A new engine in a new frame with new suspension components as well as new ride-quality electronics make the MT-09 a genuinely new version of Yamaha’s second largest “Master of Torque” model

LISTEN 09:37

Yamaha recently rebranded its holdout U.S. FZ family with the MT moniker to match the markets around the world, and MY21 brings with it a ground-up rebuild for the existing MT-09. The factory doubles the “09” lineup with the addition of the top-drawer MT-09 SP to the mix. A new engine rides in a new frame with new suspension components as well as new ride-quality electronics to make this a genuinely new version of Yamaha’s second largest “Master of Torque” model.

  • 2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
  • Year:
    2021
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    inline-3
  • Displacement:
    890 cc
  • Top Speed:
    137 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    9399
  • Price:

2021 Yamaha MT-09 Design

  • Third generation MT styling
  • Full LED lighting
  • Adjustable ergonomics
  • 3.5-inch full-color TFT display
2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 958993
2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 958992

Yamaha’s aesthetic changes start right up front with a revised front fender that now carries a drip edge behind the foil-shaped uprights that steer the incoming air around the usd fork tube to lower drag and prevent it from accumulating road grime. Blackout fork stanchions and similarly dark tripleclamps carry over from last year’s model, but the revised headlight housing dropped the dual lights in favor of a two-in-one cyclops lens. The new headlight uses a number of LED projectors to shape the light field in front of you.

Position lights and turn signals finish the forward lighting, all with bright LEDs that make sure you can see and be seen, day or night. On the down side, the front turn signals are still mounted in the same place as before, but the LED lightbars are much cleaner looking than the old bulbous style to give the new model a fresh visage.

Updated instrumentation rides in a new, 3.5-inch, color TFT display, but that’s just the beginning of the revisions here. The new tripletree rides lower on the steering head, and the handlebar height difference is made up by very tall risers to maintain that relaxed upper line and concurrent upright riding position. If you don’t like the shape of the rider’s triangle, both the handlebar and the footpegs can be adjusted to suit.

A reimagined fuel-tank hump changes the overall look more, though it carries the same, 3.7-gallon payload as before. The tank maintains the strong upper ridge that flows into the dual intake scoops to show a more integrated continuity of design. The rider’s saddle puts your butt at 32.5 inches off the deck, which could be a little tall for shorter inseams if not for the narrow waist that allows for a direct path for your legs from hip to ground.

As for the gear in the rear, let me just say that I understand why the factory opted for a subframe-mount mudguard/plateholder this year – it moves that weight off the swingarm – but I just prefer the look of that single-side hugger out back that the 2020 model carried, but maybe that’s just me. A redesigned taillight lens rides up under the tip of the tail as usual, and like the rest of the lighting it comes with LEDs for maximum visibility from the rear.

2021 Yamaha MT-09 Chassis

  • New lightweight aluminum frame
  • YZF-R1 derived brakes
  • Sporty handling
  • Overall reduced weight
2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 959015
2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 958997
2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 959001

Weight savings was clearly a front-burner topic for the MT-09 design team that manages to pare 8 pounds off the heft of the previous gen to weight in at 417 pounds. The new die-cast aluminum frame and box-section swingarm increase chassis rigidity by as much as 50-percent for greater stability under way, and that’s backed up by the die-cast aluminum subframe to finish off the standing structure.

We find a difference between the base and the “SP” model here in the suspension. The “09” rides on inverted KYB forks that deliver adjustable preload as well as compression and rebound damping and a KYB rear shock with adjustable preload and rebound damping. The “09 SP” rocks usd KYB forks as well but with high- and low-speed compression damping control for a little lagniappe. Instead of KYB out back, the top model carries an Öhlins shock out back with the full trinity of tweaks on board. No matter which you choose, you can count on 5.1 inches of travel up front with 4.8 inches out back, which is plenty for civilized roads.

Spin-forged, 17-inch aluminum hoops round out the rolling chassis, and since the wheels lost some weight ahead of this year, they generate less inertia so they are more eager to dive into a turn and then stand back up out of it. Both models rely on a radial-mount Nissin front master cylinder to deliver a linear brake response that requires very little pressure to bind the front wheel. Dual, four-piston calipers bite 298 mm front discs with a single-pot anchor and 245 mm disc out back, all with a stock ABS feature across the board.

Suspension, Front/ Travel:
└ MT-09: 41mm inverted fork, adjustable preload, compression, and rebound/ 5.1 inches
└ MT-09 SP: 41mm KYB inverted fork, adjustable preload, high/low speed compression and rebound; 5.1-in travel
Suspension, Rear/ Travel:
└ MT-09: Single shock, adjustable preload and rebound damping/ 4.8 inches
└ MT-09 SP: Öhlins single shock, adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping; 4.8-in travel
Rake: 25°
Trail: 4.3 in
Brakes, Front: Dual 298 mm hydraulic disc; ABS
Brakes, Rear: 245 mm hydraulic disc; ABS
Tire, Front: 120/70ZR17M/C
Tire, Rear: 180/55ZR17M/C

2021 Yamaha MT-09 Drivetrain

  • All-new 890 cc liquid-cooled inline-triple engine
  • Lean-angle sensitive Traction control
  • Quick shifter
  • Assist and slipper clutch
2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 959014
2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 958994
2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 959003

The newly-rebuilt engine powers both of the entries in the MT-09 bracket. It’s an inline triple-banger with newly-ground dual over-head cams that actuate a quartet of poppets per combustion chamber. New pistons, fracture-split con-rods, and a new crank all come packed in a new crankcase. The factory stretched the stroke by 3 mm to a total of 62.1 mm with a 78 mm bore for a total displacement of 890 cc and a medium-hot, 11.5-to-1 compression ratio. Power figures as stated by Yamaha measure in at 117 ponies and 69 pounds o’ grunt with a top speed around 136.7 mph; plenty enough to get yourself in a whole heap of trouble.

