It's big and bold, but is Yamaha's design-leading naked bike any good or just the product of an overactive imagination?Jon Urry travels to South Africa in search of answers.
When Yamaha people talk about the concept behind the MT-01 they use words like 'soul', 'heartbeat', 'character' and other such adjectives that aren't often used in reference to Far Eastern bikes. Let's face it, most Japanese machinery is fashion-led and could cruelly be described as 'throw away'.
Just one year on and your latest and greatest sportsbike is often reduced to an also-ran. What do you mean it doesn't have radial brakes/inverted forks/titanium valves? Oh, that's so last year darling.
But Yamaha is trying to break this mould with the MT-01. How? By letting designers have a much freer hand and introducing a bit of Kodo. Before you start reaching for a phrasebook let me explain what Kodo is. Kodo is Japanese for a pulse or sound that resonates within the mind and body. A bit like the after effects of a Friday night curry, then. In other words Kodo is soul, and that is what they have engineered in to the MT-01. Well, either that or they have just come up with a good excuse as to why the bike vibrates!
Personally I have never experienced Kodo (not knowingly, anyway) so I can't tell you if the MT-01 has it or not, but what I can tell you is that riding this new naked bruiser from Yamaha is a completely different experience to that of other naked bikes. And that's all because of the engine.
Trundling along a twisty South African coastal road at a steady 60mph the huge 1670cc V-twin motor is virtually ticking over with the rev-counter just nudging above 2000rpm. But even at such low revs the motor is right in the heart of its power band - or torque band, to be more precise. From 1500rpm to the 5500rpm redline the torque curve on the MT-01 is virtually flat. Yamaha claim torque doesn't drop below 95lb.ft anywhere in this range (the firm's own R1 peaks at around 80lb.ft), with a maximum figure of 110lb.ft appearing at just 3750rpm, which I don't doubt at all. The motor will pull smoothly from as low as 1500rpm in any gear, - even top - and then just drive in a totally constant fashion up to the redline with no discernable dips or jumps in power.
Initially it all feels a bit dull, especially if you're used to high-revving inline-fours, but what you've got to bear in mind, and something Yamaha kept on stressing, is that this bike isn't designed for the bad-ass naked bike rider. It's designed for a more relaxed style of rider who Yamaha reckon has either scared themself witless on or simply had enough of big, fast sports machines, and instead wants a bike they can dominate without having to ride too fast or aggressively. Ride it in this context and it's a very nice motor.
Continue the Yamaha MT-01 Review - 2/3
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