Yamaha’s terrific triple cylinder MT-09 has undergone a major update for the 2021 model year, no doubt instigated by the need to meet looming Euro5 emissions regulations, but it’s just not the engine that has been revamped.
A new two-way quick-shifter helps keep the fizzing triple on the boil while the braking hardware has been upgraded with both the calipers and master cylinder now higher spec’ radial items.
To match the 2021 model’s increased engine performance the transmission has been optimised by slightly raising the ratios on first and second gears. Plus a new shift fork is fitted for improved gear shifts. To handle the increased torque, the A&S clutch uses a new material for its friction plates, and the cam angle is changed to give a lighter pull at the lever, together with even gentler chassis behaviour when downshifting.
An all-new lightweight CF die-cast aluminium Deltabox chassis that has been developed in unison with the larger capacity 889cc high-torque engine.
Yamaha’s CF technology has enabled the thinnest wall section on any Yamaha die-cast frame ever. Featuring larger twin beams that run directly from the steering head assembly through to the swingarm pivot to give optimal strength, the newly-designed aluminium frame, subframe and swingarm are 2.3 kg lighter than the previous chassis, making a significant contribution towards the increased agility of the 2021 MT-09.
For enhanced handling characteristics, the frame’s longitudinal, lateral, and torsional rigidity balance has been refined, with a 50 per cent increase in lateral rigidity providing high levels of straight-line stability.
To match the more compact frame and shorter front forks the head pipe position is lowered by 30 mm, giving an increased feeling of front end grip when cornering, together with improved levels of rider feedback. Handling agility is also enhanced with a new CF die-cast aluminium subframe that is 1.5 kg lighter than the previous model’s steel design.
Compared to the current design which has a banana shaped right section, the new 250 g lighter aluminium swingarm has a much straighter right side for a more symmetrical appearance that complements the next generation body design. To achieve better stability when cornering and also riding in a straight line, the 2021 swingarm pivot is mounted between the frame structure, rather than the pivots being mounted on the outside of the frame as before. This new swingarm design reduces unsprung weight, and complements the revised rigidity balance of the new frame.
Instrumentation has gone full-colour with an almost frameless larger 3.5-inch TFT while the headlight is a striking new design that really modernises the whole look of the machine.
The full LED headlight assembly features a single central bifunctional projector headlight with multiple LEDs that provide a broad, even and powerful beam with soft edges for both low and high beam settings. Twin LED position lights present a bold new face for the MT-09, and they project a signature Y-shape icon that represents the future direction of MT design.
The theme is continued at the rear, where the lightweight LED taillight projects a Y-shape illumination.
Yamaha’s exclusive spin forging technology involves the cast wheels being heated up and spun at high speed while pressure is applied to the rims to reduce their thickness to just 2 mm, while retaining strength. Any weight saving gives an immediate performance advantage, and this is particularly true when it comes to unsprung weight, where even the smallest reduction makes a big contribution towards improved handling, steering and suspension performance. The new Spin Forged front and rear wheels are 700 g lighter than previously, and this gives a decrease in the gyroscopic moment of inertia of the wheels – with a significant 11 per cent decrease at the rear wheel making a big contribution to the new model’s agile handling character.
Yamaha has introduced a coverless design where all unnecessary bodywork is removed to give a dynamic and agile new look from every angle. The compact front fender and minimalist headlamp nacelle are the only other pieces of bodywork on this muscular naked chassis, highlighting the beautifully styled chassis and giving the bike a strong, purposeful and mechanically pure look, all of which is accentuated by the new Crystal Graphite frame colour.
The slimline seat and pointed tail – along with the total absence of sidepanels and other unnecessary additions – serve to emphasise the stripped down good looks. The all new MT-09’s compact and athletic character is underpinned by weighing in at just 189 kg wet – 4 kg less than the current model and less than its closest competitor in the 900 cc naked class.
