Yamaha overhauls its MT09 hooligan streetbike, adding all the goodies
Yamaha's wickedly fun MT09 just about nailed the formula for street shenanigans on its debut eight years ago. A lightweight, naked wheelie machine geared to punch its hardest where you'd use it the most, it encouraged bad behaviour every time you threw a leg over it, and led to one of the most fun review videos we ever put together.
So there's every reason to believe this fully overhauled 2021 model will be a total stomper. Yamaha has beefed up the three-cylinder engine at the heart of the MT09, stroking it out to 890 cc and beefing up the torque in the process. Horsepower rises only marginally, from 113 to around 118, and the torque increase doesn't look huge either – the new bike gets 93 Nm (69 lb-ft) as opposed to 87.5 Nm (64.5 lb-ft), but that torque hits earlier on the tacho, making the new MT even wilder in real-world street use.
"Virtually every major component" of the engine is new, and Yamaha has managed to shed 1.7 kg (3.75 lb) from it in the process. A totally new fuel injection arrangement vastly improves efficiency, making the bike Euro-V compliant and reducing fuel consumption by some 9 percent. The exhaust has been on a diet as well, dropping 1.4 kg (3 lb), and the frame, subframe and swingarm have been redesigned around the new motor to save another 2.5 kg (5.5 lb) while increasing lateral stiffness by a huge 50 percent for straight-line stability.
The wheels have hit the gym too. The new MT09 will roll on 10-spoke spin-forged rims that drop some 700 g (1.5 lb) from the spinning gyroscopic mass you have to move to turn the bike. As a result, it should be even quicker to steer at speed, a very fun prospect considering the original bike was so flickable. The overall weight loss total of 4 kg (8.8 lb) takes the wet weight down to 189 kg (417 lb), which is a jolly fun wet weight indeed.
There are other goodies too, including an up/down auto-blip quickshifter, full LED projector lighting, a new but fairly ugly-looking full-color TFT dash, new adjustable "premium specification" KYB suspension at both ends, and a new Nissin brake system complete with a radial front master cylinder similar to what the R1 uses, to add feel, power and precision to the stoppers.
The electronics get a big kick up the backside too, with the addition of a six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) and all the associated safety or go-faster aids, depending on your politics. The resulting multi-mode traction control, ABS and slide control systems are all lean-angle-sensitive, taking cues from their implementation on the R1 superbike. Heck, there's even a wheelie control system. Sadly, this does not appear to help you control your wheelies; indeed it appears to limit them. Hopefully it can be swiftly and permanently switched off at the touch of a few buttons.
The design changes as well, most notably in a pert new headlight unit that is ... not Yamaha's best work. But to be fair, the original bike had a lumpy, half-chewed, parts bin kind of look about it and I still fell hard for it the minute I rode it. My own belief, unsupported by any evidence whatsoever, is that ugly bikes get stolen less often, so let's call it a security feature.
There is just so much to love in how the MT behaves on the street that I'm super fired up to see how the new one rides. Prices aren't yet confirmed, but I hope it's as crazy-affordable as the old one. You can check out Yamaha's promotional video for the 2021 MT09 if you feel like getting marketed at, and watch spellbound as a man attempts to make a city ride look wild and crazy by swerving in and out of lanes. It almost works, but he ruins the effect somewhat by responsibly indicating whenever he does it.
But instead of that we'll embed our video review of the original 2014 MT09 below, because it's a ton more fun and we all need more giggles these days.