To improve on a product that is already splendid in many ways is always going to be a difficult exercise. Let’s take phones for example, the demon device of our planet, constantly updated to suit ‘human-drones’ that revel in the latest software, even though it tends to do exactly the same thing. TVs are another ‘mindless’ bit of paraphernalia that annually receive visual splendor for the couch-dweller’s pleasure. But does any of this modern intervention actually improve their quality of life, err, NO is the answer! However, Yamaha’s new MT-07, second version, most certainly did mine…
I first had the delight of sampling the MT-07 in 2014 and came away full of admiration for the extra-feisty, mid-capacity parallel twin. In fact, it came a very close second in the Two-Wheels Bike-of-the-Year competition we held then, unlike some other similar and pompous effort held here. Indeed, MCN from the UK made the 2014 MT-07 their Bike of the Year and understandably so, it’s a little peach of a thing to say the least.
So, when I finally managed to get my hands and withering bottom onto the 2019 model, I instantly wet myself. Well not really, but I was more than excited to see if Yamaha had managed to improve their recipe of one of the best middle-weight naked bikes money could buy, or is it just another ridiculous ‘phone’ scenario?
Well, quite simply, it’s not. The changes from Yamaha engineers have measurably improved the new MT-07 on all counts, which is harder to do than a 5,000-piece jigsaw missing the box lid photo. It may look comparable to the 2014 model but I assure you it’s not, and for a mere R119,950 there’s nothing that comes close in this highly competitive arena.
Sooooo, the changes are; new 10mm shorter and re-designed tank and seat, new sub-frame and rear light. Headlight from the previous MT-09 and new posh intake cowls each side, don’t really do anything but they look cool and efficient. Is that it you ask? For the bike and styling yes, but the stunning and major improvement is the suspension, which now feels like it came off their R1 superbike and is, without doubt, the best in class by a mile, err sorry, kilometer.
Yamaha know a thing or four about suspension, seeing as they own Ohlins, and their knowledge oozes through into this new KYB setup. The rear shock has an 11% stiffer spring, 40% more high-speed compression damping and 27% more high-speed rebound damping. The front end has attained similar improvements too, with 6% stiffer spring and 16% harder rebound. If this means nothing to you, let me just say the new MT-07 is as agile as a mongoose riddled with cocaine (sorry if the kids are reading this and don’t know what a mongoose is). But you catch my drift, because the handling is faultless as is the 689cc, parallel-twin engine, with a strange uneven firing order, that’ll soon be in their much-anticipated 700 Tenere, later in the year. It has a cross-plane, 270-degree crankshaft, derived from MotoGP in the quest for instant low-down torque, which is has.
On the dyno 65hp is what you get at the wheel (claimed 75hp), but it feels much healthier than that. Yamaha say they’ve kept the 2019 engine the same but after riding the, also sweet, 2018 Tracer version here, with previous engine, I could feel how much more responsive and lively the 2019 motor feels. Oh yeah, it’s also claimed to very good on fuel consumption, but to be honest I don’t really care.
Why, because this is without doubt one of the best fun motorcycles to ever come from Japan. It’ll easily swing past 200km/h, not to mention the handling again (but I have), and how good the four-pot with 282mm discs brakes are. To me it was all about pointing the front wheel towards Venus or Mars every time I went out. Ignore first gear; just flick out the clutch in second and even third and you’ll be rewarded by wheelie nirvana on the best stunt bike, EVER, below 700cc, all for only R119,950.
Childish to some but highly entertaining to others, like myself, so there.
If one-wheeled action isn’t your bag though, but you want the MT-07 heart, then maybe opt for the Tracer model we have here? Same platform with taller, softer suspension and softer seat, which I did find a bit hard on the new MT-07 sporty tool and, of course, it has the ‘insect-like-face’ fairing for wind dispersal. A very complete motorcycle on all counts, including immature wheelies if you wish, for only 5k more at R124,995. Either way I doubt if you’d be disappointed with either choice.
As you can see I enjoyed my time on the new MT-07, an act that’s was so hard to improve on, so a big cheers to the Yamaha dudes regarding that because they certainly have. But don’t listen to my rantings and revelations…. last year in Europe this new version of MT-07 was their bestselling model in their entire range, need I say anymore? Many thousands of European riders surely can’t be wrong...
Go to www.yamaha.co.za to locate your local dealer and grab a highly recommended test ride right now.