2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos

Yamaha brings its naked entry-level ride to the U.S.

LISTEN 11:09

Yamaha expands its MT lineup with an all-new-in-2022, entry-level model, the MT-03. Previously available in other markets, it joins the MT-07, -09, and -10 within Yamaha’s hyper-naked range it touts as the “Dark Side of Japan.” The MT-03 toes the family line with minimalist appointments that waste not an ounce on superfluous details. Power delivery is both smooth and predictable to reinforce its rider-friendly nature. ABS protection provides an extra safety net to help make sure you keep it rubber side down.

  • 2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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2022 Yamaha MT-03 Performance and Capability

2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos Exterior
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A compact, liquid-cooled, rev-loving new parallel-twin engine in the MT-03 produces 41 horsepower at a lofty 10,750 RPM and 21.8 pound-feet of torque that tops out at 9000 rpm. The 180-out crankshaft configuration and counterbalancer ensure that power delivery is smooth throughout the range. This gives it a definite leg up against the single-cylinder, the bottom-displacement competition out there. Lookin’ at you, KTM.

2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Dual over-head cams time the four-valve heads with a downdraft-style intake that relies on a fuel-injected throttle body to regulate the induction. Throttle control is plain vanilla with no ride-quality subsystems to complicate things.

The factory borrows from the MT-10 sibling for its forged aluminum pistons. It uses its proprietary DiASil cylinder coating to reduce friction and extend the service life of the top end by keeping wear to a minimum.

Power flows through a standard clutch to the six-speed transmission and a tough chain drive to put the power to the pavement. The lightweight, low windage and overall gearing turn in an impressive 56 MPG on average. Yamaha claims a 112 MPH top speed on the MT-03.

Engine & Drivetrain
Engine: Liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke; 4 valves
Displacement: 321 cc
Bore x Stroke: 68.0 mm × 44.1 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.2:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection
Transmission: Constant mesh 6-speed; wet multiplate clutch
Final Drive: Chain

Design

The Tuning Fork Company calls this its “Dark Lightning” look and looking at the MT-03, it’s easy to see why. Generous blackout treatment gives it a dark, sinister panache with very few shiny bits. This understated look leaves you with the impression of a machine that is all business and no fluff with an essential nature that not only wastes no money on unnecessary bits but also adds no useless weight either.

The blackened front fender and fork stanchions play well with the color front wheel for a nice bit of contrast. That continues out back with another one to offset the black swingarm and exhaust system.

A pair of marker lights brighten the blackout headlight housing with an angry squint above the single, super-bright LED headlight. LED tech continues into the long, skinny, standoff-style turn signals that grace both ends of the machine. The position of the forward blinkers gives them a pretty good chance of surviving a drop in the parking lot, which is a notable detail on a bike that’s billed as an entry-level ride.

2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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As a bonus, the LED emitters have proven themselves to be reliable over a long lifespan. Even under less-than-ideal conditions, they keep on ticking and they draw very little power and generate very little heat. Behind the compact and stylish flyscreen, a large LCD panel takes care of all of the instrumentation and makes a clean control area.

Short risers and a low-rise handlebar push your hands up and away from the triple tree to give the rider’s triangle a rather upright component. That takes the pressure off your wrists and shoulders and makes for low stress on your neck. Plus, it’s short enough to leave room for you to tuck in if you feel like getting jiggy with it in the twisties.

The 3.7-gallon fuel tank bears broad shoulders and a narrow rear end to create knee pockets so you can pull your legs in out of the slipstream and have room for some proper body English. Air scoops add some visual mass up forward to give it an all-up-front look and tie in with the rest of the MT line.

2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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With a seat height of 30.7 inches, it is relatively low making it easier for you to reach the ground. That’s especially important on entry-level bikes to boost confidence and control at low speeds.

There’s a p-pad and fold-up, subframe-mount footpegs for your passenger, but nothing in the way of J.C. handles for them to hang onto. There’s just the obligatory strap that provides the final points of contact and leaves the rear-end looking clean.

The tail tapers down to a rather sharp point with the taillight lens molded right in. Below, there’s the short mudguard-style assembly that acts as a one-stop-shop for the license plate, taillight, and rear blinkers. All in all, the MT-03 is a very sporty-looking ride that should make for a great platform for folks looking to take the naked-sportbike path through life.

Yamaha MT-03 Specs
L x W x H: 82.3 in x 29.7 in x 42.1 in
Seat Height: 30.7 in
Wheelbase: 54.3 in
Maximum Ground Clearance: 6.3 in
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal
Fuel Economy: 56 mpg
Wet Weight: 373 lb

Chassis

2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Welded, tubular-steel members make up the diamond-type frame on the MT-03, and the engine itself is part of the structure to keep the overall weight low. A 22.6-inch long, asymmetrical swingarm articulates for the rear wheel with a pivot point that’s set close to the vehicle center, A preload-adjustable Monocross rear shock tames the motion through no less than seven presets so you have lots of flexibility in your setup.

The steering head sets up a rake angle of 25 degrees with a short, 3.7 inches of trail over a 54.3-inch wheelbase to make this machine very willing in the corners with a high level of flickability and quick reversals. A 373-pound wet weight helps with that, though you can probably count on less-than-ideal tracking in crosswinds. Honestly, you ought to expect that.

