In the summer of 2021, I stumbled upon an advert for the new generation Yamaha MT-09 SP. The video hooked me, and I must have watched it a dozen times over a few days. I knew that when it was time to trade in my 2018 Honda CB650F, I was going to be taking a very hard look at the MT-09.
On a whim, I went to a local dealer’s website and plugged in my motorcycle specs to see what kind of trade-in value I was looking at. When I bought my CB650F, I paid roughly $6,000 for it pre-owned. It was a great motorcycle, and I put nearly 10,000 miles on it in a year and a half. I didn’t know what to expect, but I suspected it would be much less than I paid.
I was dumbfounded when the estimated trade-in value came in at $6,200. At the time, pre-owned motorcycles were through the roof due to supply chain issues with new motorcycles. I knew that if there was ever a time to trade in my 2018 Honda CB650F, this was the time.
In early October, I made my way over to Martin Moto in Boyertown, PA, and put a deposit down on a 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP. It was one of four motorcycles they had on order that wasn’t reserved. This was when the waiting game began. Over five months, my MT-09 was delayed, canceled, changed to a 2022 model year, and delayed once more before I finally took delivery in March 2022.
I recently crossed my 1st Anniversary of owning my 2022 Yamaha MT-09 SP. I’ve put 8,000 miles on the odometer and thought it was time to do an in-depth review of my primary motorcycle.
Table of Contents
In 2021, Yamaha released the third generation of the popular MT-09. A Hyper-Naked Motorcycle featuring an 890cc Inline Three-Cylinder Engine. Yamaha claimed minor engine modifications to produce slightly more horsepower with smoother power delivery over previous generations. With a wet weight of only 419 pounds, the MT-09 was billed as a nimble and powerful street machine with a modest price point of $9,799 MSRP.
Yamaha MT-09 SP
In the same year, Yamaha announced an upgrade to its popular MT-09 – giving it the SP designation. The Yamaha MT-09 SP featured one color option, an upgraded seat, cruise control, and improved rear suspension with an adjustable Ohlins Shock.
Due to supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, Yamaha sold very few of these motorcycles in the United States. There were reports of people ordering the new MT-09 SP at their launch and waiting in excess of eight months before they finally arrived at dealerships.
In 2022, Yamaha returned to a more normalized production schedule, and the MT-09 SP began to appear in dealerships slowly. With a price point of $11,499 MSRP, the SP was an appealing upgrade over the base model.
Yamaha MT-09 Specs
|890cc liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline 3-cylinder; 4 valves per cylinder
|Bore x Stroke
|78.0mm x 62.1mm
|Fuel injection with YCC-T
|TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
|6-speed; multi-plate assist and slipper clutch
|Front Suspension (Base)
|41mm inverted fork, adjustable preload, compression, and rebound; 5.1-in travel
|Rear Suspension (Base)
|Single shock, adjustable preload, and rebound damping; 4.8-in travel
|Front Suspension (SP)
|41mm KYB® inverted fork, adjustable preload, high/low-speed compression, and rebound; 5.1-in travel
|Rear Suspension (SP)
|Ohlins single shock, adjustable preload, compression, and rebound damping; 4.8-in travel
|Dual 298mm hydraulic disc; ABS
|245mm hydraulic disc; ABS
|82.3 in x 31.3 in x 46.9 in
|Rake (Caster Angle)
|Max. Ground Clearance
|Estimated Fuel Economy
Yamaha MT-09 Features
Both the Yamaha MT-09 and Yamaha MT-09 SP offer a variety of features above and beyond what is offered in its little brother – the Yamaha MT-07. Some of these features are aesthetic, while others offer improved performance – such as suspension upgrades and full LED Lighting.
Adjustable Handlebar Position
The Yamaha MT-09 comes from the factory with offset handlebar clamps. That allows them to be rotated 180 degrees to shift the handlebars by 10mm (forward or rearward, depending on how they are initially set). Your Yamaha Dealer can make this change, or you can do it yourself. The video below outlines how to use the markings to ensure they are centered and located properly.
Adjustable Foot Peg Position
Like the Handlebars on your Yamaha MT-09, the Footpegs can be easily adjusted to provide a comfortable riding position. There are a set of two bolt locations that allow for a height adjustment of 14mm. In the upper position, the pegs are also moved rearward by 4mm.
