2018 Yamaha MT-10 Review | Naked Spot Motorcycle Test
For 2018, Yamaha changed the naming prefix of its USA-based FZ line of models to the globally used MT designation, in order to sync with the rest of the world. So don’t concern yourself, the FZ-10 has not gone away, it has merely been renamed to the MT-10.
The new 2018 Yamaha MT-10 comes fitted with the excellent quickshifter as standard equipment‑it was previously an accessory. Also, the power modes are now numbered. Otherwise, the MT-10 is unchanged from the FZ, and that news comes as a relief to me.
Yes, I could be accused of being a fan of this motorcycle. So, using the Bold New Name excuse, I borrowed one from the Yamaha press fleet and took off to see if I still liked the MT as much as I did last year. Although the answer is a resounding yes, the 2018 Yamaha MT-10 did deliver a couple of mild surprises that I’d forgotten about.
The legendary inline-4 crossplane crankshaft (270-degree firing order) 998cc motor is derived from the YZF-R1 superbike. As outstanding as the chassis, suspension, and comfortable ergonomics are, it’s that motor that makes the Yamaha MT-10 so ridiculously addicting.
It’s clichéd to say that motorcycles are fun—of course they are. However, the MT-10’s crazy low down power and monster mid-range that rips the bike out of corners—usually with the front wheel in the air—adds a whole other dimension to that saying. So, cliché or not, the MT-10 delivers “fun” by the truckload.
Paradoxically, that high-energy, hooligan temperament does not make for a difficult or nervous machine. For an expert-level motorcycle, the MT-10 is balanced, forgiving, and very user-friendly; it can be ridden pleasantly and modestly if that’s your mood for the day.
That throaty, droning exhaust note fools me into thinking the motor’s not revving that high. In reality, the engine spins up to its almost 12,000 rpm redline rapidly, and makes power all the way.
Of course, as a naked upright-style motorcycle, Yamaha has it tuned for mid-range power and the engineers hit it perfectly with this one. Despite having ridden this bike extensively, the motor’s sheer grunt from just about any speed was still a very pleasant surprise this time around. I had simply forgotten how much punch the MT-10 engine delivers.
The upside of this insanely quick-revving torque monster is that the 2018 Yamaha MT-10 leaps off corners in almost every gear. If you get even a bit enthusiastic with your right wrist in the lower three gears, the front wheel will come off the deck with ease.
Powering out of corners is a joy and, because the Yamaha MT-10 is so beautifully balanced, the light front wheel isn’t in the least scary. Keep your wits about you though and cover the rear brake if you can—the MT-10 is probably the easiest to wheelie streetbike I’ve ever ridden. If you get a bit grabby with the throttle, the front comes up quick in first gear.
The downside of the incredibly willing motor is a somewhat snatchy throttle on initial opening—a behavior it inherited from the R1. On the tightest twisting mountain roads with lots of first- and second-gear exits, I found the throttle just a little over-reactive to input. Coupled with a slight hole in the power on initial throttle application, the novelty of the MT-10’s humongous power fairly quickly wore off.
It has to be said that an aftermarket ECU flash and a slightly re-geared twistgrip cures the MT-10 of this issue. In standard trim, I found that simply switching to Mode 2—done easily on the fly using the large, easily found Mode switch below the twistgrip—gave me the MT-10s full power and allowed me to unleash my inner hooligan, yet at the same time it tamed that immediate throttle snatch just enough to make for a smoother ride through those slow corner exits.
Frankly, I hesitate to criticize Yamaha too roundly for this as they do have all the bases covered with three very distinctive fueling options. I like having that aggressive throttle at bigger twistgrip openings should I want it, and I’m especially okay with it since the option of Mode 2 is always there to sanitize things if desired.
Incidentally, the quick-throttle effect in Mode 1 essentially disappears in third gear or higher; in slightly faster corners there is no issue, and hitting that aggressive throttle response hard in faster corners is the reason I love riding powerful sportbikes.
Don’t forget there is also a Mode 3—essentially a rain mode—that brings both the aggression and power down substantially enough to completely tame the 2018 Yamaha MT-10 in low grip conditions should you need it.
The spectacular motor is nicely partnered with a stable chassis and high-quality fully adjustable KYB suspension. The suspension is firmly sprung and well damped, so the MT-10 tracks through corners extremely well. Bumps are also absorbed easily, and if necessary, the MT-10 changes line intuitively.
I found the rear shock damped a tad soft for hard corner exits, so two clicks tighter on the rebound damping fixed it perfectly for my riding style. The 43mm fork is exemplary out of the box and, coupled with the wonderfully comfortable ergonomics and ideal-width handlebars, I found my confidence in the front end to be absolute.
