There’s something about inexpensive twin-cylinder middleweight naked bikes like the Yamaha MT-07 (and former FZ-07) that appeals to us. Their simplicity and practicality, combined with their spirited riding attributes make them hard not to love. Clearly, the riding public feels the same, as other manufacturers are starting to get in on the action, making the choices in this category bigger and bigger. Through it all, the MT-07 has been a mainstay since its introduction in 2015.
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.” – Mark Twain
I knew this day would come eventually. I didn’t expect it to take so long, but I suppose good things like the Aprilia RS660 are worth waiting for. You see, as an owner of a Suzuki SV650 that’s almost of legal drinking age (and a former Kawasaki Versys 650 owner), I have a soft spot for bikes in this middleweight category. They hit that sweet spot between power, performance, and price – there’s just enough power to keep things exciting, moderate performance to emphasize the importance of rider skill, and well…SVs are dirt cheap. After all this time, I still haven’t found a compelling reason to replace my trusty little Suzuki.
Don’t be confused by the new appellation: The MT-07 is the same Yamaha FZ-07 that’s won every MO middleweight mashup we’ve thrown it in since it was new in 2014, beating up on all sorts of bikes since then, including the KTM Duke 690, all Suzuki SV650 variants, various Kawasaki 650 mutations, Hondas of diverse specification, the H-D Street Rod, et al.
As the rain made its way between my mismatched waterproof motorcycle gear and we climbed in elevation through southern Spain’s pristine backroads, I thought to myself, there still isn’t anywhere I would rather be at this moment than atop the 2018 Yamaha MT-07 in the Spanish countryside.
Yamaha announced some mild improvements to its FZ-07 middleweight “hyper-naked” motorcycle, including an all-new name. Meet the Yamaha MT-07, restyled and upgraded for 2018. Changes include new bodywork, suspension tweaks, and more. The MT moniker – Masters of Torque, don’t cha know – goes along with Yamaha’s “Dark Side of Japan” marketing campaign to highlight the edgy nature of the 07 and its bigger bros, the MT-09 and MT-10.
A segment of our sport that’s seen plenty of attention recently is the “hyper-naked” segment, standard-styled motorcycles that offer more performance and edgier styling than your run-of-the-mill standard. Yamaha Motors USA made that designation official, giving its FZ-07, FZ-09 and FZ-10 models the “MT” moniker, as well as announcing some updates to its FZ…oops, MT-07 for 2018.
For less than the price difference between a Ducati 1299 Panigale and a Panigale 1299S, you could have one of the most value-packed and fun motorcycles we’ve ever ridden. It’s astonishing how many desirable features are available on the KTM 390 Duke, a stylish and capable motorbike that retails for just $5,299.
This could’ve gone several ways and almost did. As all the world’s manufacturers scramble to fill a burgeoning need for what we used to call just plain old motorcycles, choosing just one becomes more difficult – especially since eligible new players have only recently been made available to us for testing. I liked the new 2018 Suzuki GSX-S750 very much a couple of weeks ago, also the heavily revised 797 Ducati Monster reviewed way back in March. It doesn’t help that “Standard” is such an amorphous category… last year, the new Triumph Street Twin took home the trophy.
Three years ago in its maiden season, the Yamaha FZ-07 came out with both 80mm pistons blazing to take the win from five other tasty middleweights (including the KTM 690 Duke) in our 2014 Middleweight Mash-Up Six-Way Shootout! Last year, we threw the Yamaha in with the Duke 690 again – also the reborn Suzuki SV650 (alongside Gabe’s old SV, because why not?), and watched as the Yamaha lost out to the Duke by the slimmest of margins (a different set of testers…), on its way to beating up (barely) the new Suzuki SV.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. That’s what’s happening here with Yamaha’s FZ-07, the winner of our Best Value award for the third straight year ( 2014, 2015). The 07 continues to impress due to the simple combination of its punchy 689cc, 270-degree parallel-Twin, sub 400-pound wet weight (397 lbs), and $6,990 price tag – the same it’s been since 2014. It makes a great companion for the everyday commute and is a joy to play with in the canyons. It’ll start to protest when the going gets super aggressive, but that’s not unexpected from a $7000 motorcycle.