Real Rides: Gaby’s MT-01

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The Yamaha MT-01 was never available in the US, but it’s one amazing motorcycle in looks and design. This one belongs to Canadian reader Gaby, to whom it seems like the perfect bike after owning 10 bikes and trying something in the neighborhood of 30 others.

Gaby as a young kid, already addicted before he could ride.

The Rider
Gaby first learned how to ride a motorcycle when he was 5 years on a Yamaha PW50 and says “From there I was hooked.” He has a colorful history with motorcycles, has changed rides every year since he’s had a license.

After the PW50, he got a Yamaha 80 Y-zinger. “My brother and I had a blast on that bike, I remember my father have to cut the frame in two to weld a reinforcing bar because we’d bent the frame. I think we were abusing it more than it was intended for.”

Gaby was without a motorcycle for while until he turned 20, when he bought a Kawasaki KX250 which was “beat up, leaking oil like an old Bonneville and the engine barely lasted one summer but it was great fun.”

Fast forward to after college and he had to “take all the necessary exams to get my motorcycle drivers’ license.” He bought a 2007 Kawasaki Versys 650 which “was a great bike, reliable, practical and had a punchy little engine” and then “I came upon a picture of the 2009 Triumph Speed Triple, and I knew I had to have one.” He eventually got rid of the Speed Triple because “it made my IQ drop like a rock the minute I sat on it. You get used to the power and always want more…” He had “a lot of fun on that bike, but I was risking my life and license everyday.”

From there he went to a 2010 Triumph Scrambler — the 60 horsepower was enough to keep him smiling and “it handled like a bicycle, sounded awesome with the arrow exhaust, and it kept up with most in the twisties. Gaby likes to say he has never regretted anything but “he does wish that he had kept that Scrambler.” The following spring he went back to a sport bike, 2011 Yamaha FZ8-N and, he thought “he’d be reasonable with an i-4 engine.” He quickly became just as reckless on the FZ8-N as he did on the Speed Triple which brings us to the MT-01.

He had “an eye out on the Yamaha MT-01″ but when it was introduced into Canada it was over $20,000. Eventually he found a used one, a 2007 with 10,000km on it, in a province 8 to 9 hours away from him. “Being impulsive as I am, I talked with the seller over the phone to make sure was it was in good condition. I bought a plane ticket and then rode it back home without even seeing an MT-01 in person before.”

The Yamaha MT-01.

The Bike
The Yamaha MT-01 was introduced in 2005 as a 1670cc, V-twin, air-cooled, overhead-valve engine that boasts only 88 horsepower, but also 110 foot pounds of torque. At 580 pounds wet, it has a top of speed of 131 miles an hour. It was only was available in Australia, Europe, India and Canada until 2009 and is one beast of a motorcycle. The engine was modified from a Yamaha warrior XV1700 and the brakes and forks came from the Yamaha R1 of that time.

Gaby’s view from the MT-01.

Why He Rides It
“Wow was I impressed” was his first reaction, “I was grinning ear to ear, I was just so thrilled and it exceeded my highest expectations by far!” He says the ergonomics are excellent with a comfy seat — “I could ride this thing all day long!”

He was originally worried that the 580 pounds of bike would cause poor handling but “once you get rolling the weight evaporates, now it doesn’t handle like a SS 600, but its still very decent handling and she makes you work for it, which is quite refreshing.”

He enjoys “the sporty-ish frame with the performance brakes” that’s “peered by an air-cooled, pushrod, 1670cc v-twin engine, what more could you ask for?” Even though it has only 88bhp, “you have like 70% of the power at 2000rpm. Torque, torque, torque, is what this bike is all about.”

“It feels like you’re at the commands of a Spitfire plane because of its amazing sound and its very simple retro speedometer combined to the way the engine transmits it’s very unique character.”

  • http://twitter.com/VagrantCoyote VagrantCoyote

    Great bikes but you rarely see them, sadly. Would look better without underseat exhaust

  • Justin Henry

    it doesn’t look that heavy.

