With models ranging from sportbikes to the Ténéré 700 adventure bike, Yamaha’s motorcycle lineup has something for everyone. And that includes fans of naked bikes, sporty standard motorcycles with stripped-down styling. Earlier this year it introduced its entry-level naked bike, the MT-03. And now the curtain’s been drawn back over a returning model, the Yamaha MT-09. However, for 2021, it has an additional trim, the MT-09 SP. But is the new SP’s higher cost worth it?
Yamaha originally launched the MT-09 in 2014 under a different name: FZ-09, in the US. However, the naked bike was only called that in the US; elsewhere, it was called the MT-09. The name confusion came to end in 2018 when the bike’s name was made ‘MT-09’ worldwide.
The Yamaha MT-09’s last major update came in 2017, when the bike’s suspension, seat, and electronics were upgraded. The changes for 2021, though, are a bit more extensive.
The 2021 Yamaha MT-09 has a brand-new aluminum chassis, new aluminum wheels, and overall weighs 8 pounds (3.62kg) less than the 2020 model. It also has a slightly shorter wheelbase and more ground clearance.
The 2021 Yamaha MT-09’s engine is still a three-cylinder, but it’s been enlarged from 847cc to 890cc. Its internal components have also been upgraded, as has its fuel-injection system, intake, and exhaust. As a result, it now makes 117 hp and 69 lb-ft.
To cope with the extra power, the 2021 MT-09 has a stronger slipper-assist clutch and an upgraded quick-shifter. The bike also has a fully-adjustable KYB fork and adjustable KYB rear shock. As before, it has Nissin disc brakes with ABS. The naked bike’s adjustable footpegs and handlebar clamps are new, though.
However, arguably the biggest change for the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 is to its electronics. The naked bike now comes with a 3.5” TFT display, as well as traction control, wheelie control, and slide control. The 2021 MT-09 also sports several driving modes, including a customizable one. Plus, the ABS now adjusts itself based on lean angle.
The 2021 Yamaha MT-09, though, gives the naked bike even more.
How does the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP differ from the standard bike?
This isn’t the first time Yamaha has offered an MT-09 SP. The ‘SP’ appellation (for ‘Sport Production’) has appeared on several Yamaha bikes in the past. And in 2018, it was the MT-09’s turn.
The 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP has echoes of that 2018 bike. First, the rear KYB shock is replaced by a fully-adjustable Ohlins shock. The front fork is still from KYB, but it’s an upgraded unit with additional compression damping capability,. This new fork also has a diamond-like coating so it slides more easily.
Besides the suspension, the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP gets a unique paint scheme, a stitched seat, and a brushed-finish swingarm. And unlike the standard bike, it has standard cruise control. Though to activate it, the rider must be in at least 4th gear and going at least 31 mph.
Is it worth buying over the standard bike?
We have not heard from local Yamaha agent Hong Leong Corporation yet on the pricing structure so we'll just have to wait and see if the pricing difference between the "standard" Yamaha MT-09 and the "upgraded" Yamaha MT-09 SP is worth the creature comforts and performance parts.
What do you think? Is this one of the best Class 2 naked bikes around? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!
P.S. We've had VERY mixed reactions over the new design of the front headlight. Are you a fan? Or would you rather they have kept the headlight design from the previous model.
The Yamaha MT-09 is distribution by Yamaha's Singapore authorised distributor:
Hong Leong Corporation - Yamaha Motor Singapore
Address: 178 Paya Lebar Rd, Singapore 409030
Phone: 6749 0588