The Wheelie Machine Gets an Overhaul
I feel like Yamaha updates the headlights on the MT-09 every other year, but this is only the third update we’ve seen. I’m not sure if it’s some kind of marketing scheme or perhaps they just keep messing it up and need to revisit the front end of the motorcycle every go-around, but I can assure you this new edition of the MT-09 looks nothing like the 2016 FZ-09 some of us may remember.
The 2021 MT-09 has gone under the knife and has seen many new updates. The headlight assembly has taken a radical new ‘War of the Worlds tripod’ approach with a single bulb in the center (much like the new MT-03) and two LED strips framing it. Other visual changes include an updated (and very aggressive-looking) fuel tank, and a strange downwards facing exhaust hole in the belly of the muffler.
I’m sure many of you know by now, the MT-09 is the king of hooligan motorcycles. Just search “MT-09 (or FZ-09) wheelie” on youtube and enjoy hours of wheelie content from self-proclaimed squid enthusiasts. I think Yamaha has very obviously caught onto this, and as a result, the wheelbase shrunk by half an inch, the ground clearance sees a 5.5-inch increase – for hopping curbs when running away from the police after they catch you busting too many wheelies – and the overall weight has been dropped by 8 pounds to a total of 417 making the bike even more nimble than it’s predecessor.
The legendary inline-three engine sees an update bringing it up to a euro-5 compliant 890cc from the previous 847 (due to longer stroke. It maintains the same bore as last year), and now produces 117 horsepower at 10k rpm with 68.6 lb-ft of torque at 7k rpm.
In other updates, we have: new rims, a new display, the introduction of a quick-shifter, an updated ride-by-wire system borrowed from the R1, an aluminum frame, and a revisited rear swingarm just to name a few.
It’s 2021 unveiling season right now, and although I’m not a fan of the updated headlights (I’m already warming up to them as I write this article), I’m happy to see Yamaha leading the pack when it comes to consistent yearly progress in updating their motorcycles. So many bikes today are getting minimal updates that I think it’s a breath of fresh air to see another re-design of a cult classic.
For our American readers, the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 will be available for purchase in January of next year at a price point of $9,399.