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  • Sarah Merrell

Testing Out Yamaha's MT-09

Updated: Jul 5, 2019

Sarah Merrell Yamaha MT-09

The first time I saw Yamaha's MT-09 I was immediately intrigued. I own a supermoto and an R6, and both of these bikes are very different. I love how my supermoto is light and agile and amazing in tight, twisty corners while the R6 has the power I need on the track and for more aggressive riding. My hope was that the MT-09 would be a cross between the two. The thought of having a bike that's comfortable and nimble, yet still sporty with plenty of power and torque was enough to make to make me salivate. So, when an opportunity through Yamaha Motor USA and Women's Sportbike Rally West arose, and I was offered their 2018 MT-09 to ride for four days, I was like a kid at Christmas. I could finally test out the MT-09 and see if it would meet my expectations.

First Impressions - Day One

I arrived at the Yamaha offices in Cypress, California to pick up the bike, and my first impression was that it looked big compared to my R6 and I wondered if the larger engine displacement would make it heavy. I was pleasantly surprised when I sat on it though. It wasn't as tall as I first thought. I could easily plant both feet on the ground. And once I took off, I was also surprised how light it felt. It's 425 lbs which is about the same as my 2nd generation R6. I also should mention, that when I took off, it was like, "whoa!" This bike has some real torque--which isn't surprising considering the "MT" in the name stands for Master of Torque." It took me some time to get comfortable with the throttle and amount of torque, but after a couple hours on the bike, I started to get a better feel for it. We took the bikes to Mulholland Drive and the curvy roads to the Rock Store, and I was impressed that the bike felt similar to my supermoto in the corners--light and agile. It felt right at home in curves.

Getting Comfortable - Day Two

Although I was on the bike for pretty much the entire day after picking up the bike, I was thrilled that I wasn't sore at all the next day! If I had spent that amount of time on my sportbike, I would have woke up feeling like I had been hit by a car. The MT-09 is so comfortable. The upright body positioning is really nice on long rides and I love the foot placement and body positioning. It's forward enough that it felt good hitting the corners and leaning off the bike, but it's upright enough that it has plenty of comfort. On the second day with the bike, I rode it from Morro Bay along the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur and back. And again, I was on the bike all day with no soreness.

Seeing What It Can Do - Day Three

After two days on the MT-09 I started feeling more confident and ready to pick up speed on day 3. We rode from Morro Bay to Pozo, California and back and this route offered some nice open roads with very little traffic as well as some curves. The throttle response on the MT-09 is immediate and started to really enjoy the torque--I just had to be very smooth on the throttle. The bike certainly has power. I began seeing that this bike truly is like my supermoto and R6 had a baby. The one downside I found while getting on the throttle though and accelerating was the wind resistance. Since it's a naked bike, there's no wind screen. There are ones you can buy of course, but this bike didn't have one. With the wind resistance being as strong as it is when accelerating, I recommend getting the screen.

Not Wanting to Give It Back - Day Four

On the last day with the bike, we left Morro Day and took highway 33 through Los Padres National Forest. This road was amazing! It was like The Dragon of the west coast--very twisty with breathtaking scenic views. It's probably one of my favorite roads now. The best part was that I was really starting to feel at home on the bike, so I had a blast carving through the canyons. The MT-09 corners really well and makes it feel easy. Also, even after all those consecutive days of riding and taking the twisties through Los Padres into Ojai, I wasn't tired or achy. The ergonomics of the bike are pretty stellar. We took a break in Ventura and then headed the rest of the way back to Cypress to return the bikes to Yamaha. Those last few miles I felt disappointed. I started to bond with the bike and loved how it handled and felt. I didn't want to say goodbye!

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think Yamaha did a great job on the MT-09. It's just a good, solid, versatile motorcycle. It's a great fit for anyone who wants the comfort of a more upright bike without sacrificing sportiness, power and torque. I wouldn't trade it for my R6. I still prefer the body positioning of my R6 for more aggressive riding, like the track. But after spending time on the MT-09, I definitely think it will be my next bike. You can never have too many motorcycles, right?

Are you a woman considering a bike? Watch this video as I share thoughts on why I think it's a great bike for women.

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