Yamaha has a first-class option for P-platers wanting a bit more grunt from a bike. Zane Dobie grabbed an MT-07 and put it through its paces.
Heading out to collect the Yamaha MT-07 had me in two minds. On one hand it was exciting to ride something with some decent oomph while on my Provisional licence. But on the other hand, it was a mystery if I’d be able to keep all my demerit points while testing it. Sure enough, after a few hours of riding, I found myself giggling as I twisted to maximum throttle off the lights.
After the success of last year’s model Yamaha has delivered the same setup for the 2019 MT-07. Encased in a steel, diamond-trellis type frame lies the 655cc parallel-twin motor. It’s a DOHC power plant with eight valves putting out 57.5Nm of torque – great if you want to pop wheelies and get away from the traffic quickly – and makes the bulk of its torque low down at 4000rpm. But its 38.3kW (51hp) will run up to 8000rpm.
The MT-07 feels at home when leaning and leaves you feeling genuinely safe and supported on the twisty roads and highways. If you’ve come from a dirt-bike background onto a road bike, the MT-07 motor behaves a lot like some of the big-capacity four-stroke dirt bikes. A torquey motor means you’re not working as hard to get the bike up to speed, but this comes at a cost when cruising around on the freeway, or in a high-gear/ low-revs situation. The bike just wants to go, leaving you jolting a little bit on the seat when you adjust your speed, and making it fairly easy to go over the speed limit, even when you don’t mean to.
While the suspension has been altered from last year’s model, it still feels a bit rough straight off the showroom floor. It’s adequate, and I concede it’s not a high- priced bike, so it doesn’t have electrical adjustments with all the bells and whistles. But it is also not a fully-fledged track bike that has an excuse for having uncomfortable suspension. My daily 90-minute commute meant I found myself getting seriously restless in the last part of the journey. The meek rebound in the rear gradually gave me a sore back until I discovered the shock rebound adjustment. It’s great if you know what you’re doing, and a good learning point on how to set up your bike for your own needs. Obviously, every rider will have a different idea of what they want from the bike, so it gives the rider the freedom to pick and choose between comfort and agility or mild handling performance for a bit more security.
The front end is altogether different. It feels strong and stable entering a corner at speed.
When it comes to braking, the MT-07 is a well-mannered package equipped with an excellent ABS setup which should be standard for all bikes in Australia. When slamming on the pair of 282mm discs with four-piston callipers, there’s a sense of comfort as the ABS kicks in. Otherwise you would probably end up over the handlebars before the bike ends up on the ground.
Combine that with the 245mm disc with a single-piston calliper on the rear and it means you are safely covered in wet weather. It won’t surrender and lock up the rear when you apply heavy rear brake, but the ABS is also extremely tolerant when you’re putting around with your foot on the brake doing slow speed turns.
If this is your first bike and you’re going to do your Ps test on it, believe me, you’re going to need some forgiving ABS.
One of the things I’ve always found great about the MT-07 is the styling.
Think back to your first car. What did it look like?
Chances are it was a free ex-nana car or a rundown rustbucket that just barely passed the yearly rego checks. Your first bike shouldn’t have to be like that, and the MT-07 does not look like a spindly learner bike. Its aggressive styling cues, like the big air vents on the front and little winglets on the rear, give it a streamlined appearance. The chunky 180 tyre fills up the rear and gives the MT-07 big-bike looks.
There are three colours to choose from for the 2019 model: the brand new Ice Fluo, Yamaha Blue and Tech Black. For those who want to stand out the Ice Fluo is definitely the ‘I am here!’ colour scheme, but if you’re looking for a timeless machine that’s got the clean-cut look, the Yamaha Blue and Tech Black still look great on the bike.
With rules to follow Yamaha has had to adhere to ADR regulations, which means the bike is retailed with standard (big) mirrors and indicators, quiet (boring) exhaust and a clunky licence-plate holder. Fortunately for style masters, you can complete the visual aesthetics with ‘Y-Shop’, an easily accessible online Yamaha parts store.
As a daily motorcycle commuter, I have noticed tons of modified bikes. Every second motorcycle I pass has been modified in some way, whether it’s major mods like a big turbocharger hanging off the side, or small, like a simple tail tidy, it is certainly the rage. The MT-07 is an awesome base for modifications. Considering it has seen no major changes in the set-up and the fact it has been a great-selling bike since it first came out, there’s four years’ worth of aftermarket parts available. Of course, Yamaha has to follow guidelines on what will have the bike compliant in Australia, but that doesn’t mean you have to use cheap knock-off parts to bling your ride. The Y-Shop has a bunch of genuine parts that you can easily install yourself. We will be installing a few improvements in the coming weeks, including a full titanium exhaust system to show off the 655cc’s aggressive tone at full volume.
For $11,699 ride away, the Yamaha MT-07 performs. The bike offers plenty of possibilities: a daily commuter; a track bike; a weekend ride or a bling-my-ride project. It is a confidence-inspiring LAMs bike designed to allow a newbie rider to understand how to handle their bike. Not only that, if you’re looking for something to give your friends on their full licence a run for their money while you’re still on your Ps, this is the bike for you!