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS)
The Yamaha MT-09 comes standard with Anti-Lock Brakes (front and rear). Additionally, the master cylinder for the front brake uses a radial design to maximize brake pressure. The front brake utilizes dual 298mm discs, while the rear is a single 245mm disc.
It is worth noting that the front brake rotors are rather large, which makes accessing the valve stem difficult. A standard automobile tire pressure gauge will not fit, and a gauge with a 90-degree bend is necessary to check the pressure. The rear valve stem is much easier to access around the brake disc, but the space is still limited.
Traction Control and Ride Modes
The Yamaha MT-09 features a ride-by-wire throttle which makes ride modes and cruise control (more on this below) possible. There are four ride modes, three levels of Traction Control, three levels of Slide Control, and three levels of Lift Control. The motorcycle is equipped with a 6-Axis IMU that allows for lean-sensitive operation.
|Sporty Engine Response
|Moderate Engine Response
|Mild Engine Response
|Mild Engine Response and Limits Engine Performance (Rain Mode)
TCS is the Traction Control System, and it groups several settings. Slide Control (SC) and Lift Control (LIF) are situated as 1 (Minimal), 2 (Moderate), and 3 (Maximum). The TCM-M (Manual) can be configured in the Settings.
|1, 2, or 3
|Off, 1, 2, or 3
|Off, 1, 2, or 3
The Yamaha MT-09 SP Model is equipped with Cruise Control (not standard on the Base Model Yamaha MT-09). It is operated using buttons on the Left Hand Grip and can be set to maintain cruising speed when traveling in 4th, 5th, or 6th gear and exceeding 31mpg.
The enable Cruise Control, press the power switch (middle button). A yellow light will illuminate on your display to indicate that cruise control has been enabled. Press the set button (bottom button), and your current speed will be held. To increase speed, press the resume button (top button – indicated with plus sign next to it). To reduce speed, press the set button (bottom button – indicated with a negative sign next to it).
When increasing speed, a single press of the button will result in an increase in your current speed by approximately one mph. Holding the button down will smoothly accelerate until you release the button. The same is true for reducing speed.
The Yamaha MT-09 is equipped with a Quick Shifter that works for both Upshifting and Downshifting. Both functions are triggered by either pressing down on the Shift Lever or lifting up on the Shift Lever without using the clutch. Before the Quick Shifter can be used, look for an indicator on your display to show that the feature is available.
Upshifting requires that the motorcycle be traveling in excess of 12 mph with engine rpm above 2,200. You must also be accelerating for this feature to be available. Downshifting has the same speed and engine rpm requirements, and the motorcycle must be decelerating.
Shifting through the gears is smooth, with the exception of 1st to 2nd gear – I find that to be rather aggressive. Additionally, it requires a firm pull on the shift lever. If you aren’t deliberate and only tap it into gear, you may find false neutral with the quick shifter.
The Yamaha MT-09 (Base Model) comes standard with High-Performance KYB Adjustable Suspension. The 41mm Inverted Front Fork is adjustable for Preload and Rebound Dampening as well as Compression. The Rear Suspension is adjustable for Preload and Rebound Dampening.
The Yamaha MT-09 SP features the same adjustability on the Front Fork but also includes a high-performance DLC coating to improve movement and also add to the bike’s aesthetics. The Rear Suspension is upgraded to Ohlins with a remote preload adjuster. This upgrade offers class-leading performance.
Yamaha MT-09 Fuel Economy
When I began riding my new 2022 Yamaha MT-09 SP, I was shocked by the poor fuel economy. My first few tanks of fuel were only netting me between 80 and 90 miles before the fuel light came on. This translated to a meager 25 miles per gallon.
After about two weeks of ownership, I got word that Yamaha had issued a recall that required an update to the ECU. The purpose of the update was to eliminate stalling issues at low engine RPM. After having this service performed, I saw a modest gain in fuel mileage. Things improved even further once I was beyond the initial 600-mile service.
After a year of ownership, the Fuel Consumption on my MT-09 SP has settled at roughly 45 mpg. From a full tank (3.7 gallons), I can travel roughly 125 miles before my fuel light turns on. This is with minimal highway miles and the bulk of my riding taking place on State Routes and Pennsylvania Backroads.
