2021 Yamaha MT-09 First Look

Ryan Adams
by Ryan Adams

The new face of Yamaha's MT line-up

Details for the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 have just been released. Notable takeaways for the 2021 model year are an all-new larger capacity engine at 890cc, updated chassis to match, and advanced electronics. While those are certainly the major changes for this new iteration of MT-09, styling has also been tweaked slightly throughout, with the cyclops-esque headlight undoubtedly being the most polarizing change.

As we previously reported in September, the MT-09 has received a displacement boost from 847cc to 890cc. This was achieved by increasing the stroke to 62.1mm from 59.1. The Triple’s bore remains the same at 78mm. Keeping in line with trends recently, the additional displacement will help Yamaha pass ever-tightening emissions standards while also providing a four horsepower boost, bringing it to 118 hp, according to emissions test data.

For 2021, the MT-09 gets a displacement boost of 43cc, from 847cc to 890cc.

The larger displacement isn’t the entire story with the new engine though. Yamaha claims, “virtually every major component is new, including the pistons, connecting rods, camshafts and crankcases.” The new 890cc engine also uses a completely new fuel delivery system. For 2021, the fuel injectors are mounted to the throttle valve side – versus attached directly to the cylinder head – for better fuel atomization that also reduces the fuel adhesion to the intake port walls, delivering an 11% increase in fuel efficiency. The MT-09 also receives the Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T) featuring a new Accelerator Position Sensor Grip (APSG) said to give excellent feel and reliability.

The intake system gets other changes as well: “As the engine speed increases, the intake sound becomes more dominant and heightens the feeling of acceleration felt by the rider. This is accomplished via a new intake system with an air cleaner box featuring an all-new three duct layout, with each duct having a different cross-section and length, further enhancing the MT-09’s torque-rich riding sensation.” We’re told a new exhaust complements the intake changes as well.

“The riding position was designed to accommodate riders of varying physiques via adjustable handlebar clamps and footpeg mounting points, allowing riders to set a position that gives them a feeling of fit the moment they get on the bike. The fuel tank and seat have been refined to give the rider a feeling of being one with the machine,” says Yamaha.

Moving on to the chassis, the 2021 MT-09 boasts a new CF die-cast aluminum Deltabox frame designed to match the increased engine performance. The new frame features larger twin beams that run directly from the steering head assembly through to the swingarm pivot to give optimal strength. For enhanced handling characteristics, the frame’s longitudinal, lateral and torsional rigidity balance have been refined, with a 50% increase in lateral rigidity for high levels of straight-line stability.

Yamaha claims the new MT is eight pounds lighter than the outgoing model.

The lighter aluminum swingarm has a straighter right side for a more symmetrical appearance. “To achieve better stability,” Yamaha says, “the 2021 swingarm pivot is mounted between the frame structure to reduce unsprung weight and enhance the rigidity balance of the new frame. To match the more compact frame and shorter front forks, the head pipe position is lowered by 30mm, giving an increased feeling of front-end grip when cornering.”

KYB suspension components remain relatively unchanged. A fully adjustable 41mm fork is lighter and gets revised damping characteristics to suit the 2021 frame and engine updates as does the preload/rebound-adjustable shock.

The MT-09 is only the second Yamaha model to be equipped with the YZF-R1-type front braking system. Featuring a Nissin radial master cylinder in which the piston moves in a direction that’s parallel to the brake lever travel, this technology gives a more linear supply of hydraulic pressure to the dual front disc brakes for better controllability.

A six-axis IMU is now incorporated into the MT-09’s electronics. Yamaha says it has been developed from the system used on the YZF-R1 since 2015, yet the MT-09’s IMU is 50% smaller and 40% lighter. This new tech brings with it an array of rider aids such as:

  • Lean-sensitive Traction Control System (TCS) – optimizes the drive force of the rear tire during acceleration
  • Slide Control System (SCS) – adjusts power when a rear-wheel slide is predicted, allowing the rider to focus on their riding.
  • Front wheel LIFt Control System (LIF) – enables the rider to concentrate on the road ahead by adjusting engine output to control front wheel lift and smooth out machine behavior when pulling away and accelerating
  • Brake Control system (BC) – works with the ABS and independently controls and modulates the front and rear brake pressure, helping to prevent wheel lock-up during hard braking when riding upright as well as when banking

“The TCS has three switchable modes, and each mode integrates three of the rider support systems so that the intervention levels are changed all at once in Modes 1 and 2. Mode 1 delivers moderate intervention while Mode 2 gives strong intervention and Mode M enables the rider to select manual settings. These electronic aids reduce the workload of the rider for more concentration on the road ahead.”

The 3.5-inch TFT may be small but delivers concise information to the rider.

Furthermore, the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 receives a 3.5-inch TFT display to relay all of this new information to the rider along with a bevy of other pertinent info. The new LED projector-style headlight is flanked by two LED position lights and the LED taillight showcases the Y-shape design synonymous with the MT or Master of Torque line-up.

Having to use the clutch is now a thing of the past with Yamaha’s inclusion of an up/down quickshifter on the 2021 MT-09.

The MT-09 now receives a quickshifter standard for clutchless up and downshifts. Yamaha’s new 10-spoke Spin Forged wheels are lighter (11% at the rear wheel) to reduce unsprung weight. Overall, Yamaha claims, despite the larger engine and beefed-up chassis, the 2021 MT-09 is eight pounds lighter than its predecessor. While weight has gone down, the MSRP has gone up to $9,399, a $400 increase from 2020.

The Yamaha MT-09 wasn’t without disappointments when it first hit U.S. shores, but over time, Yamaha has taken note and delivered a better iteration with each update. We expect nothing less from the 2021 model and look forward to the chance when we get to swing a leg over ‘er.

Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams

Ryan’s time in the motorcycle industry has revolved around sales and marketing prior to landing a gig at Motorcycle.com. An avid motorcyclist, interested in all shapes, sizes, and colors of motorized two-wheeled vehicles, Ryan brings a young, passionate enthusiasm to the digital pages of MO.

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2 of 37 comments
  • Bob Bob on Oct 31, 2020

    If the entire bike were painted yellow, Caterpillar could sell it.

  • Jonathan Justman Jonathan Justman on Nov 03, 2020

    Today (November 3) they just ruined the MT-07 along the same god-awful styling lines with that same paint scheme and cyclops headlight treatment. I assume a week from today they will ruin the MT-10 in the same manner. Why? Because "Dark Side of Japan."