Niall's Spin: Yamaha MT-01 review

It promised so much that it was bound to fall short, but now the hype has died down, what's it really like to ride?

Click to read: Yamaha MT-01 owners reviews, Yamaha MT-01 specs and to see the Yamaha MT-01 image gallery.

Tuned-up, air-cooled 1670cc cruiser engine and an image that makes all Harleys and retros look like effete antiques. This is the cruiser that isn't, and perhaps the ideal stepping stone from sports bike to full-on custom.

The MT-01 is most definitely a bike you buy for the looks. Wallflowers need not apply.

The ride doesn't live up to the image if you want cutting edge cut and thrust. Yes, it's fast but not sports bike rapid, and that motor runs out of puff very early on. Huge low rev torque makes it quick off the line and prone to spinning up in the wet but, like the latest turbo-diesel cars, the powerband is narrow and it lacks the high end zap to keep it accelerating hard above 100mph. No wind protection and small tank make distances a pain but it's still a delight to ride at moderate speed for short to medium hops.

It's too heavy to be nimble although it's a stable, fine handling machine, but the suspension is surprisingly adjustable and a few tweaks can make a big difference.

Finish isn't great and a lot of the styling details are actually cheap and plasticky - this is a machine best admired from 10 paces or so. But for most buyers this was a sunny Sunday posing tool, so mileages are low and levels of TLC are pretty high. The MT-01 was way overpriced when new - £9289 list - so not that many are around, but those that are should be well looked after. Yamaha wanted owners to 'buy into the brand' in the way Harely's customers are so willing to do, and with that in mind a whole range of customising and tuning accessories were made available too, not least a thundering great set of offically-approved Akrapovic exhausts. Any add-ons from the offical Yamaha catalogue will rightly add a few quid to the selling price.

Pillions get a raw deal. The rear perch is spacious enough but the pillion pegs are impossibly high, so only the tiniest of passengers will be comfortable for any length of time - although they may be pleasantly distracted by the vibrations through the seat pad.

  • Key ID: blinged-up, Mad Max on steroids looks and a monstrous V-twin motor on show - nothing else comes close
  • Don't fear: tastefully modified bikes - as long as you get the standard exhausts for MoT time
  • Also consider: 2007 Suzuki GSX1400, 2007 Honda CB1300