    • yipY

      It’s a big heavy lump.”Wet weight is 265 kilos.” Think of it as a 1st gen Vmax with half the horsepower.

      • Speedo007

        The first gen Vmax was 60lbs heavier and had an extra 23hp but 28lb-ft less torque then the MT-01. You don’t buy this bike to compete with an R1 or Hayabusa or Vmax, you don’t buy it for it’s top speed, you buy it for it’s unique character, riding experience and grin factor. That said it’s got plenty of torque, and you never feel like your missing any power at all. But just like any bike, it’s not for everyone. Don’t be fooled by just looking at the specs on paper though ;)

        That said with a few upgrades you *could* even take it to the track:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1_QbYOcoALM

        • yipY

          The full power Vmax had 145 horsepower,the MT 01 is not in the same league.I know I rode a few.The MT 01 is no Vmax.

          • Speedo007

            You’re right, I found different specs for the first gen Vmax seems like the numbers vary a lot depending on sources and years http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yamaha_V-Max_and_VMAX#Specifications (probably those numbers are measured at the wheel). And agreed, the MT-01 is no Vmax. The Vmax is a V4 cruiser, the MT-01 is a Vtwin Sport-ish bike. No point in comparing the 2. Both can be great, just depends on what you’re looking for ;)

  • Charles Quinn

    MT-01 is an amazing bike. I had an extended test ride on one (a Special Edition actually) a couple of years ago and it was one of the best times I’ve had on a motorcycle. At first it feels weird to have a huge air cooled pushrod V-twin in a sports bike chassis but after a couple of minutes it makes perfect sense. You have to use your weight to make it handle but that’s part of the fun. It’s really comfortable too.

    Gaby must be a true hooligan if he got reckless on an FZ-8 … one of the dullest bikes I’ve ever ridden.

    • Speedo007

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7SEx-HyY8w

      With a proper exhaust and changed sprockets, it was far from dull. Stock, it does lack any trace of character. But it’s a great bike, handles great and with sprocket change it does provide decent acceleration :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/ross.elliott.963 Ross Elliott

    First a Griso then a MT-01! Never let it be said sticking a big air-cooled v-twin into a sporting frame was a bad idea.

  • Nathan Wiley

    As a Buell fan I had hope that the MT-01 would some day make it to the states. The single cylinder MT-03 would have also been nice . What do I know though…I thought the B-King was cool too.

  • Khali

    Love this bike. Is there any concern regarding range? I heard the tank is tiny.

    • Speedo007

      I get about 200-220km before reserve. It’s got a 15L tank, but it revs so low that mpg is quite decent.

      • Khali

        Not so bad then!

  • yipY

    A great design effort,but heavy,boring and underpowered in riding.Ten kilos lighter and a minimum of 105 horsepower at the cranks,thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joshua.tessier Joshua Tessier

    How long till we can import those into the U.S.?

    • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.joshua.silverman Daniel Silverman

      Since they stopped production before 2010, probably never.

    • Speedo007

      In Canada 2009 was the last year they were imported, in Europe they stopped selling them in 2012. If you want one, you could import a used one from Canada if you don’t live too far away…

  • http://www.facebook.com/markgardiner Mark Gardiner

    Yes, a cool bike in its way. I thought it was visually superior to the B-King, but the B-King offered a stunning ride experience. That would be a good reader/rider’s bike to profile too, as it was underappreciated in the marketplace.

    • BryonCLewis

      The B-King is almost like having two bikes. You can ride along at 45-50mph in 5th gear at 2000rpm and roll on without it struggling at all. Then if you want you can down shift a couple gears and blast by most anything. Compared to the R1′s, CBR954 I’ve ridden and the CBR600RR in my garage it mixes that ability to remain civil around town and then transform into a raging ax-murderer when you get to the country roads.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001888346947 Michael Martin

    Does anyone know how to bring one onto the US from Canada?

  • http://twitter.com/bloodfalcons motoguru.

    I’ve always liked the 4 spoke rims on these things.