Normally when a company does a mid-cycle refresh on a bike, you get some minor updates like a new dash or LED lighting. Yamaha made sure they took care of those but they also brought something bigger to the table: a philosophical shift in what the MT-09 should feel like. After a 110-mile ride with it, I’m convinced they made the right call.

Photos by Joseph Agustin.

Masters of Torque

Let’s start with a quick referesher: Yamaha’s Masters of Torque (MT) line-up is comprised of the 03, 07, 09, and 10. The middle two are the best sellers and while the 07 is the best selling MT model historically, Yamaha says that the 09 is what “defines the direction of new Yamaha Hyper Naked generations.”

Meet the future of the MT lineup.

2024 marks the tenth model year of Yamaha’s MT-09 – though here in America it was introduced to us as the FZ-09. Whatever you call it, it’s been a tremendous success for the brand: Yamaha has sold over 30k MT-09s in the US and almost 200k worldwide.

The last time I reviewed a MT-09 (in 2020), I wondered “if Yamaha’s legal department was on vacation when the MT-09 was in development.” It was a ton of fun, but it lacked refinement in certain areas. So for the fourth generation of this bike, Yamaha worked to tame the wild side and make it smarter. Let’s see how they did!

What’s New

The most significant change to me is the riding position, which completely changes the riding experience and makes the MT-09 simultaneously comfier and much more engaging to ride.

The handlebar is now 34.4mm lower and 1.5mm closer to the rider while the the footpegs are now 9.5mm higher, 3mm inward, and 30.6mm further back. Both the bar and the pegs are adjustable for riders of different sizes but the key concept here is that you now have a dash of forward lean (not as aggressive as the XSR900) with a sportier riding position that gets more of your weight over the front wheel, making it easier to get around corners. Even better: steering angle has increased from 28° to 32°, which decreases the turning radius. Those changes, in conjunction with chassis tuning involving thicker engine mount brackets and a revised headstock bracket as well as stiffer forks and a retuned shock all combine to make this the best-handling MT-09 yet.

I also love that Yamaha has switched to a two-piece seat – the passenger seat now doubles as a bum stop to keep you in place during hard acceleration. Seat height is unchanged at 32.5 inches but the seat is 12mm narrower up front to help shorter riders manage. You don’t need any tools to get both seats off, which was nice when I asked to swap out for Yamaha’s optional “Comfort” seat about three-quarters of the way through our 110 mile ride. To allow for the revised riding position, Yamaha had to implement a new manufacturing process for the tank, which is 30mm lower, 60mm wider, and (where the manufacturing comes into play) has a much smaller edge radius of 5mm (compared to 20mm). The sharper lines look great and they provide pockets for your knees to push against when you’re riding aggressively. The only drawback I found from the new riding position it’s now easier for my heels to bump the passenger pegs, but it’s not a dealbreaker.

The 890cc inline three-cylinder engine (which was updated in 2021) remains the same for 2024, so you can expect roughly 115 horsepower and 67 lb-ft of torque with a claimed 48 mpg. With a 3.7 gallon fuel tank you should be able to expect about 175 miles to a tank, though I found myself getting closer to 37 mpg during my day of testing because I couldn’t help pinning this wonderful motor all of the time. The carry-over engine is paired with a revised transmission that features more drive dogs in the gears and Yamaha’s new third-generation quickshifter system which permits you to upshift with the throttle completely closed and downshift even when the throttle is wide open.

The engine is good for roughly 115 hp and 67 ft-lbs of torque and it’s happiest between 5k-8k.

We started our ride in the city of Cupertino and I got to see how the MT-09 behaved at slow speeds. When you take off from a stop in first gear, the MT-09 feeds in a little extra throttle to minimize the chance of stalling. That behavior makes sense to me in a bike that’s commonly bought by beginners (such as the MT-03) but I find it annoying in this case and I wish it was a setting that could be turned off.

I also got familiar with the new handlebar switches and turn signal design. Overall, I think the new switches are a big upgrade and they’re easy to use, especially the joystick. The high beam switch is in awkward spot to use (I wish Yamaha simply did what almost everyone else does and put the switch on the back of the controls) but it works well once you contort your hand enough. My big problem was with the new turn signal switch. On paper it sounds great – tap it to have it flash three times (if you’re just changing lanes) or press it fully for the usual behavior. It also has a new auto cancel feature that will shut itself off after 15 seconds if you’ve covered more than 150 meters (492 feet). But the switch isn’t symmetrical and using it feels distractingly odd. A minor quibble is that you have to push the button again to cancel it – but because the switch felt odd I sometimes wasn’t sure if the button registered my press. Normally I’d just re-press the button to make sure the signal was on without having to take my eyes off the road and look down at the screen but now that meant I was at risk of cancelling the signal if I had actually turned it on correctly the first time. Sound needlessly complicated? That’s my point.

I don’t know why Yamaha tried to reinvent the turn signal. The joystick is great, though.

We spent a little bit of time on the freeway, which taught me three things:

  1. The slight lean from the new ergonomics helps with wind blast on the highway (I used to feel like I was a sail on the previous bike).
  2. Yamaha’s cruise control system works great and it’s incredibly intuitive. You can use it in 3rd through 6th gear as long as you’re going above 24 miles per hour.
  3. There’s some vibrations between 5k-6k rpms or so. It wasn’t enough to cause discomfort (at least during our short ride) but it was definitely enough to render the mirrors almost worthless.

