The 2022 MT-10 SP brings the rain, in more ways than one, to the Yamaha Master of Torque range.
Often, the path of my career as a motorcycle journalist leads me to one adventure after another. To date, Yamaha press launches are in the upper tier of motorcycle brands that bring nothing short of excitement to their events. The recent press launch for the 2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP in the Malibu hills of California, was no different.
In 2018, I attended the press launch for the Yamaha MT-07 in Marbella, Spain during which the sky opened and rain cascaded upon us for the majority of the ride. The wind made the rain appear to be falling sideways. Of course, I have ridden in the rain but that rain-soaked ride was an eye-opening experience. Riding in a foreign land, through adverse conditions, and on a new motorcycle… The entire situation was unfamiliar and slightly unsettling. The most important thing that I gained as a rider from that venture was the importance of not only being a confident rider but also having a confident machine below me. Case in point, the 2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP fits the bill and checks all of the boxes.
The day prior and the hours before our press ride for the 2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP was set to begin, Los Angeles County fell to unusual weather conditions… rain and wind. And while by the time we headed out from the parking garage of the Petersen Automotive Museum, the weather was stable with peaks of sun slicing through the clouds, the remnants of the last 24 hours were clearly evident and in some stretches of road, pronounced. Adventure awaited…
Let me back up a bit and talk about my first approach to the 2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP, an exercise in badassery. You get only one color option with the SP and one is all you need: Liquid Metal Raven. The Yamaha blue highlights, the gold from the chain, Ohlins forks, and the rear shock contrast with the blacked-out bits, not to mention the brushed clear coated swingarm, produce a formidable presence. A three-piece lower cowl provides a finishing look but also functions to provide the oil cooler with a breeze. With an aggressive stance paired with clean lines, the king of Yamaha’s Hyper Naked class, the flagship model of its Master of Torque lineup, the MT-10 SP looks every bit the part of the stranger at the bar that you don’t want to be on the wrong side of if a brawl broke out.
Yes, it has the same DNA and structure as the MT-10 base model that was released earlier this year… but that SP suffix means that this machine is packing slightly more of a punch where it counts. The MT-10 SP is, in essence, a naked Yamaha R1M. It has the same frame, electronics and engine as the R1, however, the 998cc CP4 engine is tuned specifically for the MT-10. Building up from there, the differences between the MT-10 and the MT-10 SP, besides the $3000 price increase, are notable. And in my professional opinion, worth it.
To begin with, the MT-10 is an established accomplishment so the SP builds upon that foundation with practical component upgrades. The steel braided front brake lines on the SP, paired with the Brembo radial front cylinder, rear master cylinder, and the Bosch 9.1MP ABS pump, make a deliberate difference in stopping power and ability, as well as controlling speed through the twisties. There is a considerable feel at the lever when applying the brakes and that directly translates to assured riding.
Suspension on the MT-10 SP consists of an adjustable electronic Ohlins front and rear setup, a premium assembly over the adjustable KYB suspension assembly on the MT-10. Setup status is displayed, accessed, and adjusted via the 4.2-inch full-color TFT dash. The TFT display is also where you access the MT-10 SP’s four customizable ride modes (A, B, C, and D). Selecting power modes, and activating the cruise control and the new Yamaha variable speed limiter are all done conveniently via the handlebar switches.
And that brings me back to the adventure…
A thrilling bit of speed on a stretch of the 405 led our group to the 101 PCH and gave a realistic notion of what a commuter would experience on the daily. The MT-10 SP did not disappoint. Fast, nimble, and courageous, the MT-10 SP allows for stable and rapid changes of directional angles when filtering traffic. The quick shifter is highly appreciated, making up and down clutchless gear changes effortless. The neutral ergonomics are suitable for a 6’ tall rider, like myself. I was able to clearly see up, over and far enough ahead, keeping my head on a swivel while moving through traffic, and taking quick glances at the Pacific Ocean while stopped at traffic lights.
Off the 101 and up the canyon road is where things got exciting. The asphalt was peppered with debris. In a few bits of road, I had ample distance to make adjustments to avoid nuggets of rock and small boulders. Many of the turns are blind so I just hoped for the best and trusted the technology beneath me.
The road conditions were moist, dirty, and a little muddy in many of the sections. Then visibility was reduced to a minimum. Ascending the hills, we rode into the overcast. I couldn’t see beyond 20 to 30 yards in front of me.
Despite the elements and road factors… the 2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP proved to be a worthy and confident motorcycle. Nimble and intuitive, riding in less than optimum conditions, the MT-10 SP made that ride fun and successful. Having to adjust paths of travel, many times at the last moment, tipping in and trailing the brakes when approaching and traveling through the benders and sweepers, the delivery of power and access to acceleration at the wrist… All components of a machine that is confident and almost, if not fully, aware of itself.
Images: Joesph Agustin