Ever since Yamaha introduced its modern “Hyper Naked” lineup with the FZ-09, there’s been a bit of brand confusion. That’s because, to markets outside of North America, the FZ-09, FZ-07 and FZ-10 are known as the MT-09, MT-07 and MT-10, respectively.

Apart from the name and any changes for local market homologation, the FZ models are the same bikes as their MT counterparts. When they were introduced, it made sense to use the FZ names, as customers were familiar with the name. Even with the FZ-09 launch for the 2014 model year, the older FZ1 remained in the Yamaha Motor U.S.A.’s lineup until 2015 while the FZ6R is still in showrooms as a 2017 model. Meanwhile, in Europe, customers were long familiar with the MT brand from the 1670cc MT-01 produced from 2005 to 2012 and the 660cc twin-cylinder MT-03 offered from 2006 to 2014.

The MT-01 offered a 1670cc V-Twin from Yamaha’s cruisers and the suspension and brakes of an R1.

But is Yamaha better off simplifying its model names under a common nomenclature? There are indications that Yamaha is considering just that.

For one, Yamaha already has the U.S. trademarks for the MT models, applying for the MT-10, MT-09, MT-07 and MT-03 marks on Dec. 11, 2015 (adding a trademark for the MT-125, the name of an entry-level model available overseas, on Aug. 23, 2016). Yamaha also has an active trademark in the U.S. for the MT logo (shown at right), filed Dec. 13, 2016.

Now, the trademark filings on their own do not necessarily tell us Yamaha will use these names. It’s not unusual for companies, including Yamaha, to file U.S. trademarks for product names they use in other markets. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see the MT-125 here, for example (though we hope the R3-based MT-03 will eventually make it over.)

More convincing evidence comes to us from the California Air Resources Board which recently issued an executive order certifying the MT-10 for the 2018 model year:

This executive order certifies two model codes, the MT10JCGY and the MT10JCL. Typically, Yamaha’s CARB documents follow a formula of model code + model year + California tuning + color options. In this case, the codes certify the MT-10 for the model year 2018 (represented by the letter J as per industry convention), C for California model and the colors gray (GY) and blue (L).

For comparison, here’s the executive order for the 2017 FZ-10. The model codes represent the FZ-10 for 2017 (H), California certified version, and the colors black (B) and gray (GY):

Again, the change in model codes, while telling, is not necessarily proof Yamaha is planning a model name change. It’s possible that the MT names were a clerical error that will be corrected later. The 2018 model’s emissions are slightly higher than the 2017 FZ-10’s, however, indicating at least some change in the engine or exhaust system.

It’s important to note however, that none of the other FZ models, apart from this MT-10 filing, have been certified for 2018 as yet by either CARB or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, nor were they among the 2018 models already announced by Yamaha Motor U.S.A. At this point, we may not have an announcement until next month at EICMA.

The Milan show may also see an updated MT-07/FZ-07 which has not been significantly changed since its introduction in the 2015 model year. The MT-07/FZ-09 was updated for 2017, three years after it was introduced, so an -07 revision for 2018 would follow the same time frame.

Incidentally, while CARB hasn’t certified a 2018 FZ-07, it has released an executive order for the 2018 XSR700 certifying it with the same exhaust emissions as last year’s FZ-07:

The fact the FZ-07 was not included in the executive order suggests to us it is being updated for 2018. By comparison, for 2017, CARB certified the FZ-09 together with the XSR900 and the FJ-09, as their engines and exhaust systems were essentially the same.

Once again, the evidence is circumstantial, and CARB may release an executive order for an unchanged 2018 FZ-07 later.

We may turn out to be wrong about all of this, but the multiple red flags we’ve noticed suggest Yamaha has something in the works for the MT/FZ line. Along with a potential FZ-07 update to a full rebranding from FZ to MT, we must also consider the Tracer 700, FJ version of the MT-07 sold in Europe but not yet offered here, plus there’s the recent Yamaha trademark filing in Europe for “Tracer GT.”

All told, we expect some big news regarding Yamaha’s MT models at EICMA.

 

  • Andrew Capone

    The MT-03, oddly, went from the 660 CC single to the 320 CC twin when the name was reintroduced in Europe in 2016.

  • SteveSweetz

    The North American naming still makes no sense to me. I don’t think there’s much loyalty or brand association to 2 letters. I don’t think people were out there saying, “you gotta get a Yamaha FZ”, in the generic sense, as opposed to naming a specific model. The old FZ bikes were named FZ in Europe too and they didn’t think the new MT naming was going a problem there.

    The only theory I can come up with was that some pedantic Yamaha NA marketing exec was worried about “MT” sounding too much like “empty”. Either that or it was a trademarking problem.

