Yamahaõs MT-07 won the MCN Award for Best Naked Middleweight in 2016, and remains the one to beat this year. Yamaha have been forced to add a catalytic converter from the XSR700, which shares the same engine, to ensure it meets Euro4, but otherwise itõs the same class-leading bike as before.
The plucky Yamaha exemplifies this new wave of exciting, competitively priced bikes Ð it shouldnõt be this much fun, but it is. On paper, 74bhp may not sound much, but this is a fabulous ride, the front going deliciously light in the first few gears. If you didnõt know it youõd think the MT-07 was good for around 100bhp. The parallel-twin engine only has an extra 40cc over the Kawasaki Z650 twin but gives the impression of more. And despite revving higher than the Kawasaki it actually feels smoother and more refined.
The MT-07ÕS low weight and narrow girth amplify the enjoyment. Handling is light and perky but still predictable and stable, and the while the brakes donõt have the outright power of the Ducatiõs they are more than adequate.
Itõs so easy yet so exciting to ride, it feels like a modern day equivalent of a 1980s Yamaha RD350LC. But, unlike the LC, the MT is no one-trick pony. It excels as a commuter, a bike on which to learn the basics and a B-road scratcher.
It is hard to pick faults, but compared to the pricier Ducati and Suzuki, it feels a little cheap, especially now Yamaha have edged up the price to £6099 from the launch price of £5199.