44Teeth jetted off to Almeria in southern Spain for the European press launch of the spanking new Yamaha MT-10, and a spot of sausage tapas. It’s not a naked R1 (the MT, not the tapas).
Firstly, let’s address the looks. It’s caused great debates amongst the 44t social interwebs and seems to divide opinion, violently. It’s like Brexit but actually exciting and probably just as irrelevant as both sides of the argument have merit. I’m going to lay my cards on the table and say I’m in the ‘like’ camp. I admire Yamaha for taking some risks in their design department – risks encourage change and change is a good thing. It’s all too easy to design an averagely good looking bike which stirs neither heart nor loin, and relegates itself into the mire of forgetability (yes, that’s a word – I just said it).
The mechaphile in me could stare into those W.A.L.L.Y. eyes for far longer than just a first date, and further into the relationship I’m sure there will be a plethora of carbon fibre goodies to botox up your bike should she start looking tired.
I do feel a little let down by the behind as it seems a little unfinished, but the front bottom is a winner.
Grey and acid green? Oh yes, love at first bilious sight.
Tip Toe Tapas: Straddling the beast, its wide tank, meaty bars and carnivorous rumble from the R1 transplant make you feel like you are in for a muscular treat. Fairly tall at 825mm, its seat height is just about acceptable for the vertically challenged, but my 6ft3.5 frame felt right at home. Seat is firm, sporty yet a touch restrictive in terms of movement with a semi pointless lump at the botty end to support you under gas.
The dash is nicely organised, clear and easy to understand with no silly menu trees to navigate – instead most common operations are conducted via dedicated buttons on the switch gear. Traction control, engine mode, cruise control (yes cruise control) are easily available with a gentle fingering. There is also an end to having to stop to change TC modes – a simple throttle out action is required to engage. I will say, however, that it’s a bit of a shame we don’t get the delicious colour dash from the R1, but at £9,999 we can start to see how they’ve made savings.
Beast Mode: Again, in a controversial move causing riots in the YouTube comments section, Yamaha have mixed up the mode demarcations from the previous MT range and now we have Standard, A, and B. Standard is the softest throttle response, followed by A and then B – for Brutal. It really shouldn’t be much of an argument as all of the modes produce the exact same peak BHP figures, but Yamaha has just flattened the curve on application – and not by much, they are all pretty similar. Standard is probably your best bet as B suffers from the choppy throttle action as seen on the R1.
Power is exceptional, as one would expect from the R1 DNA powerplant, yet in a more manageable package. Punchy torque at the bottom right up to an impassive top-end, you can rely on the lower rev grunt to drag you out of corners and if you fancy a screamer, the bike is more than willing to oblige. I felt a bit let down by the means of stopping such a beast, as the brakes feel vague, and disconnected. They will get you stopped, but there is not a lot of confidence emanating from the system. We did have almost new bikes, so they may improve with time (like our test R1M did) or perhaps look at some swanky pads for more bite.
Handle: Fast road is where this bike is designed to live. Twisties are demolished, consumed with ease and longevity. The bike feels solid, planted and protective if a little heavy but that adds to its meaty character. Many parts have been adapted from the DNA of the R1 to reduce cost so items like titanium exhausts and conrods have been replaced with more reasonable steel parts, which is great on the wallet but no so great on the scales.
Sitting on the same KYB suspension as the R1, but softened to cope with a more focused road bias, the MT-10 sits firm and sure-footed. Adjustability on the front end is all done at the top of the forks so access is easy and quick should you want to click out some comfort mid ride or go full botty basher for the sprint home for crumpets.
It’s not quite as refined and confidence inspiring as its Euro competition and corner entry suffers a touch with a little more buttock clenching action than desired, but mid-corner is nice and controlled and corner exit is a riot. It didn’t feel right to lean over the front of the bike much, it was more of a relaxed riding position which had a vague whiff of cruiser rather than Marquez – I sometimes had to consciously slide towards the front of the bike for more cornering stability rather than it being intuitive. The OE tyre is a Bridgestone S20 which has been designed specifically for the bike and these are normally aimed at a neutral mileage and comfort standpoint – stick some racier rubber on there and it will certainly be more of a cornering weapon.
Everyday: This bike is very competent in all areas which makes it a great 1-bike, all-round solution. Spank it on a Sunday, commute on it Monday. Lavish some Yamaha accessories upon it and you could have a fantastic setup for touring with panniers and a tall screen, yet a monster is laying in wait for those Alpine adventures and the 3 days of sun we have in the UK. I would invest in a comfier seat as 8 hours in the saddle battered my botty a little too much for distance riding.
Overall: The engine is the heart of this bike. More power than you can shake a cock at with a delicious soundtrack. Grin factor, modern design, ease of use, simple operations and practicality make it a brutal yet sensible mix of Japanese technology and European passion. Anyone deep in the MT fan club will not be disappointed with the pinnacle of the bunch, the MT-10… Full review vid coming soon. In the meantime >>