Sydney Motorcycle Show 2017

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Published on July 22nd, 2017 | by Boris

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2017 YAMAHA MT10SP REVIEW – MISSILE OF THE ROBO-ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE

The last time I rode an MT-10 was last year.

It made me a little bit crazy. I confessed to my madness HERE.

Sydney Motorcycle Show 2017

It was a superb motorcycle. It inspired and delighted me with its sheer motorcycleness. I gelled with it on a base level, and I even came to appreciate its brutal, bug-eyed, robo-zombie appearance. I found myself longing for the robo-zombie apocalypse…and then I gave it back and things returned to what passes for normal for me these days.

At its base, this MT-10 is an ergonomically sensible motorcycle propelled by the uniquely fiendish insanity of Yamaha’s re-tuned and crossplane-cranked R1 engine. So it doesn’t even sound like any other in-line four as it pastes your face with hell-speed. They all shriek. This one grumbles. It makes a sound like icebergs calving or mountains rubbing their pinnacles together. And it pulls everything closer sooner as such a thing is expected to do.

But I don’t care about the MT-10 anymore.

I have taken my pants off for the MT-10SP.

Look at it. It’s simply bursting with uncleanable nasty.

And that SP can only stand for Special Porridge.

For this porridge is seriously special, thanks to the addition of Öhlins ERS.

So if SP stands for Special Porridge, Öhlins ERS should stand for Extremely Resplendent Superiority. But it doesn’t, as odd as that may sound.

Öhlins ERS stands for Electronic Racing Suspension. And that is precisely what it is, and that is exactly what it does. And I don’t think anyone does it better.

More uncleanable nasty, and would it kill Yamaha to get both those lights to be on? I’m alright about the carbon footprint thing.

For my money, there are maybe two manufacturers who do electronic suspension really well. Yamaha is one of them, and its partnership with Öhlins is simply sensational – it’s a Bogie and Bacall thing, for sure. And it lifts the SP above its rivals and sets it square against king-beasts like the new KTM Superduke R, which overpowers the MT-10SP a little in the engine department, but not in any way any normal human being would even notice. In fact, the two bikes are simultaneously similar and poles apart.

One is a twin, one is a four, after all. The Yamaha feels physically bigger, steers a breath slower, and is quintessentially Japanese in how it goes about its business.

Yeah, nah – I just can’t clean that. But I would fit a radiator guard. Then I wouldn’t clean that either.

But the philosophy behind their respective creation is the same, ie. the electronic taming of a wickedly aggressive and potent motorcycle in a way that is unnoticeable by the rider, but for which he is, by the Throne of Almighty God, grateful for in the extreme.

And I do so like that in a motorcycle.

So while the base MT-10 is a hoot to ride, the Special Porridge version takes you to that next level of delight. It is the most technologically advanced suspension on any street-based Yamaha, and yes, we have now moved into YZF-R1M territory.

O happy day.

This is day mode. It switches to night mode by itself. Just like me.

The SP also provides you with a TFT dash, which you don’t get on the base model, and which once again echoes the R1M’s equipment. And of course, it is a special colour (Silver Blu Carbon – and yes, that is how it’s being spelled),  and comes with blue wheels, a black front guard, and gold forks. The field-hands will instantly know you’re not astride just any old MT10.

What does all this exclusivity cost?

The standard MT-10 is $18,499. The Special Porridge is $21,499 – a difference of $3000.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. No issue. I wouldn’t even think twice about it. I can always go and rob another servo if I have to. The suspension alone is worth that to me.

There is of course nothing much wrong with the bouncers on the base model. But come on, this is Öhlins, people. Electronic Racing Öhlins, no less, and adjustable 16 million ways as well as in seven different dimensions. For $3000? Take my fucking money.

Come at me, robo-zombies!

I’ll just wait here for something worth chasing down.

Where you will most notice what you’ve paid for is, of course, on the road. Yes, it will work superbly on the track, but tracks are smooth and good suspension is needed to cope with fearsome acceleration and braking, which occurs during racing. So while speeds are usually slower on the road, top-end suspension shines because roads are constantly changeable in terms of surface – some are smooth like racetracks, some are more like goat-tracks, and most are somewhere in-between.

