Our bikes: Life on MT-10 is never dull
When Yamaha said their new MT-10 was the Japanese hyper naked we’d all been waiting for they weren’t joking…
Well, that was fun. Six months of riding a chain-stretching, bar-waggling ‘Ray of Darkness’ MT-10 has emphatically proved that the Japanese can build a proper, full-fat super-naked after all. And do so for 66% of the price of an Aprilia Tuono RR.
But you know all this; the whole world seems to have fallen for the Yamaha MT-10. Its grunting, howling crossplane violence is already semi legendary. As is its ability to transform into a useful tourer or crafty track tool – or just be a plain, undemanding motorbike with a rare talent for getting right up the nose of every car driver unlucky enough to get in its way.
Because it’s a Yamaha, we confidently guessed that it wouldn’t turn out to be as completely bad to the bone as all that darkness publicity stuff portrayed. And while I loved the way my MT often felt like a shortgeared and angry R1, barely capable of obeying a single traffic law, I equally appreciated the moments when it behaved like a lightened and evolved FZ-1, a bike that was happy to go with the flow and deliver me to work without a single drama. Diversity, as well its sub £10k price, is at the core of the MT-10’S genius.
So what did 4414 miles reveal about potential MT-10 ownership? In no particular order, I liked its neutral upright and sit-in riding position for its comfort and commanding view, which couldn’t be more different from its R1 sibling. The seat, which was a sloppy fit and wobbled on its mountings, is soft-to-squidgy and a couple of 500-mile days took their toll, especially as the low-slung pegs, which touch a little early on track, and high bars transfer a lot of weight on to your spine and bum. My instincts were to spread the weight a bit, so I fitted Gilles bar adjusters from the Yamaha Genuine Accessories catalogue that lowered my hands, but the difference was minimal.
On track the MT was such an obliging bike. It lacks a little finesse and you could argue that the rear shock shows its limitations compared to an R1’s – a fairly harsh and abrupt ride on bumpy roads becomes underdamped and prone to wallow on a hot and grippy July afternoon, even with its adjusters maxed out – but who really cares? Dialling up a handful of electronically controlled early drive and grunting to the next braking zone does the job, thanks very much.
I fitted the Yamaha quickshifter kit too, which simply encouraged those six-inch wheelies that go on for about a mile and simply aren’t your fault and shouldn’t be held against you in a court of law.
It couldn’t disguise a fairly agricultural gearshift, though, while the clutch was so grabby when cold it made slippage impossible and the bike barely rideable at walking speed.
I always wanted another 25 miles from the tank – range was typically 100 to 110 miles – and for all their lookat-us, we’ve got this Darkness thing licked, the headlight’s output never matched the MT’S performance.
But hell, this is no moment to niggle. The MT-10 has been a revelation. Did it use any oil or throw an electrical tantrum? Of course it didn’t.
It covered 30 laps of the Nürburgring – that’s flat out for over 350 miles and asked for nothing more than super unleaded.
Tell you what, though: that theory about hyper nakeds being a great alternative for sportsbike riders looking to calm things down a bit... That’s complete rubbish.
‘It often felt like an angry R1, barely capable of obeying a single traffic law’