On my first excursion on the 2021 Yamaha MT-03, my initial thought was how easy it is to ride. That was quickly followed by how comfortable the MT-03 feels—as if it were inviting me to ride for the pleasure.Straight away, the MT-03 in Strom Fluo attracted me with its upbeat, kind-of retro color scheme highlighted with the gorgeous bright orange wheels. Then I started to notice the other details. Most appealing for me is the cool crystal-ball-like LED headlight. My preference is for a neat, shorter rear end. Yamaha has an optional DOT-legal rear-fender eliminator kit—Yamaha calls it a Tag Eliminator—for $145.
The tank is shaped to allow your knees to fit in perfectly. The handlebar is a good width, ensuring consistent steering control. Set just slightly wider than my shoulders, the grips are easy to reach and comfortable. The seat height is 30.7 inches, and the seated position feels natural. Marry those points with the maneuverability, and it’s a match made to inspire confidence.I love the dynamic look of the 2021 Yamaha MT-03 with the mainly blacked-out DOHC twin-cylinder engine. I love the overall raunchy naked look.The engine capacity of 321cc is ideal for learners or less experienced riders. The pull and speed of the Yamaha MT-03 are ample and impressive for a small-displacement motor. It’s necessary to keep the revs up to pull away in first gear. From there, the power delivery was nicely uniform.Gear changing is dreamy thanks to the user-friendly light feeling clutch and effortless shifter. It provides certainty that you won’t be missing gears, and can easily drop into neutral at traffic lights and so on.When I sped up and clicked up to the six-speed transmission’s higher gears, the MT-03’s motor remained lickety-split, providing ample power. Although the MT-03 does not have any wind protection, the wind buffeting was not at all bad when riding on the freeway. Even in a headwind, I felt comfortable and secure. If it’s your thing, there is a front cowling available from Yamaha Parts & Accessories for $90.Suspension on the MT-03 is secure and appropriately sturdy. When riding over some major bumps, there are no surprising wobbles or disconcerting bottoming. I ran into some dodgy road surfaces on the freeway and some potholes around town; they were taken in our stride without unseating me at any point. The rear is likewise perfectly up to the job. The single shock has a linkage system to enhance the five inches of wheel travel.The inverted KYB front fork enhances the chassis’ quick and positive turning. The MT-03 has excellent feedback—I can always feel where the front is taking me. The Dunlop Sportmax GPR-300 tires have a well-earned good reputation for motorcycles of this type and contribute to the confidence-inspiring handling and feel.Braking on the Yamaha MT-03 is a smooth experience. With single discs, front and back, stopping quickly with complete control is my usual experience. The brakes certainly do the job when required, as I experienced during a sudden stopping situation on the freeway. Under braking, the front end holds firm. ABS is standard and not intrusive.The Yamaha MT-03 has two smaller angled lights positioned above the distinctive headlight that come on with the headlight making for more visibility. My riding buddies said they could clearly see my lighting arrangement in their rear-view mirrors. Being visible is a good thing when you’re on two-wheels. There’s the wowser color scheme and then with ABS, hazard warning lights, and trigger-switch for instant high-beam flash as standard. Getting home safe is sexy!The dash-display has been well thought out, providing instant uncomplicated information. Situated prominently, the black on gray digital instrument display shows revs along the top, gear selection, mph, temperature, fuel level, time, and odometer—all that you need. On one occasion, I allowed the gas to get low. The last bar of the fuel display started to flash, and I had a warning light. It’s reassuring to know that you’ll get a clear heads-up if you’re running low.The 2021 Yamaha MT-03 is a solid choice for leisure rides, practical use, and looking ultra-cool for $4600.Photography by Kelly CallanRIDING STYLE
This week Teejay chats to Tyler Poppe. Tyler works on the TV show Mayans MC–and yet he doesn’t ride an American V-Twin. Wassup with that?? Also, Arthur finds out from friend Mike Cardillo about his thoughts on the full-size version of the Kawasaki KLX 140R F trail bike.