The Yamaha MT-07 has a well-earned reputation as an excellent all-around naked upright sportbike in the 650/700cc displacement range selling for around $8k. Its competitors have been twins, like the MT-07, until now. Triumph sensed an opportunity in the class for 2021, and dropped an inline-3 bomb into the category. Yamaha updated its twin this year, so we pitted the established 2021 Yamaha MT-07 against the newcomer Triumph Trident 660 to see how they compare. It’s a tricky class of motorcycle—one that appeals to new riders moving up and experienced riders migrating to a category that realistically reflects their needs on public roads.
We prefer riding motorcycles to measuring them. However, it is difficult to avoid the temptation to do some measurebating and developing conclusions. The two motorcycles are remarkably similar on the spec sheet, with few outlier disparities. That led us to expect a battle between two very similar motorcycles, where we would have to tease out the differences. As it often does, expectations don’t match on-the-seat comparisons, and that’s why we ride them.
Hopping on the motorcycles, the differences in ergonomics make themselves known. The Triumph Trident’s ergonomics will appeal to taller riders. The handlebar is wider, the seat is more spacious, and the fuel tank’s classic Triumph cutouts make great anchoring points when ripping through the canyons. The Yamaha MT-07 feels smaller, narrower, and lighter, even though the 07 is just ten pounds lighter. The narrowness also allows the 07 rider to get soles securely on the pavement more easily. The most apparent disparity between the 2021 Triumph Trident 660 and Yamaha MT-07 is the motor—twin vs. triple. However, the MT’s cross-plane parallel twin and the Trident’s triple have several features in common—decisively oversquare, DOHC, four valves per cylinder.
The MT-07’s parallel-twin engine has become one of the darlings of the middleweight class for good reason. Its spunky personality and approachable power are a grand ol’ time for riders across nearly all skill levels. Faithful to its Master of Torque namesake, the MT has welcoming bottom-end grunt, followed up by perfectly tractable power that will pull all the way to the redline.
Meanwhile, the 660cc triple—retuned and resized from the old Speed Triple 675—has all the qualities of Triumph 3-cylinder engines that we’ve grown to love over the year. It’s buttery smooth, revs up with urgency, and has that unmistakable three-cylinder howl. The first few gear ratios are nice and low, making sure that riders can immediately tap into its wonderful midrange might and top-end power that hits its stride around 7000 rpm and screams all the way to the redline. The Trident doesn’t just encourage you to twist the modern ride-by-wire throttle. It also rewards you with a raucous symphony and user-friendly power that makes canyon riding an absolute gem.
The Trident’s aggressiveness shouldn’t discourage you too much if you are a new rider, as it is happy to plod along at low speeds like the MT-07, despite its love of revs. Sure, it doesn’t have the torquey shunt of the MT off the line, but it has a lot more legs once the ball gets rolling. As a bonus, the Trident has two power modes and traction control, a plus if the pavement gets wet—two features missing from the 07.
There is versatility baked into the MT-07 that allows experienced riders to rev the engine out and extract every ounce of performance, while intermediate or those graduating from lightweight bikes are sure to enjoy its always-accessible low and midrange grunt. The twin spools up confidently and with some gusto, but never runs away from the rider.
Both motors have six-speed transmissions with ratios perfectly matched to their respective power outputs. Although Yamaha’s conventional clutch has to go up against the Triumph’s assist-and-slip unit, even with the assist function, the Trident’s clutch pull isn’t quite as light as the MT’s. Slipper functions are helpful to aggressive experienced riders and error-prone novices alike, so we’re glad to see it on the Trident, even though we didn’t particularly miss it on the MT.
The two engines offer two approaches to performance. For city riding, we prefer the MT-07’s torquier response, which gives it an advantage over most of the rev range. The Trident’s softer and smoother delivery has its appeal in urban riding, though it doesn’t have the immediate response of the MT-07.
Whether you prefer the Yamaha or the Triumph motor for sport riding depends on your style. Short shifters will love the MT-07’s pull, while Trident partisans will be those who love tapping into the higher ends of the rev range—the Trident truly comes into its own at 9000 rpm, right where the MT-07 signs off. Triumph gives you an extra 1000 rpm or so to play with, though it requires an aggressive throttle hand.
Just as the motors are distinctive, so, too, is the handling despite sharing nearly identical geometry figures—wheelbase, rake, trail, seat height, and curb weight—the MT-07 and Trident live at opposite ends of the handling spectrum.
The MT-07 fills the middleweight role true to form, offering up compliant suspension and an inherent nimbleness that we expect from Japanese middleweight naked bikes. With the rider sitting in the relatively low perch, the MT-07 feels small, maneuverable, and acquiesces to the rider’s every input.
In stark contrast to the MT-07, the Trident has a far more composed and stable chassis that delivers a riding experience of a larger-displacement motorcycle, such as the Street Triple 765 or Speed Triple 1200.
The MT-07 can be whipped into corners on a whim and will correct its line easily, making it something of a giddy experience. However, the limits of the softly sprung and damped suspension can be found when pushed, especially for us HFC-fed American riders, and the 07 doesn’t have the same stability as the Trident.
The Trident’s inverted fork and steel chassis feel far more planted, letting you carry more corner speed with greater confidence than the MT. However, the Trident doesn’t steer as swiftly or effortlessly as the MT, requiring more input from its pilot.
Michelin Road 5 tires are the rubber of choice from the factory for both motorcycles. We’re fans of the practicality of the Road 5s, so they’re good choices for these all-around motorcycles. However, if you’re looking to up your canyon performance, there is room to upgrade after you wear out the stock tires.
