2006 Yamaha MT-01 Road Test

Filed under: MT-01 |

2006 Yamaha MT-01Every time you write about a bike you have to be careful you don’t begin repeating yourself, there’s only so much you can say about an engine or brakes before it gets boring, until that is, you ride something so different it all seems new to you. The MT-01 is the kind of bike that gives you something to think about.

I always spend a bit of time looking around a bike before I get on it, I like to find all the little things that some people might not notice, or be interested in, but if it’s your subject matter you have to.

You can’t put this bike into a group, it’s not a retro bike though it looks similar, and although the engine is a 1670cc V-twin you certainly can’t call it a cruiser. Yamaha calls it, and it’s little brother the MT-03, Sports-Torque machines, and riding it you can see why. Start at the front and work your way back is my motto, so this is what I saw:

The headlight I must admit is ugly, it doesn’t look like anything else I’ve seen, though it is similar to that on the Midnight Star cruiser, but looking at the rest of the bike it fits in.

The forks are 43mm, upside down, fully adjustable units, which look the biz and are fitted to a 120/70ZR17 wheel, so tyre choice is vast. To stop this bike there are dual 320mm floating discs, gripped by 4 pot radial callipers as seen on the R6 & R1.

On the back is a single 276mm disc gripped by a two pot calliper which works very well, locking up the back was something that happened quite a lot when I rode it

The aluminium sport derived frame has a removable front section to ease engine removal, but to try this at home you would need a crane, the engine is BIG with a capital BIG.

The power comes from an air cooled, long stroke v-twin, which only produces 90 bhp at 4700rpm, but kicks out 110 ft-lbs of torque, enough to give you a serious kick in the pants.

The rear suspension is something I don’t like, it’s not the efficiency that’s a problem it’s the position. It is virtually horizontal and fixed on the swing arm, underneath the frame and fixes under the engine, where the adjuster is, and is exactly the right spot to collect lots of road grime, so be prepared to get underneath to clean it. This bike doesn’t have a centre stand which makes it more awkward.

The upside-down truss-style swing arm – similar to the arm used on the R1 sports bike – is cast aluminium for a fine tuned stiffness/flex ratio, contributing to the bike’s confidence-inspiring handling.

The oil tank on the front left hand corner of the engine looks like a 5 litre oil can, and can you believe it….it holds 5 litres! I doubt they looked at one for a design element but it does make you wonder?

The exhausts-well what can you say? You either like them or hate them. They both run round the right side of the engine, before running under the engine, and up through the swing arm.

The cans, sticking out as they do out on either side and just under the height of the seat, they do look as if they rule out taking a pillion. Although there were heat guards fitted, the cans were still relatively warm to the touch after a ride.

The seats we’re a disappointment, the riders, while comfy enough does have a lump in the back of it that sticks into your coccyx, and comes into play after around 80 miles, for me anyway.

The pillion seat is relatively small and thin and doesn’t look overly comfortable, there are three other problems for this end of the bike. The foot rests, (which are a very nice touch the way they fold away when not in use), are 12 inches below the seat (measured), this causes problems for someone over 5’8”. The exhausts will warm the pillion up a bit via their legs and there are no grab rails to hold onto, or strap luggage too.

I did try two people on the bike when I wasn’t moving and both said they couldn’t sit on there and feel safe, the fact their feet were so high made them feel like they were falling off the back.

The fuel tank, while creatively shaped, only holds 15 litres and 3 of those are on reserve, so your distance is limited, air intakes are on either side and give maximum breathability.

The dash consists of one large, round, 3D effect rev counter, it has a digital speedo so it is easy to read on an LED screen, and everything else is on there at the touch of a button.


The first thing you notice is how narrow it feels, off it the bike looks wide with the pipes sticking out one side and nothing on the other, but the bike feels nicely balanced. There is the lack of a choke with it being automatic, which is fine until something goes wrong.

Once it’s running, this bike vibrates! It’s not quite as bad as a Harley of old but it’s a pain. It does reduce a bit once warm but it is always there when you stop at lights etc.

The clutch is nice and light with a firm but easy to use gear change, this comes in handy when going for it..a bit, making your faster gear changes nice and smooth. The other side is not using your gears much at all and riding the torque, which this has plenty of.

On a fast run round some of the A roads the handling seems to be ok, though if you go in a little bit ‘hot’ you can end up drifting because of the weight pushing you that way. The Metzeler tyres it was fitted with didn’t fill me with confidence, they seemed too hard. The MT is a heavy bike at 240kg dry so needs some good strong rubber to sit on, but after a couple of front wheel slips in the damp, and not at a very high speed they’re not my favourites.

The acceleration is a lot of fun in any gear, leaving sportier machines in its wake. The phrase “twisting the loud handle” could have been written for this bike as it sounds great, and that is with the road legal standard pipes. With all new bikes coming with Akropovich cans it will sound even better.

The bike comes into it’s own on the open road, it is a very hard bike to upset. Along the straights it will out accelerate most machines out there, and it will hold it’s own on the sweeping curves, with a sportier tyre it would be a lot more fun on the twisties.

If you do over cook it you need some good brakes to stop you and the stoppers on this bike are excellent, derived from the R1 the radial front brakes will have this thing on it’s nose if you grab too hard. The back seems to lock up too easily to slow you down, I ended up not using it at all.

On my test route it proved to be as fast as most bikes I’ve ridden down there, but did feel slower through the tighter bits. It probably has more to do with my mind on the grip level than the tyres themselves, but once you get it into your head it is hard to ‘go for it’. You think it is only a matter of time until something lets go so you ride that bit slower.

After riding for around 90 miles I had to stop and have a break, the seat was killing my bott. As I’ve stated before it’s not the seat on the whole, rather the scallop at the back that causes me the problem. There is a protrusion in the middle of this bit, which is in line with the crevice in your butt, it puts pressure on your coccyx and forces you to stop.

Riding through town with lots of glass around, I must admit you do look the dogs! You have the ‘out there’ styling, the sound from the cans bouncing back at you, and that constant urge to ‘blip’ the throttle while rolling along makes it all make sense.

You wouldn’t want tour on it, well I wouldn’t, your not going to win any races on the twisty roads and your not going to see many around at £9349.00 RRP, but that’s the point I think.

Its different to anything else out there, it has individuality, and, it is a bike you buy to get noticed… and for those reasons it’s a success.

Dave Muckle