WORLD FIRST TEST New Yamaha MT-03 mixes light­weight ease with big bike at­ti­tude

Motorcycle News (UK) - - New Bikes - By Andy David­son MCN STAFF WRITER

‘The 321cc twin won’t lash out at new rid­ers and won’t com­plain if more ex­pe­ri­enced hands grab it by the scruff of the neck’

Yamaha are a clever bunch. They’ve been on a roll ever since they in­tro­duced the MT range back in 2013 with the hugely pop­u­lar MT-09. They’ve ex­panded it by adding the ex­cel­lent MT- 07, a learner friendly sin­gle-cylin­der MT-125 and the soon-to-be-re­leased mus­cle naked, the MT-10. But they haven’t stopped there. Yamaha have used their suc­cess­ful ma­chines as donor bikes, restyled them and named them XSRS to fit in their Sports Her­itage seg­ment. They are go­ing for dom­i­na­tion by pro­duc­ing, adapt­ing and re­design­ing their bikes to at­tract as wide an au­di­ence as pos­si­ble. And that’s ex­actly what they’ve done with the lat­est ad­di­tion to the MT fam­ily line-up – the new MT-03.

Sim­ply put, the MT-03 is the 2015 YZF-R3 in naked guise, much like the MT-125 is the YZF-R125 and the MT-10 is the YZF-R1 with­out its fair­ings. But we’re not com­plain­ing. By us­ing clever de­sign and smart mar­ket­ing Yamaha are reach­ing out to more cus­tomers and hope­fully bring­ing a whole bunch of new rid­ers into the fold at the same time. And that is where the MT-03 fits into all this. Be­ing A2 li­cence friendly Yamaha hope it will make an at­trac­tive step­ping stone for new rid­ers look­ing to progress through the ranks be­fore one day own­ing one of the firm’s larger ma­chines.

The MT- 03’s en­gine, chas­sis and wheels re­main the same as the sports­bike-alike YZF-R3. It does away with the R3’s sporty fair­ings and gets a stan­dard MT head­light com­plete with LEDS (both front and rear), a mini head­light cowl and a short, sharp tail unit. The R3’s clip-ons have been ditched in favour of a one-piece han­dle­bar, which is now 39mm higher, 19mm closer and 40mm wider than be­fore, mak­ing the rid­ing po­si­tion more upright and com­fort­able. The seat height re­mains at 780mm, which al­lows a 5ft 7in rider like me to plant both feet flat on the floor. And that’s about it as far as changes go, al­though Yamaha are also boast­ing over 20 ac­ces­sories for the 03, far more than they of­fer for the R3.

How does it ride?

The YZF-R3 won MCN’S group test against the KTM RC390 and Kawasaki Ninja 300 be­cause it was the most user-friendly, ver­sa­tile and fun bike on test. It’s a proven and ca­pa­ble ma­chine – and its fan­tas­tic qual­i­ties have been passed onto the MT-03.

The re­ally clever thing about both bikes is that they aren’t big small bikes, but small big bikes. The 03 gets all the ben­e­fits of a light­weight ma­chine in an en­gag­ing big-boy chas­sis, cou­pled with an in­cred­i­bly flex­i­ble and freerevving en­gine. The 321cc par­al­leltwin mo­tor won’t lash out at new rid­ers with ea­ger wrists and it won’t com­plain if more ex­pe­ri­enced hands grab it by the scruff of the neck to see what it’s made off.

The 41mm Kayaba fork is ba­sic but does a good enough job of in­spir­ing con­fi­dence when you push on, even on a bumpy sur­face. Both the front fork and rear shock are firm enough and

re­main com­pli­ant and com­posed too. The front twin-pot slid­ing caliper com­ple­ments the sus­pen­sion set-up by only ask­ing for a gen­tle squeeze be­fore re­turn­ing plenty of stop­ping power, and there’s de­cent ABS as backup too.

There’s some­thing sat­is­fy­ing about rid­ing a smaller-ca­pac­ity ma­chine, per­haps be­cause you get to brush up against its lim­its, and the MT-03 is no dif­fer­ent. With peak torque at 9000rpm the 03 re­quires plenty of left­foot ac­tion to get the most out of it. But when you back off the throt­tle it’s still very us­able and easy-go­ing, mak­ing it a re­ally well-rounded ma­chine.

Un­like its big­ger sib­lings which orig­i­nate out of Ja­pan, the MT-03 is screwed to­gether in In­done­sia and only comes in Mid­night Black or Race Blu, which is a shame be­cause the rest of the 2016 MT range are treated to the funky Night Fluo colour scheme, which makes the 03’s paint job look dated al­ready. The over­all build qual­ity looks good enough with a few no­table com­po­nents like a swish dash fea­tur­ing gear in­di­ca­tor, fuel gauge and shift light off­set­ting cheap-look­ing levers, brake pedal and switchgear.

But we’ll for­give that con­sid­er­ing the £4499 price tag, which works out £300 cheaper than the YZF-R3 and only £400 more than the MT-125 and helps the new MT-03 slot per­fectly into the MT range.

Swish dash packs plenty of fea­tures like fuel gauge and gear po­si­tion in­di­ca­tor

MT fam­ily head­lamp fea­tures LED run­ning lights

Tapered seat is com­fort­able and al­lows easy reach to the floor Cool styling and plenty of at­ti­tude, the MT-03 is a proper city slicker MT-03 mixes small

bike agility with big-bike pres­ence

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