Yamaha MT-07 (2018) | Review

John Milbank, BikeSocial Consumer Editor
By John Milbank
BikingMilbank BikeSocial Consumer Editor, John owns a KTM 1050 Adventure. He's as happy tinkering in the workshop as he is on twisty, bumpy backroads, and loves every bike ever built (except one). He's bought three CBR600s, two Ducati Monsters, several winter hacks, three off-roaders, a supermoto pit bike, a Honda Vision 50 and built his own custom XSR700. 


With 68,443 MT-07s sold in Europe alone, it’s Yamaha’s biggest selling bike. So it should come as no surprise that, when relaunching the motorcycle four years after its initial unveiling in 2014, the Japanese company has made what appear to be little more than a handful of very minor changes. If it ain’t broke…

Styling changes see new faux-air scoops, a redesigned tank, a larger headlight and, most significantly, a new tail. The indicators have also been moved off the nose fairing, and the seat has been redesigned, which also gives a tweaked riding position.

Perhaps most significant though is the revised suspension, which sees new settings throughout, and a rebound adjuster on the back. The question is… can these mods keep the market leader out front for another four years?


Compare the previous model MT-07 (in red) to the new one (in blue) and the styling differences become clearer



Priced at £6,349, the Yamaha MT-07 (‘Master of Torque’) is a very good-value machine in today’s market, but there’s no avoiding the fact that the price has risen 13% since it hit dealers in 2014, when it could be picked up – with ABS – for just £5,599.

Of course, the weakened pound is seeing many imported goods increasing in price, not to mention the fact that a source from Yamaha Japan told me a couple of years ago that the MT-07 was built with a ludicrously small profit margin. While global sales of over 120,000 must be considered a success, margins need to be maintained in order for development to continue. And ultimately, the MT-07 has only risen in price £150 since last year.

Compared to Suzuki’s SV650, which is listed at £5,699, the MT-07 is pushing itself to the top of the ‘budget’ range, but the Yamaha’s new clothes have really moved the bike on – whereas some of the previous plastics had a slightly cheap feel, I think this is a much better looking bike. And the most significant changes are far from cosmetic…


There are three colours of MT-07 available, with all at the same price


Power and torque

73.5bhp (55kW) at 9,000rpm may seem relatively low in today’s world of 200bhp hyper-sports bikes, but many would argue that much more than 100bhp is wasted on the UK’s roads.

In reality, it’s enough to embarrass many a larger-capacity sports bike if it’s ridden well on the road, while on track you’d still have a hell of a lot of fun. The point is, you can use a lot more of what the MT-07 has to offer than you can on many a larger-capacity machine.

Torque is respectable at 50lb-ft (68Nm) @ 6,500rpm; while the MT-07 makes 1.5bhp less than Suzuki’s 90° V-twin SV650, that torque figure is 3lb-ft more… not worth getting excited about until you consider that it peaks 1,600rpm earlier, giving it an extra low-down punch that’s all the more valuable in a smaller capacity machine like this.


The engine is unchanged, but still great – its bite is more impressive than the exhaust’s bark would have you imagine


Engine, gearbox and exhaust

The MT-07 has a 689cc parallel twin water-cooled motor with dual over-head cams and four valves per cylinder. It’s unchanged from the previous model, but since Yamaha’s impressive rise from the recession of a few years back, the modular approach to engines and chassis that has seen such success with the MT / XSR / Tracer range has proved very wise. There’s plenty of life in the CP2 motor yet.

While it’s not got the thump of some V-twins, the 270° firing order gives the engine a clear character. Yamaha’s ‘CrossPlane’ design sees the crank pins offset from each other by 90° – put simply, this layout reduces the inertia caused by the pistons, connecting rods and cranks, allowing the rider to feel more of the torque generated by combustion; it feels ‘lumpier’. In a good way.

At idle and low speed, the exhaust note is rather lack-lustre, but work the engine and it develops more of a guttural howl – listening to the bikes being ridden while we took turns for the photo shoot, there was a definite hint of what could be unleashed with an aftermarket exhaust system. And it will need to be a full system – the MT-07’s downpipes, catalytic converter box and end can are one combined unit.