    Things get even more messy with the Tracer/FJ. So what we know as the FJ-09 started out in Europe as the MT-09 Tracer. When the sport touring variant of the MT-07 was introduced, they changed to Tracer 700 and rebranded the MT-09 Tracer as Tracer 900 to match…but only in UK and mainland Europe. In Australia and a few other places, they’re still MT-07 Tracer and MT-09 Tracer.

    I’ve got an FJ-09 and I’m not sure how I feel about “Tracer”. On one hand, I like names better than soulless model designations and I think it makes sense to establish a sport touring sub-brands as Kawaski and Suzuki have done with Versys and V-Strom, but those names have meaning (even if they’re ultimately contrivances to make a cool sounding trademarkable term). I’m not sure what “Tracer” is supposed to mean or stand for. “Touring racer”?

    Lastly, a fun aside: In Australia, instead of the MT bikes being listed in a category called “Hyper Naked”, they’re listed as “Torque Sport” which I think is silly, but in a good, celebratory way.

    • Gabriel Owens

      How are you liking the fj? I got an fjr but i think about trading it in on a fj09 sometimes. But losing cruise control is a bad trade off. Being almost 200 pounds lighter would be nice though. Maybe i should just get the fz10, but that 120 mile range is too low for touring.

      • spiff

        Super Duke GT. Just a thought. The left overs should be on sale now.

        • spiff

          Or a Ninja 1000.

          • Gabriel Owens

            If it had cruise control. I saw a guy at the tail of the dragon on a fz 10 with a top box. He was also from texas so we started talking. His only complaint was having to fuel up every 130 miles. Other than that he said it was an excellent sport tourer. I wish theyd do a FJ10. Nothing wrong with my fjr though really. Its just very heavy. Tossing it around the tail of the dragon all day kinda got exhausted, i kept thinking how much more fun my cb1000r would have been.

          • spiff

            Go buy an sp, and some SW Motech luggage. Can’t argue the top box though. Being able to lock stuff is cool.

          • Gabriel Owens

            Sp?

          • spiff

            FZ10-SP. It’s the one with the goodies. Electronic suspension etc.

          • Gabriel Owens

            Im not sure thats available in the US.

          • spiff

            It is. If you have the capital it is the way I would go. Nothing wring with the base model, but high end suspenders are nice.

          • Gabriel Owens

            Hmm, cant find an sp on cycle trader. Maybe theyve sold out.

          • Gabriel Owens

            How much are they?

          • SteveSweetz

            That is incorrect. The SP was not sold in US, which can be confirmed with a look at the Yamaha US website or a cursory internet search.

          • spiff

            I can’t believe that. I guess I just assumed. :/ I’ve got no excuse.

        • Gabriel Owens

          I had trouble with ktm.

          • spiff

            Well, I can’t argue that. What about the Kawi.

      • SteveSweetz

        I really like it. It is absolutely the sportiest “upright seating” sport tourer out there for less than $15K – but it is not the most comfortable (especially for pillion – it’s really solo tourer). If you prioritize comfort, The Versys or VStrom 1000 are better options in the same general price bracket. However, if you want a very tossible sport bike that can also do reasonably comfortable touring, it’s the only game in town without spending a lot more money.

        Lack of cruise control is annoying, especially since the throttle is already electronically controlled and it should just be a software change (and is probably not on the bike just because of some price bracketing BS – i.e. can’t put the “good” features on a “budget” bike, even if they shouldn’t actually incur much additional production cost). However, there is 3rd party cruise control kit which is fully electronic and I heard works well. It’s expensive (like $600 I think), but still less than getting an FZ-10.

        BTW I rode an FZ-10 and didn’t think it was anything special. I find anything above 100hp to be pretty pointless on the street. In really good twisties, you can’t use it and lightness becomes more important. More than that is only just good for going stupid fast in a straight line and I outgrew thinking that was fun long ago. FJ-09 can still get you to 60mph in under 4 seconds when needed.

        • Gabriel Owens

          Glad youre enjoying it. Its really just silly thinking on my part. Nothing wrong with the fjr. Ive done several 800 mile days on it. It does well. Bikes are a lot like women, you can be perfectly happy with what you got but youre still tempted by something a little more sporty with a few less miles and a few less pounds on her. If the fj-09 had cruise control it would be a dream bike. Same for the ninja 1000. After about 450 miles cruise control is absolutely necessary for me. My right arm cant take it.

          • SteveSweetz

            To do 800 mile days and use cruise control, I presume you’re doing a lot of highway/interstate. The FJ-09 is most certainly not the bike for that. It’s a bike for doing 350 miles of twisties in a day.

          • Gabriel Owens

            I once did 1100 miles on a sv650 in a single day. Speed limits were broken. Ankles, knees and wrists were hurting badly.

          • Fivespeed302

            I bet you slept like a baby when you got to your destination. You must have been worn out!

          • Gabriel Owens

            I slept on the beach on tybee island Georgia. And yeah I was exhausted.