Featuring a new design incorporating left/right symmetrical tail pipes, the exhaust system is 1.4 kg lighter than previous and has been specifically tuned to create an enhanced feeling of torque when the rider is accelerating from a stop or powering out of a low-speed corner.
The new MT-09 is the first Yamaha Hyper Naked model to be equipped with a high-tech 6-axis IMU, one of the most sophisticated pieces of electronics in the industry. Developed from the system used on the YZF-R1 since 2015, the 6-axis IMU on the new MT-09 is 50 per cent smaller and 40 per cent lighter thanks to a thorough review of the sensor layout.
Constantly measuring acceleration, pitch, roll and yaw, the 6-axis IMU is able to send data in real-time to the ECU which controls the electronic rider aids. The class-leading array of rider aids includes lean sensitive Traction Control System (TCS), Slide Control System (SCS) as well as a front wheel lift control system (LIF) and Brake Control system (BC).
By monitoring the speed difference between the front and rear wheels, the lean sensitive TCS helps to optimise the drive force of the rear tyre during acceleration. Developed from the system that has proved to be so popular with YZF-R1 riders, the SCS adjusts power when a rear wheel slide is predicted, allowing the rider to focus on their riding. Similarly, the LIF enables the rider to concentrate on the road ahead by adjusting engine output to control front wheel lift and smooth out machine behaviour when pulling away and accelerating. The fourth electronic rider aid is the BC that works with the ABS and independently controls and modulates the front and rear brake pressure, helping to prevent wheel lock-up during hard braking when riding upright as well as when banking.
The TCS has three switchable modes, and each mode integrates three of the rider support systems, meaning that the intervention levels are all changed at once in Modes 1 and 2. Mode 1 delivers moderate intervention, while Mode 2 gives strong intervention and Mode M enables the rider to select manual settings.
By preventing wheel lock-ups and slides, as well as wheel spin and wheelies, these electronic aids reduce the workload of the rider, allowing full concentration on the road ahead.
Featuring 41 mm tubes that give smooth suspension action and maintain their high levels of flex resistance even under the heaviest braking, the new lightweight high specification KYB front forks are fully adjustable for preload, compression and rebound damping. The new forks run with revised factory settings that match the character of the compact new higher rigidity frame and reduce the tendency to pitch.
The rear suspension linkage design has been changed and the new adjustable KYB rear shock is set up to suit the all-new chassis with reduced unsprung weight.
Engine capacity has been boosted from 847 cc to 899 cc via a 3 mm larger bore and despite the increased capacity the engine is actually 1.7 kg lighter than before.
It punches a little harder though with claimed peak power pumped up to 119 horsepower at 11,000 rpm (up by 4 hp), but Yamaha claim it is the increased torque that is most significant with its 93 Nm peak now arriving 1500 rpm earlier than before, 7000 rpm to be exact.
While the current MT-09 features its fuel injectors attached directly to the cylinder head, on the all-new model the fuel injectors are mounted to the throttle valve side, and fuel is injected onto the back of the intake valve heads.
This system gives better fuel atomisation and reduces the adhesion of fuel to the intake port walls. This new system produces outstanding combustion efficiency and contributes towards the new model’s 9 per cent increase in fuel efficiency.
The Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) is upgraded for 2021 with the addition of a new Accelerator Position Sensor Grip (APSG). Similar to the unit featured on the YZF-R1 and R1M, and equipped with model-specific friction and throttle opening settings, this lightweight ride-by-wire system replaces the previous model’s pulley set-up to give better feel and reliability.
The MT-09 has always been a wheelie bike par excellence, as I demonstrate below on the 2018 model… Salivating to ride the new MT-09 as the model is simply most one of the fun motorcycles to be launched this century. Since its inception in 2013 It has always felt a bit crazy, and we like crazy… It looks like 2021 might be a little more crazy, with a little more finesse…. We have to wait until February 2021 to pull wheelies on it here in Australia though… Can’t wait…
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.