Yamaha MT-10 SP (2017) - First Ride and Review

BikeSocial
By Michael Mann
MannOnABike BikeSocial's Web Editor. Been riding bikes since 1984 and writing about them since 2013. Commuted in Central London for 10 years, fast and smooth road rider, does a reasonable job in a track day quick group. 6 ft and 14 st.

There are momentous occasions in life that human nature would dictate we remember for the rest of time. I'm talking about losing your virginity, your wedding day (perhaps that was the same day), the birth of your first child...that sort of thing. Dates, times, places, names etched into your memories forever.

Then there are memorable occasions that are above and beyond the regular stuff. You know, first bike, the day you moved out of your parents’ house or how much the tooth fairy left for your first molar, for example. The key bits that aren’t quite life changing but are extremely important nonetheless. 

Today marks one such memorable occasion. For it was the day I rode a Yamaha MT-10 SP for the first time. 120 miles of South Africa’s finest roads with one of the world's finest motorcycle engine and chassis combinations. This is the stuff of dreams.

Nine months ago the Japanese manufacturer kindly gave us the MT-10, a supernaked motorcycle developed at the same time as, and based heavily on, the awesome YZF-R1. It uber-impressed even the most cynical journalist with its combination of smash-you-in-the-face power, almighty low to mid range torque, a highly capable chassis and a smart price point. It was a hit with customers too with demand still outstripping supply even now. Dealerships couldn't get enough. In fact, 1 in every 10 Yamaha motorcycles sold in 2016 was an MT-10.

As if the 158.2bhp inline four cylinder Yamaha MT-10 unleashed last May wasn't epic enough, Yamaha are now bringing an SP version out to play.

But what does SP stand for in the world of motorcycling? Super Pimp? Suitably Powerful? Sure Performer? Nope. It’s a term introduced by the Italians in the early 90s to denote the version with track-based technology – Sport Production.

With a heap of R1 and R1M trickery thrown at the already highly accomplished streetfighter, the new MT-10 SP, which is available from the middle of March, should be commanding the headlines once again. But priced at £13,399 which resembles a £2,600 hike above the slightly tweaked 2017 version of the standard MT-10, is it a justified extra expense?

VIDEO: new for 2017 Yamaha MT-10 S first impressions video
BikeSocial's Michael Mann gives his first impressions of the new 2017 Yamaha MT-10 SP having just ridden it at the press launch.
The MT-10 SP with it

WHAT’S NEW?

The 2017 MT-10 base model, Tourer Edition and SP all now features a quick shifter fitted as standard (something we shouted about when we went head-to-head with the BMW S1000R last summer), allowing for clutchless upshifts, as well as revised engine mapping offering smoother throttle characteristics tight through the already mighty rev range.

In addition, the headline additions on the SP model start with the upgrade to Ohlins electronic racing suspension, a full colour R1-M style TFT instrument panel (‘Thin Film Transistor’) and a special racing colour scheme known as Blue Silver Carbon. 

The trick Ohlins system uses a Suspension Control Unit (SCU) which analyses data from a series of sensors allowing the suspension to react to the riding conditions, which the Swedish company claims offers ‘an optimal set-up at all times’. Even so, there are still five rider-settings; three automatic and two manual, which can be adjusted by the handlebar mounted switchgear and form part of the three pre-set riding modes. It’s both a clever and complex bit of kit that advances the options beyond the needs of any 'regular' road rider unless the bike is to be used on the same route or even track regularly.

It’s certainly a premium addition and looks good as anything with those iconic gold forks synonymous with Ohlins. The 2016 MT-10 suffered a softer rear shock than some of its sportier rivals but that’s now been ironed out with the introduction of the Ohlins system. Of the two pre-sets, A1 is the sportier and noticeably stiffens the bike on the smoother, faster surfaces. Plough in towards the apex a fast, 3rd gear, 60mph bend and the MT-10 SP with its demon chassis built around a short wheelbase remains unflustered. Corner speed and stability therefore improves while the same experience on the stock MT-10 would be a little different, especially at the rear with the softer compression.

The Bridgestone Hypersport S20Rs performed just as they should and were given a helping hand with an air temperature hovering around 24 degrees. Warm roads are going to be an able assistant where rubber is concerned. They’re a well-suited all purpose OEM tyre for the MT-10 SP. Tyres fighting with traction control settings is becoming the norm and the three-stage TC setting on the Yamaha is laid out as 1 = sport and the least intervention while 3 = wet and therefore more intervention. I only felt the rear slide a millimetre out of place once when in mode 1 and that’s thanks to the bikes great handling, Ohlins and Bridgestone combination.

