YAMAHA MT10 ROADTEST

New Straits Times - - CBT - AMIR HAMZAH

YAMAHA is knee-deep in naked bikes, from the hum­ble FZ-150 to the MT09. All of them share vis­ual sim­i­lar­ity and even sim­i­lar char­ac­ters. Fairly mid­dle-of-the-road bikes, suit­able for com­mut­ing or long trips in equal mea­sures. But with the R1 cross­plane su­per­bike be­ing up­dated to com­pete with ri­vals, Yamaha had the old cross­plane en­gines go­ing spare. Cue in the in­tro­duc­tion of Yamaha’s su­per­naked MT10.

The su­per-naked cat­e­gory is chock­full of ex-su­per­bike en­gine bikes, from the KTM Su­perDuke R to the GSXS1000, and the MT10 is right in the mix.

It is, how­ever, a mix of an ag­gres­sive char­ac­ter and docile com­muter, and is dif­fi­cult to pi­geon­hole.

The ag­gres­sive­ness comes from its en­gine, a pow­er­house al­most per­fect for chas­ing down and de­vour­ing apexes, and its docil­ity comes from solid, sta­ble han­dling char­ac­ter­is­tics more akin to tour­ing steeds (al­though the unit I tested had its damp­ing turned up al­most solid).

The “Dark Side of Ja­pan” is a solid per­former due to these con­tra­dict­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics (more on this later). The fact is, this Yamaha will stay locked onto the tail of a su­per­bike, where the MT-09 has long weaved its way out of con­tention. It’s the ul­ti­mate Yamaha MT, no doubt.

That en­gine, a re-tuned CP4 unit, is a 16-valve DOHC in­line four, mak­ing 158.3hp @ 11,500rpm and 111Nm of torque @ 9,000rpm.

Not very much when the orig­i­nal CP4 made 197.2hp, but it is the way it is de­liv­ered that makes the dif­fer­ence. The torque hits hard from down low and makes the bike wheelie up to third gear on the throt­tle alone.

Claimed top speed is 250kph, but I didn’t get to test it. How­ever, the way it ac­cel­er­ates in ev­ery gear, I’m in­clined to be­lieve it.

Even though the trac­tion con­trol (three lev­els) can’t be switched off, it runs a ba­sic wheel-speed sen­sor sys­tem and al­lows wheel­ies.

It does run two teeth more on the rear sprocket than the R1. This also meant I left the ride mode (there are three; A, B and Std) in Std as the throt­tle re­sponse in A mode was a bit too ag­gres­sive (B mode is even more ag­gres­sive).

Yamaha has al­tered 40 per cent of the R1’s en­gine in­ter­nals, strip­ping away a lot of the R1’s ti­ta­nium and mag­ne­sium com­po­nents to suit the MT10’s char­ac­ter.

But im­por­tant items like the slip­per clutch re­mains. This means cheaper pro­duc­tion costs and is re­flected in its pric­ing com­pared with ri­vals (in Europe, that is).

Don’t ask how much it is in Malaysia though, Hong Leong Yamaha has no plans of bring­ing this model into the mar­ket.

The KYB forks and shock, straight from the R1, are fully ad­justable and the Bridge­stone S20 tyres are par for the naked course.

It changes di­rec­tion with aplomb but needs ef­fort put into the steer­ing if you’re push­ing on. But the MT10 is blessed with a wide han­dle­bar for safe, se­cure han­dling.

It won’t beat a sports­bike to the apex, but will hang onto its coat­tails, nonethe­less.

The ra­dial R1 brakes are strong and equipped with a Bosch RU ABS sys­tem. The sys­tem is un­ob­tru­sive and the brakes ac­tu­ally feel bet­ter than a sports­bikes’ in ev­ery­day use. Legroom and rid­ing po­si­tion is spa­cious as is nat­u­ral for a naked bike, but the footrests could be a tiny bit higher and fur­ther for­ward (my boots are trashed).

The seat (825mm) can be un­com­fort­able af­ter a few hours, and the pil­lion has a lit­tle hump to pre­vent him from slid­ing into the rider while brak­ing.

That lit­tle hump is fairly un­com­fort­able, ac­cord­ing to my pil­lion. The MT10 weighs in at 207kg, but feels lighter than this as you lift it off the side­stand.

Wind pro­tec­tion is sparse and the ac­ces­sory wind­shield is a must if you want to go long dis­tances. In­stru­men­ta­tion is LCD and com­pre­hen­sive, with plenty of in­for­ma­tion avail­able. It comes with an ECO light, which is only on at idle if you own an MT10. Or if you use the cruise con­trol (a stan­dard fea­ture).

There can be no dis­cus­sion about the MT10 without re­mark­ing on its’ looks. The de­sign is def­i­nitely edgy and the front head­light de­sign can’t pass without com­ments about Bum­ble­bee.

The MT se­ries bikes are a hit world­wide prob­a­bly due to the ag­gres­sive de­sign, and I per­son­ally love the mecha looks and dis­parate bits and bobs around the MT10.

The gray body­work and yel­low wheels are dif­fer­ent from other su­per-nakeds and set off the looks per­fectly. The build qual­ity of the paint and pan­els are su­perb.

Plenty of ac­ces­sories are avail­able from a tour­ing screen, levers, quick­shifter and a gel seat (all nec­es­sary, in my opin­ion).

The MT10 is more than just an MT09 with an R1 en­gine. Be­ing Yamaha’s flag­ship naked, it is bet­ter in ev­ery way and backs up its ag­gres­sive l ooks with an equally ag­gres­sive en­gine.

In more ways than one, that re-tuned CP4 en­gine IS the MT10, and wind­ing it up and lis­ten­ing to that cross­plane growl and grunt its way along canyon roads is a plea­sure.

Too bad, it’s not com­ing to Malaysia.

The en­gine, a re-tuned CP4 unit, is a 16-valve DOHC in­line four, mak­ing 158.3hp @ 11,500rpm and 81.86ft-lb of torque @ 9,000rpm. The gray body­work and yel­low wheels are dif­fer­ent from other su­per-nakeds, and set off the looks per­fectly.

The Yamaha MT10 de­sign is def­i­nitely edgy, and the front head­light can’t pass without com­ments about Bum­ble­bee.

The MT10 comes with fully ad­justable KYB forks.

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