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…

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - tim.thomp­son@mo­tor­cy­cle­news.com

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’

Load it up and it’s a tourer, al­beit with lim­ited fuel range Bar ad­justers low­ered hand po­si­tion Rear shock isn’t the best, but that’s nit-pick­ing

TIM THOMP­SON 36 years of rid­ing on road, track and pave­ment HEIGHT 5ft 7in WEIGHT 75kg

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