Project Yamaha MT-10 Sport Tourer | Travel Velocity
It’s not often that a motojournalist actually buys a motorcycle, because they are notoriously underpaid and have a multitude of press bikes to ride. However, last year I did just that when I took home a new 2017 Yamaha FZ-10—now named MT-10 to match its moniker in the rest of the world.
There were several tempting choices in this Hyper Naked category (as Yamaha calls it), and all were amazing. Yet, the Yamaha MT-10’s performance vs price, comfort, styling, and reliability, among other details, caused me to write the check. One year later, I’m still infatuated with it and would do it all over in a heartbeat.
Along the way, I felt the need to improve on a few details and focus on what will make life with this bike more pleasant for my uses. I was aiming to have the mods completed in time for my crew’s annual LA to Death Valley trip in the spring.
My goal was to make the Yamaha MT-10 more comfortable, look better, and haul a weekend’s worth of gear in style and without just cobbling on some old soft luggage.
The first order of business was performance. There surely is enough power for me, so the only thing left to do was to install Yamaha’s GYTR Quick Shifter Kit. It is standard on the 2018 Yamaha MT-10, but was a $200 accessory last year. This unit is upshift-only, but that’s okay with me. There are a few aftermarket systems with ECU replacements and auto-blippers for clutchless up and downshifts, but they are quite pricey and I’m not in a race—until somebody shows me a wheel.
The GYTR Quick Shifter Kit took about an hour to install and properly measure linkages. Yamaha thoughtfully had a connector in place for a plug-and-play solution. If you’ve never tried a quickshift system, you will be in for a pleasant surprise if you do.
Next came the Yamaha Genuine Parts & Accessories Universal Grip Heater ($120). They are not as hot as I’d like them to be on cold days—even on the highest of three settings—but they are acceptable and the switchgear is designed to install tightly against the left handgrip.
Like the quickshifter, they plug into a dedicated port in the wiring harness and were an easy hour-long install. They are not keyed to the ignition, and I’m too lazy to install a relay to make that happen, but they sense the current drain and turn themselves off before the battery dies should I forget to do so.
The last practical item was to upgrade to Yamaha’s MT-10 Comfort Saddle. The stock seat feels fine in the showroom and the garage, but turns to oak after about 75 miles. I had heard reports that the Comfort Saddle is an order of magnitude better than stock, but not so much for me. When riding a full tank to empty—at least 120 miles—I end up squigging around in the seat at about 110 miles. All in all, it is an improvement; truly, I no longer think much about it.
Storage was next on my agenda. Givi has been in the motorcycle accessory business for 35 years and its cases are seen everywhere, and I went with Givi’s Monokey V47 Tech top case ($375).
I could have selected Givi’s largest 56-liter case, but thought that might be a tad too big for a bike this size. Smaller cases might not hold enough. More importantly, the 47-liter has a version in high-vis yellow fluo that exactly matched the color of the Yamaha MT-10 wheels—so end of discussion.
Installation of the model-specific Givi SR2129 Rear Rack ($80) and M7 Monokey Plate mount ($66) required four bolts that replaced the stock hardware and took less than 30 minutes. I found the Givi case mounting to be as solid as I expected—it does not vibrate or flop around.
When loaded to capacity with a change of clothing, patch kit, spares, and all possibles, I found that the weight and position of the case did not change the riding experience one bit. Even during full lean and fast transitions in the canyons, I was unaware of any negative effects of the load mounted as high as it was on my Yamaha MT-10. The case pops on and off effortlessly, and locks to the bike.
The Givi Monokey V47 Tech’s lock and hinge mechanisms operate smoothly and are precise. The edge seals are perfect. I have ridden in the rain and there were no leaks. Having this case made a world of difference from the soft bags I had first considered using. Though, at over $500 with DIY installation, you do pay a premium for a hard case.
I also installed Givi’s D2129S smoked windscreen—specific to the MT-10—which sits about 10 inches higher than the stock screen. This is not a replacement screen—it actually fits over the original by replacing the OEM bolts with those supplied with the unit to make installation a breeze. The quality of materials and fabrication is excellent.
On the MT-10, with its stock micro windscreen, the airflow is directed at the rider’s stomach and lower chest. This results in a clean stream of air around the helmet and wind noise is minimal. Givi’s higher screen removes the air pressure on the torso and directs it to the helmet area. I’m six feet tall, however, so riders of differing heights may experience other results.
Unfortunately, even with its curved top lip and nice contours, there is a lot of wind noise. The trade-off, for me, is less torso buffeting versus higher noise. If you wear good earplugs, you should like this setup. I found it created a harmonic in my Shoei Neotec that I first thought was a weird engine vibration. Opening the chin vent made it even worse. Crouching down behind the screen confirmed it to be the culprit.
As with the top case, the design, construction and materials that make up the windscreen are also excellent as are the fit and finish.
Naturally, I had to put some bling into the mix. I’ve seen comments about the looks of this bike that ranged from extreme hate to much love. I’m in the latter group, yet I thought a bit of Italian refinement would be nice, and Rizoma fit the bill.
Rizoma’s products are top quality and priced to match. The fit and finish are flawless and they install onto the bike with little fuss. Although, many riders think Ducati and other Italian marques when they hear the name Rizoma, there is more to the story.
