RUNNING TO THE HILLS ON PROJECT MOUNTAIN GOAT
Mods will make MT-10 a switchback slayer ‘Legs waving like football scarves out of car windows at every turn as I try to ride like a supermoto expert’
This may seem an odd thing to say about a bike that snaps your arms straight on an inch of throttle and at times feels more like a random wheelie generator than a motorcycle, but the MT-10 is a fairly relaxed machine. Fast, yes, but easy to ride too. As much FZ-1 pleasant as R1 rude. And while its crossplane motor growls a bit there’s no real malice behind those angry-look headlights. It’s malleable, too. Its true character is of a bike that will eventually become what you make it. You could bend it into a sports tourer, no problem, or a polished track bike or, the one I like, some kind of specialist hybrid – a bike to sniff out the gnarliest mountain roads in Europe then deliver a cracking ride to the summit.
I’m not the world’s most prolific modifier, but there is something – something clever – about the MT that puts me right in the mood for this. I ride it and think: mmm, bars a little lower... pegs a tad higher… and maybe a removable luggage system to whisk my stuff across the flatlands to the fun.
So far I’ve been distracted by a couple of niggles – a worryingly loose seat, which I’ve seen on two other MT-10S, and a grabby, juddering clutch that makes U-turns and even just pulling away feel messy. I have, though, bolted on Gilles adjustable risers (£164.99, www.yamaha-motor.eu/uk), set up to lower the bars by 8mm while moving them forward too, and this weekend raised the rear ride height in a bid to get more snap into the steering and lift the low footpeg blobs clear of the tarmac. I also have new tyres, a map of Europe and some holiday booked. So project Mountain Goat is up and running.
I’ve racked up lots of track miles this year and my ZX-10R comfortably holds its own. It’s rapid, utterly stable and the electronics are superb. I’m on my second set of Metzeler RR K3s and they’re unquestionably the best fast road/trackday tyres around. The Kawasaki is slow changing direction and I think a little extra preload would help lighten the steering. But even on standard suspension settings the 10R It was always going to happen – fitting an exhaust can to the SV650. So now a Yoshimura Alpha slip-on (£499, www.performanceparts-ltd.com) is amplifying the SV’S exhaust note on a daily basis. Fitting was simple, except that Yoshi’s baffles are insertable rather than removable. A hamfisted attempt to fit it saw a screw fall inside the can, causing a rattle. After retrieving the screw, I opted to try the handles pretty well, so when I turn up at a trackday it’s just a question of dropping the tyre pressures, topping it up with fuel and off we go. can without the baffle. No neighbour has complained ( yet) but I’ll be fitting the baffle for my next long ride as the drone does get wearing over time. fixing holes. The work took half an hour, just long enough for me to enjoy one of the dealership’s lovely coffees.