The SP copes with them all. It sneers at them. It takes out its insectile robo-hand and gives them the middle robo-finger. Changeable surfaces are as dust to it.

So riding such a thing hard and fast becomes and exercise in confidence, rather than an exercise in how many prayers you know.

Few bikes are able to deliver such a feeling to the rider.

Coupled with a quickshifter, an assist-and-slipper clutch, a range of ride modes and the ability to fine tune them, and in the real world, you’ll be quicker on this than you would be on an R1.

It’s just easier to ride the MT-10SP faster. It’s that simple.

You can strap gear to it, tour on it, carry a pillion without too many complaints, and commute with ease. It is a complete motorcycle because it does all of these things with aplomb. But most importantly, each time you get on it, hit the button and hear the strange servo-like noises it makes as it fires up, you will know deep down in your black and hateful soul that if you need to engage in a pissing contest, you can do just that. And you can engage with utter confidence.

There’s a quickshifter in there. And that lovely yellow-coloured shock…

This is no small thing. The MT-10SP has the goods. All the goods. Well, certainly all the goods I need, or want for that matter. The engine is a symphony of usable torque, the brakes are great, the menus are easy to navigate, the headlights are good (still not great, and don’t even get me started on that eeping horn thing), and with a set of sticky tyres, you will be the king of all you survey – even of bikes that cost 10 grand more.

I love a bike that forgives my screw-ups and has the straight-line punch to make up for that last corner I beshat myself in.

I love a bike that makes no unseemly ergonomic demands on me, and if you’re comfy on a bike, you’ll be more effective as a rider.

All those angles and recesses actually do a great job at breaking up the wind-blast, even at a theoretical 230km/h. There is method to this madness.

I love a bike which is reliability incarnate – and Yamaha, any Yamaha, is nothing if not that. The SP is certainly electronically sophisticated, but it’s not carrying any reliability issues as far as that sophistication is concerned.
I love a bike that can do pretty much all of what I want a bike to do, and I especially love a bike I will never have the measure of, but which fact does not at all diminish my enjoyment of it. It’s very hard not to ride around on the SP picking fights and smiling knowingly.

It does this cornering thing like a swooping hell-swine. This is a good thing.

And you know what? I like the way it looks, because it doesn’t look like any other bike, will never be mistaken for any other bike, and always reminds me of the robo-zombie apocalypse we all secretly long for.

Do I behold any negatives?

Well, it feels big. This is not a negative for me. It might be for some, though. The SP’s wet weight is only 210kg. So it’s not heavy, and it doesn’t feel heavy. You can hurl it from side to side with absolute gay abandon and ease. So maybe ‘big’ is the wrong word. Maybe ‘substantial’ is the right word.

Is that a negative for me? Hell, no. The substantial feel helps its high-speed stability, which isn’t really compromised with its slightly shorter-than-the-R1 swingarm.

Please don’t let there be a Highway Patrol car around that corner…

It’s tall, but once again, I’m blessed with long supermodel legs, so this doesn’t bother me a bit.

It is, however, an utter and complete pain in the arse to clean. It is a visually complex motorcycle. There are lots of nooks and crannies, holes and bolts, clefts and divots – all of which build its robotic appearance, but you try getting all that clean. You’ll go mad. There’s not enough beer in the world to help you in your efforts.

That container is full of zombies. I know it is.

So I would never clean it. And I would be OK with that. Lube the chain, keep it in gummy tyres, and watch it layer itself in grime as it ages magnificently.

And lastly, it is a thirsty, thirsty thing. Oh well. The tank holds 17 litres of petrol. You will be filling it up at about 230. Maybe a bit less. Maybe a bit more. But usually a bit less. That don’t bother me none. Obviously, Yamaha is more interested in making your nipples hard than it is about the Larsen Ice Shelf appearing in Sydney Harbour.

And so am I.

I would ride down there on my filthy MT-10SP to see that.

CLICK ON THIS FOR PICS BY NICK EDARDS/HALF LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHIC

SECOND OPINION

By Nick Warne

When Borrie informed the world he had a Yamaha MT-10SP to test, I texted him immediately. ‘Giz ride?’ I typed hopefully.

