Automorbit, Motorcycle – Yamaha’s MT-10 is the working man’s liter-class naked sportbike. Packaged around Yamaha’s fantastic and one-of-a-kind CP4 YZF-R1 powertrain, the MT-10 ($12,999) is a friendlier and more affordable sport-oriented naked bike. Brush up on the technical updates in the 2020 Yamaha MT-10 Preview as this article revolves around what it’s like to ride.
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Seated at the controls, we found the MT-10 offers a refined riding position that is as comfortable as sporty. The thick saddle has a pleasing taper which makes it easy to plant your feet against the asphalt at stops. This also pays dividends in the handing department as it’s easy to shift weight from side to side when the road gets twisty. The handlebar is wide and tall and naturally helps afford an elbows-up riding position for greater control.
Despite its added weight (as compared to the R1), the 463-pound MT is surprisingly agile and apt to direction changes. The MT delivers refined ride quality over bumpy surfaces yet shows poise over twisty stretches of tarmac. Softer springs allow the suspension to collapse more favorably, which increases agility and gives the rider pleasing grip feedback, and are complemented by the excellent OE-fitted Bridgestone Battlax S20 tires.
Full, independent suspension adjustment lets you tailor its handling dynamic and we appreciate the separate fork damping control and high/low-speed damping on the shock.
As usual, the rowdy 998cc inline-four engine is a hoot to ride. The engine offers a menacing guttural roar unlike other motorcycles made. In this configuration the CP4 engine has considerably more grunt than a R1 and benefits from shorter final drive gearing for faster stoplight-to-stoplight blitzes. An electronic quickshifter makes for quick, clutchless upshifts, however we wish it also incorporated auto-blip technology. Instead, the downshifts have to be made the old-fashioned way with a manual blip of the throttle.
Speaking of throttle, the MT-10 benefits from Yamaha’s tried-and-true D-Mode ride-by-wire throttle. Of the three modes, we preferred the refined and smooth calibration of Mode 2. But riders who seek sharper throttle response will like Mode 1. Conversely, Mode 3 is a welcome setting for novices or when riding over slippery surfaces. Cruise control is also standard.
There is some engine vibration felt through the controls, but it’s the good kind and complements the engine’s fun-loving dynamic. However all that hooting and hollering does have its price and that’s at the pump with the MT galloping down its 4.5-gallon tank with an average of around 30 mpg. You gotta pay to play.
Yamaha’s Traction Control System (TCS) offers three levels of adjustment, plus off. Although the electronics are older in design and non-IMU powered (based off the then class-leading 2012 YZF-R1 traction control), the system works well at an elevated street pace, restricting acceleration yet allowing the rider to be in a comfortable zone when strafing apexes.
A large, rectangular LCD keeps tabs on the MT’s vitals. Although it lacks the flashy color display of other bikes, the display is easy to read at a glance and comes with everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Some might bemoan that the MT doesn’t offer Bluetooth connectivity, but who wants to be bothered by text messages on their bike? LED lights throw a bright spread of light in a straight line but could benefit from cornering lighting when barreling through turns after dark.
ABS-enabled triple-disc hydraulic disc brakes keep speed in check, however the MT could benefit from a radial-mount front brake master cylinder. Instead it uses a more budget-oriented axial-pull setup (with five-way-adjustable lever position), which reduces both brake feel and power when the lever is squeezed.
Aside from the aforementioned gripe, it’s hard to find fault with Yamaha’s MT-10. Its Transformer-like styling appears straight out of the big screen, and considering its fun and versatile powertrain and handling package, this is a naked sportbike that has value in spades.