Yamaha brings out new, improved MT-09

Yamaha just announced a big part of its future, with the reveal of a much-improved MT-09.

In case you’ve been hiding in a cave for the past half-decade, Yamaha’s basing a lot of its empire around the MT-09 platform these days. The Tracer, XSR900 and Niken models all sharing this three-cylinder engine. When the MT-09 gets upgraded, you’d logically expect those changes to impact the other models as well, sooner or later.

For 2021, the MT-09 gets a bump in displacement, with a liquid-cooled 889cc three-cylinder engine. It’s lighter than the 847cc engine it replaces, with more horsepower and broader torque range. Slip/assist clutch is standard, as you’d expect. Of course, it’s Euro5-compliant.

Yamaha says it re-worked almost every single internal part for the engine (new fuel injectors, pistons, connecting rods, camshafts and crankcase, and much more). The increased displacement comes thanks to 3mm-larger bores, so this is a big-bore job, not a stroker engine. Peak output is now a claimed 117 horsepower at 10,000 rpm (up 4 horsepower) with 68.6 pound-feet of torque at 7,000 rpm. That’s a slight increase, and it hits 1,500 rpm lower than the previous engine.

The MT-09 now has a ride-by-wire throttle, supposedly similar to the R1’s setup. Combined with a six-axis IMU, this allows Yamaha to program in some trick electronics, including leaning-sensitive traction control, a slide control system, wheelie control, and ABS. Switchable engine modes are also standard. There’s also an up/down quickshifter, a TFT dash and LED headlight. In other words, it’s all up-to-date componentry, not penny-pinching cheapo gadgets. 

Yamaha put fully-adjustable KYB forks up front, another smart move, as the MT line is sometimes panned for its budget suspension. There’s a new die-cast aluminum frame that’s supposedly stiffer and stronger, and lighter than the previous steel frame. The “SpinForged” wheels and swingarm are also aluminum, as you’d expect. 

So the new bike is supposedly more stable, has more power, and it’s also four kilos lighter (wet weight is 189 kilograms now—best in class, Yamaha claims!). Pricing now starts at $10,799; for more details, head over to Yamaha’s Canadian website

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