2018 Yamaha MT-07 Test

When we sent Associate Editor Kelly Callan off to Spain to review the 2018 Yamaha MT-07, she came back disappointed at her lack of riding time in the dry. While the rain in Spain is mainly on the plain, while she was there it poured on the Mediterranean Coast.

Her first ride review of the MT-07 was informative, but limited in scope. It took a while, but we were finally able to procure an MT-07 here at home for some extensive testing.

2018 Yamaha MT-07 wheelieWhen Yamaha converted the FZ-07 to the world-bike MT-07, the company didn’t merely rebrand it. The MT-07 has functional changes, along with a new name. The most significant upgrade was the suspension.

Although many aggressive canyon riders complained about the FZ-07’s cushy suspension, we argued that Yamaha got it about right. The MT-09 and MT-10 are there for hardcore sport riders. Yamaha acknowledges that the “MT-07 [was] developed for younger and less experienced riders.” For that audience, the FZ-07 was ideally suited.

Yamaha hinted that it would like a bit stiffer suspension for the 698cc vertical twin, and we first saw it on the retro-themed XSR700. So, with the move to the MT-07 name, we get firmer springs and damping for the 2018 Yamaha MT-07.

The KYB fork was massaged just a bit. The spring rate was increased a modest six percent, and the rebound damping went up by 16 percent—no change in compression damping.

However, the MT-07 gets a new KYB shock with rebound damping adjustability. The big change in the damping is a 27 percent increase in high-speed rebound action, and a whopping 40 percent increase in the high-speed compression damping. To compensate for the slower damping, the spring rate went up 11 percent.

2018 Yamaha MT-07 reviewRiding the MT-07 in urban conditions and through twisting canyon roads, the firmer suspension is undeniably noticeable.

On smooth canyon roads, the MT-07 is a considerable improvement over the FZ-07. The bike settles in nicely, and doesn’t wallow or feel vague through the corners. The compact chassis gives the MT-07 a natural agility so having a taut suspension improves confidence.

As the roads get rougher—not usual in California—the MT-07 doesn’t behave quite as nicely. Despite the increase in rebound damping at both ends, the MT-07 does display some pogoing.

The problem is less significant in the fork, which is a good thing, as the fork is non-adjustable. A full clockwise turn of the shock’s adjuster screw adds needed rebound, though the issue never entirely goes away. If your roads are in good condition, the stock settings are just right.

For riders who bought the MT-07 for strictly urban riding, they won’t be as anxious to embrace the suspension firming. Again, California—and Los Angeles, in particular—suffers from poorly maintained roads, despite sky-high gas taxes.

2018 Yamaha MT-07 ridingWhen traversing these sometimes ruggedly paved streets, the 2018 Yamaha MT-07 is not nearly as smooth and forgiving as the previous FZ-07. You feel the bumps and bruises in the pavement much more viscerally—gone is the soft suspension covering the warts. The MT-07 is going to chatter your teeth, but the new suspension is not as urban oriented.

Another change in the move to the MT-07 involves the cockpit. Yamaha moved the tank cover up almost a half-inch, and there’s the rear of the seat has been pushed back slightly. The 2018 Yamaha MT-07 still isn’t a big or roomy motorcycle, of course. Passengers will appreciate the longer seat, too.

As part of Yamaha’s Dark Side of Japan marketing campaign, the MT-07 has a more aggressive look. The new headlight and re-positioned turn signals are most apparent, with the new tank and radiator covers, front fender, taillight, and seating adding to the visual appeal of the new MT-07.

There was no change to the motor, and there didn’t need to be. The MT-07 is a cheater bike in the 650 class, and the CP2 (Crossplane Concept twin) engine is exceptionally smooth. The 270-degree crank means good torque from the uneven firing order, and you have a seamless powerband all the way to the 10,500 rpm rev limiter, with the 50 ft/lbs torque peak coming at 6500 rpm. Really, though, there is no reason to run the motor up past 9000 rpm, unless you’re just overrevving between corners.

2018 Yamaha MT-07 testThe chassis is nicely neutral, and the 2018 Yamaha MT-07 is just a few pounds over the 400-pound mark with the 3.7-gallon fuel tank topped off. The wheelbase is a compact 55 degrees, and the rake a relatively conservative 24.8 degrees. Put that all together and the MT-07 is entertaining for experienced riders, yet it won’t intimidate newer mistake-prone motorcyclists.

Yamaha decided to make the MT-07—part of the Masters of Torque series—more sporty as it transformed from the FZ-07 to The Dark Side of Japan. Canyon carvers will appreciate the changes more than urban dwellers.

The resulting 2018 Yamaha MT-07 is an excellent training motorcycle for would-be track-day enthusiasts, while remaining a fine commuter that makes the daily grind just that must less onerous.

Action photography by Don Williams

Riding Style

2018 Yamaha MT-07 Specs

ENGINE

  • Type: CP2 parallel twin
  • Displacement: 689cc
  • Bore x stroke: 80.0 x 68.6mm
  • Maximum torque: 50 ft/lbs @ 6500 rpm
  • Compression ratio: 11.5:1
  • Transmission: 6-speed

CHASSIS

  • Frame: Diamond steel
  • Front suspension; travel: Non-adjustable 41mm KYB fork; 5.1 inches
  • Rear suspension; travel: Linkage-assisted rebound-damping and spring-preload adjustable KYB shock; 5.1 inches
  • Front wheel: 17 x 3.50
  • Rear wheel: 17 x 5.50
  • Tires: Bridgestone Battlax BT023
  • Front tire: 120/70 x 17
  • Rear tire: 180/55 x 17
  • Front brakes: 282mm discs w/ 4-piston caliper
  • Rear brake: 245mm disc w/ Nissin caliper
  • ABS: Standard

DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES

  • Wheelbase: 55.1 inches
  • Rake: 24.8 degrees
  • Trail: 3.5 degrees
  • Seat height: 31.7 inches
  • Fuel capacity: 3.7 gallons
  • Estimated fuel consumption: 58 mpg
  • Curb weight: 403 pounds

2018 Yamaha MT-07 COLORS

  • Team Yamaha Blue
  • Matte Gray
  • Intensity White

2018 YAMAHA MT-07 PRICE

  • $7599 MSRP

2018 Yamaha MT-07 Test | Photo Gallery