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2021 Yamaha MT-09 MC Commute Review

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Yamaha’s always driven a hard bargain with its FZ turned MT-09 naked bike. But with the third iteration, the Tuning Fork triple really hits its stride. Featuring extra power, electronics, sport handling, and overall refinement, the 2021 MT-09 ($9,399) is a middleweight-plus-size streetbike that you should consider riding.

There’s a lot to like about Yamaha’s versatile and fun MT-09 naked bike as we learn in this review.

There’s a lot to like about Yamaha’s versatile and fun MT-09 naked bike as we learn in this review. (Joseph Agustin/)
Editor’s note: We test rode the ’21 MT-09 during the Yamaha Builds A Better Triumph - 2021 MT-09 Review and video. Have a look at the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 First Look Preview to get up to speed on the technical improvements. The MT-09 competes with the following models, which we have recently reviewed: 2020 Triumph Street Triple RS MC Commute Review, 2020 Suzuki GSX-S750 MC Commute Review, 2020 KTM 890 Duke R Review MC Commute, 2020 BMW F 900 R MC Commute Review, and 2019 Honda CB650R First Ride Review.

With the arrival ‘21 model, the MT-09 comes of age. We appreciate its well-rounded performance and value inside the naked bike class.

With the arrival ‘21 model, the MT-09 comes of age. We appreciate its well-rounded performance and value inside the naked bike class. (Joseph Agustin/)
There are a lot of things working for the MT-09, but the bigger 890cc CP3 inline-three remains the highlight. With its added piston stroke the powerband is wider with plenty of oomph as the clutch is released. So much so that first and second gear are taller.

The MT-09 features balanced ergonomics that are a good compromise between everyday comfort and sport use.

The MT-09 features balanced ergonomics that are a good compromise between everyday comfort and sport use. (Joseph Agustin/)
Hard on the throttle the engine impresses with its rowdy note and induction roar that sounds almost identical to the Hinkley brand’s triple. Nice.

We appreciate the subtle styling touches like the “Dark Side of Japan” logo inside the LED taillight.

We appreciate the subtle styling touches like the “Dark Side of Japan” logo inside the LED taillight. (Joseph Agustin/)
But this version is smoother with less engine vibration. Herky-jerky throttle response is a thing of the past and the throttle mapping is as accurate as ride-by-wire bikes come these days. YZF-R1-sourced traction, slide and wheelie control are standard and easily manipulated via the handlebar-mounted switch gear.

The MT-09 is as home in the city as it is outside of it during apex strafing missions.

The MT-09 is as home in the city as it is outside of it during apex strafing missions. (Joseph Agustin Photography/)
The ergonomics are balanced and a good compromise between upright comfort and sport appeal. The seat is nice and comfy too. Riders who desire extra cornering clearance can raise the position of the footpegs.

The MT-09 is powered by a larger 890cc CP3 engine (physical size remains the same, however). The engine is loaded with torque and has a pleasing sound and overall character.

The MT-09 is powered by a larger 890cc CP3 engine (physical size remains the same, however). The engine is loaded with torque and has a pleasing sound and overall character. (Joseph Agustin/)
A 3.5-inch color TFT display keeps tabs on it all, including the 3.7-gallon fuel tank. During the course of our test ride we registered 41 mpg at a mostly spirited pace. Crisp fonts and easy menu navigation make it easy to monitor settings, however the screen size could be larger.

Yamaha’s naked bike is a hoot to ride at speed. The wiggle-wobble handling is a thing of the past and the chassis offers elevated road holding.

Yamaha’s naked bike is a hoot to ride at speed. The wiggle-wobble handling is a thing of the past and the chassis offers elevated road holding. (Joseph Agustin/)
Weighing in at a claimed 417 pounds with fuel, the MT-09 is easy to ride. It feels more nimble than it is, considering its engine displacement. The suspension continues to do a fine job of filtering bumps yet offers more support at speed through corners. The chassis is more planted than we remember and the grip provided from the OE-fitted Bridgestone Battlax S22 tires is excellent. Full suspension damping adjustment is now standard so you can tweak handling.

The MT-09’s seat isn’t too tall, nor too short. It proved comfortable during the course of our 93-mile test ride.

The MT-09’s seat isn’t too tall, nor too short. It proved comfortable during the course of our 93-mile test ride. (Joseph Agustin/)
Triple disc hydraulic brakes shed speed and offer more lever feel courtesy of the R1-sourced radial master cylinder. Adjustable-level ABS is also standard, with cornering function (BC2 mode). It’s a functional braking package that matches the acceleration and handling performance of the MT well.

We’re big fans of the sound, character, and feel of the 890cc CP3 engine. Throttle response is also greatly improved versus previous versions.

We’re big fans of the sound, character, and feel of the 890cc CP3 engine. Throttle response is also greatly improved versus previous versions. (Joseph Agustin/)
Although the tank feels wide at the top. The seating position is nice and slim. We also appreciate the neutral bend of the handlebar.

Although the tank feels wide at the top. The seating position is nice and slim. We also appreciate the neutral bend of the handlebar. (Joseph Agustin/)
With the introduction of the ’21 MT-09, Yammie’s triple-cylinder naked bike arrives at adulthood. The previous squawks, including somewhat mushy handling and synthetic throttle response, are erased and the new version has much better synergy between each component. This nets a motorcycle that’s as practical as it is fun to ride. And the best part, it won’t break the bank owning it.

Despite its engine size, the MT-09 feels lighter and more nimble than its displacement implies.

Despite its engine size, the MT-09 feels lighter and more nimble than its displacement implies. (Joseph Agustin/)
Gear Box

Helmet: Arai Signet-X

Jacket: Alpinestars Hyper Drystar

Pant: Alpinestars Copper V2

Gloves: Alpinestars T-SP W Drystar

Boots: Alpinestars CR-X Drystar

2021 Yamaha MT-09 Technical Specifications And Price

The Tuning Fork brand offers incredible performance and value in the middleweight-plus-sized naked bike class with its 2021 MT-09 ($9,399).

The Tuning Fork brand offers incredible performance and value in the middleweight-plus-sized naked bike class with its 2021 MT-09 ($9,399). (Joseph Agustin /)
Price:$9,399
Engine:890cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled, inline-three; 4 valves/cyl.
Bore x Stroke:78.0 x 62.1mm
Compression Ratio:11.5:1
Fuel Delivery:Fuel injection w/ YCC-T
Clutch:Wet, multiplate assist and slipper clutch w/ Quick Shift System
Transmission/Final Drive:6-speed/chain
Frame:Die-cast aluminum Deltabox frame
Front Suspension:41mm KYB inverted fork, spring preload, compression, and rebound damping adjustable, 5.1 in. travel
Rear Suspension:KYB shock, spring preload and rebound damping adjustable, 4.8 in. travel
Front Brakes:NIssin master cylinder, 298mm discs w/ ABS
Rear Brake:245mm disc w/ ABS
Wheels, Front/Rear:Spin-forged, 10-spoke aluminum
Tires, Front/Rear:Bridgestone Battlax S22; 120/70-17 / 180/55-17
Rake/Trail:25.0°/4.3 in.
Wheelbase:56.3 in.
Seat Height:32.5 in.
Fuel Capacity:3.7 gal.
Claimed Wet Weight:417 lb.
Warranty:1-year limited factory warranty
Available:January 2021
Contact:yamahamotorsports.com
 
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