Say what you like about the new European licence laws, but the truth of the matter is that these changes have sparked the development of some exciting new bikes just when we need them the most. Middleweight machines such as Kawasaki’s ER-6 range and new Honda’s CB500s have all been designed with European riders in mind and have brought with them a fresh new attitude and spirited performance that has captured new rider’s imaginations. Now Yamaha have unveiled their entry into the middleweight parallel twin market, the MT-07, and it’s absolutely brilliant.
With a price tag of just £5199 (£5499 with ABS) you would be forgiven for thinking that this is some cheap commuting hack. However far from it, the MT-07 is a ground-up new machine whose price, like the MT-09 triple, has been kept down thanks to clever engineering while at the same time injected with a hefty dose of attitude. This isn’t a ‘worthy’ commuter like the CBs, this is a fun middleweight that punches well above its weight and offers far more than just cheap and economical commuting.
Like the MT-09, the MT-07’s styling is minimalist and angular and doesn’t appear at all budget. There are nice touches such as the asymmetric swingarm (which is made of steel but looks aluminium), the monoblock calipers with wave discs, the wide wheels (taken from the MT-09) and the styled engine cases. Visually it all adds up to a very appealing package, however it’s when you ride the Yamaha that you are truly impressed.
Fire up the parallel twin and it purrs quietly through the under-engine exhaust system, To be honest, at first it’s a little disappointing and for a bike that looks so good you want it to sound a bit better (Akrapovic can help cure this), but as soon as the clutch is out that feeling of disappointment is banished.
MT stands for Master Torque and the MT-07’s bottom end is stacked full of the stuff. From as low as 2,500rpm the Yamaha pulls with a lovely clean and strong spread of grunt as its little parallel twin eagerly springs into life. The engine is virtually vibration free, which does feel a bit odd, but it manages to blend power and performance perfectly. If you want to play the fool the MT will happily wheelie off the throttle in second gear or third with a hint of clutch, but if you don’t it is equally accomplished at zipping forward with no hint of throttle snatch and a lovely slick gearbox action. In town its light weight (just 179kg) makes it maneuverable and agile, however it is out of town that the fun really starts.
Thanks to its ‘proper’ size wheels and balanced chassis, the MT-07 is a very accomplished b-road assassin. The suspension’s adjustment is pretty minimal (just shock spring preload), however that doesn’t matter as the damping is excellent and the weight distribution just about spot on. Push on and you can make the pegs scrape, but that is more a testament of how good the chassis is rather than any inherent lack of ground clearance.
amaha are marketing this bike at younger riders aged between 20-34 years old (an A2-compliant restriction kit is available) but I reckon those more experienced should also seriously consider it. As a frugal commuter the MT-07 would be excellent and Yamaha claim it can return economy figures of around 70mpg. However get it on a twisty country road and the agile chassis and peppy motor makes this an absolute hoot that makes you grin for ear to ear. The MT-07 is a bike that manages to hit that magical balance between practicality and fun, and with a price tag of just £5199 it is also incredible value for money.
+ points: Price, handling, engine
– points: The seat could be more comfortable
2014 Yamaha MT-07
Engine: 689cc water-cooled parallel twin, 8v
Power: 73hp@ 9,000rpm
Torque: 50lb ft@ 6,500rpm
Top speed: 130mph (est)
Weight: 179kg (wet)
MPG: 65mpg (est)
Price: £5,199 (ABS £5,499)