rider modes Bluetooth connection and traction control too.

There are plenty of accessories available. Luggage, crash protection, a teeny fly screen, slightly-less-teeny screen (a bird screen maybe?) and cool-looking (and sounding) Akrapovič exhaust system. Because I’m old and ride every day I’d ruin the MT’s coolness by fitting a top-box, centre stand, flyscreen and heated grips and I suspect I won’t be the only one either.

 

Yamaha MT-07 2021 Review Price Spec_18

Great bike, great value and strong resale values too. 

 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 verdict

Yamaha hasn’t completely re-engineered the MT-07 for 2021 because, aside from the emissions requirements, it didn’t really need to. All the things that we loved about the old bike are still there plus a few subtle improvements. The styling is the biggest difference and, while the press shots might not have done the job as well as they could, in the flesh the bike is beautiful.

Dynamically the biggest change is that Yamaha has fitted decent tyres to it. The handling and confidence on dry and wet roads is a long way ahead of previous MT-07s and allows any rider to make the most of what the bike has to offer.

Yamaha dealers might have to work a little harder this year though – there’s some tough competition from Triumph and some very tempting discounts on older models from other manufacturers.

 

2021 Yamaha MT-07 spec

New price

£6899

Capacity

689cc

Bore x Stroke

80.0x68.6mm

Engine layout

Water-cooled twin cylinder

Engine details

4-valve DOHC four stroke

Power

72bhp (54kW) @ 8750rpm

Torque

50lb-ft (72Nm) @ 6500rpm

Top speed

120 mph (estimated)

Transmission

6 speed, chain final drive

Average fuel consumption

57mpg tested

Tank size

14 litres

Max range to empty (theoretical)

175miles

Reserve capacity

45miles

Rider aids

ABS

Frame

Steel diamond frame

Front suspension

41mm telescopic fork 130mm travel

Front suspension adjustment

None

Rear suspension

mono-shock

Rear suspension adjustment

preload, rebound

Front brake

2x298mm disc, four-piston caliper

Rear brake

245mm disc, single-piston caliper

Front tyre

120/70ZR17 Michelin Pilot Road 5

Rear tyre

180/55ZR17 Michelin Pilot Road 5

Rake/Trail

24.5°/90mm

Dimensions

2085mm x 780mm x 1105mm (LxWxH)

Wheelbase

1400mm

Ground clearance

140mm

Seat height

805mm

Kerb weight

184kg

Warranty

24,000 miles / 2years

MCIA Secured Rating

3/5

Website

www.yamaha-motor.eu/gb

 

Looking for motorbike insurance? Get a quote for this bike with Bennetts motorcycle insurance

 

Yamaha MT-07 2021 Review Price Spec_01 - mcia

 

What is MCIA Secured?

MCIA Secured gives bike buyers the chance to see just how much work a manufacturer has put into making their new investment as resistant to theft as possible.

As we all know, the more security you use, the less chance there is of your bike being stolen. In fact, based on research by Bennetts, using a disc lock makes your machine three times less likely to be stolen, while heavy duty kit can make it less likely to be stolen than a car. For reviews of the best security products, click here.

MCIA Secured gives motorcycles a rating out of five stars, based on the following being fitted to a new bike as standard:

  • A steering lock that meets the UNECE 62 standard
  • An ignition immobiliser system
  • A vehicle marking system
  • An alarm system
  • A vehicle tracking system with subscription

The higher the star rating, the better the security, so always ask your dealer what rating your bike has and compare it to other machines on your shortlist.

 

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