Rizoma has a full line of parts for the MT-10, as well as most of the major manufacturers ranging from Arch and Harley-Davidson. Additionally, Rizoma also has universal fit items. Many of the pieces I installed are available in bright colors but I opted for mostly black to keep it understated.
Some of the easier add-ons were the brake and clutch levers, MotoGP-style front brake lever guard, clutch cover protector, frame sliders, axle protectors, swingarm spools, mirrors, rider and passenger support/pegs and a new cover for the front brake fluid reservoir.
Other pieces took a bit more time, including as the rear brake fluid tank replacement, the tail tidy, and front/rear indicator lights. Nothing was hard to do, though some creative thinking was involved with the indicator lights.
Rizoma has a wiring adapter for the rear indicators that allows me to plug them in and not cut any wires. Unfortunately, the amber signals worked fine but did not access the red stop lights that are part of the rear indicators. It did not require too much thinking nor research to connect that circuit to the brake wire. So now I have very bright LED signals in back with integrated bright red brake lights.
Up front, the indicators shine bright white all the time, with amber turn signaling. I mounted the units to the OEM signal stalks. I like the way they look, though you might mount them differently. Some riders like to replace their taillight with one that integrates signals with brake lights. I find they are hard to see. I prefer hard to miss.
As you can see from the photos, Rizoma’s gear is elegant, effective and great looking.
Getting my suspension properly adjusted was also crucial to the success of the Project Yamaha MT-10. I had put 10,000 miles on my motorcycle and never touched the suspension adjusters. I didn’t have the confidence to do so effectively, so I simply rode with the stock settings to the best of my ability.
Dave Moss Tuning fixed that, as he knows my MT-10 intimately. Moss started on the rear and methodically set the sag and spring-preload, along with the rebound and compression damping. He explained each setting in detail what he was doing and why he was doing it.
Moss raised the forks two steps in the triple clamps, massaged all the settings. It took less than 20 minutes and the results were gratifying.
I immediately noticed then huge difference just in changing lanes, though the city is no place to judge the effect of the changes made. The real proof happened the next day when I strafed a few Malibu canyons. For the first time, it was apparent that the front and rear suspension worked in perfect harmony.
Essentially, before the Dave Moss Tuning changes, the front and rear suspension were fighting a battle that produced less than optimal performance, resulting in a lack of confidence near the edge. Now, upon fast corner entry, through the apex, and corner exit, there were no discordant inputs from front and rear competing against one another. Road imperfections were less likely to upset the chassis and the motorcycle simply settles into turns and keeps its line.
On fresh tarmac one needs only enter the turn and the Yamaha Project MT-10 floats through it like it’s on rails, asking for more throttle. On the highway and around town I don’t notice much difference in bump absorption or the quality of the ride.
It is difficult to improve on the return on investment that a proper suspension tune-up delivers. I could not be happier now with my bike and the work that was impossible for me and so easy for Moss. Bravo.
With the suspension fully sorted, the final touch is the contact patch. In 11,000 total miles, I’ve toasted the OEM Bridgestone Battlax S20 (2400 miles), cooked the Dunlop Sportmax Q3+ (3600 miles), and a now-shagged and retired Michelin Road 5 (5300 miles).
The Dunlop Q3+ on this motorcycle is simply everything one might ask for in a high-performance tire for transmitting power from a potent engine. The Michelin Road 5 is engineered for high mileage, wet and adverse conditions. I found them to warm up very quickly and offer a smooth and supple ride, even in the wet.
Interestingly, the Michelin Road 5 tires have almost the grip of the Q3+ and will happily put up with all but the most aggressive riding. For a Death Valley trip or to almost anywhere, they will serve well on supernaked sport bike and deliver more life.
Well, we all made it to Death Valley National Park and back and the additions and changes I’ve described made the Project Yamaha MT-10 Sport Tourer a perfect companion. Set up as described, it carried my gear effortlessly to and from the Valley and during our day strafing the smooth tarmac was the perfect pack mule.
Upon my return home, I was able to confirm that I much prefer a sport bike accessorized for touring than a touring bike that lumbers through the twisty bits.
- Helmet: Schuberth S2 Sport
- Jacket: iXS Saragossa GTX
- Pants: iXS Nandi
- Gloves: iXS Cuba GTX
- Socks: iXS Touring II Long
- Boots: iXS Attack Evo
Project Yamaha MT-10 Sport Tourer Build List
- Monokey V47 Tech top case
- MT-10 specific rear rack
- M7 Monokey Plate mount
- MT-10 specific smoked screen
- Passenger peg bracket kit
- Fox license plate support
- Clutch cover protection
- Proguard System Racing
- Fluid tank
- Brake/Clutch Levers “3D”
- Circuit 744 mirrors
- Leggera S rear turn signals
- Leggera L front turn signals
- Sport axle protection, front and rear
- Swingarm spools
- Sport R Engine/Fairing guards
- Pegs Pro w/ peg adapters
- Engine guard
- Universal mirror adapters
- Indicator light cable kits
- Front brake fluid tank
Yamaha Parts & Accessories
- GYTR Quick Shifter Kit
- MT-10 Comfort Saddle
- Universal Grip Heater