First ride: Yamaha MT-07 review

Suddenly half a dozen other models look too expensive - Yamaha's new MT-07 is more for less

Posted: 12 February 2014
by Tom Higham

LOOK around at your next bike meet. If you can see more bald spots on the back of heads than greasy spots on faces, you'll realise that something exciting needs to attract new blood to biking. And Yamaha wants the new MT-07 to help address that issue.

That seems a tall order for a budget bike but the MT-07 is more than happy to accept the challenge. Aimed at 20-35-year-olds, this new bike is so much more than the commuter I thought it was going to be. It's brilliant and almost impossible to ride without smiling.

While it may share some DNA and a tin of paint with the MT-09, its bigger brother, the new MT-07 isn't intended for riders looking for a pure adrenaline fix. But don't think for a minute that means experienced riders shouldn't be interested in this new member of the MT family.

Yamaha’s recipe is to simply ensure it's easy to ride but fun too. If I was on failing cookery show The Taste, I'd say that by using light ingredients coupled with the new parallel-twin engine, they've got a winner on their hands (before asking Nigella if there was an after-party back at hers).

I covered 200km on the 689cc MT-07 during press launch but would have gladly carried on riding that same amount again. It's just ridiculously easy to get on with. There are no fancy riding modes to worry about. Just start it up and off you go.

The MT-07 offers a comfy and casual riding position, thanks to low foot-pegs. You feel at home on the bike immediately. With the exception of trying to cancel my indicator with the horn a couple of times, this wasn’t a machine I needed time to get used to.

The brand-new engine puts out a claimed 75hp. Yamaha plans to use the same plant in additional models. It's been designed with as few moving parts as possible, reducing assembly costs but also inner friction and weight, which in turn increases efficiency.

That peak power might not impress all of you, but it's about 3hp more than Kawasaki's ER-6 and Suzuki's SFV650. And it's the MT-07's torque that's really worth talking about. At 50lbft, it's 3lbft more than the Suzuki and Kawasaki.

At £5,199, the MT-07 is also cheaper than the competition. Kawasaki has already responded by slashing £500 off its price, making the ER-6n £5,399. The Suzuki SFV is still way out there, at £5,999.

The MT-07’s torque curve is guaranteed to give you a big grin when you consider the front end was designed to be as light as possible. 

The bike pulls well from low revs, meaning you can be really lazy through town if you want to leave it in second or third gear. Throttle response is really good and the low gearing helps give a feeling of good acceleration when you open the throttle up. This may be the bike’s trump card.

It’s more than happy for you to ride it hard and will happily lift the front wheel all day if you ask it to. But it’s certainly not intimidating in any way. It’s just as happy idling round town all day as it is stretching its legs on fast B-roads. I got a shock every time I remembered it did all this - and made me smile for the entire trip - for just over £5K.

Weight was mentioned several times during Yamaha's presentation on the MT-07. A compact chassis with a light tubular backbone frame were the starting point for the model. The horizontally sprung, adjustable rear shock is mounted straight to the engine, saving weight and putting less stress through the frame. A decompression unit allows a lighter starter motor that in turn means a lighter battery. The clutch is apparently one of the smallest ever in a 75hp bike.

The result of this weight-focused design means that, with oil in the engine and a full tank of petrol, the ABS version comes in at a claimed 182kg. The ER-6N's claimed kerb weight is 204kg.

Benefits of this diet-led design are two-fold. Firstly, less weight means the bike is more economical but it also becomes easier to ride. Combine it with a low centre-of-gravity and a short wheelbase of 1,400mm and you have yourself an agile bike indeed.

In fact Yamaha say the MT-07 could have forgone the 160-section rear tyre for a chunkier 180 without losing agility. This is one of the only places I can think of where they have opted to add weight but, as everyone knows, bigger tyres look better. And these look great wrapped around those 10-spoke rims.

Telescopic forks offer 130mm of travel up front with Yamaha using a narrow fork pitch to reduce steering inertia. The forks aren’t adjustable but handled everything thrown at them with ease throughout the day.

The rear asymmetrical swing-arm certainly looks the part. Once again, weight is kept down by using several different thicknesses of high tensile steel but the manufacturing process of advanced pressing and ‘high-speed welding’ allows them to be built quickly and helps keep cost down.

