What to look out for...
Owners and mechanics highlight the weak spots
1 ENGINE/GEARBOX Nothing to see here, move along, according to Janis: “Engine-wise there isn’t really anything major to worry about. Very seldom do we see issues on the engine. Just make sure that the bike has been serviced properly and if you are looking at one with more then 12k on it, ask if the plugs have actually been changed; they aren’t an easy job and some mechanics try to avoid doing them if they can. If you’re looking at a bike with 20k or more, note things like chain and sprockets as the OEMS last around that. Also expect a large next service bill as valve checks are due at 24k miles; but from my experience I’ve not known anyone that’s needed them actually adjusting at the first main service.”
If the gear indicator starts playing up, whip the switch off (it’s just above the front sprocket) and clean up the contacts — they get gradually gunged up with crud from the chain. 2 CHASSIS Janis: “The first thing you should really check before buying a second-hand MT-07 is the fork seals and the headstock bearing. The spirited nature of the engine and bike makes it really easy to pull wheelies constantly. The headstock bearings are a very common cause of MOT failures and here at the MT-07 UK Owners’ club we see at least one in four bikes failing the first MOT because of this issue.”
Part of the problem with the head bearings is they’re supposed to be checked and lubed every other service (along with the swingarm pivot) but it’s often neglected, as is greasing the suspension linkage every service. Left to go dry, it doesn’t take long for them to knock themselves to bits. 3 FINISH This is the one area everyone had some grumbles about. The paint on the frame and associated bits is thin and easily damaged, and there’s a problem with the rear swingarm, which can start to rust almost as soon as it’s out of the showroom. Janis: “The two most common places are just under the rear brake caliper along the weld and under the chain guard. Check that these areas haven’t been painted using a sharpie or other means, as dealers will very often cover the area and then use silicone shine to cover the ‘repair’. This isn’t such an issue on the Gen2 bikes (2018 onwards) as Yamaha placed a vinyl protective sticker there.”
Lots of swingarms have been replaced under warranty, but there’s not much point really. If you’re keeping the bike long-term, it’s worth whipping the swingarm out at service time and getting it blasted and powder coated. The same goes for the steel water pipes around the engine — they’re very rust prone
and benefit from either powder coating or ideally zinc plating and then paint or powder coating. 4 SUSPENSION It’s built down to a price, and it shows. But fortunately it’s easily sorted, as expert Darren from specialists MCT Suspension explains.
“There’s an issue with the front forks, which is the lower bush is too short by about 5mm. That bush should act like a piston ring, controlling the oil, but it doesn’t work. We strip the forks, fit a different bush and rebuild them with new seals, different oil and air gap, and springs to suit the rider, then they’re excellent. There’s no need to spend money on emulators or cartridges.
At the rear you need to undo the top mount, then the bottom mount, then throw the shock in the bin — it’s that bad. We can rebuild it and make it better, but it’ll still be crap, so it’s not worth the time and money. Fit a basic Nitron R1 unit — we sell loads of those — and we’ll set it up to suit. The fork job is £245 plus VAT and the Nitron shock is £365 plus VAT, and it’s well worth the investment. Once that’s done, the bike’s amazing — if I had the money, I’d buy one myself. “
If you’re left a bit short after buying the shock, Janis reckons you can get most of the benefit at the front just by changing springs: “Standard is .85kg/mm but we’d say 0.9 or 0.95 is better. We’ve got a video on our Youtube channel showing how to do it.” 5 BRAKES The calipers are straight from the FZ8, which in turn nicked them from the older R-series. So they need a bit of maintenance but with regular cleaning, they’re well up to the job. The standard pads are very soft compound though — good for feel, not so good for power. Janis recommends EBC HH pads instead, though he warns they don’t last as long as the originals if used hard. He also recommends swapping the standard rubber hoses (which are due for replacement on early bikes now anyway) with braided lines from HEL. “Not just because club members get 25% off... In conjunction with the EBC pads, they make a big difference.” 6 MODIFICATIONS Apart from the suspension and brake modifications detailed already, the most popular modification is a new exhaust — not particularly for any performance gain (because you won’t get one) but because the standard system is deemed too quiet by most owners. The official Akrapovic system is the most popular choice, especially if spec’d when new, but Janis says the Black Widow system is a popular (and much cheaper) option, starting at less than £300 for a full system.
“I have seen them crack around the area where the tip of the tailpipe meets the can though,” he says. “Especially the carbon ones.” Surprisingly, he reckons there’s no need for a remap to suit an aftermarket exhaust: “The standard fuelling is generally so good, there’s no real benefit. You might get perhaps 1bhp more at the top end, or a tiny bit better pickup, but I’ve had mine on the dyno and the fuelling is nice and smooth with an Akrapovic system.”
Most owners fit a tail tidy (“It’s rare to see one with the standard rear end”), crash bungs and a rear hugger. The hugger is essential, otherwise the shock gets blasted with road crap. A mudguard extension and a radiator guide are wise investments too. Heated grips and adjustable levers are popular as well, along with an aftermarket screen (no one agrees which is best, though there are a lot of votes for the MRA version). Most people moan about the minimalist seat on the original version, but few have done anything about it, even though alternatives are available.
“Once that’s done, the bike is amazing. I’d buy one...”
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Great engine, nimbleness and balance adds up to bags of fun