Yamaha seem to have picked an ideal class with which to make their comeback. There’s a good reason why Triumph’s Street Triple has been one of the most successful bikes of recent years and why MV Agusta have followed that format with their mid-sized Brutale models. Those bikes are proof that squeezing a compact three-cylinder engine into a stiff aluminium-framed chassis, then bolting a pair of handlebars to the top can create a torquey, light and hugely entertaining machine.
Yamaha wanted all that from their naked triple and the statistics suggest that they found it. Their 847-cc, DOHC, 12-valve engine produces a healthy maximum of 115 PS and, equally importantly, makes substantially more torque throughout its rev range than the FZ8’s four-cylinder unit. The triple’s new cast aluminium twin-spar frame and swing-arm help give a claimed wet weight of 188 kg, just five kilos up on the less powerful Triumph’s figure and far lower than rival Japanese fours.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Yamaha have managed to turn their backs on years of high prices and bring the MT-09 to market at a figure that will undercut the Street Triple in most countries. The slim, sharply styled new triple looks good in photos, in a choice of four colour schemes. It looks good on the spec sheet and it’s still looking good when you reach the bottom line. Time to ride…
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