A relatively low seat-height of 805mm, coupled with a narrow seat, is great for shorter riders but also felt comfortable for me, and I'm over six foot.

My height brings me to a criticism of the bike. The digital dash looks good and displays all the essential information like speed, revs and fuel gauge (along with trip and outside temp). It’s neatly attached to the handlebars and angled to compliment the lines of the headlight. But as a taller rider, whenever I glanced down at my speed on the move, I just saw fresh air between the bike’s mirrors. I had to make a real effort to look down further to read it.

The brakes - twin 282mm discs with monobloc calipers up front and single 245mm disc at the rear - provide plenty of stopping power. It's a shame ABS is an option though, and not standard.

Yamaha was keen to stress the versatility of the model. While you might not want to spend all day riding it on the motorway in its standard, naked form, accessories include a touring screen. There's also a range of 'sports' accessories including Gilles Tooling levers, and 'urban' parts including crash bungs. If ABS was standard, you might not need those. 

Yamaha claims fuel economy of 68mpg, giving a range of over 200 miles from the 14-litre tank. I was down to a couple of bars on the fuel gauge after the press ride, which was pretty brisk.

Despite the low price, the MT-07 doesn't look like it's been built by penny pinchers. Yes, the 140mm forks could be improved upon and the brakes could perhaps have a bit more feel. But you'll be too busy congratulating yourself on what a bargain you've got to worry too much about that.

It's so easy to ride, the Department for Transport should do away with all this A1 and A2 licence nonsense and make learners have a go on the MT-07. If they fall off, they don't get a licence. Ever.

Until that measure is introduced, the MT-07 is available with a 48hp restrictor kit for A2 licence holders.

The MT-07 offers an amazing deal for new riders. It makes half a dozen other bikes suddenly seem overpriced. Like Honda's CBR500R at £5,299, and Kawasaki's Ninja 300 at £4,799. Yes, they're smaller but, since the MT-07 is available with a 48hp kit, they're all competing for the custom of A2 licence holders.

The new MT will quite rightly also tempt plenty of more experienced riders, and present an even greater threat to bigger bikes from the competition. We've already seen it with Kawasaki and the ER-6. Come on the rest of you - drop your prices.

And thank you MT-07.

Model tested: Yamaha MT-07

Price: £5,199 (£5,499 with ABS)

Power: 75hp

Torque: 50lbft

Wet weight: 179kg (182kg with ABS)

Colours: grey, white, blue, red, purple

Availability: end of February 2014

Read our Yamaha MT-09 first-ride review



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Discuss this story

Looks like a proper bike too. Nice move Yam.

Posted: 12/02/2014 at 14:29

looks like a bargain, 75 bhp with that weight also with that torque as well means fun too ,well done Yamaha again.

Posted: 12/02/2014 at 15:03

What a cracking bike for the price, and you can tell they were gunning for the ER6 market which looks like they got spot on. If i was in the market to replace my ER6 the MT-07 would be number 1 on my list.

Posted: 12/02/2014 at 15:11

Fancy one of those... what does it eat?

Posted: 13/02/2014 at 08:05

Round of applause, Yamaha, this looks like a genuinely interesting bike and it's certainly put the cat among the pigeons.

So, Kawasaki, I guess you were gouging us for at least that much extra on the ER6 up until yesterday? What happened to "no profit margin in new bikes"? Good luck selling an older, slower, heavier bike for more though.

Triumph have home field advantage, Honda are going in a different direction. Suzuki, god knows what they can do in response. Yet another "sale", throw the extras catalogue at the SVF650, or do they have any real ideas?

Posted: 13/02/2014 at 08:40

Well done Yamaha , I am a Honda man but would be very tempted to buy the MT-07 may take it out for a test?

Posted: 13/02/2014 at 09:29

What crank firing interval is it nice creamy 360 or the V twin 270 or the 180 banger they all work well but the 360 is the nicest

Posted: 13/02/2014 at 12:05

270 degrees, presumably it doesn't go "potato-potato-potato" like a Harley though. ;)

Posted: 13/02/2014 at 12:13

805 mm is 31 inches that quite high in reality thats not great for smaller people

Posted: 13/02/2014 at 12:13

john im 5ft 8 and my last bike had a 36.6 inch seat height, 31 inch with the sag is quite low mate.

