An up-spec model always warms my little gearhead heart. First and foremost are the all-important bragging rights, letting owners casually drop names like Öhlins and Brembo as if they’re saved in your contacts—Oh, you haven’t met? We go way back. But what Yamaha’s illustrious SP badging has promised is performance, and the tuning-fork brand aims to make good on that claim with the 2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP.
Still basking in the glow of a recent refresh is the well-rounded Yamaha MT-10, which struck a chord in the increasingly focused liter-class naked segment thanks to its can-do attitude and value. The SP expands the mighty MT-10’s repertoire for an extra $2900 over the base model via semi-active Öhlins suspension, an exclusive YZF-R1M-inspired livery with a matching belly-fairing and polished aluminum swingarm, and steel-braided brake lines—a minor list with potentially major impacts.
All of that is worth investigating. So, we put miles down in canyon curves, tackled commutes, and went for a track day at Buttonwillow Raceway Park to see what the extra coin gets you. Now, it’s time for the Fast Facts.
- Know one thing about the 998cc CP4 engine—torque. You’ve read the headline, but Yamaha’s not backing a one-trick pony. This streetable engine packs all the low-end and midrange punch you could ever want on the road. That superbike-derived DNA shines through once in the wide-open spaces of the racetrack, where throttles are held at the stop and revs are sent to the heavens. The MT-10 SP spools up with vigor and doesn’t lose steam until the bitter end, where the R1’s lightweight titanium internals and tuning might prove an advantage on longer straights. That’s not much of a bother, as its broad midrange never lets you down.
- Sing it with me—Crossplane crank, how sweet the sound. During the MT-10 platform’s recent update, engineers decided it was time to put those forward-facing intake ducts to work—they now feed the new air-intake system. Sound is a priority on the big MTs, evidenced by their acoustic grilles conveniently located right under your chin on the 4.5-gallon fuel tank. Hearing that CP4 note echoing off canyon walls is something that piques my interest any day of the week, and that’s a track you can put on repeat.
- An up/down quickshifter and a sport six-speed gearbox. What more could you want? Well… Yamaha’s bi-directional quickshifter deserves a healthy bit of praise on the street. With a tap of the lever and off you go, raging through the gearbox like a banshee. The extreme environment of the racetrack did reveal conservative quickshifter programming. Go for an upshift while flirting with the limiter, and it can hesitate. Spiking the revs with rapid-fire downshifts isn’t appreciated either. You’ll need to let the rpm settle or reach for the relatively light clutch lever, which is what I opted for in Buttonwillow’s heaviest braking zones. Deal-breaker? No, though it’s a quirk the YZF-R1 doesn’t exhibit, you might have to mix shifting techniques in specific situations on the 2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP.
- Ride-by-wire throttle is just the tip of the electronic iceberg. Yamaha engineers tossed a new throttle on the MT-10 platform, derived from the R1 superbike. That’s good news, as the prior generation big MTs and R1s suffered from snatchy fueling in their aggressive power modes. Four power modes (1-4) are found on the MT-10/SP. Level 1 bares the MT’s teeth and is a tad overexuberant on the street or track, while level 2 hits the sweet spot regardless of the setting. Of course, inclement or urban conditions might call for the tamer levels 3 and 4.
- IMU-enabled rider aids are at home on the street or track. On deck, we have power modes (throttle), lean-angle-detecting traction control, cornering ABS, slide control, engine braking, and wheelie control settings—all fully adjustable within four riding modes (A-D). While the street isn’t a place to test most of these features, the track presents an opportunity. In nearly all cases, I’d say they pass with flying colors. The TC and SC work harmoniously to reel in the CP4’s might, giving you the confidence to twist the grip with gusto while leaving mean darkies. One can even hork up a modest wheelie with WC in its lowest setting. While ABS never falters on the road, ultra-hard braking on the circuit did make ABS 1 throw a fit, despite it disabling the IMU. ABS 2 chimes in a hair early at lean, though it’s more than ready for A group.
- Öhlins semi-active suspension offers versatility at the click of a button. The Smart EC 2.0 system features the usual assortment of modes: three semi-active (A1-A3) and three manual (M1-M3) modes, all tuned respectively. A1 is the sportiest and most at home on smooth canyon roads or at the racetrack, keeping the chassis tidy during hard acceleration, braking, or when leaned over. A2 takes the edge off for the real world, though still athletic, while A3 is like riding on velvet by comparison. Those are your parameters and dialing damping settings is done in a snap, easily sharpening the MT-10 SP’s fangs compared to the base model. Don’t forget, when it’s time to head home, pop it in comfy mode and ride in luxury with cruise control engaged.
