Yamaha MT-10: World first full test review

By Marc Potter
marcpotter Tested every new bike since 1994, loves anything on two wheels, Bike Social boss, Potski to his mates. Recently discovered elbow-down riding - likely to end in tears.

Yamaha's MT-10. Mad-looking isn't it?

Not happy with creating some of the best naked motorcycles ever made with the MT-03, MT-07 and MT-09, Yamaha’s new MT-10 is set to transform what we expect of a 1000cc naked bike.

And transform it they have too...

When Rossi and Lorenzo rode on to the stage at the Yamaha press launch in Milan last year to talk about the MT-10 we knew Yamaha had built something special. It’s essentially a naked R1 with some big fat wide bars, and after some 220 miles on the bike in a day, I’m blown away by that motor, its incredible punch, and the way it’s so easy to ride fast.

As we lined-up at the world launch start point this morning on the shores of the Mediterranean ocean in Mojacar, Spain, for a minute I wondered if Yamaha had tamed the R1-powered MT-10 super naked just a bit too much. I quickly realised what a tool I am.

Potter with the MT-10 this morning, wondering if it had enough power... what a tool.

Using a version of the brilliant Yamaha CP4 crossplane crank engine, the new retuned motor makes a claimed 158.3bhp, compared to the R1’s claimed power of 197.2bhp. Somewhere in my heart I wanted 180bhp, but that’s just greedy. Within minutes I knew how much of a fool I’d been and didn’t have to wonder about the power for long. And, plenty of other manufacturers' bikes (like some that may be orange) claim 180bhp when actually they're more like 160-ish bhp.

As ten bikes left the launch base and accelerated on to the first dual carriageway, every bike in line got into the midrange power of the MT-10 and wheelied down the straight - such is the force of the mid-range torque.

The power and torque of the  R1-based motor is immense. It makes 81.86 ft-lb of torque at 9000rpm and some 158.3bhp at 11,500rpm. What that equates too is fierce acceleration in every gear the bike has six at last count, and a claimed top speed of 152mph. I didn’t get chance to test its ultimate top-speed but the way it accelerates in ever gear, I’d believe it.

MT-10 Sport with optional extras including the Akrapovic exhaust

The MT-10 is a howling lunatic of a naked bike. This isn’t just a good bike, this is a great bike.

Some people may be mourning the loss of the Yamaha FZ-series, but one ride of the MT-10 and you’ll think otherwise. Besides, I never got on with the FZ-1. The Fazer 1000 was a bike I loved but it all went wrong with the FZ-1, in my opinion. But that’s all fine because the MT-10 is an incredible bike, and way more than ‘just’ a stripped-back R1. It does everything the FZ-series bikes did, and way, way more.

It’s a powerhouse of an engine that may be monstrously powerful and will lift the front wheel in fourth gear. But at lower speeds it’s a big friendly bike too.

There are three power modes – A, B and 'Std' mode. B is the raciest setting and sharpens up the throttle response. A is the middle setting, but most of the time for most people the 'Std' setting works perfectly. There’s gentle throttle response at low revs which makes it as easy to ride around town as any of the Yamaha MT-series which now included the MT-125, MT-03, MT-07, MT-09 and now this, the daddy of them all. The dark side of Japan – the Yamaha MT-10. An MT but with DNA from the R1, a bike that I just happen to adore.

Yamaha has sold some 65,000 MT-series bikes in Europe since the MT-09 was first launched three years ago, so it’s no wonder why the big one has now arrived. And if anyone owns an MT-09 on PCP three years is about the right time to be trading up to a bigger bike, perhaps like the MT-10? Yamaha claim some 90 per cent of MT-owners would buy another MT-series bike, and it’s easy to see why.

All the MT-series bikes offer modern technology at an affordable price and the MT-10 is no different. But this version is just bigger, faster, more aggressive and cooler in every way, the flagship if you like. It’s naughty in every way, yet with features like an inbuilt power socket hidden in the dash it’s as practical as a Fazer or modern adventure bike too.

The MT-10 has great electronics and an incredible amount of mid-range power and torque.

Look at the specs and you can see that it’s aimed clearly straight at the ace BMW S1000R. Weighing in at 207kg and making a claimed 160bhp, at £10,350 the BMW costs some £351 more but is a claimed 3kg lighter fully-fuelled than the Yamaha though, although the German bike has a 0.5 litre bigger tank. But they are incredible similar in the specs. It’s clear what Yamaha were aiming their sites at.

