MT-10 SPE­CIAL

The MT-10SP isn’t hard­core enough for track­days, but by his own ad­mis­sion, Do­minik Klein’s 192bhp ‘MT-10RR’ was a bit too much... Now, he’s built the happy medium, and let PB try the MT-10 he built for him­self

Performance Bikes (UK) - - CONTENTS - Words CHRIS NEW­BIG­GING Pho­tos MARKUS JAHN & FACT

Do­minik Klein’s R1/ MT-10 hy­brid pro­vides the miss­ing link for track­days

YOU CAN HAVE too much of a good thing. It’s hu­man na­ture to want more, more, more of ev­ery­thing: food, money, bikes... One man who knows about ex­cess is Do­minik Klein – not nec­es­sar­ily con­sump­tion, but cre­ation. The Ger­man Yamaha dealer doesn’t just PDI and roll out stock Yama­has; he’s a long-time tweaker, im­prover and builder of fast Yama­has. All of them con­sid­ered me­chan­i­cally, and fin­ished neatly aes­thet­i­cally.

One of his best cre­ations, maybe even his very best, was the MT-10RR: an Öh­lins-sus­pended, light-wheeled, 192bhp mis­sile. He took the MT-10’s deft, ac­ces­si­ble but ul­ti­mately limited per­for­mance, and squeezed in a lot of the R1’s cut­ting-edge magic to cre­ate some­thing easy to ride but with in­cred­i­bly high lim­its, if dif­fi­cult to keep on the floor...

The re­sult sur­prised even him: built as a sub­mis­sion to PS magazine’s (think PB, but in Ger­man) ‘Tuner GP’, he’d also built a tasty 2017 R6 he thought he’d keep for him­self. But the lairi­est MT-10RR the world has seen changed his mind...

“I wanted to build my­self an R6 for track use, but af­ter rid­ing both the bikes I built for the Tuner GP, I changed my mind, and I wanted an MT-10. But I wanted it to be less ex­treme than the RR,” says Klein.

The easy so­lu­tion was to not use the R1’s en­gine again, as it packs 35bhp more than the MT-10 out of the box and makes an up­right naked even harder work. But the rest of the bike is where use­ful lessons could be learnt from the RR, which went to an owner pre­pared for its in­ap­pro­pri­ate power...

A key el­e­ment Do­minik wanted to keep was the elec­tronic rider con­trol sys­tems. On the face of it, that sounds sim­ple: the mo­tors are the same, with the same con­nec­tors – just un­plug the MT-10’s more ba­sic, wheel speed sen­sor-based sys­tem, plug in the R1’s more so­phis­ti­cated wiring har­ness and find a home for the six-axis in­er­tial mea­sure­ment unit that en­ables the finer con­trol. A used, 2017-spec R1 was raided for ev­ery­thing needed.

Me­chan­i­cally, that’s al­most true. The IMU is squeezed un­der the seat, more or less where it is on an R1, to give it the best chance of work­ing fully. There’s lots of fid­dling re­quired, and it also needs the TFT dash and R1 switchgear in place of the MT-10’s LCD panel, which needs mount­ing brack­ets. But the R1 en­gine is sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent in the way it’s tuned and runs: the map­ping couldn’t make sense of the MT en­gine.

“We had to write the flash maps en­tirely for this bike – I lost many days to dyno work get­ting it work­ing! It wasn’t easy to find a way to pro­gram the bike, but it works now.”

The re­sult is full elec­tronic func­tion­al­ity, with the ex­cep­tion of ABS, which Do­minik wanted to ditch any­way. He also used the FlashTune soft­ware to en­able an au­to­blip­per: though he didn’t have a two-way sen­sor at the time of build, so for now it has two one-way sen­sors fit­ted to the shift link­age to get his per­sonal ma­chine out on track this sum­mer.

The en­gine isn’t touched in­ter­nally: Do­minik built his own 4-2-1 ex­haust with an Akrapovic si­lencer to let it breathe bet­ter: with the ex­ten­sive map­ping work also do­ing the job of match­ing the fu­elling to the pipe, it’s mak­ing 160bhp at the rear wheel, but keep­ing the MT-10’s smooth, inertia-rich feel com­pared to the frisky be­hav­iour of the R1 with its ti­ta­nium rods and other light­weight in­ter­nals.

The mo­tor doesn’t hold the MT-10 back in gen­eral terms; the chas­sis is where it soon hits lim­its on track, so it’s here Do­minik di­rected most of his ex­pe­ri­ence with Iwata’s su­per naked. In­ci­den­tally, his af­fec­tion and knowl­edge of MT-10s is

un­usual in Germany. Un­like the UK, where they work beau­ti­fully on our roads and we’re still buy­ing as many as YMUK can ship in, the Ger­man bike-buy­ing pub­lic aren’t in­ter­ested. Oh well – that means more for us...

