MT-03 takes on the M25

Pint-sized Yamaha tack­les mo­tor­way jaunt

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week -


o far most of my time with the MT-03 has been com­mut­ing down the back lanes be­tween my vil­lage and MCN’S Peter­bor­ough of­fices. And I have to say it has ex­celled, mak­ing ev­ery jour­ney easy and fun while sip­ping the juice. But what about a longer voy­age? One in­volv­ing some of Bri­tain’s busiest mo­tor­ways. Could the lit­tle Yamaha pos­si­bly be man enough?

Time to find out with a mis­sion to my old home town of Mar­gate, Kent, for my dad’s 80th birth­day lunch – some 160 miles from where I live now and the same dis­tance back the next morn­ing. And set­ting off straight af­ter break­fast with the plan to be there well in time for food, there was go­ing to be some rush hour traf­fic thrown into the mix, all on a 321cc mo­tor­cy­cle that you only need an A2 li­cence to ride. I’ve hon­estly never been on mo­tor­ways on any­thing this small be­fore.

It’s only an overnight trip, so no need for throwover lug­gage. In­stead I sling a few essen­tials and the birth­day gifts into my ruck­sack and head out onto the vil­lage by­pass then join the first seg­ment of dual car­riage­way – the perma-busy A14. Spin­ning the par­al­lel twin up to the higher end of the rev range, the Yamaha has no dif­fi­culty in match­ing the traf­fic speed as we head east to­wards the M11 and M25.

The bike has lit­tle in the way of weather pro­tec­tion, bar a mini cowl sur­round­ing the head­light, but wind blast doesn’t prove a prob­lem cruis­ing at mo­tor­way speeds. It’s some­thing that’s helped by the nar­row bars. On my own bike, a Du­cati Scram­bler FT, my arms are wide and sail-like but there’s none of that with the MT.

Ap­proach­ing Cam­bridge those nar­row bars come into their own in a dif­fer­ent way, mak­ing the Yamaha the king of fil­ter­ing. Squeez­ing and weav­ing through the con­ges­tion is a pos­i­tive de­light. The up­right rid­ing po­si­tion helps too, al­low­ing an easy view of the trucks and vans loom­ing from ev­ery di­rec­tion. A far cry from my usual ru­ral rid­ing, but re­ward­ing all the same.

This is the first sub-500cc ma­chine I have rid­den on a mo­tor­way but 75mph cruis­ing was no trou­ble at all with the en­gine not feel­ing stressed or buzzy. What wasn’t so good, how­ever, was the lack of roll-on power it is re­as­sur­ing to have in re­serve should any un­wel­come sit­u­a­tion de­velop be­hind you.

Mak­ing good time, I had enough slack in the sched­ule to grab a cof­fee at the ser­vices. It’s al­ways nice to stretch the legs but I didn’t find I was aching to get off the bike. It’s small but not un­com­fort­ably cramped.

Over the Dart­ford cross­ing and down to­wards the Kent coast, the ride was a plea­sure and way eas­ier than tak­ing the car. The Yamaha was su­per­fru­gal too with back-of-an-en­ve­lope cal­cu­la­tions re­veal­ing around 72mpg for the trip – mean­ing that po­ten­tially I could do the whole dis­tance with­out a fuel stop. Im­pres­sive.

Come in num­ber MT- 03

MT-03 and R3 mod­els were sum­moned back to deal­ers re­cently to re­place parts that sit be­hind the clutch. I booked into Peter­bor­ough dealer Webbs and the work was done quickly and ef­fi­ciently, with a cour­tesy bike pro­vided.

As I headed home af­ter­wards I was slightly pan­icked to see the dash start flash­ing ‘oil’. Was some­thing not done up cor­rectly? I pulled over to check there was no short­age of lu­bri­cant and called Webbs when I got home. No need for con­cern, the Yamaha was sim­ply ask­ing for its in­ter­me­di­ate oil ser­vice. Def­i­nitely one of those sit­u­a­tions where I should have looked the man­ual be­fore grab­bing the phone and mak­ing my­self look daft. Still, bet­ter safe than sorry.

All set for the next stretch of jam bust­ing

Nearly 72mpg at mo­tor­way speeds? We like the sound of that

Looks like some ex­haust paint may be needed soon

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