The Yamaha  MT-10 claims 81.86ft-lb of torque, the BMW claims 82.6ft-lb. Either way, the group test is going to be a very close affair and on a drag strip there would be not much in it. The MT—10 may just edge ahead on it midrange though. But without lining them up next to each other it’s hard to say,

Rarely has so much opinion been placed on a bike’s looks though.

The verdict may be out on the looks of the MT-10 for lots of internet bedroom warriors on Facebook, but I absolutely love the way it takes bike styling on to a new generation. It’s edgy cool and right on point for 2016. Take a look at mountain bikes and that fluro and grey colour scheme is big right now. Traditional it isn’t. But in the same way the current R1 changed the way 1000cc sports bike look when it was launched, the MT-10 is set to challenge that same perception. There’s also a black one and a blue one for more traditional tastes.

The bug-eyed look includes two LED spotlights, one for low beam and one for full beam. There’s a cowl too which keeps the wind off up to about 100mph when your helmet starts getting buffeted. For a bike that’s meant to be naked, that’s pretty impressive.

A set of panniers and a screen makes the MT-10 practical and fast.

The chassis itself is 60% the same as an R1 but the stiffness of the chassis is different to suit the bikes all-round nature. There’s a steel sub frame on the MT-10 too, and geometry is changed to make it stable at speed in its unfaired guise. At the back is a long aluminium swingarm that’s long for drive out of corners and stability, combined with great handling.

The wheelbase comes in at 1400mm, or 35mm shorter than the BMW S1000R.

With that frame means a new riding position over the R1 too. Sportier than an MT-09, but not anywhere near radical like the R1, the riding position is comfortable with plenty of leg room (I’m six-foot four). It has high and wide bars and a slightly forward canted riding position. You feel like you’re sat in the breeze but it works well at speed, and there’s plenty of bike still in front of you with those lights and that big LED display.

The clocks include everything you ever could want from a bike, fuel range, a clock, trip meter, temp gauge, outside temperature, riding modes, traction control-settings and even an eco mode which shows when you’re riding in an eco friendly way. I didn’t see that light very much, it has to be said.

Like the R1, the set-up is easy to use from toggle switches on the left handlebar traction control and riding modes can be adjusted on the move as long as the throttle is closed.

Most of the time I stayed in traction control setting two. It gives a bit of slide but keeps everything under control, It’s never in the way though. Fourth gear wheelies are still possible even in traction-control setting two. Setting one lets you slide the bike a bit more on track, and three works well in the rain, as we proved when riding into the clouds at the top of the mountains near Almeria.

MT-10 press launch. The temperature was some 6 degrees up here, it got up to 28 degrees later!

In the wet the perfect fuelling in Std mode means you are always sure where the grip is, and the traction control rarely flashed its dash light, but it’s useful to have. Yes, this bike can be a handful when you want it too, but it is very easy to ride slower too.

Sit back, take in the growl of the crossplane crank motor and use 5-8000rpm and it’s delightful. You’re right in the meat of the torque curve and can easily use second, third or fourth gear on twisty roads. It really doesn’t matter as it’s so flexible and pulls from any revs without chain snatch. Yamaha claim the motor is 40% different to the R1.

Most of the time, even when riding fast I was changing before the dash light on my bike was flashing at me at 10,000rpm. Occasionally I revved it out just to hear that growly noise at max revs, and when it hits the rev-limiter it does it gently.

So it’s fast, it’s comfortable and stable on the motorway and on some of Spain’s most challenging roads the bike showed its supersport nature.

If you don’t fancy an adventure bike and you’ve grown out of sports bikes, then hyper-naked bikes are where it’s at right now if you want to go fast, in comfort, but not feel like you need to do 180mph everywhere!

The chassis is so good that I never scraped a footrest all day and we were riding them about as hard as you’d want too. When you get a move on, suspension is set-up on the softer side but I enjoyed the plushness of it and the feeling it gave from the Bridgestone S20 tyres. It’s not as firm or as sporty as something like the Aprilia Tuono V4, but it isn’t meant to be, hence the all-round tyre rather than an all-out track day tyre. Saying that, the bike was on standard suspension settings and has fully-adjustable suspension so if you wanted if firmer, it’s all on offer, and it wouldn’t be out of the question to stiffen it up and do some sports bike damage on a track day.

The Bridgestones don’t give loads of feel but on a day’s riding with temperature ranging from 6 degrees in the mountains to 28 degrees in the desert they were good, but not memorable.

