For a decade, there’s been one machine that has dominated the competition in so many areas of motorcycling. From commuting through the UK’s busiest cities to lighting up twisty B-roads, from touring across the country to opening the door as the ‘first big bike’ for so many of us.
When first unveiled in 2014 nobody could have foreseen the impact that the new MT-07 would have, but Yamaha’s new Master of Torque with its brand-new CP2 parallel-twin engine was about to rewrite the book on what a ‘do everything’ bike could do, while achieving the almost impossible of injecting torque-fuelled smile-inducing fun into every mile.
While the naked-middleweight category coasted along, an exciting edgy machine from the Dark Side of Japan was about to put the world on notice, and as this iconic motorcycle celebrates its 10th anniversary, it's the perfect time to reflect on the model’s journey, evolution, and the impact it’s had on motorcycling.
So, where did it all begin?
The MT-07 traces its origins back almost 10 years before its unveiling with the launch of the very first MT in 2005 – the MT-01. This was followed by the MT-03 in 2006, but it wasn’t until seven years later that the ‘MT’ range would become what we know it as today. The game-changing MT-09 was unveiled in 2014, equipped with a brand new CP3 powerplant heralding the dawn of the ‘crossplane’ era, teeing everything up perfectly for what Yamaha was going to do next.
What emerged from the Dark Side of Japan caught everyone by surprise. Enter the MT-07. A bike designed to bring fun and enjoyment back to all types of road riding while being extremely accessible through its competitive price and user-friendly riding experience.
At its heart was the all-new addition to the crossplane concept – a 689cc parallel-twin CP2 producing 75bhp at 9,000 rpm and 63Nm of torque at 6,500 rpm which, at the time, stood head and shoulders above its rivals not only in terms of performance, but the way it was so easy to wield. With an addictive-sounding uneven firing interval and a 270-degree crank, the stage was set for one of the hallmarks of the MT-07 - a robust sense of acceleration paired with strong linear torque.
From the moment you twisted the throttle and felt the torquey twin spin up, you couldn’t help but smile as this new MT allowed riders to playfully ‘grab a handful’ without pushing limits. Add a new steel frame that used the engine as a stressed member, R1 four-pot brake callipers, a large 180-section rear tyre from the MT-09, plus a compact wheelbase and plush suspension, and you had an engine and chassis combo that made the MT-07 light, agile, and a hoot to ride. Throw in a generous range of over 180 miles on a fuel tank and weighing only 179kg and you had all the ingredients of a game changer.
The MT-07’s user-friendliness was helped by a spacious upright riding position and wide bars that would allow new and experienced riders to grow in confidence and inject fun into their motorcycling.
At low speeds, the MT-07 was easy to manoeuvre thanks to its compact and nimble chassis and accessible seat height of 805mm. Weaving through traffic was a doddle, and then, when the road opened up, so could the MT. With a sharp twist of the throttle it was easy to unleash bags of torque in almost any gear, giving the bike a unique cocktail of thrilling power, forgiving delivery, and an eagerness for the front wheel to take to the skies.
Visually, the bike bore a striking resemblance to the MT-09. Brilliantly simple and edgy to the core, the MT-07’s lack of fairing revealed a mass-forward mechanical layout that was refreshingly athletic. It continued the ‘less is more’ design philosophy and allure of the Dark Side of Japan by stripping back the bodywork and exposing the engine and frame, and the fact that you didn’t have to break the bank to experience Jin-Ki Kanno: is the bike fun to ride?, positioned the MT-07 as the cat pulling a wheelie among the pigeons.
In the year following its launch, the MT-07 gained a massive fanbase worldwide as well as being awarded MCN’s coveted Bike of The Year. It then became the biggest-selling MT shifting over half of the 250,000 units in Europe with its beloved engine going to power a range of CP2s including the Ténéré 700 series, TRACER 7, XSR700 and R7.
In 2018, an evolution of the MT-07 emerged with new bodywork and a newly developed suspension with refined rebound damping, spring rates and high-speed compression damping. It also featured a 30% larger seat allowing more space for riders to move around on, a premium finish to its headlight and a compact taillight with a new ‘layered’ design.
This was followed by a third generation in 2021 which changed the face of the model and raised the bar in terms of engineering. Most notably, the new Euro5-compliant 689cc engine which not only brought the CP2 in line with environmental commitments, but did so with hardly any drop in the MT’s signature torque. It also featured a new acoustic-tuned exhaust system to ensure the rider (and those lucky to be around them) could also enjoy the character and sound as the MT as it climbed up to the redline. Visually, the new MT-07 looked sleeker with refined bodywork and new graphics, plus a new LED projector headlight flanked by running lights and LED indicators. The model also featured improved ergonomics thanks to wider handlebars for a more engaged riding position and easier manoeuvrability.
This brings us to 2024 and the latest version of the MT-07, which for this year, features new Midnight Cyan, Icon Blue and Tech Black colours, plus cutting-edge electronics including a 5” colour TFT display and smartphone connectivity while remaining a true ‘less is more’ MT at heart.
In the supercompetitive world of motorcycling, staying at the top of your game is near impossible, but ever since the MT-07 burst onto the scene and rewrote what a middleweight user-friendly twin should be, it’s remained one of the biggest-selling motorcycles in the world for a decade.
A bike within everyone's reach and easy to get the best out of. Feeling powerful without being intimidating and allowing us all to take those first steps into the Dark Side of Japan on a bike that allows us to have fun on every ride.
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