The new engine rolls with a robust electronics suite. It starts out with a six-axis Inertial Measurement Unit that logs the forces operating on the machine and supports some of the other gadgets. A ride-by-wire, Accelerator Position Sensor Grip, and YCC-T start things out to help reconcile the difference between rider demand and engine capability to deliver seamless transitions throughout the range.

The traction control feature comes with a trio of profiles – two premade and one for manual inputs – and is lean-angle sensitive for extra traction protection. Slide Control and wheelie prevention also come stock and operate hand-in-glove with the IMU for even more confidence when operating near or at the top of the range.

A slipper clutch couples engine power to a six-speed transmission for yet another layer of safety with a two-way Quick Shift System that lets you bang your way up and down the range like a boss sans clutch action.

Engine: 890 cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline 3-cylinder, 4-valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 mm x 62.1 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection with YCC-T
Transmission: 6-speed; wet multiplate clutch
Final Drive: Chain

2021 Yamaha MT-09 Price

2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 959063
2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 958995
2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 959056

Yamaha has its new base model MT-09 scheduled to roll out in January 2021, and it can be had in Storm Fluo, Matte Raven Black or Team Yamaha Blue, all with the same $9,399 price tag. If the MT-09 SP version is more to your taste, you can expect to shell out $10,999 and you’ll have to wait til March to score one.

Warranty: 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Colors: Storm Fluo, Matte Raven Black, Team Yamaha Blue (SP: Raven/Liquid Metal)
Price: $9,399, SP: $10,999

2021 Yamaha MT-09 Competitors

2021 Yamaha MT-09 / MT-09 SP
- image 959004
2020 Kawasaki Z900
- image 871711

As a member of the Japanese Big Four, Yamaha has no shortage of domestic competition so I didn’t have far to go to find a worthy competitor in Kawasaki’s900. Let’s get started.

Kawasaki Z900

2020 Kawasaki Z900
- image 871709

As usual, Kawasaki’s entry has oodles of that Kawasaki look that perhaps can best be described as angular aggression. The blackout treatment runs throughout, and in that these two share a common thread though Kawi lofts its pillion pad to provide stadium seating for your passenger and it has an impact on the flyline that sets these two apart visually.

Like the MT-09, the Z900 has a somewhat relaxed rider’s triangle that lets you push off to give your wrists and shoulders a break but maintains the room you need to tuck in or throw some English in the curves. The Z900’s stems fall behind a bit with less adjustability, but its brakes are just a skosh larger and ABS is constant across the board.

Kawasaki gains an edge in displacement with its 948 cc inline-four engine, and while it comes with Riding Modes, Traction Control, and Power Modes, the Yamaha definitely takes the cake with its lean-sensitive tech. Kawi claims 73.1 pound-feet of torque for another small victory, and I do mean small, but Kawi backs it up with an $8,999 sticker for another slim margin in its favor.

Read our full review of the Kawasaki Z900.

He Said

“Yeah, I’m thinking that the Master of Torque wins the above quite handily. The price difference is not enough to pass on the higher electronics Yamaha brings to the table on its new MT-09, neither is the slight performance gain. As a matter of vanity I like the look of this particular model, my complaint about the rear fender notwithstanding.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “The MT-09 has been a favorite in the Yamaha naked stable. It’s been a nice overall bike for under $10k. This update makes it more so. New for 2021 we find the new 890 cc engine with a whole host of internal improvements. The MT-09 came back from fat camp with a new frame and new suspension with an eye on improved performance and handling that makes the popular MT-09 an even better choice for the under-$10k category.”

2021 Yamaha MT-09 Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: 890 cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline 3-cylinder, 4-valves per cylinder
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 mm x 62.1 mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel injection with YCC-T
Transmission: 6-speed; wet multiplate clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Chassis:
Suspension, Front/ Travel:
└ MT-09: 41mm inverted fork, adjustable preload, compression, and rebound/ 5.1 inches
└ MT-09 SP: 41mm KYB inverted fork, adjustable preload, high/low speed compression and rebound; 5.1-in travel
Suspension, Rear/ Travel:
└ MT-09: Single shock, adjustable preload and rebound damping/ 4.8 inches
└ MT-09 SP: Öhlins single shock, adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping; 4.8-in travel
Rake: 25°
Trail: 4.3 in
Brakes, Front: Dual 298 mm hydraulic disc; ABS
Brakes, Rear: 245 mm hydraulic disc; ABS
Tire, Front: 120/70ZR17M/C
Tire, Rear: 180/55ZR17M/C
Dimensions & Capacities:
L x W x H: 82.3 in x 31.3 in x 46.9 in
Seat Height: 32.5 in
Wheelbase: 56.3 in
Maximum Ground Clearance: 5.5 in
Fuel Capacity: 3.7 gal
Fuel Economy: 49 mpg
Wet Weight: 417 lb, SP: 419 lb)
Details:
Warranty: 1 Year (Limited Factory Warranty)
Colors: Storm Fluo, Matte Raven Black, Team Yamaha Blue (SP: Raven/Liquid Metal)
Price: $9,399, SP: $10,999

Further Reading

Yamaha

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- image 788830

Read more Yamaha news.

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 More
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All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: yamahamotorsports.com, kawasaki.com

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