yamaha mt

Yamaha MT-09 2021 – First Ride Review

The Yamaha 2021 MT-09 sets a new benchmark for the Japanese brand’s Master of Torque lineage. Straight from the Dark side of Japan with a new 890 cc engine, less weight and new looks… The 2021 Yamaha MT-09 could be yours for less than 10K.

Originally, the Yamaha MT-09 made its debut in 2014. A second generation of the MT-09 with more technology as well as styling and performance upgrades was unveiled in 2017. The third generation 2021 MT-09 represents an almost complete overhaul of Yamaha’s hyper-naked leading machine.

Before jumping into the MT-09’s newly engineered CP3 engine, its visuals must be appreciated. Refined, the 2021 MT-09 looks ever more so a threat to the asphalt than its predecessors. It has fully embraced its internal dark side, right in line with its brand’s mission. If it doesn’t serve a purpose, it not a component in the design or construction of the MT-09. Compared to prior models, the 2021 model reflects an aggressive, purpose-built configuration.

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At a profile view, the nose of the 2021 model, where the newly designed LED headlamp is mounted, is shorter, whereas the 2020 model has elements of overhang, throughout. The 2021 MT, from tail tip to front of nose is more compact, focusing the center of mass around the engine. The new fuel tank is flanked by functional air intake funnels. The 2021 MT-09 is designed to look powerful, torquey, fast, free and fun, just as much as it performs.

The MT-09’s new full LED headlight assembly features a single central bifunctional projector headlight with multiple LEDs that give a broad and balanced beam of light with soft edges for both low and high beam settings. Notable is the MT-09’s new face thanks to its twin LED position lights. At the rear, the lightweight LED taillight projects a Y-shape illumination, continuing the next level MT vibe.

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Surrounding the new CP3 engine is the MT-09’s new frame and subframe. These two elements of the bike’s chassis are part of the MT-09’s success in dropping some pounds. Yamaha claims the 2021 model tips the scales at a wet weight of 417 pounds, down 8 pounds from the previous model.

This is achieved thanks to the improved geometry of the new controlled filling die-cast aluminum frame and the material of the subframe. The new configuration includes a 30mm lower steering head pipe and new engine mounting points. The 2020 model’s subframe is composed of steel. The 2021 MT-09’s subframe is constructed, just as the frame is, by controlled filling die-cast aluminum technology. The new subframe alone shaves off almost 3.5 pounds. The frame and new box-shaped welded aluminum swingarm, together account for just over 5 pounds in the MT-09’s weight reduction.

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Mounted inside the new chassis structure is the MT-09’s new three-cylinder CP3 powerplant. The performance output on the 2021 MT-09 is increased by 43 ccs. Its predecessor produced an output of 847 ccs. The 2021 model provides 890 ccs with credit to the new pistons forged with concave-shaped tops, a new crankshaft, and 1.5mm shorter split connecting rods.

Other new engine highlights include new intake and exhaust camshafts, new cam chains, and a new oil pressure-type cam chain tensioner. An added 6 percent boost in the torque department is also a welcomed perk. The gearbox receives an updated assisted and slipper clutch, new clutch friction plate materials, and a 3 percent taller ratio in first and second gear. This is all translates into smoother shifting and delivery of the bike’s vigorous torque.

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The air induction system is removed from the 2021 MT-09 intake. It now features three tuned intake ducts and new throttle bodies with integrated injectors that are aimed directly at the intake valve heads. The new intake system improves fuel management by 11 percent.

A new compact 1.5 chamber design (the prior model used a 3 chamber design) stainless steel dual exhaust system also helps with the weight reduction of the new MT-09. The new system is more attractive and works well with the flow of the bike’s overall design and aesthetic. Combined, the exhaust and the engine are 3.747 pounds lighter than the previous MT-09.

The 2021 model offers adjustable riding positions to adapt to the many shapes and sizes of today’s motorcyclists. The handlebars can be arranged in two positions with adjustments of 4mm up and 9mm forward from the original point. The footpegs are adjustable, 14mm upward and 4mm back from their stock position. The MT-09 adjusts to the rider. Not the other way around.

Yamaha’s Spinforged technology creates the 2021 MT-09 strong yet lightweight wheels. This method of forging creates a thinner rim and an 11 percent reduction of rotational inertia. The new front and rear wheel design and construction are 7 grams lighter than the 2020 version’s wheels.

This 2021 MT-09 happily borrows a good amount of technology from the 2020 YZF-R1. Those familiar with the 2020 R1 may recognize the Nissin front brake master cylinder, the ABS-equipped with brake control, the 6-axis IMU, the traction control system and other items in the MT-09 suite of electronics. Of these items, the IMU steps forward and is noteworthy. While it is developed in the same regard and has the same functions as the IMU of the 2020 R1, the IMU of the 2021 MT-09 is half the size. This a first for the Yamaha hyper-naked class. Also outstanding is the Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle with Accelerator Position Sensor with Grip… Basically, true ride by wire, also borrowed from the 2020 R1. There are no traditional throttle cables. Your twisted wrist is the new and improved throttle cable.

You can change the level of engagement that the MT-09’s electronics have via 3 settings: Mode 1, Mode 2 and Manual. The system can also be turned off. Mode 1 minimizes engagement. Mode 2 increases the interaction. Manual mode allows you to dial in the interactions to your personal likeness.

The impressive electronics package is highlighted by the traction control system. However, the suite also includes the slide control system, lift control and the quick shift system.

There are four drive modes that you can select, determining how aggressive the MT-09 responds to throttle input. Mode 1 offers a sharp reply while Mode 2 is applicable to a number of situations. Mode 3 is mild and Mode 4 is the meekest. Selections are made at the handlebar switches and displayed on the all-new 3.5 inch TFT dash that is centered on the handlebars. The bar tachometer changes color reflecting the engine’s rpms.

The 2021 Yamaha MT-09 is marked for retail at $9,399 and is available in three color options: Storm Fluo, Matte Raven Black, and Team Yamaha Blue. With the 2021 Yamaha MT-09, the execution of the “less is more” design concept is real and apparent. Likewise, so is the adage, “Stay strapped.” Simply put, the MT-09 is a weapon.


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