19 Aug 2013

2014 Yamaha MT-09

We’ve heard the rumours, and we’ve seen the YouTube video…. Now an all-new 3-cylinder sports bike from Yamaha is to take on the class-leading Triumph Street Triple in 2014….Say hello to the MT-09!
Yamaha MT09

From reading the Yamaha press release, one of the key goals in the MT-09 development project was to create a machine that gives the rider increased levels of pleasure and enjoyment by being able to control the machine at will. We all know that a well-designed motorcycle should feel like an extension of the body. After putting the current YZF-R1 designers to work, this was the result:
  • Linear and enjoyable torque delivery 
  • Best power-to-weight ratio in its class 
  • Lighter than a YZF-R6 
  • Slim and lightweight aluminium chassis 
  • Naked Motard ‘mass-forward’ style 
  • Compact body design 
  • Upright riding position for maximum control 
  • Refined ergonomics for a stress free ride 
Yamaha MT09
Without a doubt the most significant feature is that all-new 3-cylinder engine. The goals according to Yamaha during the intensive development programme were to create a compact, powerful and lightweight 3-cylinder engine; it would also be a visually attractive powerplant that would ‘enhance pride of ownership’. Furthermore, the MT-09 development team also placed great emphasis on achieving high levels of economy together with good environmental performance.

Featuring a displacement of 847cc, this is an all-new 4-stroke DOHC 4-valve engine, with forged aluminium pistons. The MT-09 is also significant for the fact that it is the first multi-cylinder production Yamaha motorcycle to utilise an offset cylinder design; it has been developed to embody Yamaha’s ‘crossplane philosophy’, ensuring instant throttle response together with strong low to mid-range torque. One of the best characteristics of a 3-cylinder engine design is its linear torque output, and it is this strong and responsive power delivery that Yamaha says defines the fundamental character of the new bike.

The MT-09’s 3-cylinder design is also inherently lighter, slimmer and more compact when compared to parallel 4-cylinder designs, being around 10kg less than the Yamaha FZ8. This has given the designers greater freedom to produce a correspondingly compact and agile-handling sports chassis.
Yamaha MT09

With its efficient fuel injection system, the MT-09 offers a potential range from the 14-litre tank of 150 miles or more, depending on the conditions. Hurrah!

I can remember my MT-03 doing just 80 miles on its 15 litre tank of fuel once, after some spirited riding that is….

Yamaha’s engineers have used the Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) from the YZF-R series supersport bikes. This ‘fly-by-wire’ system senses every throttle action made by the rider, and the ECU instantaneously actuates the throttle valve to give an immediate engine response. In addition, to give the MT-09 rider the bike - and the excitement - he or she needs in different riding situations, this new motorcycle is equipped with the Yamaha D-MODE system. The rider has a choice of three different throttle valve control mapping settings, STD Mode, A Mode and B Mode.

STD Mode has been designed to be used in a wide range of riding and road conditions, and it allows the rider to enjoy the 3-cylinder engine’s linear torque output and top performance right through the bike’s rpm range, from low to high engine speeds.

With the A Mode the engine delivers the maximum level of adrenaline. This setting gives a sharper throttle response in the low to mid speed range for a more aggressive sport riding experience.

B Mode delivers a milder throttle response with easy-to-use power characteristics which are perfect for riding in the city or in adverse road or weather conditions.

The MT-09 is fitted with an integrated single-piece 3-into-1 exhaust system and short muffler. The three stainless steel exhaust pipes feature connecting tubes between pipes 1 and 2, and between pipes 2 and 3 – and the pipes are also treated to prevent discolouration, rust and stains; so the system should stay looking factory-fresh, even after being subjected to a few harsh British winters!

Weight and space saving designs seem to have been used extensively, making this the one of the lightest sport bikes in the over 700cc class on paper, at 188kg wet. As a comparison, the MT-09 is actually lighter than the YZF-R6, recognized as being one of the most agile bikes in its class. This can only be good news, as many riders are put off by the sheer dead weight of some larger capacity machines.

By carefully selecting such dimensions as the wheelbase, seat height and overall riding position, Yamaha’s designers look to have been able to produce a compact and easy handling chassis.

Suspension-wise, the bike is equipped with newly-designed upside down front forks which offer 137mm of wheel travel – 7mm more than the FZ8 – to give high levels of riding comfort and responsive steering on a variety of road surfaces from cobblestones through to fast twisties; plus they can be adjusted for rebound damping!

At the rear, a link-type Monocross suspension design has been used, which incorporates an almost horizontal shock positioned beneath the seat. The location of the shock not only contributes towards the bike’s centralization of mass which helps to enhance handling – it also makes for a slimmer chassis layout, and the under-seat location protects the shock and linkage from the road dirt to help reduced wear and tear (see the MT-03 and Ducati 1199 Panigale for similar examples). Featuring rebound damping and preload adjustment, this rear suspension can be fine-tuned to suit a range of riding conditions and preferences, which is a welcome addition considering the variety of riders the bike is being aimed at.

In order to achieve Yamaha’s goal of building a compact chassis, the swingarm’s pivot assembly is located on the outside of the frame in a system similar to that used on the MT-01 and MT-03. This reduces the chassis width in the footrest area to that of a typical parallel twin cylinder machine, and gives a slimmer and more agile feel to the whole motorcycle.

An all-new asymmetrically-mounted lightweight LCD instrument panel features a digital bar display for the tachometer, and the panel also includes a useful gear position indicator. The angular headlight features a multi-reflector design, and a new-style LED tail light (inspired by the MT-01) features separate left and right side lamps when the lights are turned on, while the whole surface lights up during braking.

I think that overall the MT-09 is a handsome machine – although the lack of a fly screen does mean the front end looks a bit underfinished and, dare I say it, a little ugly?

I hope this bike does well, Triumph needs some serious competition in the naked sportsbike sector; and suggestions that this bike may undercut its main rival on price (the Street Triple is £6999) shows that Yamaha are definitely on a mission. Good luck to them; and I’m booking a test ride slot at my local dealer as soon as it hits the showroom….

Technical details:
  • 850cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke 3-cylinder DOHC 4-valve engine 
  • 115hp @ 10,000rpm 
  • 87,5 Nm torque @ 8,500rpm 
  • Forged aluminium pistons and direct-plated cylinders 
  • Offset 3-cylinder layout 
  • Newly-designed 6-speed transmission with compact clutch 
  • Pipeless design for cooling systems 
  • Single unit-type exhaust pipe and 3-into-1 muffler 
  • Yamaha D-mode switchable mapping 
  • Lightweight frame featuring CF aluminium die-cast swingarm 
  • 188kg wet weight, 171kg dry weight 
  • Link-type Monocross rear suspension with horizontal shock 
  • Upside-down forks with 41mm tubes 
  • Newly-designed lightweight 10-spoke 17-inch cast aluminium wheels 
  • 14-litre 'slim-fit' steel fuel tank with depression in knee grip area 
  • Dual floating 298mm front discs 
  • Radial-mount 4-pot opposed piston calipers 
  • 400mm long flat seat giving range of riding positions 
  • Multi-reflector headlight 
  • Forged aluminum brake and gear shift pedals 
  • LED tail light 
  • Newly-designed hexagonal rear view mirrors 
  • Lightweight LCD instrument panel 
  • All-new compact switchgear 

Deep Armor with MT fuel tank logo graphic
Blazing Orange with MT fuel tank logo graphic
Race Blu
Matt Grey
Yamaha MT09

Yamaha MT09

Yamaha MT09

Yamaha MT09

Article by Angela Freeman