Yamaha MT-09 Service Intervals
My 2022 Yamaha MT-09 SP calls for its first service at 600 miles, followed by regular dealer services every 4,000 miles. If you are the type of rider that likes to do things by the book and have an authorized Yamaha Dealer perform all of your maintenance, owning a Yamaha MT-09 can get expensive.
One of the drawbacks to having loads of technology baked into modern motorcycles is that diagnostic tests can become labor-intensive. For example, at each 4,000-mile Service Interval, Yamaha calls for the throttle synchronization to be checked. This requires lifting the fuel tank and running the test. This single test is booked at 1.5 Hours of Labor.
My local Yamaha Dealer (Martin Moto) has a Shop Rate of $110 per hour. This means that my routine services start at $165 and climb based on other services recommended for the mileage.
Yamaha Extended Service
Unlike new cars and trucks that come with a substantial factory warranty that spans several years and upwards of 100,000 miles, motorcycles are a different sort of animal. Factory Warranties are often substantially shorter and, in the case of my Yamaha MT-09, are only offered for a term of 1 Year.
If you are the type of rider that wants an Extended Warranty, Yamaha has you covered with their Y.E.S (Yamaha Extended Service) program. The program works like an Insurance Plan with a $0 deductible on defective parts and labor through any authorized Yamaha Dealer.
The Yamaha Extended Service can be purchased along with your new motorcycle at the time of sale, or it can be purchased anytime before your original factory warranty expires. It can be processed online through Yamaha, by mail, or through an Authorized Yamaha Dealership.
|Full Payment Total
4 Monthly Payments
What I Don’t Like About the Yamaha MT-09
In the grand scheme of things, there aren’t a lot of things I dislike about my 2022 Yamaha MT-09 SP. It has been an excellent motorcycle so far. With that said, there are a couple of minor annoyances – the biggest of which has more to do with Yamaha as a company than with the bike itself.
Limited Display Options
One aspect of the Yamaha MT-09 that I immediately fell in love with after trading in my Honda CB650F was the drastically different display. I went from a dull LCD Display with limited information to a Full-Color Display with lots of information. It is well-organized and easy to see in various lighting conditions.
My only real gripe with the display is that it only has two switchable data areas. One of those areas I keep set as an Odometer / Trip Meter, and the other is my Fuel Gauge. Either of these can be switched to show Engine Temperature, Ambient Temperature, Travel Time, Average Fuel Consumption (mpg), and Real-Time Fuel Consumption (mpg), among others.
Since the majority of riders will opt to leave the gas gauge as a static item, this only leaves one area to display additional data (assuming that you are okay not seeing the odometer or trip meter). I often wish that there was a third slot to show more data based on the ride I’m taking.
It is also worth noting that the switch to cycle these display areas is difficult to operate while riding. I find myself cycling past or accidentally clicking the wrong input and maintaining the throttle position at the same time (thumb operation on the right-hand grip).
In 2021, Yamaha moved away from its previous dual headlight design. It was replaced with a single element – I affectionately think of it as a Cyclops design.
Visually, I think it makes for a cleaner look, and I’m in favor of the design element. Functionally though, I don’t find it to be particularly bright. It is a situation where form outweighs function. Don’t get me wrong; it isn’t a bad light; it just isn’t nearly as bright as some others on the market.
Flanking the Headlight are two sweeping lights that illuminate the road when cornering. I find these very handy and think they do a good job lighting up a bend when the bike begins to lean.
Lack of Support from Yamaha
In September of 2022, my Yamaha MT-09 was in need of new tires. I took it upon myself to do the work myself to reduce costs. While reinstalling the rear wheel, I over-torqued the bolt attaching the Rear Brake Caliper and stripped the threads.
I dropped my bike off at Martin Moto and asked them to clean up my mess. Unfortunately, the rear brake caliper was too badly damaged, and I was informed that I’d need a new one. I agreed to the repair, and my dealer placed the order for an OEM Nissan Rear Brake Caliper through Yamaha.
At the time of this writing, Yamaha has still not fulfilled the order (closing in on eight months). The Parts Department at Martin Moto has gone to great lengths to re-order this part multiple times. Yamaha has failed to deliver a replacement part despite manufacturing new motorcycles using this same rear brake caliper. I hate to say it, but I’ve lost faith in Yamaha’s ability to provide OEM Replacement Parts.
