The instruments are simple and comprehensive, featuring a gear indicator, analogue tacho and digital speedo.
Learners will certainly appreciate the gear indicator, a quick glance every now and then to know which gear you are in will assure you don’t take off in second or third, plus it’s much better than changing to sixth, then realising you were already in top.
Handling-wise, the MT-03 is intuitive – it takes slightly more rider input to turn-in than its pin-sharp counterpart MT-07. This is confidence inspiring for riders with less experience, who will find the bike feels quite stable to corner.
The MT-03 is also very stable undertaking slow speed U-turns and creeping through busy traffic dabbing the rear brake.
The solitary front brake works well and although the initial bite isn’t super strong, it is quite comparable to most other bikes in this segment.
The feeling from the non-adjustable brake lever is reliable, providing great feedback from the brakes to modulate stopping pressure through the lever.
ABS clicks in and slows the bike down well in an emergency stop – another reliable backup feature for inexperienced riders.
The suspension is also quite good considering there is minimal adjustability – preload only for the rear shock. This softer set up is fine for smooth main roads and commuting but obviously, it is only when you find yourself on ordinary backroads or pushing the bike that little bit harder than you should, do you really notice the suspension isn’t perfect.
Novice riders need only get their local Yamaha dealer to set the rear preload for their travelling weight and be off on their merry way.
Yamaha has a truckload of genuine accessories available for the MT-03 and if I owned this bike, I’d fit the Akrapovi? stainless exhaust, a tail-tidy licence plate holder and a rear seat bag, to make the bike sound better, look a little bit more stylish and also be a bit more functional for my day-to-day travels.
The bike is available in three colours, ‘Race Blu’ – which is the colour of the test bike Yamaha supplied us with, ‘Racing Red’ and ‘Midnight Black’.
Overall, the MT-03 is an impressive package that is on par with what sells in a hotly-contested 300cc market.
Not only is the MT-03 a great commuter in its own right. It is also a great pathway for learners. Especially if you like the look of the bike, being part of a big range from Yamaha. Start out on the MT-03 for a year or two, move up to the MT-07LA or wait until your full licence for the higher-output version, where you will gain more experience once again, then the MT-09 or -10 will be waiting in the wings and you will have become a pretty capable motorcyclist in that time.
The MT-03 gives learners another great option to choose from in Yamaha’s LAMS stable, ‘feeling’ a bit bigger than an R3 makes it more suitable to a wide range of riders and it is much easier to handle than the MT-07LA, which could be a handful for some in their first year riding.
The MT-03 does all the things learners need it to, has a reliable ABS backup when you are ‘learning’, or doing what it doesn’t want to do, it’s priced well at $6,499 ride-away and it looks great not only in its own right, but as the entry-level option of what Yamaha can now call its even massiver… MT line up.