Published on October 20th, 2021 | by Boris0
2021 YAMAHA MT-09 REVIEW – ALL THE SINFUL PLEASURES
IMAGES BY NICK ‘IS THAT A HEADLIGHT OR AN EYE?’ EDARDS
You ever wondered how much capsicum spray can be hosed into your eyes before you go blind?
Have you ever considered how long you can be Tasered before your bowels and bladder let go and your heart melts?
Perhaps you’ve wondered if pushing your thumbs into a police dog’s eyes will make it remove its teeth from your thigh?
I think about these things every time I take an MT-09 for a ride.
I know these things should not concern a man of my advanced and dignified years. But they do. For such is the nature of the beast. And the bike. And while I do not seek to sin as much as I once did, sin and I are old friends. We still hang out together from time to time.
It would seem, and the facts bear this out, Yamaha has an entire department devoted to sin. They call the products of this department “MT” and whack a number after the letters so you’ll know what tier of Hell you’re gonna be living on. The higher the number, the more heinous your sinning, and the lower the tier.
This here is the new MT-09. There’s only one sinning number higher than this one, and I could mount a ferocious argument that sinning astride the 09 is easier than sinning on the 10. Factoring in the Ease of Sin is always important, but there’s not much in it. I’m thinking the amounts of capsicum spray, electricity, and police dog will be the same. Nuance is wasted on the cops.
And since the new MT-09 is Sin Incarnate – it even looks like a Boston Dynamics Seek-and-Destroy Bot – it makes sense to accept the inevitable. Just try as hard as you can to be brought down near a good hospital. Few things are worse than having to wait a long time in the back of a police car, blinded by capsicum spray, with voltage-emptied bowels, and an Alsatian that won’t let go of your leg.
Yamaha has done a complete re-birthing of its MT-09 this year, refreshing the sin to new and even more pleasing levels.
The 2021 MT-09 is, for all dark intents and sinful purposes, a new bike. With new delights. It’s like getting a crazier, hotter girlfriend with extra piercings, sexier tatts, and some fetishes you can’t even spell.
The list of new is vast. You should go look at it. The link is HERE.
A bigger and more powerful engine, new frame, new swingarm, new six-axis-measuring IMU (straight off the R weapons-range), lighter wheels – it’s actually now the lightest naked in the 900cc class at 189kg wet – and the list goes on and on. I encourage you to read it for yourself. That is certainly a better option than having me list all the changes like one of them Top-Of-The-Gamers.
What I’m gonna tell you is what all this means to your now-enhanced capacity for sinning.
The MT-09 is reborn. It doesn’t even feel like the old MT-09. There is that same ease-of-sinning thing the old one had in spades – they are, after all, designed for just that kind of riding – and there’s a familial familiarity to it riders will instantly recognise and appreciate.
But get on it, and you’ll quickly see how huge an improvement has been made to the MT-09. It turns better and surer. The engine is smooth and fatter about the torques. Its cornering precision and stability is greatly enhanced with the new shocks, swingarm, and frame. It’s a tauter, meaner, and more focused package. The electronics suite is far more comprehensive and integrates seamlessly with you deciding you might just have a go at riding like a Moto3 Gladiator Monkey.
The Darkness is always calling. And I know many of you are listening.
I know I keep arcing back to that – that glistening darkness that lives in so many hard-core riders. I come back to that for two reasons. The first is that that darkness, that Original Sin for exploring one’s limits on a bike, has always been a huge drawcard for people like me. And so few bikes have been designed with primarily that in mind.
You can be one of those shiny, happy, I’m-not-very-good-at-this-riding-thing-but-it’s-cute-and-so-am-I (giggle), and there are bikes for people like you. They’re made in India.
Or you can be a motorcycle rider. And here is the MT-09. And there is the Darkness. Off you damn well go.
So the second reason dovetails nicely with the first, because the MT-09 is a bike that not only addresses that sinful darkness, it panders to it. It was created for precisely that reason. It licks your ice-block like a sexy girlfriend does when she’s promising you things. It lubes the pathways of your desire. It facilitates your evil intent.
It does this with the aid of brilliant motorcycle engineering, superb electronics, and an engine that has quite rightly become the stuff of legend. The MT-09 is a goddam cult.
I went to the press launch at the old Farm private racetrack. The track was damp, and while the grip there is very good and the MT-09 is very surefooted in those conditions, all I noticed was how wonderfully smooth the new engine was. Kicking it in the pants had to wait until I was alone with it and the roads were dry.
So that happened and that’s what I’m telling you about here. You can look up the specs for yourself at the link I provided above. I want to talk about darkness and sin, and how you can make that MT-09 engine scream while quick-shifting through the gearbox like a wild-eyed fiend who lives to ball up his tyre rubber, and stare empty-eyed into the distance when the Highway Patrol is eating his licence.
The MT-09 is your passage into that wonderful, life-affirming world.
OK, so I’m not enamoured of the styling – which is hugely polarising. Some people love its Boston Dynamics thing with the goggle-eyed, mongo-cyclops insect-face and dirty-girl-coloured wheels. I’m not one of them people, but I get what Yamaha’s doing with the styling. If I was 20, I’d be making tents in my pants at the MT-09’s cyber-like “otherness”. For the record, the headlight does work OK. It ain’t great, but it’ll do for most applications, except maybe running stolen whiskey late at night at 180km/h.
The thing here, the only thing here, is that it is even more of a hoot to ride than ever. And it was a big hoot to begin with, despite the murmurs about the hard seat and suspension that could get a little overwhelmed when you got your bravery on. And that hoot thing is now at an all-time high. So, so high.
And for $15,249 ride-away, it’s an astonishing buy. Job well done, Yamaha. Job well done.
Thinking I might have it all wrong, I let my young mate, Harry, ride the new MT-09. He’s a quick young fellow, understands he will own the bike if it goes pear-shaped, and he’d sold his soul to the MT-09 a while ago.
If anyone could have a valid opinion on the new one, Harry could.
When Boris threw me the keys to his test MT-09, I was immensely excited to give it a go.
I’m a veteran MT-09 rider. I’ve owned three of them. A 2013, a 2016, and I’m currently banging a 2017 model, so I reckon I know my way around them.
The MT range was a genius move by Yamaha and it got a lot of attention. But the bikes have always had their drawbacks, especially in the suspension department and the dodgy fuelling on the Gen 1.
The previous two generations of 09s have always felt very motard-like. Which I’m a big fan of, as I grew up riding on dirt. This new one feels more like a proper road bike, which is great.
At first, I thought I would not like the way it felt.
But I was very wrong. This new model, despite the questionable front-end styling, is astonishing. I was following Boris, who was riding a new S1000R M Sport, though the Putty 10-mile and I was keeping him in sight.
The suspension is very compliant and no longer wants to bounce you into Jesus’s arms mid-corner. The brakes too, are a big improvement with the new radial master cylinder.
The whole bike is so much more refined and polished around the edges.
The new engine is smooth and pulls a lot harder in the mid-range. The up-and-down quick-shifter is flawless and doesn’t hesitate between shifts.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it’d be worth the upgrade; you’d be silly not to.
I can only imagine the SP version is even better.
I’d buy a fourth one in a heartbeat.
Good job, Yamaha, and thank you, Boris.
Henry ‘Harry’ Warne