Fortunately, I was able to get a Used Rear Brake Caliper on eBay – otherwise, my MT-09 would still be parked and waiting on replacement parts. For this reason, I feel Yamaha has failed me as an existing customer.
What I Love About the Yamaha MT-09
The Yamaha MT-09 SP is everything I had hoped for when I purchased my motorcycle. It is comfortable, agile, and has more than enough power for the type of riding that I enjoy. In a sense, it is more bike than I realistically need. I do not regret my purchase and envision riding the MT-0 SP for years.
The Yamaha MT-09 features an 890cc CP3 Inline Three-Cylinder Engine that delivers an advertised 115hp and 63lb/ft of torque in a package that weighs 419 pounds. The result is a motorcycle that has power on demand – all you have to do is twist the throttle, and the MT-09 will respond.
Being a conservative rider, I tend to leave my MT-09 in D-Mode 2 and LFT 2. This keeps the throttle response smooth with little chance of the front wheel leaving the ground.
After the initial 600 miles, I took my 2022 Yamaha MT-09 SP into Martin Moto for its first service. While there, I bumped into the salesman that I worked with previously. We talked about the bike, and I mentioned that even though it was a few pounds lighter than my previous 2018 Honda CB650F, it felt considerably lighter. The salesman explained that the light feel had much to do with the engine geometry and how it was mounted low in the motorcycle.
I can definitively say that after 8,00 miles, the Yamaha MT-09 is a light and agile motorcycle that inspires confidence in the corners. It moves easily and responds quickly to a light press on the hand grips.
When we get a new motorcycle, we either live with minor annoyances or go down the rabbit hole buying aftermarket parts to get the right fitment. What I like about the MT-09 is that Yamaha has some adjustability baked into the bike. If the reach doesn’t feel right, the handlebar position can be moved forward or backward in pre-set locations. The same goes for the footpeg position; they can be moved up or down in pre-set locations. Finally, if the throttle feels choppy, you can enable a ride mode to smooth it out.
While some of these presets may not be perfect, I think having some adjustability is fantastic and will at least get you closer to where they need to be to improve rider comfort.
Is the Yamaha MT-09 a Good Beginner Bike
Many New Motorcycle Riders tend to take the same path. They start with a bike with a small engine and then leapfrog their way to larger and larger bikes over a relatively short period. There are two perceived problems with this process. The first is that new riders feel they have outgrown their first bike in a single riding season. The second is that it tends to be expensive to buy multiple bikes instead of the one you want from the start.
I say these are perceived problems because, in most cases, new riders haven’t outgrown their first bike – they have just become bored with it. Trading up to a bigger bike can be expensive, especially when you do it multiple times over one or two years.
The natural solution to this problem is to buy a bigger bike to start and grow into it. If you find yourself in this situation and wonder if the Yamaha MT-09 is a good bigger bike – the answer is no. The Yamaha MT-09 has enough power and torque to get an inexperienced rider into trouble in a flash.
It is true that the Yamaha MT-09 has a variety of safety features and can be turned down by adjusting traction control, lift control, and rider modes. I would encourage you to learn the fundamentals on a smaller motorcycle before relying on rider aids to keep you from making a mistake.
If I were starting again, I would purchase a 400 (like a Kawasaki Ninja 400 or Kawasaki Z400) and plan on riding it for at least a year. In that first year, I would also take a Total Control IRC (Intermediate Rider Clinic) to learn more about my motorcycle and my capabilities before upgrading. Additional classes like the MSF Street Smart Seminar would also be a great opportunity for Free Rider Education in Pennsylvania.
My Yamaha MT-09 SP Mods
When it comes to Motorcycles, I’m a Mostly Stock kind of guy. I like making small tweaks to improve comfort, but for the most part, changes to my 2022 Yamaha MT-09 SP have been minimal. Below is a short list of modifications I’ve made.
R&G Racing Frame Sliders
One of the perks of riding a Naked Bike is that crash protection can be easily installed due to a lack of plastic to work around. This was the case with my R&G Racing Frame Sliders – they are easily bolted on and provide protection in the event of a crash or drop.