The gearbox is slick and precise – effortless in clutched and clutchless upshifts, while the cable-operated clutch itself (which has a non-span adjustable lever) is smooth and certainly not heavy, but in lacking a slip/assist clutch, it couldn’t be described as light. It wasn’t tiring on our ride, but hours spent fighting through city traffic would mean you’d be well advised to keep the cable well maintained to avoid adding any extra drag. At this price though, you’ll struggle to find anything much easier on the wrist.


The new tail looks fantastic, but those air intakes are still for show, not go



Yamaha describes the design of the 2018 MT-07 as “more mature”, and I think that nails it. The Manga style is toned down, the less ‘bitty’ design really coming together to make the bike feel more complete.

The plastics feel higher quality, and while that could simply be down to the way they’re mounted, it works. Everything seems to flow better from front to back, helped significantly by the bigger headlight and the redesigned “muscular, massive tank”. That might look larger, but underneath is exactly the same 14litre steel tank as the previous model.


Expect to see the fuel gauge flashing after around 120miles



Yamaha claims the MT-07 can deliver up to 65.7mpg, which would give a potential range of just over 200miles. The launch was held around the Ronda road and down to Marbella, where the stop/start, relatively aggressive riding saw my bike return approximately 43mpg, which would mean I’d run dry by 132miles. No wonder we stopped to top up half way around the 137mile test route. Average road riding should see about 50-55mpg achievable.


The suspension has been revised, and the result is outstanding


Handling, suspension, chassis and weight

The unadjustable 41mm Kayaba (or KYB) forks are the same as before, but the spring rate has been increased by 6%, and rebound damping by 16%. At the rear, the Kayaba shock now has a rebound adjuster, easier to access preload ring and new settings – 11% higher spring rate, 27% higher rebound damping and an increase of 40% to the high speed damping. So it’s stiffer now.

It not inconceivable to think that, when Yamaha first developed the MT-07, its engineers had the younger, lighter rider in mind. In acknowledging the sales it ended up gaining with a more mature audience, firming everything up makes sense.

I expected a bike that would be jarring and uncompromising, especially given the budget nature of the suspensions components and the fact that this was a relatively weak point of the previous model. But every journalist I spoke to couldn’t help but agree that these settings really work. The bike is precise, agile and direct, yet in aiming for potholes and deliberately hammering into speed bumps, it’s not uncompliant. I hit one bump hard enough to throw me out of the saddle, but it was a progressive launch, not the jarring smack you get with some cheap setups. Well done Yamaha.

The tubular steel backbone frame is – like the pressed steel swingarm – unchanged from the 2014 model, but it’s a tidy design making for a machine that weighs just 182kg, fuelled and ready to ride. Combined with the tight turning circle it’s a motorcycle that’s very easy to move around – great in the city.


Brakes are relatively old-school tech, but they’re still plenty powerful enough. If they were good enough for the R1 a few years back…



Again unchanged since the last model, the pair of 282mm wavy discs up front are bitten by four-piston semi-monobloc calipers – like those on the old R1s, they’re a one-piece design with the piston bores machined from the outside, then filled with the distinctive anodised plugs. It’s a proven design and it’s got all the strength and feel you’d need on a bike with a power to weight ratio of 0.4bhp/kg.


The seat’s been redesigned, and does feel better than the previous model



The seat’s 805mm high, and has been redesigned for more comfort – that’s subjective of course, but it was only by the end of the day that I was starting to feel a numb bum. It’s not got what you’d call touring luxury, but the 2018 MT-07 is far from the least comfortable bike out there.

The rear of the tank has been moved forward by 10mm, while the rider and pillion seats have been extended backwards – it’s very easy to stand over, but not cramped, even for tall riders like 6’4” experienced journalist Roland Brown. Those who still think they need more room though can pick up a 28mm higher seat from Yamaha as an option extra for £124.45.

While we didn’t have an extended session of motorway riding, the lack of a screen didn’t see me aware of any undue wind blast at 70-80mph.


