I had a chance to ride Yamaha’s MT-01 recently, loaned by the legends at Team Moto in Queensland for our AMCN Industry Ride. I had the choice of anything really, but wanted to re-visit the bike that made a big splash when it was released back in 2005 – I actually photographed a scowling Boris on it back then, and not much has changed with it or Boris. The bike I rode was a 2007-spec model with 10,000km on it.
We headed out to Kyogle from Brisbane along some very challenging (read: terrible condition) roads, that were still a lot of fun, as long as you could avoid the potholes and seams of bitumen pushed up by the high truck traffic.
The MT-01 handled it all, though if I got too excited by some of the fast company I was keeping, it’d give me a gentle reminder that it’s no sportsbike.
It does steer well, and once you learn to point it and coax it along with the monster 1670cc V-twin mill, it’s quite rapid out there in Realworldville. It is quiet in standard form, but as the pilot you’re always in the company of the V-twin grumble, one that doesn’t like to be revved to the point of oblivion, but works best with midrange manoeuvres of the throttle to keep it there.
On the 400-odd km round trip we did, it was super comfortable, too, which is another reason it scores well in Realworldville.
The gearbox can be annoying with the length of the gearshift action and the clunkiness of it, especially around town, and the bike is heavy when not under engine power, which makes it wearisome to park and shift around. That’s all forgotten once inertia takes over, as the bike is relatively well balanced.
I still love the styling, which showcases the massive engine well, and even uses carbon-fibre to good effect. The mufflers literally look like they are riding shotgun under the pillion seat, and the swing-out pillion pegs themselves are a class addition aesthetically.
The dash, with its tacho acting as a reminder this bike is a slow-revving giant (5500rpm and that’s all she wrote), is tight and tidy, and the mirrors are good enough to do more than check yourself out in your riding clobber.
Yamaha Australia is currently evaluating a MT-03 (no decision yet), and it makes sense to re-energise a bike that is truly different from anything else, and lends itself to customising and tuning into some kind of monster. Vote one for the MT-03 here, Yamaha!