Yamaha MT-07 at the California Superbike School

Long-term review part two: We know it wheelies. What's it like on track?

IF you’ve read any reviews of Yamaha’s MT-07, you’ll know it likes to wheelie.

But is that all it can do?

Recently I did a one-day track course with the California Superbike School (where, for some reason, wheelies are strictly not allowed).

After riding one of the school’s 899 Panigales in the morning, I swapped to the MT-07 in the afternoon to see how it would acquit itself on track.

That set the Yamaha up for a tough comparison: a £12,495 superbike is always going to be a tough act to follow for five-grand budget/novice machine.

It was certainly illuminating. Not because the Ducati makes about double the power but of the difference between premium and budget suspension.

Suddenly Silverstone’s Stowe circuit seemed much rougher than it had in the morning. Sections of it were covered in bumps I hadn’t even noticed before.

The MT-07 sagged and bounced where the Ducati had glided unperturbed. At times, as the Yamaha’s suspension rebounded, the bike tried to stand up in corners.

But here’s where the MT did acquit itself well. Did I have a worse time in the afternoon than in the morning? No. I had a better time.

I got faster in the course of the day, so that by track session five I was going more quickly on the Yamaha than I had on the Ducati in session two. 

That was partly down to the tuition I received. It was partly down to the fact they’d started us off using only one gear and no brakes, and gradually allowed us more freedom as the day went on.

But it was also partly due to the fact I felt more at home on the Yamaha. I’ve got limited experience of track riding and I was doing a level-one course with other track novices. Did I need a 148hp superbike? Evidently not.

It felt flattering and liberating to switch the Yamaha. I overtook more people on it. Compare overtaking a BMW HP4 on a 12-grand Panigale to doing the same on a five-grand MT-07, and tell me which sounds more life-affirming.

It was better to sense the machine’s limitations rather than only my own.

I suppose I’d like the MT-07’s suspension to be a little better. I think the set-up may be worse than that of my Suzuki SV650S which, unlike the Panigale, is a competitor for the MT.

But it’s still one of the biggest hoots you can have for the money and, let's face it, it’s got way more attitude than an SV.

Model tested: Yamaha MT-07

Price: £5,199 plus on-the-road charges (£5,499 with ABS)

Power: 75hp

Torque: 50lbft

Wet weight: 179kg (182kg with ABS)

Fuel economy: 54.3mpg including town and motorway

Colours: grey, white, blue, red, purple

Availability: now

Read part three of my Yamaha MT-07 long-term test

Read our Yamaha MT-07 first-ride review

Read our California Superbike School review