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Yamaha MT-10 | BIKE TESTS

As the only bike on test I’d not yet ridden, the Yamaha MT-10 was the one I looked forward to the most. It’s just the way being bikurious works.

Luckily I’ve come to dismiss first impressions, because although some may like the robotic look, in my opinion the MT-10 looks like a smacked arse – not pretty. But, I’m also someone who couldn’t really give a toss what a bike looks like once I’m on board. No time for looking at your reflection in shop windows when you’re stretching the thing’s vocal chords, and that’s what I prefer to do. Nevertheless, I still can’t believe that Yamaha has made such a spectacularly awesome machine and not made it more, let’s say…visually neutral. However many MT-10s Yamaha sells, I’m certain they would sell double if it looked more like an R1 and less like R2-D2.

My tip is to put on your style filtering visor and go test ride one, because Yamaha got it bang on funky with everything else. Top of the tick list is that re-purposed R1 cross-plane motor. It’s like an underground cyber-soul party pumping in the palm of your right hand. Phat bassline and plenty of low-down booty. Before you know it you’re reaching for the sky, as the two-two beat builds into a frenetic four-cylinder crescendo. Big Bang Boomshakalaka! There’s simply nothing else in the motorcycle world like it.

In the scrum to determine who got which bike for the long ride home, I grappled for and won the keys of the MT-10. My reasons were many, but top of the list were cruise control, that sumptuous engine and its ability to wantonly pop instantaneous wheelies. And the fact it has the roomiest and most relaxed riding position in its class. I never regretted my choice, even with saddle-time starved former Aussie Superbike and World Endurance champions on my tail. We put the GO in the GOR that day, that’s for sure.


A remarkable characteristic of the cross-plane engine is its ability to produce traction. Each power pulse seems to knead the rear rubber deep into the road’s pores and propel you with a smoothness that belies the MT-10’s lumpy dyno graph. Compared to other bikes with similar power and torque output – such as the BMW S1000R – the MT-10 relies far less on its electronics to maintain stability, such is the calming nature of its engine’s firing order. Wheelies? Well that’s another thing.

The Yamaha execs were hesitant when we first unveiled our plan for a road and track test given that their new flagship naked is aimed squarely at street use. They needn’t have been. If anything, it highlighted the MT-10’s prowess as a remarkable all-rounder. Arguably the best equipped bike in its class to carve, cruise, commute, while simultaneously caressing your soul receptors in equal and equitable amounts. Now, if they could just fix that face…


Second Ops

Craig Coxhell- So user-friendly. This is a nice handling bike with smooth power delivery. It’s the type of bike you can complete a full trackday on then ride home in comfort, with the cruise control and roomy cockpit leaving you with plenty of energy for the trip. I don’t even mind the MT-10’s Transformer-like looks.

Steve Martin – I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a powerhouse with an instantaneous surge of pulsing torque. I like the generous size of the MT-10 and its general riding position. Not as refined as some of the more expensive bikes when it comes to its electronics. Throttle connection wasn’t smooth enough, which is something that shouldn’t be too hard to put right.

Paul McCann– The saying ‘first impressions last’ couldn’t be more wrong. It’s ugly – no doubt about that – but after riding it my mind started conjuring up ways to improve its appearance so I could contemplate owning it. The powerplant is arguably the best of the bunch. It’s a lot of bike for the money, and very capable across a wide range of environments.