The ABS lets you push them hard under braking and they heated up quickly. The R1-derived brake calipers are good, not amazing, but I never wanted for much more. I guess sometimes we’re ruined by the R1’s sublime brakes, but in this guise they gave good feel on the limit, and the ABS system only cut-in if I forced it too by being a buffoon on the lever.

There’s a slipper clutch too which means you can bang in the gears on the way down and the rear doesn’t hop or bounce on the way into corners, it’s a good set-up and just lets you be even more naughty with the way the MT-10 makes you behave. The gearbox is peachy slick by the way.

Get off the gas on the way into a corner and the way the crank behaves means you go in on a closed throttle in almost silence apart from the hiss of the brakes, then crack it as hard as you dare for intimate throttle response.

Brakes are good, not amazing, like the Bridgestone S20 tyres

I was scratching my head trying to think of what I don’t like about the MT-10 and there are very few things.

One is that when you have the ball of your foot on the pegs for knee down riding, big clumpy race boots hit the rear pillion peg hangers.  But nine times out of ten in real-world riding it’s fine, and my feet are size 11. The second is that we filled the bikes up at 150km twice today, or 93 miles in old money. By that point the fuel light started flashing. Though to be fair there was around 30-miles of fuel left at least once the light flashed, and it spent most of the day being ridden incredibly hard. We’ll test the MPG when we get it in the UK soon. A more realistic ride should be good for 170-miles I’m estimating.

We did 220 miles in one day on all kinds of roads and the MT-10 made me smile every time I hit the starter button. It’s that growl from the crossplane crank that makes it addictive, the way the torque is delivered, and the way the handling and the electronics makes everything so easy.  Whack an optional screen on it, fit the comfort seat which is way more comfy than the slightly hard standard seat, and you have one of the best sports tourers on the market too. It’s a bike for all reasons then and as good as any S1000XR or Multistrada if you want to do a bit of European riding, for the rider at least. The pillion perch is on the smaller side, but sadly didn’t get chance to try it. It even has cruise control!

After a day’s hard riding the MT-10 is one of the top bikes of 2016 and under £10,000 it’s incredibly hard to argue against.

NOTE: You can order one now, and they'll be in Yamaha dealers from June 1. If you're going to MCN's Festival of Motorcycling this weekend (May 14-15) then Yamaha tell us they've shipped four bikes in to the UK especially for customer test rides. Get one booked!


Nice rear, get a load of that, fnarr, fnarr.

 

 MT-10 vs RIVALS!

Yamaha MT-10

BMW S1000R

Triumph Speed Triple S

Suzuki GSX-1000S

Kawasaki

Z1000

Engine cc

998cc

999cc

1050cc

999cc

1043cc

Cylinders

In-line four

In-line four

In-line triple

In-line four

In-line four

Power

158.2bhp

160bhp

138bhp

144bhp

140bhp

Torque

81.86 ft-lb

82.6ft-lb

82.6ft-lb

78ft-lb

82ft-lb

Weight/

wet (kg)

210kg

207kg

212kg

209kg

221kg

Fuel capacity

17.0 litres

17.5 litres

15.5 litres

17 litre

17 litres

Price

£9999

£10,350

£10,200

£9499

 

£9899

 

 

MT-10 in detail. It's all about that engine...

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION  

2016 MT-10 - £9999 

Type

Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve, in-line 4-cylinder

Displacement

998 cc

Bore x stroke

79.0 mm x 50.9 mm

Compression ratio

12.0 : 1

Maximum power

158.2bhp/118.0 kW @ 11500 rpm

Maximum torque

81.86ft-lb @ 9000 rpm

Lubrication system

Wet sump

Clutch type

Wet, Multiple-disc

Fuel system

Fuel Injection

Transmission

Constant mesh, 6 speed

Final transmission

Chain

Fuel consumption (claimed)

 35mpg

CO2 emission

185 g/km

Frame

Diamond

Front suspension

Telescopic forks, Ø 43 mm

Rear suspension

Swingarm (link suspension)

Front brake

Hydraulic dual disc, Ø 320 mm

Rear brake

Hydraulic single disc, Ø 220 mm

Front tyre

Bridgestone S20, 120/70 ZR17

Rear tyre

Bridgestone S20, 190/55 ZR17

DIMENSIONS

 

Overall length

2,095 mm

Overall width

800 mm

Overall height

1110 mm

Seat height

825 mm

Wheelbase

1400 mm

Min. ground clearance

130 mm

Wet weight (including full oil and fuel tank)

210 kg

Fuel capacity

17.0 litres

Others: Traction Control System, Cruise Control, D-Mode.