The R1M style TFT display is both compact and easy to read with excellent definition. It's a very plush upgrade to the 2016 model and looks snug sitting behind the front cowl, although it takes a bit of getting used to all the functions. It's a shame the handlebar switchgear look budget alongside it.
The engine is achingly good and in this chassis forms a partnership as compatible as fish and chips.
Michael Mann, Web Editor, BikeSocial
MT-10 SP - the sport production version of the update MT-10

Yamaha have some tasty competition if you start comparing what the European manufacturers have to offer. Have a look at this spec sheet for the on-paper head-to-head:

SUPER NAKED RIVALS SPEC TABLE

 

Yamaha MT-10 SP

BMW S1000R Sport

Ducati Monster 1200 R

Aprilia Tuono V4 1100 RR

KTM 1290 Super Duke R

Triumph Speed Triple R

Engine cc

998cc

999cc

1198cc

1077cc

1301cc

1050cc

Cylinders

In-line four

In-line four

L-Twin

V-4

V-twin

In-line triple

Power

158bhp @ 11,500rpm

162bhp @ 11,000rpm

158bhp @ 9,250rpm

173bhp @ 11,000rpm

174bhp @ 9,750rpm

138bhp @ 9500rpm

Torque

82 ft-lb @ 9,000 rpm

84 ft-lb @ 9,250rpm

97 ft-lb @ 7,750rpm

89 ft-lb @ 9,000rpm

104ft-lb @ 7,000rpm

83 ft-lb @ 7,850rpm

Weight

210kg

205kg

207kg

184kg (dry)

195kg (dry)

212kg

Fuel capacity

17.0 litres

17.5 litres

17.5 litres

18.5 litres

18 litres

15.5 litres

Price

£13,399

£12,365

£15,995

£14,999

 

£13,999

£12,100


DESIGN, COMFORT and PERFORMANCE
 

The three-bike MT-10 range (standard, Tourer Edition and SP) won’t win any ‘Most Beautiful Bike of the Year’ awards and the rather futuristic styling has divided opinion since day one. Some say it resembles a certain Pixar cartoon robot while others say its aggressive, rugged and a real mans bike with hard lines. Whatever your opinion is, it’ll be shared on any number of social media channels.

The new colour exclusive to the SP is Blue Silver Carbon which looks striking enough from afar but up close the detail is neat with a sparkle-effect from under the blue lacquer. Add that to the blue rims, gold forks and polished aluminium swingarm and in my opinion, there’s a much better looking bike already.

One particularly tidy touch in the design is the way Yamaha have hidden the always-ugly collector box under the engine. Garishly huge on many a-motorcycle thanks to those Euro-4 emission regulations yet on the MT-10 SP its been covered up neatly.

At the press launch after 120 miles of South Africa’s finest roads, admittedly and thankfully with several stops along the way for photos and/or coffee, the seating position remains assertive enough to cope with nearly 160bhp. Leaning forward with knees under shoulders and with a handy coke can sized buffer behind the rider’s part of the two tier, single seat unit, which is ideally placed to push against under hard acceleration. The saddle also allows for plenty of movement around the tank but with the sporty peg position comes the benefit of not scraping to much away in the faster corners, off-set by a degree of leg stretching. I’m 6ft tall and wore riding jeans so my stretches weren’t as common as those in one-piece leathers.

The hyper naked handles beautifully as the big handlebars push the bike into the corners making full use of that dynamic chassis. It’s quick to turn, dancing from one apex to the next with plenty of dexterity for a 210kg naked bike. It’s well balanced thanks to the hi-spec Ohlins system and the fact that the MT-10 chassis is still 60% the same as the YZF-R1 after all.

MT-10 SP -

It’s as comfortable as the next unfaired litre bike for a bit of motorway cruising but that of course is not its forte. The small cowling does a reasonable job and there’s always the very easy-to-use cruise control to help the miles pass. Though it’s worth noting that it only works in 4th – 6th gears and above 30mph.

The fiercely strong midrange from the motor is stunning. Every one of the 81.7 ft lb of torque is a perfect match for the 158.2bhp, resulting in the drive in any gear being so teeth-grittingly, stomach-tingly punchy that even at 50% throttle from around 4,000rpm, action is required to keep the front wheel from snow-searching. Between 5,000 – 8,000 rpm is the sweet spot, the rev counter even tells you so as it changes from black to green then orange above 8,000. Even in the softest of the three riding modes – which have changed from A, Std and B to 1 which is the sportiest, 2 formally ‘Std’ and 3 the softest throttle action in the midrange – the throttle has to be fed in with a little love and care instead of cranking it wide open. 2nd gear will take you above and beyond any legal speed limit in the UK and when we tested the 2016 MT-10 with a datalogger at Bruntingthorpe Airfield last year, the Yamaha would get to 60mph in 3.36 seconds and 100mph in just 6.22 seconds before maxing out at a limited 150mph. For a bike with no fairings and a less sporty riding position, I’d say that kind of performance in the right hands will trouble many superbikes at your local track day.

Speaking of riding modes, each has a pre-set level of traction control, ABS and suspension settings though all are adjustable via the hi-tech display screen.

The MT-10 SP comes with its own awesome sound track as the howling four cylinder emanates from the stock exhaust. The 270 degree crossplane crank four-cylinder engine is achingly good and in this chassis forms a partnership as compatible as fish and chips. The new quickshifter operates more optimally the further open the throttle is. Keep it pinned and changing up takes a microsecond as the pop, pop, pop of the gears is barely noticeable by feel, it’s the audio you must listen to. It isn’t the most refined system and misses an auto-blipping downshift but I suspect it’s only a matter of time before a more luxurious version is developed.

