Yamaha MT-09 triple revealed

Delight or disappointment?

Posted: 12 June 2013
by Ben Purvis

Is the MT-09 a realistic alternative to the Street Triple?

THIS is Yamaha’s first production triple since the demise of the XS850 thirty years ago and the first result of the company’s latest attempt to engage with customers and deliver them something new, unique and appealing.

We’ve known a triple was coming since Yamaha first revealed its ‘P3’ three-cylinder concept engine at last year’s Cologne show – a motor derived from the firm’s cross-plane R1 engine which was revealed as a sort of sculpture, in the wireframe outline of a naked bike. Now, with the newly released MT-09, Yamaha is coming good on its promise to launch a triple.

Surprisingly, perhaps, the MT-09’s engine doesn’t bear much resemblance to the R1-based P3 motor, at least in terms of its external castings. And neither does it live up to what appeared to be promises of sharing the R1’s cross-plane crankshaft. Instead it’s a ‘normal’ (for a triple) 120-degree crank – certainly not ‘flat-plane’ but neither is exactly a cross-plane, which could only work on a triple with the addition of a complex set of balancers effectively adding up to a fourth, dummy piston.

So, what have we got here? Well, the motor is 847cc, making it bigger than rivals like the Triumph Street Triple and MV Agusta B3, and it’s designed with road use firmly at the forefront – it’s intended to combine useful, attainable torque and power instead of reaching for headline-grabbing numbers. The figures are 115bhp at 10,000rpm and 64lb ft at 8500rpm.

Spec-wise, the motor is a DOHC, 12-valve design with a balancer shaft and Yamaha’s YCCT electronic throttles with three switchable engine maps for different road conditions. The bore and stroke (78mm x 59.1mm) make it typically oversquare.

The motor is bolted to a chassis made up of two cast alloy clamshells, one each side, bolted together. A cast alloy ‘banana’ swingarm at the back, with a near-horizontal shock, is allied to 41mm USD forks with preload and rebund adjustment front and rear. That spec might be lower than you’d expect, but the price is too; the price, expected to be £6799, doesn’t seem too expensive for an all-new machine in a class where most of its obvious rivals use cast-off engines. Weight is an impressive 188kg ready-to-ride.

So on paper, it’s cheaper and more powerful than the 105bhp, £6999 Street Triple. As on the Triumph, ABS will be an option – it adds 3kg to the weight, but there’s no indication on cost just yet.

The styling is likely to be divisive. There’s something slightly 1980s-retro about the near-square headlight and slightly high-looking front end – maybe a hint of FZX750 thanks to the air intakes in the sides of the tank – while the back is typical of the modern trend for skimpy seat units. The under-belly exhaust also exactly what you’d predict.

When it comes to the name, the MT-09 is a follow-on to the V-twin powered MT-01 and single-cylinder MT-03, both earlier efforts by the firm to step out of conventional classes and rivalries, but neither huge sales successes.

What do you think? Does the MT-09 float your boat as an alternative to the four-cylinder norm or does it pale as an alternative to the Street Triple?

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Discuss this story

Floats my boat! If its cheaper than the Triumph then that could cause serious problems for the Striple...

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 10:37

For info, Brand new Street Triples are selling for £5999 at my local dealer, less than 15 miles on the clock Pre-Reg!

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 11:33

Bubblin, you can't really compare a new price and used price as a defence for Triumph can you?

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 12:00

Can't wait for the half-faired version !

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 12:58

h h
Not the "stop what I am doing and go to the dealership" R1 of 98 approach. They have to sell product and a cheaper, not necessarily better looking alternative (14 liter gas tank?) to duc monsters and Triumphs is how Yamaha plans to start moving in a new direction; well then baby steps, baby steps. Unless this thing rides very well does Yamaha know something i.e. price point is #1 and then it is fun, looks, and set the handling in the ball park. I guess riding it and waiting to see if this bike is a home run, but so far to borrow from baseball, this triple looks more like a single with maybe a stretch steal into a double to get on base. Where is the 1100 triple R1?

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 13:17

Looks like a great bike basically that owners will need to spend some money on improving the details. If it handles it could be a winner. Like to see the Fazer.

NB. HFL are reviewing a version with a black frame that looks a lot tastier http://tinyurl.com/pmj8uwo

They also cite forks are 'adjustable for preload and rebound damping'.

Maybe this is US spec only?

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 13:46

What committee mashed that together, and what was their remit? An ultra modern yet timeless no compromises forgiving raw refined streetfighter supermoto adventure sports commuter?

The price isn't bad, mind, so I guess the committee was chaired by an accountant.

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 14:12

Sounds great


Posted: 12/06/2013 at 14:31

Hoping and dreaming for a mini FJR with this motor for under ten grand! Motor specs and weight are right in my wheelhouse.

My Fazer S2 is getting a little long in the tooth, and we don't get the Fazer 8 or TDM in the states anyway, just the XJ6 Diversion F.

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 14:35

It is very reminiscent of the TDM style

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 15:24

I've always quite fancied an MT-03 but worried that there wasn't enough power, this seems to solve that problem.

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 16:31

interesting engine,ugly bike.similiar styling to the mt03 and that was a massive seller,not

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 16:49

Underwhelming...to say the least.

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 16:55

I quite enjoyed demos on FZ8 but the engine wasn't good. This has promise and I'll be going for a demo for sure. The biggest thing for me is size, that was the problem with the brilliant Street Triple is I look like I'm riding a mini-moto!