This is not my usual response to Borrie’s Facebook posts of bikes he is riding. As a grizzled veteran of some 40-odd summers of motorcycling misconduct, I consider myself immune to the allure of new bikes. There’s always something new and shiny with five more pointless horsepowers and 500g less irrelevant weight.

So why did this one erect my tail feathers like a horny peacock?

Let me count the ways.

His pants came off shortly after this and I had to throw a bucket of water over him.

It’s an MT.  Yamaha has moved from six-odd per cent of the Australian naked-bike market to 43-plus per cent and it has done it off the back of a simple truth: No one cares too much about peak horsepower any more.

What do we care about? We care about torque; that irresistible, grunty goodness that punts you out of a corner like a trebuchet throws a diseased horse into a castle while your sportsbike mates languish in a miasma of valve overlap waiting for the tacho to reach umpty-thousand.

We care about feel. And we’re getting older, fuck ya, so naked bike ergos are kinder and gentler for our frangible bones.

These then are the attractions of the MT series, and they are Yamaha’s success story.

And Borrie agreed to my SMS request.

Riding up to Colo in the bleak dawn of a midwinter morn, he handed me the key to the Best Motorcycle I Have Ever Ridden™ (BMIHER™).

“Big call,” he said later when I told him it was the best motorcycle I had ever ridden.

Maybe.

After all, I have ridden or owned many excellent motorcycles, including the S1000R, the SpeedTriple, the StreetTriple, an RS1200R, an R1200R and… well, you get the picture.

So just what makes the MT-10SP the BMIHER™?

It could be the donk. If it’s not the most crisp, characterful and charismatic in-line four ever built, well, to paraphrase Sheriff Ed Tom Bell, it’ll do until that gets here. A cynical old geezer, it enables me to imagine myself at 340km/h down the Mugello straight, with that engine’s creamy growl bellowing defiance at time’s tyranny.

It could be the ergos. This bike fitted me like a Savile Row wetsuit. Gently cupping my aged buttocks as a 170km/h wind tried, and failed, even to gain my attention.  I overtook Boris (gamely riding and twisting my MT-09’s throttle to the stop), like a brick falling down a well. Totally effortless.

It could be the electronic Öhlins suspension front and rear. Never have I had more confidence in a chassis. Never, ever.  It rides like MagLev.

It could have been any of those. But it wasn’t any of them.

It was all of them, in a bizarre mathematical addition that massively surpassed its already impressive sum.

This bike spoke to me.

And what it said was: “I am Pegasus, winged and divine.  Come now, oh Bellerophon, let us defeat the Chimera together.”

I can feel its silver spirit in my blood, still.

 

TECH STUFF

Engine type – Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valves
Displacement – 998cc
Bore x stroke – 79.0 mm x 50.9 mm
Compression ratio – 12 : 1
Lubrication system – Wet sump
Clutch Type – Wet, multiple disc
Fuel management – Fuel injection
Ignition system – TCI
Starter system – Electric
Transmission system – Constant Mesh, 6-speed
Final transmission – Chain

Chassis

Frame – Aluminium Deltabox
Front suspension  – Öhlins electronically adjustable telescopic forks, Ø 43 mm
Front travel – 120 mm
Caster Angle – 24º
Trail – 102 mm
Rear suspension  – Swingarm, (link suspension)
Rear travel – 120 mm
Front brake – Hydraulic dual disc, Ø 320 mm
Rear brake – Hydraulic single disc, Ø 220 mm
Front tyre – 120/70 ZR17 M/C (58W)
Rear tyre – 190/55 ZR17 M/C (75W)

Dimensions

Overall length – 2095 mm
Overall width – 800 mm
Overall height – 1110 mm
Seat height – 825 mm
Wheelbase – 1400 mm
Min ground clearance – 130 mm
Wet weight (including full oil and fuel tank) – 210 kg
Fuel tank capacity – 17 litres
Oil tank capacity – 3.9 litres
Warranty – Two years, unlimited kms, parts and labour
Colours – Silver Blu Carbon
RRP (inc GST) – $21,499
YAMAHA’S WEBSITE IS HERE

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About the Author

is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.



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