2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Inverted, 37 mm KYB front forks soak up the abuse with 5.1 inches of travel opposite the mono-shock that gives up 4.9 inches of travel. This is plenty for the urban jungle and paved country roads.

The hoops are symmetrical with a 17-inch wheel diameter that mount a 110/70 up front and a 140/70 out back. For the brakes, there’s a single 298 mm front disc and twin-pot anchor to slow the front wheel opposite a 220 mm disc and single-piston caliper. This may seem a little light, but this is an entry-level bike so they’re quite adequate for the application.

2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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ABS comes with the stock equipment package and looks to be non-switchable. Whether you like it or not, you’ve got that looking after you as the only safety electronics on the whole bike.

Chassis & Suspension
Suspension, Front/Travel: 37 mm KYB® inverted fork/ 5.1 in
Suspension, Rear/Travel: Single shock; 7-step preload adjustable/ 4.9 in
Rake: 25°
Trail: 3.7 in
Brakes, Front: Hydraulic single disc brake, 298 mm; ABS
Brakes, Rear: single disc brake, 220 mm; ABS
Tire, Front: 110/70-17
Tire, Rear: 140/70-17

2022 Yamaha MT-03 Price

2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Priced for the entry-level market, the 2022 MT-03 rolls for $4,799 with a destination charge of $425. If you’re looking for an MT-03 for sale in the 2022 colorways, they hit dealers in January. The factory offers a robust Dark Side Collection clothing line and accessories that may boost the final ticket.

Pricing
Warranty: 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Color:
└ 2020: Ice Fluo, Matte Raven Black
└ 2021: Storm Fluo, Matte Stealth Black
└ 2022: Cyan Storm, Team Yamaha Blue, Matte Raven Black
Price:
└ 2020, 2021: $4,599
└ 2022: $4,799

Competitors

2015 - 2016 KTM 390 DUKE
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2022 Yamaha MT-03 - Performance, Price, and Photos
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Since I already mentioned KTM, I reckon it’ll make as good a competitor for the MT-03, so I grabbed the Austrian builder’s 390 Duke to see how it stacks up against Yamaha’s newest Master of Torque model.

KTM 390 Duke

2017 - 2018 KTM 390 Duke
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KTM keeps to the naked side of things with minimal body panels and a compact headlight housing. The tank fairings add little weight to the overall total but are necessary for KTM’s usual angular look.

As for the rest of the machine, the exposed Trellis frame and contrasting paint package gives it a rather pragmatic industrial look that lacks the Yamaha’s subtlety. Since looks are subjective I’ll simply say that I prefer the MT and leave you to make up your own mind.

The bones are a steel Trellis with usd WP front forks and a WP shock out back that are plain vanilla, so KTM doesn’t gain anything here. The front brake disc is about as big as they come at 320 mm for arguably greater brake power.

The Duke rocks an advanced Bosch 9MP ABS feature that comes with two operating modes including a Supermoto mode. You can turn it off in its entirety to give an edge to KTM in the anchors.

2017 - 2018 KTM 390 Duke
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The Duke runs a 373.2 cc thumper that churns out 42.8 horsepower for a slight edge over the 41-pony Yamaha twin. Honestly, that difference is too slight to register on even the most sensitive heinie-dyno, and as an entry-level bike, brute power should not be a front-burner issue. Like the MT-03, the Duke is an essential bike with no electronic fandanglery to complicate the works.

Yamaha gets a minor victory at the checkout against the $5,499 sticker on the 390 Duke. This leaves a significant gap that may be a dealbreaker for the youngest riders and the parents who may be the ones actually paying for the thing.

He Said

“Woo hoo sports fans. Yamaha finally fields a naked equivalent to its fully-clad superbike-style YZF-R3, and it looks to be just as capable as a trainer bike. If you live across the pond, the MT-03 qualifies for the A2 license bracket, but no matter where you are, this is a starter bike that delivers big-bike handling and performance. Gotta’ say I’m digging the dark-custom look as well, cause it almost makes it look like a U.S. style custom bike.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The suspension on the MT-03 is really quite comfortable even over less-than-well maintained roads. The rider position is upright, but it has a sporty feel. Braking is adequate only because the bike is light. If it carried any more weight, I’d have to give it a less-than-favorable mark.”

“It’s a very back-to-basics kind of ride that, even though it is intended as an entry-level bike, I can see experienced folks having fun with it. The MT-03 is unintimidating with snappy throttle response, and with decent fuel economy, you can mark it down as a commuter.”

“Other bikes in this small-displacement, entry-level field would include, but not limited to, the BMW G 310 R or maybe the Kawasaki Z400. There’s a lot of interest in the small-displacement field and I’m happy to see the MT-03 hit the U.S. market.”

Further Reading

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TJ Hinton
TJ Hinton
T.J got an early start from his father and other family members who owned and rode motorcycles, and by helping with various mechanical repairs throughout childhood. That planted a seed that grew into a well-rounded appreciation of all things mechanical, and eventually, into a formal education of same. Though primarily a Harley rider, he has an appreciation for all sorts of bikes and doesn't discriminate against any particular brand or region of origin. He currently holds an Associate's degree in applied mechanical science from his time at the M.M.I.  Read full bio
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