Yamaha finally offers a premium middleweight naked bike in the form of its MT-09 SP.
Yamaha finally offers a premium middleweight naked bike in the form of its MT-09 SP. (Joseph Agustin/)

Yamaha has done something special for naked bike riders in the form of its 2021 MT-09 SP ($10,999). Based on the MT-09, which was fully overhauled for the ‘21 model year, it’s positioned as a special-edition up-spec’d middleweight naked bike.

Editor’s note: We reviewed the ‘21 MT-09 with our 2021 Yamaha MT-09 MC Commute Review and Yamaha Builds A Better Triumph – 2021 MT-09 articles and videos. Take a peek at the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 First Look Preview to get up to speed on the technical improvements.

The SP specification is priced $1,600 higher than the standard MT-09. For that, you get higher-end four-way-adjustable KYB front suspension and an Öhlins gas-charged shock absorber with a clever remote preload adjuster allowing for easy rear ride height adjustment based on rider preference. The SP also gets nice styling details, including the black handlebar, black control levers, and a tinted master cylinder reservoir.

A YZF-R1M-esque polished swingarm and polished stripe on the fuel tank set it apart from the standard MT-09. There’s also a custom-looking suedelike seat and cruise control.

So this bike looks awesome. But how does it ride?

We’re big fans of the Tuning Fork’s redesigned 890cc inline-triple. It’s clear Yamaha studied Triumph’s 675/765cc powerplant when putting this engine together; it has a very similar sound and character with less engine vibration.

This triple puts out right around 107 ponies at the business end of the 180-series Bridgestone Battlax S22 tire, meaning it definitely gets up and goes. We also appreciate how its bidirectional electronic quickshifter keeps the rear tire hooked up when leaned over in corners and grabbing downshifts.

Added agility is another clear benefit of the SP package. You might not think that fitting a four-way-adjustable fork and Öhlins rear suspension would be that big of a deal, but handling has gone from very good to exquisite; the SP handles bumps well and delivers a nice, cozy ride.

When you lean on this suspension through a twisty stretch of tarmac it performs with the support and the feel that make bikes like this tons of fun to whale on. Equally as pleasing is how easy this bike is to turn in from side to side. Overall, its handling is noticeably sharper than the base MT-09′s. We also value the four-way adjustability and separate high- and low-speed compression damping adjusters, which allow riders to fine-tune the dynamic of the fork to their liking.

As on the standard model, the SP includes traction control, slide control, and wheelie control. All these features work well, but the LCD user interface used to select them could be larger. The menu system, while simple, doesn’t offer enough adjustability. Another strike is the switch gear; the multifunction wheel may have been really nice on the original 2015 YZF-R1, but seven years later it’s gotten downright old and its tactile function is poor. Yamaha really needs to upgrade this switch gear and spec a bigger display.

Fixed always-on ABS augments the function of the triple disc brakes. The fronts can get a tad hot when riding on track or your favorite road. We’d also like to request that Yamaha Motor kindly allow rear ABS to be manually disabled. There are two electronically adjustable braking modes: brake control 1, the least restrictive setting, and brake control 2. There’s also cornering ABS; Yamaha doesn’t call it “cornering ABS” as such, but this bike includes it in the less aggressive brake control setting (Level 2). Keep it in mind when you’re riding on the street: Brake Control Level 1, although it’s less aggressive (in terms of ABS intervention), doesn’t have cornering ABS.

Yamaha seems to have really nailed the ergonomics on the SP. The seat height is Goldilocks for most riders, neither too low nor too high. The riding position is sporty without being too aggressive. The handlebar isn’t quite wide enough for our liking, but it’s not bad at all. This motorcycle is comfortable as a daily rider, which is fortunate, as it does a really good job of slicing through traffic; if you work long days, the smallish headlight even does a nice job of illuminating the road after dark. It’s the kind of bike that can be ridden all day and then some without getting beaten up, yet still has plenty enough sporting aptitude to be fun.

Even though this is a sport naked bike, you could absolutely ride this motorcycle at a trackday. So we did, taking it to an open-session SoCal Trackdays event with the OE-fitted

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By: Adam Waheed
Title: Yamaha MT-09 SP Review
Sourced From: www.motorcyclistonline.com/story/reviews/yamaha-mt-09-sp-review-2021/
Published Date: Wed, 29 Jun 2022 13:00:01 +0000