The big 320mm twin disc brakes Nissin brakes are crisp and the ABS keeps a low-profile at the front with limited chatter but intercepts earlier on the rear. The turning circle can catch you out as the wide tank intercepts the full sweep of the handlebars. The bars are stopped before they touch the bodywork but look for a slightly wider turning area than you’re perhaps used to.

On the accessories front, Yamaha have plenty on offer and I’d recommend replacing the budget looking brake and clutch lever to start with followed by a tail tidy. I’m in two minds over an Akrapovic system; normally I wouldn’t hesitate but the sound of the standard exhaust is striking enough to put £721 elsewhere.

I managed to eek out 41.5mpg on the press test which soaked in plenty of motorway miles plus a mixture of a little town riding with some fast, wide and smooth mountain roads around Cape Town’s coast. The MT-10 SP is a thirsty bike but you don’t run round on a 158.2bhp supernaked bike for its economy.
Jeans and a jacket or a one-piece; either are suitable for the SP

VERDICT

Memorable? Yes. Momentous? No. It’s good, very good, excellent in fact but it’s not first child birth good. I’m a massive fan of the MT-10, its all around ability and especially that wonderful engine – Yamaha’s engineers deserve significant recognition with the MT-07, MT-09 and MT-10 twin, triple and four-cylinder engines, they are first class.

I’d gladly commute on an SP in all weathers, then take it to a track day in the summer or for a trek around the Welsh mountains. It’s a hyper naked, all-rounder thanks to the engine’s power but also its amenableness.

The SP is a real step up for the Japanese manufacturer and takes the hyper naked fight even closer to the Europeans with the extra refinements and appearance. Yamaha have once again produced something rather special with an even better version of an already much-loved and popular motorcycle. A major contributing factor for the demand of the 2016 bikes demand was down to the attractive price. Now that the SP price tag is in excess of £13,000 I begin to wonder if the attraction is wearing thinner. 

After 120 miles today, the £2,600 price difference between the SP (£13,399) and the standard 2017 version (£10,799) is still tough to justify but I’m a sucker for a premium model with sparkly bits so the Ohlins, kick-ass display and trick colour do it for me. And I’m sure that because it’s the most premium version, it will sell.

How to make a 2017 YZF-R6

The engine, frame and swing-arm are carried over from the 2016 bike, but the electronics controlling the motor are all new, bringing state of the art control to what was already a very effective engine. Six-stage traction control operates from the left hand switchgear, three selectable riding modes on the right. And that’s it for buttons. The new clocks display the relevant info on these systems and now have a gear indicator too, but otherwise remain simple, clear and very easy to use.R6 in deatila

The fuel tank is now made of aluminium, saving 1.2kg, part of a raft of weight saving measures that offset the extra mass of the additional catalyst in the exhaust for Euro-4.

The new magnesium subframe has been designed to lift the seat slightly and move the riding position forwards and the switch to LED lighting means less power consumption, needing a smaller charging system and lighter battery.

Forks and brakes come from the YZF-R1 and a revised shock absorber now adjusts preload with locking rings via a C-spanner. ABS is standard.

The new bodywork, based on Yamaha’s M1 MotoGP bike is more aerodynamic and the indicators are now in the mirrors.

New display, colour and Ohlins for the SP

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS: MT-10 SP

Engine type

liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves

Displacement

998cc

Bore x stroke

79.0 mm x 50.9 mm

Compression ratio

12 : 1

Maximum power

158.2bhp (118kW) @ 11,500rpm

Maximum torque

81.7ft-lb (111Nm) @ 9,000rpm

Lubrication system

Wet sump

Clutch type

Wet, Multiple Disc

Fuel system

Fuel Injection

Ignition system

TCI

Starter system

Electric

Transmission system

Constant Mesh, 6-speed, quickshift

Final transmission

Chain

Fuel consumption

8.0 l/100km

CO2 emission

185 g/km


Frame

Aluminium Deltabox

Front suspension system

Telescopic forks, Ø 43 mm, Ohlins fully adjustable, electronic

Front travel

120 mm

Caster angle

24º

Trail

102 mm

Rear suspension system

Swingarm, (link suspension), Ohlins fully adjustable, electronic shock

Rear travel

120 mm

Front brake

Hydraulic dual disc, Ø 320 mm

Rear brake

Hydraulic single disc, Ø 220 mm

Front tyre

120/70 ZR17 M/C (58W)

Rear tyre

190/55 ZR17 M/C (75W)


Overall length

2,095 mm

Overall width

800 mm

Overall height

1,110 mm

Seat height

825 mm

Wheel base

1,400 mm

Minimum ground clearance

130 mm

Wet weight

210 kg

Fuel tank capacity

17 litres

Oil tank capacity

3.9 litres

Price

£13,399

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