Due to the engine and transmission geometry, the right side is longer than the left. They have a teardrop shape and blend into the aesthetics nicely.
Tech Spec Tank Grips
When most people think of Tank Grips, they think of squeezing the gas tank with their knees as they lean deep into a curve – pushing their motorcycle to the limit. While I do grip my tank from time to time, I’m not a very aggressive rider and was more interested in paint protection than grip.
I always ride in full gear (Joe Rocket Anthem Jeans in the Warmer Months and Joe Rocket Ballistic Ultra Pants in the Cooler Months). To keep scuffing and scratching to a minimum, I installed a set of Tech Spec Tank Grips from TST Industries. Installation was simple, and I think they look good on my MT-09.
ASV Inventions Levers
When I owned my 2018 Honda CB650F, it came installed with adjustable levers from the previous owner. They worked on a cam system where you could turn the dial to a predetermined setting to move the Clutch and Brake Lever in and out independently of adjusting the cables. I thought they were fantastic and wanted a similar feature on my Yamaha MT-09 SP since it did not come with adjustable levers.
I decided on a set of ASV Inventions Levers. Unlike the cam system I used in the past, these levers use a dial with micro adjustment. This allows me to fine-tune the position of the lever without needing to adjust the cable. They also claim to be Unbreakable since they can swing freely away from the handlebars in the event of a drop. I don’t know if this claim is true, and I hope never to have to test it.
The ASV Levers are simple to install and come in both Standard and Short Lengths (I use Standard Length and sometimes wish I would have gone with the Short instead).
Quad Lock Wireless Charger and Mount
The Yamaha MT-09 is a Naked Bike, and unlike many Sport Bikes, it does not have a power port tucked behind a fairing. This requires a little creativity if you need to power a Phone or GPS Device. I decided to go with a Quadlock Phone Mount, Wireless Charging Head, and Vibration Dampener Setup. This combination has worked well for me and keeps my phone handy to serve as a GPS Navigation Unit.
The only challenge was getting power to the Wireless Charger. This required me to install a USB Hub connected to the battery. I selected one that has a switch so that I could cut power when not in use. It is a little bit of a hassle to remove the seat before and after using the Quadlock Wireless Charger. Still, it makes me feel better knowing I won’t find my battery drained after forgetting about it for a few days (this has happened once, and I had to trickle charge the battery).
I tucked the wiring under the fuel tank and fished it to the handlebars. I have the wire zip-tied in a couple of locations to keep it securely in place.
Bagster Comfort Seat
The difference between a 2022 Yamaha MT-09 and a 2022 Yamaha MT-09 SP seat is minimal. The SP comes with accent stitching, but otherwise, the seat is the same between the two models. While the stock seat is fine for short trips, I found it rather uncomfortable on long trips.
I replaced my Yamaha MT-09 SP Stock Seat with a Bagster Comfort Saddle. The aftermarket seat is comfortable; however, Bagster does not stand behind its products, and I had a miserable experience with a defective product. I would recommend swapping out the seat, but I strongly suggest staying away from a Bagster Comfort Saddle.
Michelin Road 6 Tires
While I don’t necessarily think that tires are considered a Motorcycle Mod, it is worth noting that I changed mine from the stock Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport Tires to Michelin Road 6 Tires. I hoped to gain more life from my tires and only have to replace them once per season.
My Bridgestone Battlax Rear Tire was bald at 5,000 miles, and my Bridgestone Battlax Front Tire wasn’t terribly far behind. In terms of performance, I didn’t have any issues with the OEM Tires and would have continued to use them if I could have squeezed more life out of them.
At the time of this review, I’ve put approximately 3,000 miles on my Michelin Road 6 Tires, and I’m very happy with them. They have excellent performance, and tire wear seems about where I expected them to be. I anticipate installing a new rear tire towards the end of the 2023 Riing Season.
If I were in a position to replace my 2022 Yamaha MT-09 SP with a motorcycle of similar size and features, I would consider the following options. I have included the Make, Model, Engine Size, Engine Type, Service Intervals, MSRP, Destination Charges, Freight Charges, and Total Cost (minus dealer fees and taxes at your particular dealership).
|Street Triple 765
|Street Triple 765 RS
|890 Duke R
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