Sharp And sporty

K Shivraj
Saturday, 5 May 2018

Yamaha’s new MT-09 feels lively and agile, and gains in styling without sacrificing any of its traditional strengths

Yamaha’s new MT-09 continues to be a naked bike. Looking compact yet smart and aggressive, there is a certain edginess to the design. Coming across as sharp and sporty when compared to the model it succeeds, the new MT-09 springs a surprise by being more ergonomic for both, the rider and the pillion. The sportiness built into the styling with that compact bum lift makes the all-singing, all-dancing street fighter even better. Subject to significant technical upgrades in 2017, the new bike, powered by 115hp, 847cc three-cylinder motor, for 2018, has received suspension revision and the addition of an assist and slipper clutch apart from a factory-fit quick shifter for clutch-less upshifts. 

Ride it aggressively or lazily, the MT-09 will not fail to entertain or pleasantly surprise. The linear torque delivery of the motor makes for entertaining acceleration whatever may be the situation. From a standing start through to the sixth gear roll-on, the bike simply displays an ability to perform without a sign of stress or fatigue. If the motor is really usable without having to be overworked, the chassis nicely complements the package to make manoeuvring through the back streets with a softer throttle action in the ‘B’ mode so much easy. While the ‘B’ mode cuts power and softens throttle response, and only slightly enough to notice, the ‘A’ mode tweaks the throttle response. For most riding situations, the ‘STD’ mode suffices, and works good enough to lift the front wheel as easily as it would in either of the two modes mentioned. It is a different matter that the front wheel can lift either intentionally or unintentionally, the linear flow of torque from the three-cylinder engine makes riding the MT-09 a unique experience. 

The riding position is aggressive, but not demanding. Weighing 193 kg, the 2018 MT-09 offers exciting acceleration with the gear ratios nicely complementing the way the engine produces all that power and torque. The gears reflect how lively the engine is. Over time, it becomes hard not to rip the throttle back at every opportunity and soak up the noise.

The bike feels planted and quite communicative at all times. The LCD instrument panel, set further forward to improve the line of sight, is easy to read. If the new symmetrical twin head lamp with four separate LED face bears a resemblance to the MT-10, the new bike feels lighter when riding. The tyres complement the chassis and the suspension (41mm fully-adjustable inverted fork at front, and adjustable preload monoshock) to keep the bike planted. They also display their ability time and again as they cope with the flow of power and torque that the three-cylinder motor so enthusiastically puts out. Ride over a variety of surfaces is well damped. Trickier surfaces fail to upset the handling, and if it does get a bit tricky, the electronic aids chip in.   

At Rs 10.8 lakh, ex-showroom, the 2018 MT-09 gains in styling without sacrificing any of its traditional strengths. A sprightly motor and a terrific chassis combine to make a bike with a soul, and a character that is quite unique too. Lively and agile, the new MT-09 is in a segment where the competition is getting stiffer, both in terms of kit and price. The Triumph Street Triple RS costs less and seems to offer better value. In such a scenario, the new MT-09 can take pride in the character that it depicts, and its ability to make the rider feel good. 

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