- A planted chassis is the 2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP’s calling card. What is telegraphed through the MT-10 SP’s twin-spar aluminum frame and swingarm is confidence, which is a nice thing to have whether you’re on the street or track. She’s one of the bigger gals in the class at 472 pounds, which explains why the SP enjoys a little more direction when being coaxed into the corners than its Euro classmates. That amounts to what I’d label a tradeoff in favor of stability, not a compromise. Pile on the brakes, aim for the apex, and hammer the throttle on the exit—rinse and repeat until sundown or the checkered flag waves.
- The Advics and Brembo combo get the help of steel-braided brake lines. The MT-10 platform recently gained a new Brembo front-brake master cylinder that feeds the four-piston calipers via steel-braided brake lines. The addition is not as transformational as expected, with the lever gaining a hint of firmness. That seems to be by design, as Yamaha doesn’t want to go overboard with the initial bite. There’s a good feel and no fade to speak of at pace, though I’d still enjoy a bit more attack.
- Bridgestone Battlax S22 Hypersport tires mean business. The S22 is a solid choice for anyone looking at sport rubber, whether they live in the curvy road sections or hit the cheeky track day.
- A unique livery identifies the top-tier MT-10. The Liquid Metal/Raven colorway is the only color available, which isn’t necessarily bad, considering that the fit and finish are excellent. The SP does draw a fair amount of inspiration from the lusty YZF-R1M, with the three-piece belly fairing. Also, the color-matched wheels are a welcome touch.
- Sporty ergonomics find the right balance. There is a stroke of genius in tossing a set of handlebars and lowering the rearsets on a superbike. See, you get high-level performance that suddenly can be lived with on the street. Yamaha hasn’t forgotten that premise, and the MT-10’s rider triangle doesn’t let you down when riding to work or racking up laps. A comfortable riser handlebar and spacious legroom from the 32.9-inch-high saddle are a boon on the street. Yet, the footpegs aren’t too low for some extreme lean while scuffing knee pucks—naked bikes usually mean you’re more mindful of foot placement. On that note, my heels do conflict with the passenger footpegs a bit, and thankfully, they’re removable. Despite the MT-10s hanging it all out with just a flyscreen for modesty, it isn’t too bad on the street; taller optional windscreens are available.
- The 2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP takes it all up a notch without compromising its core values. Yamaha engineers could design an uncompromising hyper-naked to drop lap times, not unlike some of its Euro compatriots—but that’s a job for the R1. The thing is, the MT-10 platform is destined for more than that narrow scope of work, and the up-spec SP variant adds a few more talents to its already flourishing resume that isn’t spoiled by a few minor missteps. Track days, sport riding, and casual fair have always been in the cards for the MT-10, and they’re made that much easier with the SP.
- Helmet: Arai Corsair-X
- Jacket: Alpinestars GP Plus R V3
- Gloves: Alpinestars GP Tech V2
- Jeans: Alpinestars Crank
- Shoes: Alpinestars Faster 3
- Helmet: Arai Corsair-X
- Suit: Alpinestars GP Tech V4
- Airbag: Alpinestars Tech-Air 5
- Baselayer: VNM Sport compression top and pant
- Gloves: Alpinestars GP Tech V2
- Boots: Alpinestars Super Tech R
2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP Specs
- Type: Inline-4 w/ crossplane crankshaft
- Displacement: 998cc
- Bore x stroke: 79.0 x 50.9mm
- Compression ratio: 12.0:1
- Valvetrain: DOHC, 16 valves
- Transmission: 6-speed w/ quickshifter
- Clutch: Wet multiplate assist-and-slipper clutch
- Final drive: Chain
- Frame: Twin-spar aluminum
- Front suspension; travel: Fully adjustable semi-active Öhlins inverted 43mm fork; 4.7 inches
- Rear suspension: Linkage-assisted fully adjustable Öhlins piggyback-reservoir shock; 4.7 inches
- Tires: Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22
- Front tire: 120/70 x 17
- Rear tire: 190/55 x 17
- Front brake: 320mm discs w/ radially mounted Brembo 4-piston calipers and Brembo radial master cylinder
- Rear brake: 220mm disc
- ABS: Cornering-aware
DIMENSIONS and CAPACITIES
- Wheelbase: 55.3 inches
- Rake: 24.0 degrees
- Trail: 4.0 inches
- Seat height: 32.9 inches
- Fuel capacity: 4.5 gallons
- Estimated fuel consumption: 36 mpg
- Curb weight: 472 pounds
- Color: Liquid Metal/Raven
2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP Price: $16,899 MSRP