MT-03 takes on the M25
Pint-sized Yamaha tackles motorway jaunt
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