Flashback Friday: Yamaha MT-01 – The Master Of Torque

  • May 5, 2023
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A lowdown on one of the most outrageous motorcycles from Yamaha’s stable -- the MT-01

Comprehensive electronic suites, top-of-the-line suspension and brakes and performance that can make you wet your pants… flagship nakeds are pushing the boundaries like never before. But before the 200PS naked club was formed, there existed one particular hooligan called the Yamaha MT-01.

"I find it boring if you lose one hour from your garage to the first empty road before you can exploit the potential of your machine." is what Yamaha's Shinichiro Nishimura felt, and decided to change it when he started working on the MT-01. 

The MT-01 was a result of a collective effort from Team Blue. The Yamaha Roadstar Warrior donated its engine, which was reworked to put out almost 90PS which isn’t much, but the engine sends all that power at just 4750rpm… after all, it was being built as per Nishimura’s brief. Oh, and it pushed 150Nm at 3750rpm.

Moving on, the YZF-R1 helped the cause by lending its 320mm twin discs and even the 43mm fully-adjustable inverted fork. Back in 2004, electronics were non-existent so of course, the Yamaha MT-01 came with none.

So, a cruiser’s engine and a superbike’s hardware were bundled in this goliath of a motorcycle which coined the term – “Muscle Bike”. And let’s ignore the muscular, tall fuel tank, the bulbous headlight… because the most attention-grabbing thing on the MT-01 has to be the two bazooka-like exhausts staring right into the soul of whoever’s riding behind. 

And though you may or may not like the styling, back in 1999, it was an instant hit… but it was just a mere concept that was showcased at the Tokyo Motor Show that year. Yamaha listened to its fans, took five long years to build one, but the world witnessed the first ‘MT’ motorcycle. And if you too ever wondered what the two alphabets stand for, it’s ‘Mega Torque’. And boy, did it do justice to the name. 

But Yamaha pulled the plug on the MT-01 in 2012, and it wasn’t before 2016 that its successor, the MT-10 hit the streets. But it was the MT-09 that arrived in 2014 and has been going strong since. 

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For the MT-09, Yamaha developed an inline triple motor with a crossplane crankshaft. It was a 847cc unit at the start which was then upgraded to a 890cc unit. In its current avatar, it produces 119PS at 10,000rpm and 93Nm at 7000rpm… and weighs just 189kg.

The Yamaha MT-01 was on sale in India for a few years and the MT-09 too is expected to make a comeback here. So, if you have been waiting for a naked that's fun to hoon around the town and entertain you on your weekend jaunts, the MT-09 should check all the boxes.

Photography: Kaizad Adil Darukhanawala

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