2017 Yamaha MT-09 First Impressions
The only tune playing in the back of my mind all throughout my first encounter with the Yamaha MT-09 was the theme song from popular video gaming series – Mortal Kombat. And surely enough, the motorcycle was befitting the gaming series title. It was Yamaha’s second offering in India with the MT badge after the mighty MT-01, but sadly it couldn’t live up to be the naked superstar it ought to have been. The styling was bland, the suspension was tuned improperly to complement the dynamics and above all the rudimentary Ride-by-Wire system often produced a snatchy sensation borderlining fatality. It was a perfect hooligan’s motorcycle but felt out of shape in most day to day scenarios.
Well Yamaha paid heed to most ardent supporters (whose legion includes yours truly as well) and brought in the generation update for the MT-09 at the 2016 EICMA. And you could be forgiven to think that the update was a compete wardrobe makeover, but in fact just the new ditching of the old FZ-esque front lighting unit to a demonic twin-halo headlight setup changed the perception of the motorcycle. In one go out went from Dr Jekyll to Mr Hyde. Apart from that, the livery changes were the only aesthetic difference that was to be found.
Luckily, I was treated to a fairly short succinct ride aboard the current gen motorcycle and boy do I still have a smile plastered on my face. Yamaha has not messed about in areas that made the MT-09 a delight to ride in the first place. Thus the chassis, rear subframe and swingarm remain unchanged. The bar position as well as the pegs are unmoved, keeping the naked-meets-supermoto stance intact. What they have changed though in terms of the cycle parts are the suspension components. On both ends you get fully adjustable units which did not offer the squishing and buckling feeling from the older motorcycle. Given the lack of testing area I cannot comment further in this regards but the feeling moving forwards is quite positive to say the least.
Even on the motor front, I cannot reveal anything substantial as the premises restricted us to go beyond the first gear itself. On paper, the 847cc inline triple crossplane motor makes the same 114 horses and 87.5Nm of torque as before, thankfully the Euro IV/BS IV emissions not getting in the way of curbing the performance of the motorcycle. However the moment you set off, what should be a delight is the fact that electronics are more or less ironed out, none of the old on-off throttle transition hesitations any more. The Slip & Assist clutch assembly makes for reduced lever effort and that was evident since we were clutching in often on the course to indulge in some front wheel in the air action. Not one ounce of hooliganism is lost. The motorcycle also comes fitted with a quickshifter to move up the cogs quicker, no autoblipper though.
Thankfully this very same gen of the MT-09 is available in India for Rs. 10.88 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi (prices should go down given the reformed CBU taxation after the current Budget Bill). It is positioned precariously close to the magnificent Triumph Street Triple RS which makes me for the Yamaha harder than ever before.