The Yamaha MT 10 is the pinnacle of the company’s naked range, the biggest, the baddest, the meanest and simply an absolute monster.
In 2015 the Yamaha MT 10 was released at the EICMA show in Milan and was in showrooms for 2016, the SP version hit dealers in October 2016.
The MT range has been promoted as the “Dark Side of Japan” since its release, Yamaha even created a new category for the range labeling them Hypernakeds, bikes of this nature from other manufacturers would be considered ‘Super Nakeds’.
It is a line of bikes that swept across Europe and North America like a hurricane, there was a point where at every bike stop, every gathering and even on every road you could spot one of the MT’s.
As with anything the flagship model was the most coveted and it still is. It has a presence that dominates the other models, if they could the smaller MT’s would bow down to the all conquering Yamaha MT 10.
It is a motorcycle worth exploring and getting to know, let’s get started.
Yamaha MT 10 Performance
The MT 10 used the same Crossplane Crankshaft technology developed for the fabulous Yamaha YZF-R1. At the time it was a technologically advanced engine that gave the MT 10 the same energy, grunt and sound track found in the MotoGP bikes that Rossi was using to tear round racetracks.
Yamaha did modify the R1 engine to suit a street bike and make the power much more usable for everyday riding.
To do this they moved the power to be lower in the rev range and shortened the gearing.
MCN claimed Yamaha stripped 40% of the engine’s internals, removing many titanium and magnesium components which were more suited to a high revving race bike and replaced them with components that were far more cost effective and suitable for a street bike.
The result of the modifications was an engine that had an abundance of torque making exiting corners an absolute blast and the power delivery was excellent at any slight twist of the throttle.
It is an engine that will take you around town if needs be, it will do your commute and it will do it well. However, if you are looking at a Yamaha MT 10 you are probably more interested in its potential as a performance naked bike and whether it will keep up with your mates on fully faired supersports.
The answer is yes, while the modifications have made the engine more user friendly it is far from a slouch and the heart of the bike can easily match the wild style of the overall design.
It isn’t just the engine that has been taken from the R1 but the chassis too.
The lightweight and responsive chassis is the same aluminum deltabox frame from the R1 with added flex which provides additional comfort and feel for a more natural street riding experience.
Also derived from the R1 is the fully adjustable KYB suspension setup. The suspension works well for riding both at speed and slower around town and can be adjusted to perfectly suit either situation. The only note is that it is more on the stiff side despite its adjustability.
The brakes are straight off the R1 with some light modifications and they provide plenty of bite. The ABS works as it should and traction control is more than adequate allowing you to have fun without feeling like you have a constant safety net over you like some modern bikes.
So putting all of that together what you have is a well built, slightly more refined supersport race bike in a naked upright body.
You have a bike that is incredibly easy to ride fast, it will lift the front wheel with little effort and you unleash your inner hooligan whenever you fancy.
It is the way the Yamaha MT 10 has been designed that has been divisive since its release.
Unlike the smaller bikes in the MT range, the MT 10 receives a twin headlight and different housing.
The result is a compact nose assembly that looks like an ant from the movie ‘A Bug’s Life’.
I don’t mind it as it makes sense to differentiate the flagship of the range from the other models, the sharp angular headlight housing works with the rest of the angular aggressive bodywork.
However, I do think it adds some weight to the front (stylistically) and perhaps the MT09 and MT07 has a cleaner look that fits in with the Hypernaked approach.
Maybe the most surprising thing about the Yamaha MT 10 is that actually it is an incredibly practical and peaceful road bike.
The performance, relative light weight and handling all lend itself to a mild mannered riding experience most of the time unless of course you want to turn things up a notch and misbehave then it will oblige without question.
Just don’t tell anyone that the ‘King of Darkness’ is actually a practical, calm, zen motorcycle, it has a reputation to uphold.
The Yamaha MT 10 isn’t alone in the world of Super Naked motorcycles or in other words high-performance (sport-spec) naked street bikes. In fact there are a few bikes that make for excellent competition to the MT 10, so let’s see how it holds up against these:
Aprilia Tuono V4 Factory
This Italian beauty is a monster, is considered to be a Super Naked but is also the least naked of the bunch in reality.
Powered by the superbike V4 1077cc engine with an ECU from Magneti Marelli it is really a sweet ride that most riders would struggle to find anything negative about.
The only drawback to the Tuono V4 is the $20,000 price tag, but exotic, extreme sportiness and sex appeal costs right?
KTM 1290 Super Duke R
The big Duke is a favorite among naked bike riders, the enormous V-twin engine has an appeal that attracts riders from all over into the KTM fold, those with around $18,000 anyway.
It is mean, really aggressive, if you ever wanted to strap yourself to a rocket and see what happens on take-off, get a 1290 Super Duke R.
Ducati Streetfighter V4 S
If you think the Aprilia is expensive then it is probably best to ignore the Streetfighter V4 S altogether and skip ahead, as the price is in excess of $24,000.
What Ducati have done is take the flagship Panigale V4 and strip it down to just the very basics of what you need to make up a motorcycle.
It is absolutely mental, with over 200 horsepower at your disposal and absolutely no protection from the elements at all.
How does the Yamaha MT 10 hold up against the competition?
With all that said then where does the MT 10 fare when standing up to these other heavy hitters.
