Shots fired: Yamaha has come gunning for super-nakeds like the BMW S1000R and the Aprilia Tuono with a new naked R1 that's a far cry from the tasty-looking FZ1 or years past. The MT-10 is ugly, squat and nasty, as reflected by the fact it's going to roll into the MT model line. With a retuned version of the crossplane-crankshaft R1 superbike engine providing the boogie, the focus will be on fun, but Yamaha has also chosen to throw in a cruise control system.
What sort of sicko looks at a purebred racebike like Yamaha's gorgeous YZF-R1 and thinks "yeah, let's pull all the aerodynamic plastic off that and make a hideous, brutal streetfighter?" I'll tell you exactly what kind of sicko: me. Me, and apparently the product team at Yamaha, who has just pulled the covers off the 2016 MT-10 at EICMA Milan.
In days gone by, a retuned naked R1 would get the "FZ-1" moniker and a pretty Italian-style naked reskinning. Not this year. The MT-10 is an eye-bleeding techno-industrial abomination, a cacophony of sharp angles and bolts and the odd flouro yellow wheel hub. It's a Frankenstein mash-up, as if the odd-looking MT-09 mated vigorously with the R1, and the offspring looks like it'll get in trouble just because of its bashed-crab face. I love it, it feels like the first hairy-chested Yamaha in a long time that the local posers won't touch with a barge pole.
The MT-10 makes Yamaha the third Japanese factory to have a proper crack at entering the magnificent super-naked class, after Suzuki's GSX-S stepped into the fray at last year's Intermot show and Kawasaki's Z1000 more or less inched its way into the discussion over a number of years.
It gets the CP4 crossplane crankshaft inline 4, 998cc R1 engine, presumably detuned from its 205 hp peak down to somewhere around 160-170 to look BMW's S1000R in the eye. Reining in that aggressive motor is Yamaha's D-mode system of multiple engine maps, and a switchable 3-level traction control setup.
Like the R1, the MT-10 gets a slipper/assist clutch – a system that keeps the lever action very light, while also reducing wheelspin under engine braking on downshifts. Anyone who's ridden an EBR lately knows how important a light clutch can be to general round-town rideability.
Suspension is upside-down KYB forks and a monocross-linked shock. Both ends are adjustable but the shock doesn't appear to have the R1's high/ow speed compression damping separation. Brakes are proper radial 4-pot Nissins with standard ABS.
Because we live in blessed times, Yamaha has bestowed a full electronic cruise control system upon the MT-10. I can personally take or leave multiple engine modes and traction control systems, but fly-by-wire electronic throttle control has at least brought me the ability to stretch my right arm on a freeway section.
Pricing is yet to be announced, but we'd expect the MT-10's price tag to be closer to the GSX-S than the S1000R, but time will tell. In the meanwhile, let's marvel at just how broad and beefy the list of full-fat nakedbikes has become in the last few years. From the Tuono and Brutale to the Super Duke R and the S1000R, to the GSX-S1000 and now this nasty, chippy Yamaha, road hooligans have never had so many options.
The MT-10 is scheduled to launch at the end of May, 2016.
There's a ton of photos in the gallery. Enjoy!