Yamaha MT-09 | First Ride | Let out your inner hoon


Want a bike for fun commuting? MT-09!

Want a bike for blasting mountain roads? MT-09!

Want a bike for doing wheelies? MT-09!

Want a bike doing burn-outs? MT-09!

Want a bike to have fun riding? MT-09!

Want the most fun for your dollar? MT-09!


Got the point yet? Yep, Yamaha’s 2017 MT-09 is the bike for the hoon in us all. The bike to get you to work with the biggest smile, to go blasting up your local backroads, to simply enjoy, without the compromised riding position and stiff suspension of a sportsbike, without the lazy steering and wallow of a cruiser, without the wallet-emptying experience of a Euro bike.

While the Yamaha MT-09 has always been a good thing for hoon, the latest example has been updated to also make it a sensible ride for those looking for more of an all-rounder.


Price price PRICE!

$12,299. Well, $12,299 in Australia. That’s without on-road costs which vary from state to state, but most of us should be able to ride one away from a dealer, insured for under $14,000 – incredible value. Hell, that’s what you’d pay for many a secondhand bike, and if you buy new you get to choose the colour and run it in…


Too cheap to be perfect

Even the most expensive bikes aren’t perfect, and the MT-09 is no exception. Early models were criticised for their extra-snappy throttles, inadequate front suspension and a dearth of electronic wizardry, but for 2017 Yamaha has addressed many of the problems.

Now we have multiple throttle modes, so while the extra-snappy throttle response is still there for those who want it – A mode – Standard mode and the tame B mode are also there when you’re not trying to do stunts. Most people, most of the time, will leave it in Standard mode.

Traction control (Off, plus levels 1 and 2) is there, while ABS is there too.

What it doesn’t have are the extras you end up paying thousands for – no cruise control, electronic suspension, heated grips, fairing, centrestand or cup holders… this is a basic 21st-century motorcycle.


Updates for 2017

There’s a long list of changes for this model.

In no particular order, there’s now a pair of LED headlights which combine with the styling changes at the back to really make the MT-09 look more like the patriarch of the family, the MT-10. The back-end is 30mm shorter and features a new tail-light.

The numberplate is attached to an arm which comes off the swingarm. Single-sided and chunky, opinions were polarised but I didn’t like the look of it and I’ll hazard a guess there’s a fair bit of unsprung weight there, too.

Luckily there’s an accessory optional fender eliminator-style numberplate holder which is more conventional.

The front-end still looks incomplete unless the optional fly screen is fitted. The instruments are integrated into the headlight better. Talking of lights, the front indicators have been moved down to near the radiator, which itself has larger intakes and new side fins.

The seat is slightly thicker and it’s fine for relatively short rides, although ride an MT-09 all day and you’ll be wanting the accessory comfort seat.

But the exciting bits are the assist and slipper clutch and quickshifter…


The 2017 Yamaha MT-09 at the Australian launch. #yamaha #mt-09 @yamahamotoraus

A photo posted by Cycle Torque (@cycletorque) on

Flat changes…

It wasn’t long ago I thought quickshifters on roadsters was a bit silly. I mean, unless you’re chasing laptimes, what’s the big deal about feathering the throttle and banging the lever up? But I now realise I was being a bit of a dinosaur, quickshifters are here to stay and do make sportriding that little bit better.

Like most quickshifters, you only use the MT-09’s on upshifts – simply pull the lever up (don’t pull in the clutch) and keep the throttle in the same spot. The electronics cut power, thus engine load and the gearbox can change to a higher cog in a tiny fraction of a second.

Learn to ride like this and I reckon going back will be an issue.

Slipper clutches are a bit different, presenting rear-wheel lock-up when you get too aggressive with downshifts, usually going into turns. Many people will never engage the slipper part of their clutch because they will balance revs to road speed well, but when you get lazy, tired or aggressive a slipper clutch is fabulous.

The assist part of the name comes from the design, which reduces the tension on the springs when the clutch lever is pull in, reducing the effort.


On the road

The MT-09 is a roadster at heart, a bloody good one at that.

In town the steering is light, precise and direct. The riding position is close to perfect, being upright enough to see over many cars, to make it easy to turn your head left and right. There’s a slight lean forward to the handlebars and the footpegs are just a tiny bit rearset from a traditional roadster.

But it would be pretty easy to turn the MT-09 into a café racer, just fit the optional rearset footpegs and some low ’bars…

The inline triple spins up easily, the inherent low vibes of an inline triple providing a smooth ride until you really get into sports riding territory as the revs approach five figures.

The tacho is a set of LED bars running left to right along the top of the monochrome LCD dash. I hated it, but the funny thing was I didn’t need it – the flexible Massive Torque engine is easy to ride without worrying too much about the revs – it pulls hard across the rev range and doesn’t become unrideable if a gear selection isn’t perfect.

The MT-09 is easy to ride fast, but it’s not as fast as a sportsbike. A good rider on a sportsbike – R6, R1, that sort of thing – will be quicker than the same rider on an MT-09. Usually. If the road is decent. If their suspension is set-up correctly.

But if you’re not someone with track experience, someone who doesn’t scrape their pegs regularly or views the speeds on corners has a challenge to be doubled, the MT-09 is likely to prove plenty fast enough.

Out near the Hume Weir with the MT-09. #yamaha #mt-09 @yamahamotoraus

A photo posted by Cycle Torque (@cycletorque) on

What I didn’t like

The 14-litre tank, the thin seat, the complete lack of weather protection, the poor pillion accommodation and the lack of luggage capability.

That said Yamaha offers a tank bag and Comfort Seat for the MT-09 and if weather protection, pillion capability and luggage are real issues for you, buy the MT-09 Tracer.


Who’s it for?

The commuter, weekend rider and hoon in all of us.

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