Fur­ther trawl­ing for used R1 parts formed the ba­sis of the chas­sis changes: a swingarm (al­most iden­ti­cal, but 5mm longer) link­age (alu­minium, in­stead of steel) and wheels (same weight, but stiffer with the mo­ment of inertia fo­cussed closer to the spin­dle) bolt straight in for easy im­prove­ment, with po­ten­tial for more.

Take the shock link­age: an area that al­most no­body con­sid­ers, but it’s a cru­cial, um, link, be­tween tyre, chas­sis and rider. Stock Yamaha links – on both R1 and MT-10 – have play from the fac­tory, which can be felt as a knock if you lift

‘It has an MT-10’s smooth, in­er­tiarich feel, rather than the frisky na­ture of an R1’

the tail piece to the point the shock tops outs. A tiny amount of slop in th­ese lit­tle bear­ings mag­ni­fies in ef­fect over the length of the swingarm, rob­bing ride height, feel and con­trol. A sim­ple switch to more pre­cisely made parts elim­i­nates the play and lets ev­ery­thing work bet­ter. The man­u­fac­turer, Emil Sch­warz, claims bet­ter feel, grip, tyre life and more. Stands to rea­son. And, to lend fur­ther cre­dence to the ar­gu­ment, Do­minik is a long-time con­vert to the pricey kits.

The rear shock is from UK firm K-Tech (*proudly waves Union flag*), the DDS-Lite boost­ing the softly-damped back end con­sid­er­ably. Spring rate has gone from 90Nm as stan­dard to 95Nm. The forks are orig­i­nal Yamaha legs and stan­chions, but with a black ni­tride coat­ing out­side and Öh­lins TTX25 car­tridges in­side. Like the rear end, sus­pen­sion move­ment is ei­ther re­duced, bet­ter con­trolled or sub­ject to less stic­tion as ap­pro­pri­ate. And, as a sub­jec­tive aside, the all-black style looks hard as nails... An Öh­lins damper hides un­der the nose, dis­cretely stop­ping slaps.

An 18mm Magura HC3 master cylin­der is in com­mand of stan­dard Yamaha calipers; the ad­justable ra­tio func­tion is

set to an ef­fec­tive 17mm bore size. Brembo Z04 pads do their thing on stock R1 discs.

Magura han­dle­bars give a slightly more ag­gres­sive rid­ing po­si­tion, and Lightech rearsets move feet out of the way to ban­ish ground clear­ance is­sues. Do­minik also prefers the ac­tion of Magura’s hy­draulic clutch kit to the stock ca­ble­op­er­ated ef­fort, so it has one of those, too.

The bike looks dis­arm­ingly stock: al­though it’s still re­painted in a hy­brid of stan­dard and SP model colours, the use of R1 and af­ter­mar­ket parts in sub­tle hues means it doesn’t im­me­di­ately scream ‘trick’.

How­ever, like a porky night­club door­man, when you grip it, it in­stantly feels tougher than it ap­pears... Do­minik gave me a go on his freshly-built toy at this year’s Tuner GP at the Lausitzring – Germany’s an­swer to Rock­ing­ham, but a bit longer, faster and more bumpy. It’s an odd track and not nec­es­sar­ily one you en­joy, but it tells you a lot about a bike.

A stan­dard MT-10 on track is much as it is on the road – friendly, easy and rea­son­ably quick. But, while the per­for­mance is broadly enough for pub­lic roads, you’ll find ground clear­ance, sus­pen­sion and brak­ing in par­tic­u­lar to be a bit lack­ing: it’s not built to be a su­per­bike, so it doesn’t be­have like one.

What Do­minik has done doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily cre­ate a Yamaha Tuono: it’s still quite tall, with high bars and many other ba­sic de­sign el­e­ments that make the MT-10 what it is – for bet­ter, and worse. But with much sportier parts and set­tings un­der­neath, it no longer reaches lim­its of cheap com­po­nents: it man­ages to be fast as well as feeling play­ful and easy to ride.

Run­ning on a set of Bridge­stone slicks, you’re in­stantly flooded with feed­back and re­as­sur­ing grip, where a stock bike is a bit re­mote and floaty, even on sticky tyres. Race-grade fork in­ter­nals and shock have an un­de­ni­able ef­fect, but the de­tails like the R1 swingarm, link­age and zero-play bear­ings all play their part.

It’s quite tall on the track tyres and shock, and the girthy feel of the MT-10 makes it feel a bit top-heavy at slow speed, but it does mean it tips in and leans for Germany. Un­like an MT-10 (or an R1, for that mat­ter), it also seems able to se­lect and change lines at will. On a busy track, you can pick your way around slower bikes. I imag­ine: the cir­cuit was full of Ger­man club rac­ers, and in the first ses­sion I got ab­so­lutely drilled by lo­cals with cir­cuit knowl­edge...

