We’ve made our MT-09 handle and play around like a modern TDR250; now it looks like one, too
2017 YAMAHA MT-09 MARK WHITE
WE BEAT YAMAHA to the punch with the idea of a sharper MT-09 – but the sneaky sods then made the MT-09 SP such an apparent bargain (only £800 more, for better suspension and lovely finishes) compared to the bouncing, plain-faced standard model my bike once was. But this homegrown version has to be MUCH better in all regards: matching the real SP pound-for-pound isn’t possible.
After two months away at Dream Machine, I think you’ll agree our bike has come back very much head and shoulders above even Yamaha’s ‘Race Blu’ special: I wasn’t too sure when Commandant Newbigging dictated the TDR250 ‘Faraway Blue’ retro theme to mark the MT-09’s spiritual connection to the two-stroke supermoto (you have poor form for custom finishes, it was the right thing to do – CN), but I’ll admit that Dream Machine’s interpretation of our idea looks brilliant.
There were enough similar-ish areas to paint and apply graphics between the TDR and MT-09 that the design cues could be carried through and adapted to suit. We did consider carrying the fluoro paint from the MT on to the TDR graphics, but it’s not a true flouro, and it would have looked a bit wishy-washy against the Gauloises-inspired blue base, so we kept the 1980s yellow, too. I was a bit concerned about how the original wheels might look, but they’re OK. I may yet get those redone in gold: I probably won’t go as far as fitting TDR spoked rims and trail tyres, though...
It’s not as straightforward as splashing a bit of blue around and whacking some old graphics on: the tank/ intake graphics are bespoke adaptations of the TDR’s signature decals, as is the MT-09 logo, styled in the manner of the smoker’s name labels.
A modern twist is the inclusion of the MT family crest on the radiator covers. Dream Machine also painted the trim pieces under the headlight, and the seat panels – plain on my bike as standard, though Yamaha did the same for the SP model, too.
Early in the design process, Dream Machine asked if we could fit a screen to it – the TDR had a painted nose fairing, whereas the MT-09 only has headlights and unpainted plastics. So I ordered a genuine Yamaha screen (£122) for them to paint, and for me to fit later. Surprisingly, it requires holes drilling: simple but obviously a permanent change. The smoked plastic is now blue and yellow, with the TDR’s number-board rescaled appropriately.
The cost for Dream Machine’s handiwork is £1200: given that includes some design work and one-off
graphics, that’s pretty good value for the man-hours involved, even though outwardly the minimal bodywork doesn’t look like a big job. It’s flawless, too: it’s every bit as good as Yamaha’s own paint. Except it looks better...
Shipped back to the garage, I attended to some long overdue tasks. Firstly, sorting the interference between the Yamaha/Gilles genuine accessory rearsets, and the SP Engineering aftermarket system designed around the stock footrest hangers. The brake pedal’s ‘heel’ bottoms out on the can hanger. After considering a new bracket to move the strap further along the can (which would look crap), I decided that cutting a little metal out of the stainless strap would solve the issue. It did. There’s still enough materal to support the small, light silencer, and vibration on the MT is minimal so I’ve no concern about stress fracture. Easy.
More complex was ditching the mudguard/ numberplate holder from the swingarm. Not only is it a bit out of place on a sporty naked (save it for the bobbers and other faux-vintage shitters), but it’s also 2.1kg of unsprung weight, hung from the end of the swingarm and probably exerting even more force through the leverage it has on its mounting point. That’s no way to treat an expensive shock absorber...
R&G Racing sent one of their conventionally-placed tail tidies to remedy that. The £134.99 kit is more convoluted than your average tail tidy (usually a bit of bent aluminium, putting it crudely) – it comes with new chain adjuster blocks (the mudguard thingy incorporates the originals) plus other brackets to attach to the undertray where it wasn’t intended to be. It also includes indicator wiring extensions.
Fitting it is an arse-ache, though that’s largely the
‘The tank and intake graphics are bespoke adaptations of the TDR250’s signature decals’
nature of the relocation. You need to get the bike on a paddock stand, remove the wheel spindle to replace the new blocks, have the wiring along the swingarm unclipped, all the rear bodywork removed, and the wiring routing to the tail for the numberplate light.
Long-winded, but straightforward. The trickier issue involved the indicators. The original indicators (as I wished to use) no longer had enough wire to reach the main wiring loom. The included extensions are for aftermarket parts, with generic bullet connectors. So I got busy with the soldering iron, and modified the leads to extend the original indicator leads. Again, not a big job, but if you can’t solder, you need to learn, rope in a mate who can, or just fit aftermarket flashers. I actually quite like the originals: they’re small, nicely shaped and bright enough to maybe not get squished over a roundabout...
It’s been a couple of hours well spent – it’s the essential final touch for the visual overhaul. After suffering a bit project depression (give over, you’re a miserable git anyway – JM) – that feeling of being mired in work, messing around in a cold garage, or waiting for paint to come back. It’s easy to forget why you did it in the first place.
But now, it’s finished. It’s in one piece, and it looks brilliant. Granted, you can buy a regular MT-09 SP which is also all of these things. Which is why, next month, it’s going to meet the factory effort so we can see if the home-built approach is still worth it.
Original bike looked positively subdued
Whitey is now the proud guardian of the lairiest MT-09 in the country
Cowl mimics the TDR’s nose fairing. It’s a thing of rare beauty
Lining up bee-attracting stripes was a challenge
R&G tail tidy replaces utterly gopping original numberplate hanger
Cutting notch out of stainless strap stops rear brake fouling the exhaust