REVIEWED: 2021 Yamaha MT-07

REVIEWED: 2021 Yamaha MT-07

Yamaha’s masters of torque are back for 2021 with updates ranging from the cosmetic to the extensive. Arguably one of the best ‘bang-for-buck’ ranges in motorcycling, a new MT release is always eagerly awaited. The 2021 Yamaha MT-07 is no exception.

For the 2021 model year, notwithstanding the obligatory need to meet Euro-5, changes to the MT-07 are mostly aesthetic. A striking new LED headlight cluster adds some modern flair, as does the new twin winglet air intakes.

Changes aside, can the new MT-07 simultaneously live up to the MT moniker, whilst also holding off some new competition outside of Japan from the likes of Triumph and Aprilia?

Overview

First released in 2015, Yamaha’s MT-07 quickly became a popular choice amongst those looking at the small to middle-weight naked market. Aggressively styled, light, agile, and with torque on tap, it was always going to be a intriguing proposition. Add its relatively low price point into the equation, and it became an absolute no-brainer.

This year’s MT-07 picks up where previous models left off. Sure Yamaha’s design team have had some input, yet at its core it’s still the same MT-07 we’ve come to love. And when you’ve already found a winning formula, why change for change sake?

Performance

Powered by a 689cc two-cylinder engine, the Yamaha MT-07 pushes out 73.4 HP – or 54 kW – at 9000 RPM and 67 Nm of peak torque at 6500 RPM.

Despite having the high output version on test, it’s worth noting that the model is also available in a restricted version for new riders. In that configuration engine capacity has been reduced to 655cc’s, with peak power and torque restricted to meet Australia’s Learner Approved Motorcycle Scheme (LAMS).

Having just reviewed Triumph’s new Trident 660, I was in the perfect position to see if the new version of the MT-07 was still king of the small to middle weight hyper-naked castle. Interestingly, coming off the restricted Trident power delivery on the MT-07 felt a little flat, especially early in the rev range. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still peppy, it just doesn’t feel as exciting as the Triumph.

With peak power coming on at 9000 RPM, you really need to keep the CP2 engine spinning to get the most out of it. Thankfully the MT-07 is more than obliging, thoroughly satisfying the rider that holds revs between 6500 and 8500 RPM.

Ride

As I pulled away on the MT-07 for the first time, the first thing I noticed was how light it was. It felt almost cartoony, as if you could tuck the bike under your arm to pop it in the garage at journey’s end.

Not as planted as the Trident, although much more nimble, the chassis on the MT-07 is a thing of beauty. Where the Triumph rewards the clinical rider, the Yamaha rewards the hooligan. Highly flickable and a bucket load of fun, the short wheelbase and low kerb weight make cornering on the MT-07 an absolute breeze.

The forks and rear suspension are also highly capable. Whilst non-adjustable, they do a good job of striking that delicate balance of being comfortable in urban environments, and well capable through the twisties at the weekend. Sure they can be a little hard around town – but then again aren’t all hooligans?

Despite its proclivity for looseness, the MT-07 is also the perfect commuter. At only 184 kg wringing wet and with enough power to get you out of trouble, it filters through traffic like a hot knife through butter.

The brakes are OK, but nothing to write home about. Sure they’ll pull you up when you need them too, however they’re not as razor sharp as others in the class.    

Styling

For 2021, the Yamaha MT-07 has undergone some style changes. The bars are 15mm wider either side, and sit a little higher than the previous model, opening up the ergonomics a little and providing good leverage to tip into corners.

The bodywork benefits from new twin winglet-type air intakes that add some bulk to bike, whilst new slimline LED indicators and the addition of the new projector style LED headlight round out the subtle by striking design changes for the 21 model year.

If you’re looking at the high output version, I hope you like black, as your only option is the ‘Tech Black’ colour scheme. However, new riders are spoilt for choice, with the LAMS version offered in ‘Icon Blue’, ‘Storm Fluo’ as well as the aforementioned ‘Tech Black’. Luckily – I like black.

Despite the angular appearance of the headlight, tank and rear cowl, the rest of the MT-07 is fairly clean and sparse. The exhaust is neatly tucked up underneath the bike, the switchgear is minimal and the dash is a compact LCD unit with all the information you need and nothing you don’t.

The competition

Pros
  • Price. At $13,199 ride away, it’s a steal!
  • Chassis is a thing of beauty
  • So very light and nimble
Cons
  • Power delivery a little muted
  • Lack of colour options if you’re looking at the high output version. Might as well buy the MT-09
  • LCD dash seems a little dated when compared to the competition
In summary

Having announced earlier in the year that I thought the Triumph Trident 660 was not only one of the best LAMS bikes of 2021, but also one of the best small to middle-weight nakeds available period – the 2021 Yamaha MT-07 has some stiff competition this year.

It’s not as smooth and planted as the Trident, and with its lower spec suspension, brakes and tech, it’s not as well equipped either. But boy is it fun to ride. It’s light, nimble, and just loves to be thrown around, and for these reasons alone, it’s still one of the best hyper-nakeds available on the market today.

Time will tell if the aging MT-07 will continue to command the markets attention. However for now, long live the king!

2021 Yamaha MT-07 Specs/Features:
  • Engine displacement: 689cc
  • Power: 73.4hp (54 kW) at 9000 RPM
  • Torque: 67 Nm at 6500 RPM
  • Engine type: liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve, 2-cylinder
  • Clutch: wet
  • Gearbox: constant mesh 6-speed
  • Final drive: chain
  • Fork: telescopic forks with 130 mm of travel
  • Suspension: swingarm link suspension with 130 mm of travel
  • Front brake: hydraulic dual two-piston calipers on twin 298 mm discs
  • Rear brake: hydraulic single-piston caliper on a single 245 mm disc
  • Wheels: 17 inch front and rear with Michelin ‘Road 5’ tyres as standard
  • Weight: 184 kg (wet)
  • Fuel tank: 14 litres
  • Seat height: 805 mm
  • ABS as standard
  • LCD instruments
  • LED lighting all round
  • Price as tested: $13,199 AUD (ride away – based on postcode 2000)

  • 2021_MT-07_STUDIO_LSF
  • 2021_MT-07_STUDIO_RSF
  • 2021_MT-07_STUDIO_LS
  • 2021_MT-07_STUDIO_RS

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