Overall, the MT-10’s handling is neutral; for any kind of street riding, the Yamaha turns in rapidly and yet it stays stable through the corner. Transitioning from maximum lean angle and whipping over to the other side is simply a matter of asking; the MT-10 is fast reacting and it feels light and flickable. Riding twisting canyon roads just isn’t anywhere near as physically demanding as the same stretch would feel on a supersport machine.
The MT-10 fully radial brakes are powerful enough to bring the MT-10’s 463-pound curb weight down from speed when you need it to, and without any unpleasant sudden initial bite. However, compared to (say) the amazing brakes on the R1, the MT-10’s stoppers are definitely weaker and can get a little spongey when used hard. If you’re a demanding rider who likes pin-sharp braking, switching out the stock rubber lines to steel braided and adding a more aggressive pad will help things dramatically. Although in stock form there’s some room for improvement performance-wise, there is still plenty of feel at the lever, and the ABS is there to help if an emergency gets you in over your head.
Interestingly, oddly even, Yamaha positions the Hyper Naked MT-10 as a potential sport-tourer. As laughable as it may be to throw that moniker at a motorcycle that is probably the most capable unfaired sportbike on the street today, the result is actually pretty sweet for any buyer. That is because the MT-10 comes with both electronic cruise control and a 12v power outlet, both of which are extremely handy.
Challenges to the sport-touring ethos are the rock-hard seat that will have you wriggling around for comfort on anything other than a local ride, along with the rather limited gas tank range. The former can be helped by the Yamaha Genuine Accessories Comfort Saddle, and as an owner, I’d fit one of those bad boys pretty much immediately.
The lack of riding range is a little tougher to deal with. The gas tank holds just 4.5 gallons, and I’d love to see Yamaha offer a larger tank as an accessory. Actually, even another half-gallon of gas would make all the difference. The MT-10 only returns 30 mpg in “normal riding”. The snag is that for any MT-10 pilot, normal riding equals exuberant aggressive hooliganism where you’re laying big asphalt darkies through the twisties with your hair on fire and the front wheel at least two feet off the ground for most of it. The MT-10 doesn’t just tempt me—it literally begs me to ride it that way. Impulse control was never my strong suit, and the MT-10 takes full advantage of that.
Unfortunately, that kind of behavior does not result in 30 mpg, and once the endorphin rush has faded and the adrenaline subsided, you will find yourself sweating for a different reason. You’ll be looking for a gas station every 90 miles or so, and that’s not always accessible in spacious California.
Actually, other than missing a larger gas tank, Yamaha Genuine Accessories are otherwise comprehensive, and offer a huge range of equipment to sweeten the sport touring side of the MT-10. Items include a choice of luggage, heated handgrips, taller windscreens, as well as several smaller items to help protect the bike and make it more suited for long distance travel.
So yes, you can sport-tour easily on the MT-10, and indeed, we recently just finished building a Yamaha MT-10 sport-touring project bike.
At the end of the day, the 2018 Yamaha MT-10 is an absolutely superb, firmly committed sportbike that happens to have upright, comfortable ergonomics. The MT-10 is so confidence inspiring it is incredibly easy to ride very, very fast. It is so well balanced, it is possibly the easiest to wheelie streetbike I’ve yet ridden. It handles brilliantly through corners fast and slow, and it will smear big broad rubber tire stripes on corner exits if you want.
Happily, you can have an MT-10 for a ridiculously reasonable price, but really, that’s just a plus. Because the 2018 Yamaha MT-10 is one of the very best motorcycles available today for real-world sport riders who want massive, all-round performance in an amazingly friendly package. Dang, I still absolutely love this bike.
- Helmet: HJC RPHA 70 ST
- Communications: Sena 30K
- Jacket: Spidi Warrior Net
- Gloves: Spidi Carbo 1
- Pants: Spidi J-Strong Denim
- Boots: Sidi Doha
2018 Yamaha MT-10 Specs
- Type: Inline-4 w/ crossplane crankshaft
- Displacement: 998cc
- Bore x stroke: 79.0 x 50.9mm
- Compression ratio: 12.0:1
- Valve train: DOHC, 16 valves
- Transmission: 6-speed w/ quickshifter
- Clutch: Wet multiplate assist-and-slipper clutch
- Final drive: Chain
- Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable 43mm inverted KYB fork; 4.7 inches
- Rear suspension: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable KYB piggyback reservoir shock; 4.7 inches
- Tires: Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S20
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17
- Rear tire: 190/55 x 17
- Front brake: 320mm discs; fully radial system
- Rear brake: 220mm disc
- ABS: Standard
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 55.1 inches
- Rake: 24.0 degrees
- Trail: 4.0 inches
- Seat height: 32.5 inches
- Fuel capacity: 4.5 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 30 mpg
- Curb weight 463 pounds
2018 Yamaha MT-10 Colors:
- Matte Gray
- Team Yamaha Blue
2018 Yamaha MT-10 Price:
- $12,999 MSRP