Test Ride: Yamaha MT-01 – Canada Moto Guide | Motorcycles catalog with specifications, pictures, ratings, reviews and discusssions

Test Ride: Yamaha MT-01 – Canada Moto Guide

25 May 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Test Ride: Yamaha MT-01 – Canada Moto Guide
Yamaha MT-01 Prototype

Test Ride: Yamaha MT-01

Yes Larry, WTF is that?

WTF is that thing?

That’s about the standard reaction I’d get whenever I’d pull up and park the Yamaha MT-01. Without question, it’s the most attention grabbing bike that I’ve ever ridden in all my years as a motorcycle journalist!

The shock of seeing the MT-01 doesn’t lessen when you examine it more closely. What’s with the huge air-cooled pushrod engine mated to a modern aluminum beam frame? The high-spec fully adjustable forks and shock unit?

Then there’s the two huge bazooka-like mufflers exit way high – above the turn signals high – and the snaking contortion of the exhausts is a pipe-builder’s nightmare.

And yet in spite of all these components, which in some way look like someone ran a giant magnet through a random collection of bits, somehow it’s got serious presence, in a don’t-f*ck-with-me-bubba kind of way.

You’ve got to give Yamaha credit for actually building the thing so closely to the prototype show bike that had jaws dropping back in 1999, at the Tokyo auto show.

The original idea, apparently, started with RD somehow squeezing a Warrior cruiser engine into an R1 frame (perhaps after a late-night saki session), and things proceeded from there.

Yamaha MT-01 Prototype
Yamaha MT-01 Prototype

The MT-01 engine no longer shares much with the Warrior – Yamaha says more than 90% of the parts have been changed, including a big weight-loss program on the crank and flywheel to let the MT engine spin up faster, plus a much bigger air box and the first EXUP exhaust valve Yamaha’s used on a twin.


While the redline is ridiculously low for anyone used to four-cylinder sport bikes (5,500 rpm, and it’s best to shift about 5,000 to avoid hitting The Mother of All Rev Limiters) the power delivery of the 48-degree V-twin is awesome. There’s a claimed maximum 110 ft-lb of torque available at 3,750 rpm, and the torque “curve” is about the flattest line you’ll ever see on a motorcycle dyno chart. That translates into instant pull at any rpm in any gear.

Horsepower? Who cares -torque rules, baby!

The bike is visceral in every sense, with big throttle openings at low revs creating big, low amplitude vibrations that roll your gut. Add to this a ferocious intake roar, an exhaust note you can’t believe made it into production (and supposedly meets upcoming Euro and California standards), and the occasional wicked barking spit or crackling burble on the over-run, and the MT-01 sounds as mean as it looks and as hard as it pulls.

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