Few bikes are as satisfying to ride as the Yamaha MT07. I came to this conclusion after spending a wonderful week with the 2018 Yamaha MT-07. A bike so fun, capable and relatively affordable, you’d wonder why people even bother riding bigger, heavier and more expensive bikes.
Yamaha intends this bike for beginners, and its specs are basic as basic gets in the middleweight-twin category. Except for standard ABS, the MT-07 doesn’t have traction control nor selectable riding modes unlike its MT-09 sibling but that doesn’t detract from its fun-to-ride factor. You see, even if it’s newbie-centric, seasoned riders will definitely still have a blast riding the MT-07 because of its flexible nature. In fact, if you ask me I’d now choose this over the bigger MT-09, which I also love by the way, because it fits me perfectly like a glove and its performance is more attuned to my style of riding.
The styling leaves much to be desired, though. It’s too millennial looking for me, especially the DayGlo yellow rims variant. Honestly, I would prefer a more traditional styling like that of the Suzuki SV650A or that of the Yamaha XSR 700. If you feel the same way about the styling, then it’s probably good that you see very little of the bike when you’re riding it. On the saddle, the riding position reminds me of my Yamaha RZ 250 two-stroke with its slim fuel tank and narrow handlebars. The compact LCD instrument panel is easy to read even in direct sunlight and packs a surprising amount of information for its diminutive size such as speed, tachometer, gear, fuel, trip, odometer and time. There’s nothing to see beyond the LCD screen, not even the low-slung headlight, and this somehow gives you the impression that you’re riding a supermoto. It rides like one, too. But more on that later.
While the styling may not be to everybody’s taste, what I’m certain everybody will appreciate about the MT-07 is the smooth parallel-twin motor. Displacing 689cc with dohc and 4 valves per cylinder, the liquid-cooled parallel twin employs what Yamaha calls the crossplane philosophy to provide that perfect balance of linear torque output and outstanding fuel efficiency. This also gives the parallel twin an uncharacteristically V-twin sounding sound. Peak power is only 74 bhp at 9000 rpm, but the real star of the show is the 50 lb ft of torque and a majority of which is readily available from as low as 2000 rpm to its peak 6500 rpm, and when coupled with low overall gearing gives the MT-07 a scalded cat like throttle response. Maxed out in 6th gear, the MT-07 will accelerate rapidly to almost 200 km/h top speed (based on speedometer). The upright riding position and the absence of any wind protection further heighten the sensation of speed. Fuel efficiency is a commendable 24 kilometers per liter even with a heavy throttle hand.
Contributing to the MT-07’s lightness and agility is the slim and compact tubular backbone frame that uses the engine as a stressed member. While the suspension setup comprises of simple nonadjustable forks up front and only a spring-preload adjuster for the rear shock, their carefully tuned damping rates give the MT-07 a supple yet composed ride that’s perfect for less than ideal Philippine road conditions, swallowing road irregularities and some minor potholes with ease.
Picking up the pace reveals another unexpected characteristic of the MT-07. From a sedate city commuter the MT-07 transforms into a capable and highly entertaining canyon carver. Like a supermoto, the MT-07 responds quickly to counter-steering inputs and will obediently follow your desired line through a corner. Even mid-corner corrections are possible without upsetting the chassis balance. And for a bike with a wide 180-section rear tire, the handling remains light and responsive while providing more confidence-inspiring grip than narrow tires. As mentioned earlier, ABS is standard on the MT-07 and the 4-pot calipers biting on dual 282mm front discs provide more than adequate stopping power for the 179 kg (curb weight) MT-07.
The MT-07 effectively blurs the line between a small and big bike. Dimensionally the MT-07 feels and handles like a small backbone commuter bike, especially in traffic, but make no mistake, give the throttle a quick jab in first gear and it will effortlessly lift the front wheel skyward, turning from a goody-goody Dr. Jekyll to a psycho Mr. Hyde in an instant. The MT07 may not appeal to everybody, but for those looking for a versatile middleweight-twin bike with a seriously healthy dose of fun to ride factor, very few bikes will be as satisfying and entertaining to ride for the same amount of money.
Engine: Liquid-cooled, 2-cylinder parallel, EFI, dohc, 8-valves, 4-stroke
Displacement: 689 cc
Max power: 74 bhp @ 9000 rpm
Torque: 50 lb ft @ 6500 rpm
Seat height: 805 mm
Fuel capacity: 14 liters
Curb weight: 179 kg
Top speed: 200 km/h (estimated)
Price: PhP 439,000
C! Rating: 10/10
Plus: Best bang for buck middleweight
Minus: Not much