I’m a huge fan of the MT-09 – and that’s not so much because it’s fast and naked but more because it feels small and exceptionally natural. This recipe was put to the test on the worryingly compact course we had to ourselves at the Yamaha Riding Academy in Thailand. It’s difficult to tell much about an 847cc, three-cylinder motorcycle over a 200m track; but the MT-09 is a talkative motorcycle and that helped garner a decent first impression, at least.
This is an aggressive motorcycle but not an intimidating one – you can easily hop onto it from a KTM 390 Duke and find yourself upping the pace in an instant. Of all the Yamaha 900s, it’s the MT-09 that delivers the most out of its inherently good chassis. This is a motorcycle that you can be very aggressive (or even rudimentary) with, but the chassis has the ability to absorb it and not hamper progress. It loves being banked into corners and there is a sense of confidence to its stride that helps you push your riding limits. It feels sharp on the brakes, the throttle and to every single riding input – but without once feeling over-sensitive and migraine-inducing.
The MT-09 seats you in a delightfully aggressive riding posture that’s, thankfully, not demanding on any aspect of your anatomy. It looks futuristic; but to my eyes, there a sense of beauty in it and it has a modern, edgy air that gels with the performance it unleashes. The MT-09 loves to wheelie as much as it does to slide. This is a motorcycle you can ride like a proper hooligan (not that you should, on the road) all the while assured it has the hardware to counter the by-products of overzealous riding styles. With a 193kg kerb weight, it’s decently light. However, in reality, it feels even lighter than it is.
It feels admirably progressive under acceleration; and while it lacks the unapologetic punch of, say, an MV Agusta Brutale 800, it would rather let you ride fast in a natural way than have you spend all day trying to tame it. It’s sharp on the brakes, too, and feels planted and very communicative at all times – the latter is priceless on a motorcycle this potent.
At Rs 10.8 lakh (ex-showroom), the MT-09 makes for a great proposition and there’s no doubt about how good a motorcycle it is. True, the Triumph Street Triple RS makes for far better value (and it even comes at a lower price) but the MT-09 presents a more lively, hoon-happy nature that I find very endearing. It may not have the same quality of suspension, brakes and tyres as the Triumph, but it has bags of character and soul. A comparison review is brewing in our heads, already. All we need, now, is a bike from Yamaha India!
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