Yamaha Yamaha MT-07 (2021) | First road test, review and specs

It's here and also not quite here! The new 2021 Yamaha MT-07 is due in dealerships soon, and here's what it's like to ride

IT'S not the best weather to ride your motorcycle at the moment. Fortunately, the temperatures are much better in the south of France. We went completely corona-safe to Marseille for the first test of the 2021 Yamaha MT-07.

Yamaha MT-07 specs review

2021 Yamaha MT-07 revealed | New Yamaha MT-07 2021 Specs | Visordown.com

2021 Yamaha MT-07 | Let’s talk about the styling.

The headlight. Yep, that's the talk with customers, MT-07 owners of the previous generation(s), journalists, motorcycle enthusiasts in general, ... And that makes sense, because the new front is not only the first thing you see, but also the design element that has changed most radically from the old bike.

It is a bold move by Yamaha to unpack this new MT design, and with that, you will always have supporters and opponents. The front end of the new 2021 MT-07 is a bit like Marmite, you will either love it, or you won't! In press photos, which are usually shot quite low to the ground, the design comes across as rather extreme. In reality, it is not too bad. The headlight is nicely incorporated and matches the look of the now more stripped back and modern MT-07.

New design

But the headlight isn't the only thing that changed. We also see a new tank with side air intakes, LED lighting all around and (finally!) standard LED turn signals, a new LCD dashboard, and a fresh color scheme. You can choose from black, blue, or gray with fluorescent wheels. It used to be matte silver, now it is a shiny layer of non-metallic dark gray. Looks good.

Updates, updates, updates

And the updates don't stop there. The engine is now Euro 5, just like that of the Tracer 700 presented last year, the larger brake discs come from the MT-09 and the rubber from Michelin and their Road 5 hoops. Looking good so far…

The seating position is also slightly adjusted by making the handlebars slightly wider (+ 32 mm), a little higher, and a bit more towards the rider. Well, the compulsory theory lesson is over. Let’s just drive, right?

Night frost on the asphalt

Marseille awakens under a bright sun, but there is very little warmth. We record an acceptable 6°C and see the temperature gauge drop a little when we arrive on the Route des Crêtes. It’s a beautiful stretch of winding coastal road that leads on up into the mountains - but with frost still clinging to the asphalt, concentration is all you need. These are not ideal test conditions… or maybe they are because the Michelins show how much potential they have. Unless we deliberately spin the rear wheel or brake heavily and have to lean on the ABS, we didn't once feel the bike acting weird. The MT-07 remained stable, calm and even gave us the confidence to push the limit a bit further.

Endurance

So that's what we did. But later in the day on dry asphalt and heavenly locations. There is not much difference with the previous generation MT-07 in terms of driving. And whoever says that it is, has been fooled by the Yamaha marketeers. You don’t notice the 1.5hp loss to the Euro5 gods, and to accurately be able to compare the seating position with the outgoing model, you’d need it to be parked next to the new machine. So far, it’s all remarkably familiar.

You do notice that the brakes have more endurance. Purely in terms of braking power, the difference will not be that great, but it is when you are pushing hard for a long time (for example on a mile-long mountain road). There is less fading and the brakes have more in reserve which is always welcome on a press riding launch.

Into the history books

Don't let the little difference in driving with the previous MT-07 be a point of criticism. There was nothing wrong with that at first. The two-cylinder crossplane engine will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the best engines of this era. On paper you have ‘only’ 73.4 horsepower, in reality, it seems to be at least 10 more. You always have enough torque, so you can easily take a hairpin turn in third gear and then effortlessly accelerate to 80mph with no drama. If you want flexibility in the city, you get it. If you want a sporty responsive engine on a winding stretch of road, then you have it. That duality, without using engine modes or swapping maps, it works sublimely.

Find compromise

For the chassis, the Yamaha engineers are faced with a slightly more difficult task. They must find a good compromise between a machine that is suitable for both beginners and experienced pilots. The MT-07 is one of those machines you learn to ride while training for your test, but it is also bought by John Bloggs who has just put his R1 on eBay as he has arthritis in his wrists.

Thankfully for Mr Bloggs and his aging wrists, Yamaha has succeeded again. “But it doesn't even have an upside-down fork!”, I can already hear ‘the experts’ shout. That's right, but first try to find out whether the lack of such a USD is due to the equipment being needed, or just wanted.

Conclusion

So, things are looking good for the latest MT-07. The styling update may be extensive but beneath the skin, the MT-07 is as good as it has always been. And that's a good thing. The only point of criticism is the somewhat low saddle height for my 6-foot 2-inch frame, but that is purely personal. So, do you have an older model MT-07 and are you satisfied with it? Fine, keep it. Is the futuristic design more your thing? Then you know what to do.

For all the specs on the new bikes, click here.