We love a variety of motorcycles, that’s one of the best things about being in love with motorcycles in general and not just a brand! We really don’t see it happening any other way.
Nowadays, the trend for sportbikes is making them lighter and more compact than ever before. Logically, it is probably the right way because sportbikes are meant for performance primarily than providing the “riding into the sunset” feeling! That you can do on any motorcycle, by the way. Nevertheless, it wasn’t like this all the time.
The naked motorcycles, many times, are derived from the full-faired sportbikes. They have a more manageable riding position due to the single-piece handlebars, the engine is tuned more for torque at lower RPMs to make riding in traffic an easy affair and overall, they are easier to live with.
But not all naked motorcycles have been like that. We have had the likes of Suzuki B-King, that bulky and radically designed motorcycle which would look at home in a Transformers movie, and the Honda X11 (Superblackbird’s naked version). These motorcycles defied the basic trend of making nakeds and streetfighters. They were big and bulky and had a fairly small production run.
This reminds of another such motorcycle, MT-01, from Yamaha. Yes, the one with a big, burly V-twin engine and a pair of under seat exhausts. Showcased as a concept in 1999 at the Tokyo Motor Show and launched in 2005, the MT-01 was made till 2012.
The Yamaha MT-01 is one of those motorcycles that are very rarely found in India and Yamaha has also stopped producing it. So, if you want to buy one, keep an eye on OLX, maybe you can find one listed there someday.
The Naked Sportbike with the Heart from a Cruiser
Yamaha MT-01 wasn’t really a streetfighter. Look at it and it was clear it wasn’t really made to slice through traffic irrespective of its actual capabilities. The 1670cc V-twin engine was taken from the Yamaha Warrior power cruiser, but obviously, it was modified to deliver performance more suited to a sportbike. Mounting points were changed as well so that it would fit inside the chassis of MT-01.
The engine produced 90PS of power at 4,750 RPM and a massive 150.1 NM of torque at 3,750 RPM. Such a combination of power and torque is unheard of in a sportbike and those RPMs is where many or most cruisers top out as well. And we got that in a naked Yamaha!
It was heavy at 265 kg ready to ride, although, efforts were made to keep it as light as possible. The main frame was made out of die-cast aluminium and so was the YZF-R1 inspired swing-arm. At the front, there are upside down forks and a mono-shock at the rear. It had the geometry of a streetfighter, it just didn’t have the dimensions and weight of one. Also, the front wheel was an 18-inch while the rear was a typical 17-inch.
Even though the overall design of the motorcycle was quite unique and good, the engine remained its most visually stunning element. Another thing that caught everybody’s attention was the pair of under seat exhausts. Well, they were almost under seat! And they didn’t look like making the life of the pillion any easier.
In comparison, the current generation of MT sportbikes is quite petite as if they have gone on a diet programme. They are smaller, quicker and faster. They turn much better as well and are easier to live with, in a city. However, they really can’t match the 01 as far as badass attitude is concerned. We would guess that this is what the MT-01 was all about – attitude more than anything. And it did revive some memories in the group as well!
Of course, you can’t get it brand new today, but hey, you can always try to find one on OLX. Who knows where you might get lucky.
We would also like to thank Mr. Akhil Venkateshwaran (aka Rossiter on xBhp) for sparing his time and letting us spend some wonderful time with his Yamaha MT-01.