It might look like it’s only had a minor change here and there, but the 2018 Yamaha MT-07 really has been dipped in Yamaha’s ‘improve’ glue.
When it first appeared four years ago, the Yamaha MT-07 caught a lot of the motorcycle market napping. Here was a bike that really could tick the ‘all things to all riders’ box and do so with a comparatively cheap price tag.
In an age of hyper bikes, the Yamaha MT-07 reminded a biking world that you don’t need launch control or mid-corner ABS to have a good time on two wheels. A brilliant chassis and eager engine, combined with a sort-of prone/sort-of upright riding position and minimal motorcycling fuss. What on earth was not to love about that original 2014 MT-07?
The suspension. hat’s what. It was okay for the package that it was in, but it was only okay. Built to a budget, the MT-07 was too soft on the front and rear. Which is fine and dandy if you want to commute and toddle of to the shops – but when you wanted to have some fun, the bouncy bits could get a bit annoying.
Step forward, friendly engineers of Yamaha for the second iteration of the 2018 Yamaha MT-07 and take a bow. Subtle but serious suspension fiddling has solved the problem. The bike still feels very similar to the old bike in 90% of your riding life, but in the 10% of smiles wide things have become a lot better.
With 130mm of travel at either end the 2018 Yamaha MT-07 is now more settled at pace and more compliant over things like speed humps and potholes. The bike’s front forks are 41mm KYB (Kayaba) units, boasting a 6% increase in spring rate and a 16% increase in rebound damping. The rear shock is a familiar KYB (Kayaba) item that has rebound adjustability with a more accessible spring preload adjuster.
Yamaha says that the back end of the bike now has 11% increased spring rate with 27% more high speed rebound damping and 40% more high speed compression damping. That’s a lot of percentage increases on the front and back springers – and you can instantly tell the improvement on the move. The whole bike feels more secure in what it’s doing. You can lead the 2018 Yamaha MT-07 easily but the bike will take care of things all by itself as you up the pace too.
This is a grown-up Yamaha – don’t let the smaller capacity fool you. We’ll get to the cosmetic changes in a minute, but before that the only other ‘real’ change to bike over what went before is with the seat. While there’s no real change in the actual 805mm seat height over the old model, the new bike’s rider and pillion perches have come in for some real re-design.
A big part of how diferent sitting on the bike feels (largely, more roomy) is down to the rear of the petrol tank being moved 10mm further forward. Both rider and pillion seats have been extended backwards too and the rider seat is actually more angular towards its front which means that it feels narrower near the back of the petrol tank, this is so that you can get your feet on the loor much more easily.
Yamaha calls this ‘stand over height’ – it’s a measurement taken from the bottom of one foot, up and over the front part of the rider’s seat and down to the sole of the other foot. If the seat front is narrowed then it’s easier
for your leg(s) to get to the floor. It’s a clever bit of engineering.
And if you’re a taller rider there’s also an atermarket accessory Sports Seat that gives you 28mm more seat height. Handy if you’re over 6t on the small-ish 2018 Yamaha MT-07. For me and my 5ft 10in, with 28in-long inside leg the standard seat height was pretty much spot on with an easy reach to the footrests which remained cramp-free during our day riding in Spain.
Elsewhere the frame, brakes, Euro 4-compliant 74bhp engine and virtually all the rest of the running gear stays, but the whole bike has been given an MT-family makeover to keep things in a pretty, pretty department on par with other models in the range.
Out on the ride the 2018 Yamaha MT-07 was very engaging. The old model was always fun with a nimble touch that encouraged you to explore what the Yamaha was capable of – but you often felt like the old suspension was letting the side down just a tad. he new bike’s springers match the rest of the bike’s personality and as you develop as a rider you’ll soon have the big hero blobs of the footrests.
The new 2018 Yamaha MT-07 is very noticeably better on the road, especially in quicker corners. It’s no sport bike and it doesn’t claim to be, but fourth gear runs licking from corner to corner on the Ronda road just outside of Malaga happened in a lovely, balanced, predictable manner.
One thing to mention was that in the slower sections of our test route, especially where the road was dirty, too much right hand with the bike leant over could get the back end moving on the corner exit a bit. I’ll be honest with you – this was really good fun and never once caused concern. Twenty years ago we’d have all called this ‘personality’ and said that it reflects the overtones of this fun middleweight bike. I’m still doing that.
The 2018 Yamaha MT-07 has lots of personality. It’s a fun bike to ride.
Okay, so at pace and if you’re a bit heavy-handed the suspension might feel a touch unrefined, but for 90% of riders on 99% of roads it’s fine. The MT isn’t an R1 and it never claims to be, it’s a cracking road bike. Throttle pick-up from a closed fist isn’t particularly smooth (something reminiscent of those irst-run MTs) but it’s nothing to write home about. Gear selection is lovely and the clutch spot on.
Without the interference of any sort of anti-slip malarkey you need to be sure about downchanges otherwise the bike will lock up the back wheel. Don’t let that scare you though, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s something real motorcycles (some would argue) do and to be honest, you shouldn’t have to rely on slipper clutches to be able to downchange without a lock up.
I know… there’ll be letters about me saying that…
That motor is a lovely thing. You’ll spend all of your time between 3000 and 7000rpm and the CP2 engine just barks torque at you in a linear way. It’s all very predictable and usable. Bit vibey though.
Looks-wise, the 2018 Yamaha MT-07 now gets the same face and bum as the MT-09 with a ‘wing’ under the headlight and two ‘wings’ fitted under the pillion seat (these can be removed when you want to it luggage). It’s a Yamaha MT family member through and through – and it doesn’t let you forget that.
The 2018 Yamaha MT-07 is a cracking small bike that’s much more of an all-rounder than the more expensive Triumph Street Triple and now, with those welcome revisions to the suspension and seat, it’s the bike I’d go for in this class. I really recommend that you get out there and try one.
2018 Yamaha MT-07 Specification
Engine: 689cc, liquid-cooled, parallel-twin
Power: 74bhp (55kW) @ 9000rpm
Torque: 50lb-ft (68Nm) @ 6500rpm
Frame: Steel diamond-type
Front suspension: Non-adjustable telescopic forks, 130mm travel
Rear suspension: Monoshock with no adjustability, 130mm travel
Front brakes: 4-piston calipers, 282mm discs
Rear brakes: 2-piston caliper, 245mm disc
Seat height: 805mm
Wet weight: 182kg
Fuel capacity: 14 litres