To start with it offers incredible value for money as it is the cheapest of the bunch by some distance. By swapping out expensive R1 components for more usable street riding parts, Yamaha saved a lot on producing the MT 10.
It is also far more mild-mannered and less intimidating than the likes of the KTM or the Ducati while still offering a high level of performance, 164 horsepower can’t be ignored.
Parts from Yamaha should things go wrong or the bike be dropped, are cheaper than trying to find parts for an Aprilia or a Ducati.
The Yamaha MT 10 is also more adaptable and suited to carrying a passenger if that is something you intend to do with bikes like the Ducati really being a one man show for full enjoyment to be had.
Overall maybe the other Super Naked bikes offer more power for more money, but that is where the strength of the MT 10 lies, it is an affordable beast that can turn it on and off to suit.
Engine and Transmission
- Engine – Liquid-cooled DOHC inline four-cylinder, 16 Valves
- Capacity – 998cc
- Bore x Stroke – 79 x 50.9 mm
- Compression Ratio – 12.0:1
- Cooling System – Liquid-Cooled
- Starting – Electric
- Fuel Delivery – Fuel Injection with YCC-T
- Transmission – 6 Speed
- Final Drive – Chain
- Max Power – 164 horsepower
- Max Torque – 112 Nm at 9,000rpm
Chassis and Dimensions
- Frame – Cast aluminium twin-spar
- Front Suspension – 43mm KYB inverted fork, fully adjustable, 4.7” travel
- Rear Suspension – KYB piggyback shock, fully adjustable, 4.7”
- Front Brakes – Dual 320mm hydraulic disc, ABS
- Rear Brakes – Single 220mm hydraulic disc, ABS
- Wet Weight – 211kg
- Wheelbase – 1404mm
- Fuel Capacity – 17L
- Seat Height – 850mm
- Ground Clearance – 254mm
- Width – 800mm
- Length – 2100mm
- Height – 1165mm
MT 10 Gadgets
- Wheel lift control system
- Slide control system
- Cruise control system
- Lean sensitive traction control
- Anti lock braking system
- Yamaha’s advanced brake control
- High capacity cooling system
- Quick shift system
- Engine brake management
- BC system settings
Current price new in £ & $
A 2022 Yamaha MT 10 starts from £13,500 in the UK and $13,999 in the US.
The MT 10 SP version starts from £16,000 or $16,899.
Since 2016 there have not been very many changes to the MT 10, but for the 2022 model Yamaha has promised that it is the most powerful version to date.
Still based on the R1 the Yamaha MT 10 receives the updated engine with 6 more horsepower.
New lightweight aluminium pistons have been fitted and direct-plated cylinders.
The titanium conrods of the R1 have switched to steel for the MT 10, which is a money-saving move from Yamaha but they are also effective for street use increasing the feel of torque.
The intake and exhaust systems have been tuned for more oomph and the torque is more abundant in the mid-range.
There is a new airbox and grills that give the new bike a whole louder, moodier growl than previous editions.
Yamaha have also fitted a titanium exhaust system which despite being Euro 5 compliant gives an awesome deep growl.
Other minor upgrades include the saddle, brakes, the TFT display, the quickshifter and new six-axis IMU.
The front signature face has had an uplift, with the angry ‘bug’ look getting even angrier.
Yamaha MT 10 SP
The main variant model has been the SP (Sports Production) model which takes the basis of the ultimate Hypernaked and made it even crazier.
The main difference with the SP released in 2017 to the base model is the Ohlins suspension which is the semi-active system, allowing you to adjust the suspension while on the move.
The TFT display was also an upgrade (similar to that on the R1) and the color options that the bike was available in differentiated from the base model.
For 2022 the MT 10 is the first production model to be fitted with the next generation of Ohlins suspension which provides an even greater range of damping options and greater degree of accuracy.
It also has a lower, color matched fairing than the 2022 base model.
Yamaha also released a touring model which came with the following: soft panniers, hand guards, GPS mount, a tall screen and comfort seat.
Buying a Used Yamaha MT 10
Used MT 10’s tend to average around £8,000 in the UK for a private sale, £9,800 in a dealer; $10,000 in the US from a dealer and $9,000 private is about right. These prices are a good saving on buying one new and there are definitely some cheaper 2016 models around if you go digging.
As with buying any used motorcycle there are some things to check even though the model isn’t a particularly old one.
- Ask for service history, so you know it has been looked after and regularly serviced
- Does it look like it has been looked after, look for corrosion, leaks, scratches, dents – normal wear and tear is expected but look for signs the bike has been in an accident
- Does it run through the gears as it should, smoothly and the throttle has no play in it
- Check any add on accessories have been fitted correctly such as heated grips or a tail tidy
- Valve clearances need checking at 24,000 miles so be conscious of that, although there will be few that have done that many miles yet
The entire range of Yamaha naked bikes has a special place in my heart simply because of its success, they entice the hooligans to come out of even the straightest rider. In the right circumstances (like on a track) this is incredibly fun.
The Yamaha MT 10 is a really good flagship for the range with excellent properties that have made it a well-balanced bike between practicality and insanity.
Having a tendency to lean towards insanity, the MT07 is more up my street for the punchy lightweight torque that encourages wheelies and I could join the masses of YouTube youths for a ride and pretend to be a teen again.
However, when I grow up, (if) the Yamaha MT 10 is a bike I would for sure consider, as its value for money is simply excellent.