There’s little useful space under the seat, while optional accessories include throwover panniers (with a rod that keeps them out of the wheel), a screen, and pillion grab rails, which replace the funky wings



The MT-07 is a basic bike by today’s standards, but it’s that lack of traction control, bells, multiple riding modes and whistles that help make it so appealing to so many riders. Sure, a lack of LED headlight seems odd now, but if it keeps the price down (and avoids that annoying jump from light to dark in the beam pattern) does it really matter?

The dash is controlled by two buttons built into it – bar-mounted controls would be good, but all you can do is scroll through the odo, trips and fuel consumption figures, so you won’t be fiddling much. There’s a gear position indicator, revs and a clock on the liquid crystal display, as well as a fuel gauge. Resetting the data isn’t particularly intuitive, but it’s not as if you need a large owner’s manual to work it out. Which is fortunate, as there’s very little space under the seat; a metal plate lifts out once the pillion seat’s unlocked to reveal a shallow tray that holds a typically lightweight tool set. Sadly you won’t be fitting a lock under here.

The tail light is LED, but the indicators are standard bulbs, the front of which have been moved from the headlight surround to the sides of the engine for a much better look.


2018 Yamaha MT-07 verdict

There was nothing broken on the original MT-07, which explains its brilliant sales performance – even the suspension was okay for most riders. But put the old one next to the new and I can’t help thinking the previous machine suddenly looks – and feels – dated and relatively low rent.

When I posted the first video of this bike to our Facebook page there were the predictable comments along the lines of “Get one and it won’t be long before you want more power, and buy an MT-10”. Of course, that’s what Yamaha would love to see – riders entering the brand with the MT-07, MT-03 or MT-125 for instance, then moving up the capacities as they gain confidence. But to think of this middleweight bike as something merely for the inexperienced is foolhardy – owning one could be incredibly rewarding and enjoyable.

Keep in mind too that just 34.8% of MT-07 buyers are new to biking, with customers (83% men, 17% women) ranging in age from 18-60 and beyond. Yamaha wants to attract the 18-25-year-old market, but also those looking for simplicity in biking. Beside the compulsory ABS, that’s exactly what you get with the MT-07, and it’s all the better for it.

The modifications Yamaha has made to the styling really add a sense of quality – to my eyes at least – and while performance is unchanged, the revised suspension is truly impressive, especially for something that sits in the budget end of today’s new motorcycles.

Still not sure if an MT-07 is for you? Test ride one at your local dealer, or book yourself on the MT tour this year by clicking here.


First look at the 2018 Yamaha MT-07

BikeSocial has a quick walk around the new middleweight


Three things I loved about the 2018 Yamaha MT-07…

• Great handling

• Hugely enjoyable to ride

• Fairly cheap


Three things that I didn’t…

• Exhaust note not the most inspiring at low speed

• No space to store a lock

• Clutch could be lighter (but it’d cost more)


2018 Yamaha MT-07 specification


689cc 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves

Bore x stroke

80.0 mm x 68.6 mm

Compression ratio

11.5 : 1


73.5bhp (55.0kW) @ 9,000 rpm


50lb-ft (68.0Nm) @ 6,500 rpm


6-speed, chain final drive


Steel diamond

Front suspension

41mm KYB telescopic forks, no adjustment, 130mm travel

Rear suspension

KYB shock with linkage, adjustable for preload and rebound damping, 130mm travel

Front brake

2x 282mm discs, four-piston semi-monobloc calipers

Rear brake

Single 245mm disc, single piston caliper

Front tyre

Bridgestone Battlax BT023, 120/70 ZR 17M/C(58W) (Tubeless)

Rear tyre

Bridgestone Battlax BT023, 180/55 ZR 17M/C(73W) (Tubeless)

Overall length

2,085 mm

Overall width

745 mm

Overall height

1,090 mm

Seat height

805 mm

Wheel base

1,400 mm

Minimum ground clearance

140 mm

Wet weight (including full oil and fuel tank)

182 kg

Fuel tank capacity


Fuel consumption

65.7mpg (claimed), 43mpg (tested)

Oil tank capacity


To insure this bike, click here


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