With speed comes the need to slow down. Although the overall braking power on the two motorcycles is evenly matched, there is a difference in bite and feel.
The Trident’s front and rear brakes have a noticeably soft initial bite that progressively builds into its deceleration power. Meanwhile, the MT-07 has more attack in its front brakes, which is exacerbated by the softer suspension, with the rear brake having a relatively mushy feel. Both motorcycles have transparently implemented ABS that is not adjustable.
Riders graduating from lightweight bikes or perhaps even newly minted riders will appreciate the Yamaha’s compliant handling characteristics, though the responsiveness could deliver more than they were asking for. The Triumph’s chassis has reserves for someone with a bit of skill behind them. For newer riders, all that chassis confidence on the table allows for the confident building of skills.
City riders will have a blast with the MT-07, as it happily darts its way through traffic, reacting to your every whim without hesitation. The Trident gives an urban dweller a reassuringly stable platform in the confines of city traffic, which a new rider will find comforting.
Although we usually don’t get involved in styling discussions, the stark differences between the Yamaha MT-07 and Triumph Trident invite pontificating. The MT-07’s unapologetically futuristic anime-like appearance is a love-it-or-hate-it proposition—even our staff is divided. The Trident’s styling also raises different eyebrows, as it’s a mixture of contemporary and retro. The tire-hugging license plate holder, arched swingarm, and inverted forks are modern, while the tank, round headlight, and clock take us back in time. Generally, we’d like to see a more consistent styling approach, though we are impressed with the fit and finish of the Trident.
There’s no clear winner between these two motorcycles, which isn’t unusual when comparing two motorcycles. It comes down to who you are and what you want out of a ride.
Equipped with that absolute gem of an engine, the Yamaha MT-07 is extremely easy to ride, nimble, and insanely fun. Faster riders will find the limits of its suspension, as the MT is meant to serve a vast audience—new riders, riders graduating from lightweight bikes, and experienced riders. Its outright performance ceiling might be a little lower than the Trident, but the welcoming handling and user-friendly torque appeal to the all-important less-experienced rider.
There is no doubt that the Trident’s aggressive price point is intended to dethrone the MT-07. The Trident’s rev-happy engine and stout chassis are awesome pieces of kit that those with a little more seat-time will gel with immediately. Although a novice can easily build skills on the Trident, it’s primed for those with a little more experience, or those who have hung their egos up and are stepping down from liter bikes.
We’ve provided you with the information you need to pick the right motorcycle if these two bikes are at the top of your list. Read our reviews of the Suzuki SV650 and Kawasaki Z650, as they are also credible contenders in the division, and the right bikes for plenty of riders. Really, we’re happy that there are so many choices in this class, as it makes it possible to select the motorcycle that best fits your needs. Then again, some staffers openly wished for the Yamaha MT-07 motor in the Triumph Trident 660 chassis. The search for universal perfection continues.
UM staffers Kelly Callan, Arthur Coldwells, Nic de Sena, and Don Williams collaborated on this comparison.
Photography by Don Williams
- Helmet: Arai Corsair-X Van der Mark Frost
- Jacket: Dainese Tuono D-Air
- Gloves: Racer Gloves USA High Speed
- Jeans: Dainese Denim Regular Tex
- Shoes: Sidi Duna Special
Nic de Sena
- Helmet: Arai Corsair-X Nakagami 3
- Jacket: Alpinestars T-GP Plus R V3
- Gloves: Alpinestars GP Plus V3
- Jeans: Alpinestars Crank
- Shoes: Alpinestars Faster-3
|Specs||2021 Triumph Trident 660||2021 Yamaha MT-07|
|Type||Inline-3||CP2 parallel twin|
|Bore x stroke||74.0 x 51.1mm||80 x 58.6mm|
|Valvetrain||DOHC; 4vpc||DOHC; 4vpc|
|Clutch||Wet-multiplate w/ assist and slipper functions||Wet multiplate|
|Final drive||X-ring chain||chain|
|Frame||Tubular steel perimeter w/ steel swingarm||Tubular steel trellis|
|Front suspension; travel||Non-adjustable Showa SFF inverted 41mm fork; 4.7 inches
|Non-adjustable 41mm KYB fork; 5.1 inches|
|Rear suspension; travel||Linkage-less, spring-preload adjustable Showa RSU shock; 5.3 inches||Cantilevered rebound-damping and spring-preload adjustable KYB shock; 5.1 inches|
|Front wheel||17 x 3.5||17 x 3.5|
|Rear wheel||17 x 5.5||17 x 5.5|
|Tires||Michelin Road 5||Michelin Road 5|
|Front tire||120/70 x 17||120/70 x 17|
|Rear tire||180/55 x 17||180/55 x 17|
310mm floating discs w/ Nissin 4-piston calipers
|298mm discs w/ 4-piston calipers|
|Rear brake||255mm disc w/ Nissin single-piston caliper||245mm disc w/ Nissin caliper|
|DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES|
|Wheelbase||55.2 inches||55.1 inches|
|Rake||24.6 degree||24.8 degrees|
|Trail||4.2 inches||3.5 inches|
|Seat height||31.7 inches||31.7 inches|
|Fuel tank capacity||3.7 gallons||3.7 gallons|
|Curb weight||417 pounds||406 pounds|
|Colors||Silver Ice & Diablo Red; Matte Jet Black & Matte Silver Ice; Crystal White; Sapphire Black||Storm Fluo; Matte Raven Black; Team Yamaha Blue|