Outstanding performance isn’t something I’ve come to expect from a learner-legal motorbike. Most entry-level motorcycles offer a decent platform but lack spirit or style. Many are too small for larger people or are large enough but lack punch. Some look the part but are disappointingly finished with inferior components. Not anymore! The Yamaha MT-07 is trail-blazing a new era of LAMS bikes that break all the rules and satisfy on every level.
When I first became acquainted with the MT-07, I was struck by its splendid appearance. Its styling is in line with some of the most sought-after naked bikes – somewhere between an Aprilia and a Ducati. Gorgeously curved header pipes weave their way down to a neat and stubby underslung muffler. Its backbone steel frame, asymmetric swingarm and 10-spoke alloy wheels finish the look nicely. It also carries a ‘Made in Japan’ stamp, which is reassurance of this machines’ excellent build quality.
The digital dash ensures relevant information is readily available. It has a white backlight which looks great and is legible in daylight and at night. The integrated ignition/kill switch is a bit of a novelty. Instead of pressing a separate ignition button, you push the switch down to start and up to switch it off. Handlebars are wide, but not so much that they affect lane filtering. The mirrors are extremely user friendly as well as being aesthetically pleasing.
SEAT OF THE PANTS
The seat is one of the MT-07’s great features. Its 805mm height is thoughtful of shorter riders. Its tapered shape narrows towards the tank which makes it feel even lower, as well as making it easy for your knees to grip. Then it widens out toward the back of the bike, providing plenty of space. This configuration allows a delightful combination of manoeuvrability and comfort, which proves especially beneficial on longer rides. It also highlights how ambiguous seat height figures can be. On paper, an 805mm height can appear intimidating, but the tapered front to the seat allows shorter riders to keep their legs closer together, making it much easier to reach the ground while sitting on the stationary bike. It’s not just height that’s important – it’s also width.
Out on the open road, the MT-07’s behaviour fills me with praise. Everything, from sweeping through corners to technical manoeuvring is a blast. There is so much solid torque available throughout its broad rev range. As a naked bike, the feeling of speed is amplified due to the openness of the cockpit.
It thrives on rider input, acting as a true extension of the user’s thoughts. As a learner machine, the MT-07 ticks all the boxes. Its friendly and predictable nature is perfect for beginners. Power delivery is silky smooth, and you are graciously forgiven for selecting a gear too high or low.
Fuel economy is super-impressive, too. Weighing in at only 179kg with the 14-litre tank full, helps with its outstanding agility.
The MT-07 is powered by a DOHC, 655cc, liquid-cooled, parallel twin engine. Incorporating Yamaha’s ‘Crossplane technology’, it offers plenty of useful feedback for the rider, and a unique sounding engine. Combine this configuration with a highly effective fuel-injection system and the result is instantaneous, silky-smooth engine response. The amount of useable power is astonishing.
Off the line, the clutch works in harmony with the engine. Transitioning through gears is very pleasant, with the accompaniment of perfectly delivered torque. There is a notable sweet spot between 4000 and 6000rpm where twisting the throttle enthusiastically will lurch you back enough to draw a wicked grin! The high-tensile steel frame uses tubing of varying thicknesses and strength as required. This is impressive technology for an entry-level bike. It also uses the engine as a stressed member, keeping weight down.
Ergonomically, the MT-07 is brilliant. Handlebars, footpegs and seat position unite to produce a beautifully organic riding position. As complacent as this may allow one to be, there’s still an aggressive side to the geometry. Its short wheelbase, forward tank, and steep steering angle remind you that its limits are there to be tested.
The tyres add to this encouragement. With a 120-section front and 180/55 rear, there’s plenty of grip available. The bike I had the pleasure of testing was wearing a pair of Bridgestone Battalax tyres, which provided confidence-inspiring breaking, turning and straight-line performance.
THEM’S THE BRAKES
The lack of an ABS option may discourage some people as there are now a number of entry level bikes that have it. I’m sure this will become available on a later model as recent European standards changes will make ABS obligatory shortly and Yamaha is hardly likely to remove it for the bikes it intends to sell in Australia. Having said this, the current set-up is more than ample for the low asking price. Learners made do without ABS for more than 100 years so, clearly, it’s still possible to be safe on a non-ABS bike. The front brake on the MT-07 is very communicative and confidence-inspiring. There are many accessories available through Yamaha’s Y-shop including luggage, pillion pegs, LED indicators and a full Akrapovic system. Performance is not something the MT-07 lacks, but sound is. This is especially noticeable in heavy traffic. Those with a deeper wallet may be inclined to go for the full system but a slip-on will be enough to give this bike presence.
Discussing the MT-07 with others that have ridden it further confirms its credibility. The MT-07 is an energetic commuter with plenty of spirit. Value for money is paramount in its appeal. At only $8999 (plus on-road costs), the MT-07’s class-leading performance is impossible to ignore, and anyone shopping for a bike in this budget range will probably find they need look no further.
– No ABS
2015 Yamaha MT-07
Type: Two-cylinder, liquid-cooled, DOHC, four-valves per cylinder
Bore x stroke: 78 x 68.6mm
Fuel system: EFI
Type: Six-speed, constant mesh
Final drive: Chain
CHASSIS & RUNNING GEAR:
Front suspension: Telescopic forks, 130mm travel
Rear suspension: Monoshock, 130mm travel
Front brakes: 282mm hydraulic discs
Rear barke: 245mm hydraulic disc
DIMENSIONS & CAPACITIES:
Claimed weight: 164kg (dry)
Seat height: 805mm
Fuel capacity: 14L
Tyres: Bridgestone Battlax
Tyre sizes: 120/70 ZR17 front; 180/55 ZR17 rear
Power: 38.3kW at 8000rpm
Torque: 57.5Nm at 4000rpm
Top speed: 181km/h (indicated)
Economy: 4.4 L/100km
Price: $8999 (plus on-road costs)
Warranty: Two years, unlimited kilometres
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