Di­rec­tion changes are its nat­u­ral habi­tat, and such a bike on the nadgery sec­tions of UK tracks could be a real weapon. Cad­well’s ir­ri­tat­ing chi­cane could be a real hunt­ing ground for a bike like this. I think it could stand to sit a lit­tle lower or on more re­laxed ge­om­e­try – it has agility to spare and I think there’d be even more feel and me­chan­i­cal grip if you sac­ri­ficed a lit­tle of it for a lower cen­tre of grav­ity.

The brakes high­light just how much Yamaha’s ABS sys­tems (both the ba­sic sys­tem on the MT-10 and the R1’s ter­ri­ble linked sys­tem) rob in terms of feel and power. The calipers on the bike are tech­ni­cally from the R1, but they’re hy­drauli­cally iden­ti­cal to an MT-10’s. The Magura master cylin­der’s ra­tio means ini­tial bite is soft, but a harder squeeze re­ally ham­mers the Brembo pads into the discs, and once you’re di­aled into

‘You’re flooded with feed­back, where a stock bike is a bit re­mote and floaty’

the feel it’s a master of late brak­ing. No elec­tronic in­ter­fer­ence or di­ver­sion of the fluid through pumps, reg­u­la­tors and the other ABS clut­ter re­minds you just how good th­ese brakes are in their more nat­u­ral state.

Sur­pris­ingly, it doesn’t wheelie nat­u­rally. The small change in wheel­base has helped tem­per the MT-10’s loopy ten­den­cies, which helps with for­ward mo­tion and makes it more sta­ble, though it did get frisky in fifth a cou­ple of times on the Lausitzring’s back straight, where another cir­cuit lay­out crosses it, cre­at­ing a lip and bumps. It might just be a case of di­al­ing in some more steer­ing damper, though so much power in a tall, un­faired bike on firm sus­pen­sion isn’t ex­actly a recipe for sta­bil­ity any­way.

The IMU elec­tron­ics are much bet­ter, though I sus­pect the older-spec wheelie con­trol is con­fused by the MT-10’s chas­sis dy­nam­ics and seems to en­gage more than nec­es­sary. The trac­tion con­trol leaves you alone more of­ten and does the job – it could just be a place­ment of the ECU, or the wheelie

‘It shows the MT-10 can be made more track­day-ready with­out ru­in­ing its char­ac­ter’

con­trol al­go­rithms (fairly ba­sic on this gen­er­a­tion of R1 ECU any­way) just don’t work with the bike. It’s an im­prove­ment, but the lift con­trol isn’t re­ally help­ing mat­ters here.

It could do with lower han­dle­bar clamps and a slightly shal­lower han­dle­bar reach – it’s still quite up­right and MT-10ish, and for a bike like this, trad­ing some of that road bike nicety to be more di­aled into the front tyre would help. Talk­ing of con­trol, I’m not per­son­ally a fan of the hy­draulic clutch. It’s never called upon thanks to the up/down quick­shifter, but for get­ting away it’s too vague, al­though in­cred­i­bly light if you’ve got the grip strength of a new­born and de­sire such a thing. The stock ca­ble set-up isn’t weighty, and is far more pre­cise – I’d leave it in place.

But it’s Do­minik’s own bike, and that’s how he likes it. To il­lus­trate the point, he took it out at the end of the test, once me and my Ger­man hosts had our fill, and tossed it in the gravel. Min­i­mal dam­age done: he didn’t seem too dis­heart­ened and he’ll be back out en­joy­ing it again soon.

What it does show is that the MT-10 can be made tougher and more track­day-ready with­out ru­in­ing its char­ac­ter – Do­minik’s per­sonal ride still feels like an MT-10, but with­out the lim­its. PB is guess­ing the MT-10 will get an up­date for 2019: Yamaha have pre­vi­ously in­ti­mated that the cur­rent SP could pave the way for a higher-spec model if the de­mand was there. Well, Do­minik has proven the worth of the idea, and now we’re de­mand­ing it. Make it so, Yamaha.

Magura’s hy­draulic clutch con­ver­sion re­places the MT-10’s stan­dard ca­ble­op­er­ated set-up

Ex­ten­sive fuel map­ping man hours de­liver a 160bhp mo­tor that mar­ries sub­limely with new ex­haust sys­tem Bridge­stone slicks, rear shock mods and Magura han­dle­bars lend the bike a lofty rid­ing po­si­tion Longer R1 swingarm adds 5mm; pre­ci­sion shock link­age has zero bear­ing play. This stuff makes a big dif­fer­ence

This is Do­minik Klein’s own bike. But Yamaha would do well to ap­ply some of his learn­ings to their 2019 MT-10 Taller, slick tyres give this bike a sat­is­fy­ingly alarm­ing rate of turn-in

Akrapovic si­lencer is mated to Klein’s cus­tom 4-2-1 ex­haust head­ers YZF-R1 wheels are no lighter than the MT-10’s, but they’re stiffer, and the mo­ment of inertia is nearer the spin­dle

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