Yamaha beefed up its MT-07 ahead of 2021 with a handful of improvements and updates. This marks the first major update for the Master of Torque since the rebranding from the FZ tag it carried for so long in the U.S. market. Engine tuning, design updates, safety equipment adjustments, and ergonomic tweaks all made it onto this newest iteration of the hyper-naked MT-07.
Yamaha updated its twin-cylinder mill with integrated 2-into-1 headers and muffler, an optimized fuel injection system, and tweaks to the engine control unit. The changes improve and broaden the powerband on the MT-07.
An 80 mm bore and short 68.6 mm bore gives it a displacement of 689 cc and moderately warm, 11.5-to-1 compression ratio with liquid-cooling to deal with the waste heat. The reworked four-poppet heads have new valve seats that resist wear and abrasion better.
This is a CP2 engine, which means it boasts Yamaha’s Crossplane Concept crankshaft. Its throw has a 270-degree offset, delivering a loping burble at idle and tractable power at the top end. The overall power numbers remain the same. The Yamaha MT-07 generates 74 ponies and 50 pounds of grunt on tap.
The transmission saw some improvements as well with new angles cut on the dog sliders to aid in engagement, and the gear ratios in the six-speed gearbox are set to minimize the need to shift in low- to mid-range operation. Overall, at the top end and in top gear, you can expect a Yamaha MT-07 top speed of 133 mph though individual results may vary.
The new MT-07 joins its big brother, the MT-09, in the third generation of MT aesthetics. The changes start right out of the gate with a new headlight housing, eliminating the large cyclops lens with a small LED projector.
Like its predecessor, the new MT-07 carries ram-air ducts on either side of the fuel tank. They are now molded into the tank like they grew there rather than looking like something added as an afterthought. New textured knee pads ride behind the ducts to give you some traction for your knees.
The exhaust headers now come with a heat shield, something definitely lacking in the previous generation. The turn signals, front and rear, were also modernized. They have a compact shape and LEDs ensure your visibility to the surrounding traffic, even in daylight and under harsh artificial lighting. The redesigned LED taillight wraps up the styling changes for the 2021 model year.
Among the things that didn’t change are the short risers and slight pullback in the new tapered handlebar. The bar is a whopping 32 mm wider and 12 mm taller than before. This defines a somewhat relaxed rider’s triangle that lets you push off a bit for a more upright riding position. It gives your neck, wrists, and shoulders a break since you can push off a bit, but there’s still plenty of room to tuck in for speed or to throw around a little English in the corners.
Also new is the multi-function negative LCD display that replaces the old instrumentation. Designed specifically for the MT-07 cockpit, the black background display has white read-outs and red bars for rpm over 10k.
A narrow waist meets a pared-down saddle to give you a straight shot from hip to ground. The saddle rides 31.7 inches off the deck, so that skinny waist will be most welcome by riders with shorter inseams as it will increase confidence when you put your feet down.
A very abbreviated, steel-tubing front frame on the MT-07 bolts directly to the engine. The engine serves as a stressed member making the connection to the rear frame section and keeping weight low at 406 pounds soaking wet.
The steering head sets a rake angle of 24.5 degrees with a short, 3.5 inches of trail to give the MT some decidedly-aggressive cornering behavior. It’s hard to find numbers much shorter than that in either metric, except maybe on bona fide race bikes. This bodes well for the overall fun-factor.
Cast-aluminum 17-inch wheels roll in a 10-spoke pattern and contribute to minimizing weight. This move reduces inertia in the suspension system and allows the suspension to be more supple and responsive.
As for the suspension itself, the front end floats on right-way-up KYB forks with fixed values. Out back, the rear shock rocks adjustable rebound and preload to give you some control over your ride. Both ends turn in 5.1 inches of travel which lands toward the top of the range for street bikes and should be ample for your favorite urban jungle.
The brakes, updated for 2021, have four-piston calipers that bite dual front discs. The discs are larger. They’ve increased in diameter to 298 mm opposite a 245 mm disc out back with ABS all around.
Whether you pick the Cyan Storm, Team Yamaha Blue, or the Matte Raven Black paint package, you’ll pay the same. The Yamaha MT-07 costs $7,899 for 2022. If you’re looking for a Yamaha MT-07 for sale, you’ll find them in dealerships now.
As a member of the Big Four, the main Japanese motorcycle manufacturer, Yamaha has no shortage of competition especially when we consider the European market. It’s a game of inches as the major marques seek an edge in street performance, and with that in mind, I grabbed Kawasaki’s Supernaked Z650 to see how it stacks up against the new MT-07.
Lookswise, these two rides are the epitome of the naked-streetfighter genre with a dearth of bodywork so the powerplant is well visible and there is little left to the imagination. Stocky and compact, the Kawi strikes a similar figure, and the differences in aesthetics come down mainly to brand influence.
The Z650 takes a hit in the suspension. It has adjustable rear preload as the only variable to leave Yamaha with a clear advantage, however slight.
A parallel-twin mill delivers the goods with 48.5 pound-feet of torque on tap. This cedes a slim advantage to Yamaha.
I guess it’s a point in Kawasaki’s favor that it offers its Z650 in a non-ABS variant, some racer or trickster might like that. I think it’s worth the $500 extra for that safety net.
The non-ABS Z650 rolls for $7,249 while the ABS version fetches $7,749. If you were counting on price to be the tiebreaker, you’ll have to use some other metric.
“Seems like a solid ride, though I can’t help but notice the lack of ride-control electronics. To be fair, I guess it was a trade-off to keep the sticker shock down. It’s not an uncommon practice, but there’s definitely some room for improvement as electronic systems become more readily available and inexpensive. The MT line has been around for a minute and looks to be here for the foreseeable future so maybe fandanglery is in the future.”
My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The updates on the MT-07 for 2021 give us better low-rpm throttle response that was a bit jinky in the previous gen and the new cut angles on the dog gears in the transmission improves shifting that was a bit clunky before.”
“Among the whole host of aesthetic improvements, I find the new instrument display probably my favorite. The black background and white read-out are sharp and I find it more legible under a wider range of light conditions.”
”Everything considered, the new MT-07 is a nice beginner’s bike. It’s also a nice bike for riders whose skills are well beyond entry-level.”
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