      • Born to Ride

        I didn’t like the FZ10 personally. I thought it’s handling was very… deliberate. The power delivery was very abrupt on and off the throttle for whatever mode I was given the bike in as well. Granted, being handed the keys to an unfamiliar bike at the bottom of the twistiest road you know and being told to do a lap probably isn’t the best way to get acquainted. In fairness though, when presented with the STR675 in the exact same scenario I came away thinking I had to have one. YMMV.

    • ClarkeJohnston

      Largely yes, for the most part; the younger generation wouldn’t think that way. Although, for a old nut like me, hearing of a new FJ1200 would be cool . . . . Making a new XV920/1000/1100 might be even better. But I can’t figre seeing more than a twin in the MT line, or the XV. XJ (Secas/Maxims) sounds like a 4 cylinder. . . . .

  • Old MOron

    Great sleuthing, DC. I love this stuff.

  • schizuki

    Didn’t Yamaha once have a model called a TDM? Between that and MT, their marketing department must be aiming for subliminal existential angst.

    Maybe they’ll combine them-

    “The all-new MT-TDM. Some ride to escape soul-crushing ennui. Embrace it.”

    • spiff

      Chevy does it: ZL1-1LE.

  • Green Mellow

    Can we have the R3-based MT-03 here in the USA, Yamaha? Pretty please?

  • Jon Jones

    The MT-01 looks pretty awesome.

    • dbwindhorst

      If only it had been about a hundred pounds lighter, and didn’t require importing from Canada.

      • WalterFeldman

        Why 100lbs lighter? There ain’t no trophy waiting at the end of your ride.

        • dbwindhorst

          Because I’m old, creaky, and only weigh 125lbs. myself. :>)

          • hipsabad

            and because that’s 100lbs. less to accelerate, decelerate, and move side to side in twisty situations. Or even in parking lots

    • dbwindhorst

      btw, here’s the original MT01 show bike from ’99. The production version hewed pretty close: http://www.motorcycledaily.com/1999/10/yammt/

    • Born to Ride

      I remember seeing one in person at Laguna Seca for one of the motoGP rounds a few years back. Upon realizing it was not a US model I shook my fist at the gods of homologation and bellowed a great cry of despair. Then I went and ate a Frog Dog and felt better about my life.

  • D. Paul League

    I have come to believe products names in the USA are based on the idea we are stupid. Kia named the K9 (worldwide) to K900 because we use K9 for dogs (really canine). If they used different letters because they had an existing FJ model, then drop it or change the letters. Anytime I write a comment about the FJ models I always use FZ07/MT07 so not to confuse non-Americans. We might deserve this treatment or maybe the Japanese still feel we are inferior.

    • denchung

      It’s been a while since I’ve checked if this is still the case, but I believe the US is the only country where BMW’s motorcycle website URL is bmwmotorcycles.com. Everywhere else, it’s bmw-motorrad.com or .ca or .co.uk or whatever the local equivalent is.

      • Fivespeed302

        Motorrad, What’s your price for flight, In finding mister right,
        You’ll be alright tonight…

  • Joe DeBiasi

    I already own an MT-250. Its a honda……. its an old elsinore dual sport

    • BMelPel

      Yeah, sweet street-legal 2-stroke. When I was in high school, Elsinores were the bikes we all wished we could afford. So, later in life I got an MT-125 just for kicks (literally, when it comes to starting). Regret that I didn’t have space in my garage to keep it, but other bikes come along and you know how it goes.

  • ClarkeJohnston

    The MT-01 joined the very good air-cooled twin found in various Yamaha bikes (Raider, Warrior, new Venture) with awesome brakes, tires and sporty dimensions-rake-steering kinda stuff. Never sold in the US, which was (And is) a shame.

    • Lewis

      I always considered the MT-01 as a better Buell Cyclone. I have seen a few MT-01s in person and I must say they are awesome and having owned a Buell Cyclone, I know I would of enjoyed riding one.

  • michael32853hutson@yahoo.com

    i’m still hankering after the FZ 07,or the scrambler if they would make it for the same price as the FZ-if they could do that,i wouldn’t care which initials they used

  • Lewis

    Alphanumeric model designations can be rather boring. Why not go back to the 80’s and just call all “MT/FZ” bikes “Fazers” with various sub names for GT/adventure and displacement. Then you could name the various engine maps “stun” or “vaporize”. OK, maybe not, but Fazer sounds better than MT.

  • Patriot159

    Psst Yamaha, let me help you out: T7, got it, T7. One letter, one number. Simple.

  • Ian Judd

    No MT10SP though 🙁

  • symun buuntw

    Wht is mean fz….? &Wht is mean mt..?

  • Fivespeed302

    I would take a MT-125 over a Grom any day. Yamaha is crazy for not bringing this bike to the US.