Yamaha is also known for making musical instruments, and as we headed south towards the redwoods I got the chance to hear that influence. For 2024 the MT-09 has a new intake setup with openings that make the intake sound louder. They are said to channel the sound specifically in the mid-to-high RPM range, and it definitely helps you hear the intake when you’re heavy on the throttle around 6-9k or so. With that said, I think the CP2 in the MT-07 and the CP4 in the MT-10 both sound better than what’s on offer here.

Yamaha calls these the “Acoustic Amplifer Grilles.”

The highlight of our ride was some time on Skyline Blvd. It’s an incredibly twisty road that doesn’t offer much in the way of safety – after our ride I found out that someone had crashed a Porsche Carrera GT on the same road two days prior.

Thankfully, my MT-09 did not suffer the same fate as the Porsche, and that’s because it’s so much better in corners now thanks to the change in riding position. The bike is still a ripsnorter but it’s more controllable and the safety net provided by the electronics package is reassuring when you’re pushing your personal limits. I can’t tell you how many times I cracked a smile while riding the MT in the twisties, powering it out of a corner and banging through gears with the quickshifter or letting the front wheel float off the many elevation changes we encountered. It’ll bring out the kid in you. My only concern with aggressive riding was the Advics 4-piston front calipers (it has a Brembo radial master cylinder), which I thought should be a bit stronger.

The Advics calipers clamp down on twin 298mm floating front discs.

The view from the cockpit is simultaneously cheap and classy. In terms of the former, there’s several cables that are bundled/secured with a combination of tape and rubber straps plus a metal piece that rotates with the forks which is semi-hidden behind the screen but it’s all easily visible when you’re riding and it just feels chintzy. On the flip side, the new 5″ TFT dash is lovely and I’m impressed by what it allows you to do.

Getting Smarter

I normally don’t get excited about technology when it comes to bikes, but Yamaha has made some impressive strides here. It wasn’t that long ago when all of their competitors had nice TFT dashes and the MT-09 was making do with a LCD screen that gave me Nintendo Game Boy vibes:

The dash from 2020.

Now the MT-09 has a gorgeous TFT that offers up all the data you would want in multiple views, a vibrant screen that you can see in all lighting conditions, and (in what might be an industry first) a free OEM navigation option that isn’t a complete pain in the ass to use. The navigation is truly impressive not because it works, but because it works intuitively. I’ve gone through enough press launches and new bikes where companies boast about how you can do all kinds of things with their phone technology but by the time I’ve dealt with all the poorly-thought-out nonsense and workarounds of building their own software instead of using established successful platforms then I’d rather just use Google Maps and have it bark directions in my Cardo headset. Yamaha’s solution requires downloading two apps (Yamaha’s Y-Connect and Garmin’s StreetCross) but it’s free, it makes sense, and it works very well – I didn’t need to read any sort of manual, it was easy enough for me to figure out how to get the GPS going on my own.

One other thing I want to point out about the dash – Yamaha offers four different views, one of which is inspired by their history as a piano manufacturer. The tach is supposed to remind you of piano keys, and the height of the bars are based on how much throttle is being applied. I kept the dash in this view just about the whole day:

The technology package of the MT-09 is something you’d expect on a more expensive bike: in addition to the dash and the phone connectivity you get full LED lighting, the aforementioned fancy quickshifter, a USB-C port, six-axis IMU, wheelie control, ABS, lean-angle sensitive traction control, slide control, back slip regulator, rear lift control, multiple ride modes, and cruise control as standard. All of this makes it very easy to live with on a day-to-day basis – and Yamaha’s got a whole bunch of accessories that will help even more with livability.

Accessories

The MT-09 is fast and fun, but it’s easily capable of being your daily commuter if you wish. To help with that, Yamaha will sell you some protection ($139.99 radiator guard/$199.99 engine sliders) and 34L or 45L trunks ($249.99/$299.99, respectively).

This example is equipped with the 45L top case

There’s also a “comfort” seat ($184.99 front, $159.99 rear), which I got to spend some time on. I highly recommend it as it is thicker and grippier:

Conclusion

The last time I did a comparison story with this bike (a “$9,000/900cc Showdown” back in 2020), I loved how aggressive the MT was but the story was about the best “overall” bike so it placed last. If I was to redo that story today, I suspect the MT-09 would place first…but now it’ll set you back $10,599. If you’re curious, the BMW F900R in that test has basically stayed at the same price while the Kawi Z900 is up to $9,999, but neither has made any significant updates since 2020 while the MT-09 has now gone through two evolutions and it’s a very different (read: better) motorcycle.

Frankly, if my biggest complaints are basically that the brakes could be stronger and the turn signal switch sucks, you can feel confident that it’s a good bike. Riders with experience seem to agree – the average MT-09 ($10,599) buyer has nine years of riding experience, while the average buyer who splurges for the up-spec MT-09 SP with Brembo calipers, KYB forks, and an Ohlins shock ($12,299) buyer has fifteen years!

I ride with the maturity of someone much younger.

At the end of the day, the new 2024 MT-09 is a winner because it’s now much easier for the rider to harness the power and the attitude of the epic CP3 engine via a combination of ergonomics and electronics. It’s already available at your local Yamaha dealership for $10,599 in your choice of Midnight Cyan, Team Yamaha Blue, and Matte Raven Black. Go try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

In Team Yamaha Blue

Check out the 2024 Yamaha MT-09!

My Gear

Helmet: Alpinestars Supertech R10 – $999.95
Jacket: Alpinestars Atem V5 – $699.95
Gloves: Velomacchi Speedway – $149
Shoes: Alpinestars SP-2 in Black/Anthracite – $299.95

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