Posted: 13/02/2014 at 12:31

I am going to test this bike , i was set on the MT09 to go along side my ducatis but this may be better as its a twin , always had a soft spot for XS650s back in the day , bored them out to 850 , lost 60lbs , flatrack style , decent shocks and TZ front end , fun fun fun,

Posted: 13/02/2014 at 15:41

john your not in devon are you ?

Posted: 14/02/2014 at 00:53

Looks a great addition to the Yamaha range and I'll definitely be taking a testride when it arrives. As mentioned by others, I suspect this bike will hammer the sales of the ER-6 and SV650, but have little effect on the NC750, since this bike is bought mainly for commuting and I'd be surprised if the MT-07 can match the real life fuel consumption of an NC or F650/700/800 twin.

The price of the MT-07 and 09 look too good to last, so don't expect much, if any discounts. I'd be surprise if Yamaha don't hike the prices of these bikes next year, like Honda did with the NCs this year.

It's worth noting that you can still buy heavily discounted SV650s, for just over £4000 in some cases, but it's looking a bit dated now. Also note that the MT-07 ABS is £5599 plus registration so in reality the same or even more than the NC750S which is discounted by most Honda dealers (most will give you £500 off an NC S or X).

Having said all that, for most the new MT-07 looks a great bike and price isn't everything. By all accounts it goes very well and I'm sure it'll prove very popular

Posted: 14/02/2014 at 10:37

SIMON NO MATE NOT IN DEVON , SURREY

Posted: 14/02/2014 at 15:41

John 805mm seat height is identical to the ER6N, I'm 5ft8 and I can get both feet flat on the floor. It's not the lowest for sure but it's not a bad seat height.

Posted: 17/02/2014 at 01:20

Monoboloc calipers, hey ? So your brakes have only got one ball ?

All together now.....

Posted: 18/02/2014 at 15:15

Can't disagree with anything said. I I've had bad experiences with Honda,so things change. I've always had a yen for Yamaha, even when Rossi was on a 125 Honda.
I think I like the one on the right best. Maybe they could help Lotus.

Posted: 21/02/2014 at 02:33

Looks like a very good bike,Always a bit suspicious oflaunch reports as the journos are wined and dined kept in top hotels and sometimes recieve a GIFT !,This one looks a winner so far though.

Posted: 23/02/2014 at 11:15

I agree I think Yamaha will raise the price of the bikes, at the moment they are incredible value for money with the quality you get no wonder they are selling shed loads and good luck to them.

Posted: 14/03/2014 at 13:09

Simon I am down in Devon if you ever want to meet up at Bridge or BMAD when it starts?

Posted: 14/03/2014 at 13:10

We have the MT09/ FZ9 in Canada, which I tested last week in what has to be the most disappointing mix of brilliant engine with completely crap suspension and brakes.
This bike will be called the FZ7 in Canada with a base of $7200CDN (3900 pounds?), and sounds like the suspension is better than the triple. I think it will take a better part of 23 minutes before clipons and rearsets appear on this.
50ftlbs is more than enough. No ABS in Canada.
40,000km valve adjust intervals!

Posted: 17/04/2014 at 18:47

HKF: this is the future of bike sales, more expensive bikes just are not selling worldwide and Japanese internal sales are at record lows. Japan needs to go back to simple standard bikes.

Posted: 17/04/2014 at 18:51

Nice-looking machine: no fancy-ass racer-boy wannabee fairing, not trying to look like a Harley, just a straight-forward motorbike.
Looks like it has good specs. And the price is actually reasonable in comparison to the rest of the market.

If I were looking at a new bike in the 600-750cc range, I would definitely be looking at this motorcycle.

Posted: 26/04/2014 at 17:12

The price is about right,the others are just too dear for what you get.

Posted: 30/04/2014 at 00:10

Bringer of bard news my brand new ktm 500 exc got stolen Monday morning at 1:20 am nerly cort up with them but my bike was way to fast to catch :( if any one knows any thing or can get my bike back I will pay you big money just want it back, the people new what thay were doing and cut a hole in my garage door to get it so if ya bike is in a garage do as much as you can to stop them getting in and getting your bike, I have bin told a silver feaster was driving around my house 5 minits be for my bike got stolen so keep an eye out you could be next. Newport

Posted: 01/05/2014 at 17:31

Talkback: First ride: Yamaha MT-07 review


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