Chris sent in the story of his Yamaha MT-01. The big Japanese twin was always an unusual bike; having a huge V-twin that seems almost too big for the minimal bodywork that is wrapped over it. Chris said that a British bike magazine described it as, “A curious 1670cc monster”. Curious, perhaps, but also an iconic muscle-bike. Actually, Yamaha don’t call it a “muscle-bike”, they’ve invented a whole different category beyond that, that they call “Torque Sports”. They did that just for the MT-01, and also the similarly-sized, but even more powerful, Vmax.
Anyway, it’s an interesting story about a very interesting bike.
After many enjoyable years with a much modified Triumph Thruxton, I decided it was time for a change and something completely different to join the old '93 Electraglide Sport in the shed. Having a passion for air cooled vertical twins and V-twins I was drawn to Buells and of course Ducatis, but in the end was it was a rather odd Jap that finally got the nod.
For the last four years, every time I went to the Sydney Bike Show, I found myself wandering over to the Yamaha stand and marveling at the MT-01 with its monster 1670cc engine.
Here was something really out of the box. Mammoth V2 engine (sourced from the Warrior cruiser), shoehorned into what is essentially a sportsbike chassis, with many of the good bits taken from the iconic R1. And even better, the depreciation on new MTs was very much on the high side. They never really sold as well as Yamaha expected, being such a weird hybrid, so a quick search on BikePoint revealed quite a few low mileage models at very reasonable prices.
Once the decision was taken, it didn't take too long to find a mint bike with only 9,000kms on the clock; and the ride home from Sydney to Moss Vale was enough to convince me that these are one unique motor cycle, but certainly not for everyone.
Even though they "only" produce 90bhp, it comes with a whopping 150Nm (110 ft/lbs) of torque at 3750 rpm. Initial acceleration is impressive enough, but it is the roll-on acceleration that is truly stunning. Even in the high gears, overtaking between say 60 to 100kph is jaw-dropping and really puts a severe strain on the shoulder sockets. But at the other end of the spectrum, the R1-derived radial brakes and huge engine braking capacity slow down the beast very quickly indeed.
Handling is very much an acquired taste, as it doesn't handle quite like any other bike I've ever ridden. I put this down to a high centre of gravity (825mm seat height) and weight of 260 kg wet. But it's predictable once you get used to it. The only time it's ever given me a fright was coming into a 60kph corner at about 100kph because I was deluded into thinking it was actually going much slower than I thought, simply due to the engine revving so slowly, but still producing so much power. I won't forget that lesson in a hurry! (Mental note: redline 5500rpm!).
There are a few drawbacks. Tank capacity is a meagre 15 litres, although it still returns about 20kms to the litre sensibly ridden, so you can expect about 200kms before the reserve light comes on. As mentioned, it's a tall bike and there is little thought given to any potential pillion. Definitely a “knees up around the ears” job! It's fairly hot too from the high mufflers, but Yamaha have thoughtfully fitted an exhaust fan under the seat to extract the heated air. And being a naked, anything much over 100kph and there's a danger of becoming a spinnaker.
As for its looks?  Well, beauty, as they say...! To me it has a rather “Transformer” style about it and is the total opposite of the old traditional Electraglide it shares space with. But I love it and suspect it may well go down as one of the more original styling exercises to come out of Japan. It was, after-all, a concept-bike at the Tokyo Bike Show back in the late nineties. However, my long-suffering wife demurred on this issue at first sighting and managed to get “hoon bike”, “ugly” and “you're over sixty” all in the one sentence; so as I said, it's not for everyone!
On a final note, the English “Bike” magazine described the MT-01 as a “curious 1670cc monster”. They got that right! But what a lot of fun it is to ride!

Thanks Chris. Glad to see you’re enjoying it! And I must say, you have a nice part of the world to enjoy it in, too. If any readers are ever in the Southern Highlands of NSW and hear a throaty, big-bore Japanese rumble, take a look – it could be Chris on the big MT-01!
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