Posted: 12/06/2013 at 22:14


No, agree somewhat, but technically its £5999 for a brand new pre-reg model, no miles extra but saving a grand,

Yamaha also do this, but typically you get only £3-400 saving, for pre-reg.

Brand new Streets are £6299 from most dealers in/around the south east (without haggling)


Street = £6299
MT-09 = £6799

The MT-09 has a lot to prove after its actually been tested on the road versus the Street, Z800, Streetfighter, FZ8 etc

BTW I don't own or praise the Street (bought a Z800 over it)

Posted: 13/06/2013 at 08:04


Fair point. To be honest, even with the pre-reg Striple priced at £5999 and the MT at £6799, on paper the MT is still an absolute steal, but the proof of the pudding will be in the riding.

Good shout on the Z800!

Posted: 13/06/2013 at 09:18

Street Triple is too small for a lot of people, me included. Else I would have one. This looks brilliant I can't wait!!!

Posted: 13/06/2013 at 10:58

Looks unfinished around the headlight/clocks area. Maybe needs a flyscreen or sumthin. Otherwise its, well its kinda...meh!

Posted: 13/06/2013 at 12:08

i like the 3 cylinder engine specs , handling should be good not sure about the looks but sadly in thailand the price is a big NO NO , 590,000 baht is £12.500 , so it wont sell well here when you can buy a monster 795 for 400,000 baht ,mind u street triples are even more stupid price here £14,000. rare as hens teeth .

Posted: 13/06/2013 at 14:30

Anyone who thought that they would use a cross plane crank on a three cylinder engine doesn't understand why Yamaha introduced it or engine design.

To me it looks like plain copying the best bikes in the field, a cross between the Street and Speed Triples. It is not ground breaking but is a big new direction for Yamaha.

Posted: 13/06/2013 at 17:04

Looks a bit messy in the design and as if it's standing on tip-toes. I think that Yamaha missed an opportunity a bit, have to wait to see how it rides...

Posted: 13/06/2013 at 19:26

Great looking bike apart from the headlight IMO, and not silly money either. If I were in the market for a fun weekend bike it would be on my list.

Posted: 13/06/2013 at 22:18

Really nice to see the Japs trying to copy the Brits again, Triumph got it very right with the Street Triple .

Posted: 14/06/2013 at 20:18

Why would any sane Brit bother with this new Yamaha? Just get a Street, it's impossible to get a better bike of the same capacity and size. Nice try though Yamaha.

Posted: 14/06/2013 at 23:34

The red version looks a bit better for the US, but the grey/graphite version is far far better for Europe! How can anyone in their right mind think that mixing a grey colored body with gold colored fork stanchions, and then for some ungodly reason slapping on a pair of freaking "blue" colored rims is a good idea? It looks absolutely horrendous!

Gold forks on a bike not otherwise color matched is as ugly as sin to begin with, but mixing that up with grey and blue is beyond all sense of visual appeal, quite the contrary, it's plain revolting! Beyond that the "micro" gas tank is a huge mistake, no center-stand, and not even offering the "option" of ABS in the states is unforgivable.

Posted: 15/06/2013 at 23:28

hear hear

Posted: 16/06/2013 at 09:24

Bound to be available for under 6k by the time winter comes around. It may be missing one or two practical features, but "street bikes" of this nature always trade on character, fun, and value for money. Some of the colour combinations are a somewhat suspect, but hey, Japanese bikes have history of iffy paint schemes and questionable colours.
Buy it in black....
Can it come in cheaper to buy and insure, and be a good crack to ride, then Yamaha could be onto a winner. Triumph should be worried.
I love "street bikes", but as much fun as they are blasting around country roads and wheelying up the high street, they struggle for any kind of distance work, with small tanks, no fairing, poor pillion accommodation etc, etc.
If i could still afford to run two bikes, then i might be more excited by it, but my ride needs to fulfill more duties than i think the Yam will be able to...

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 13:01

As an American owner of an 07 Speed Triple that is getting long in tooth (43K miles) I am very interested in seeing where this motor configuration goes. I bought the Speed Triple not because it's a Triumph or because of it's looks (those are just bonuses), but because I am a firm believer that a triple is the best configuration for street use. Torque and top-end are very usable, plus the sound is the best.
I have had (and still have) ongoing issues with the Triumph and probably will not buy another one unless there are no other choices.
I'm 6'-3" and 200 lbs. and need a larger bike than this. I'm hoping they will come out with an 1100cc version because even if the looks are questionable to some (looks pretty good to me), I don't mind it at all. I like the price and as far as suspension quality goes, with my weight ANY bike I buy needs suspension upgrades (springs anyway). The aftermarket can sort out any deficiencies that might be present on this bike. It's just a spirited commuter and weekend blaster for me after all. I have a dedicated bike for trackdays already.

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 16:26

you can pick up a zero mile street pre reg for £5999 in cheltenham too

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 16:51

Much as I like both Yamaha and triples, I see what you mean. They turned one of our local village pubs into something similar. 'Kentucky Fried Macfarmhouse kitchen with bad beer.


Posted: 19/06/2013 at 00:27

Square headlamps have never really cut it. Jeep went through that phase trying to be 'hip'.

Posted: 19/06/2013 at 00:31

I just bought an Aprilia Shiver 3 months ago. Love it. Looks great, runs great, handles great. Bunches of low end torque, which I like, but a little lean on the top end. This Yamaha triple really interests me. There are some design details that could be improved. It looks like they have a motard model in mind to some extent. But if this thing runs, has a decent top end, and handles I may try to give someone a good deal on a used Aprilia 750.

Posted: 12/08/2013 at 04:47

Talkback: Yamaha MT-09 triple revealed

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