Yamaha MT-09 TCS test


The MT-09 gets traction control and revised engine maps

A new "Night Fluo" color for this turbulent roadster, from € 8,499

For many years, the mid-size roadster at Yamaha, it was effective but not very fun: this mission fell to the FZ8, hyper homogeneous but lacking a little zest of madness, as well as to the FZ1, whose 4 cylinders 20 valves really expressed at high speed but, alas, not with us.

The pair of FZ1 & FZ8 were roomy and comfortable, but a bit clunky and dynamically jostled by machines with a bit more grace.

And then Yamaha rethought the MT concept by releasing the Dark Side of Japan, the dark side of Japan. Marketing lucubration resulting from a brainstorming where the powder flowed freely? Actually not at all ! Yamaha surprised everyone with a stripped down and minimalist roadster, built around a so-called "CP3" engine block, a new generation three-cylinder, historical reference mixture to the XS 750 of 1976 (which became XS 850 in 1980) and nice cobblestone in the pool of European manufacturers who considered the 3 cylinders as their pre-square.

Yamaha MT-09 TCS side

The market followed as, in just over two years, no less than 20,000 MT-09s were produced, to the chagrin of other roadsters in general and the Triumph Street Triple in particular, the arrival of the Japanese signifying the end of the English golden age. Many, therefore, were the bikers to succumb to its explosive character, very explosive, even, even downright too explosive! Quickly, critics focused on the extreme sensitivity of the by-wire throttle control and the brutality of the engine response, all of which combined to make any notion of cruising or smoothness on the handlebars delicate. Let it be said: the MT-09 is brutal !

By equipping itself with TCS traction control and an evolution of engine maps, the MT-09 intends to respond to its critics without denying any of its identity..

Top view Yamaha MT-09 TCS


To recognize a 2016 MT-09, two clues are enough: one is discreet, the other less. In the case of the new color "Night Fluo", gray with yellow rims (a livery which also benefited the MT-07 and MT-10 in 2016), it is obvious and everyone will judge the contribution of this color alliance to contemporary art: between the black of the chassis, the gray of the body, the yellow of the wheels and the bronze of the engine casings, it does not breathe sadness. More conventionally, the MT-09 is also available in "Race Blu", "Lava Red" or "Matt Gray": in this case, you may have to take a look at the left stalk where it appears, on the right headlight control, a button dedicated to the TCS. On the right stalk, the button dedicated to driving modes controls the new engine maps.

Other than that, not a bolt or washer is different from the early generations of MT-09. We will therefore refer with interest to the first test of this bike published on Le Repaire for more details..

Yamaha MT-09 TCS engine

In the saddle

The yellow rims don’t change much to the case and the MT-09 is still that slim, compact and balanced motorcycle, with natural ergonomics. The new functions are obviously found on the instrument panel: located just above the speed display, the traction control indicator is readable and gives the pilot the choice between three possibilities: to 1, it is set. fairly permissive; on 2, its operation is more alert and on off, it is logically disconnected. So, to start smoothly, the pilot can select the driving mode on B and the traction control on 2: belt and shoulder straps.

Speedometer Yamaha MT-09 TCS

In town: standard or mode B ?

Nothing to say about its compactness and agility, but the MT-09 was expected around the corner when it comes to its ability to parade in the City in a cast manner. The previous version was characterized by its playful side, its on / off personality and its ability to stand on the rear wheel at the slightest blow of gas a little deep. In this turbulent context, it’s an understatement to say that the new cartography is doing him good. In standard mode, the connection to the throttle is fine as it should be and it is possible to progress smoothly even at very low revs, the flexibility of the 3 cylinders of 850 cm3 helping. Flexibility does not mean softness, however: the CP3 unit remains filled from the lowest revs, but the slightest blow of gas takes you to speeds already prohibited..

For more control, we will then opt for mode B: this one, always as finely dosed with the accelerator, significantly reduces the power available on the gas stream (this is very sensitive when starting in smooth coast, where you almost have the impression that the bike is going to engorge …), before releasing larger portions if you wring out the handle as it should: with determination! In short, the MT-09 has now become more frequent in town and that’s not a bad thing.

Yamaha MT-09 TCS on national

On the highway

The smoothness of the controls and the control of the dosage do not transform the MT-09 vintage 2016 into a large road: for this, Yamaha has renewed its FJR 1300 AE and it will do the job much better. Nevertheless, the MT-09 is not doing so badly: first of all thanks to its engine which is always so generous that long ribbons of asphalt and distant horizons are not close to frightening. Obviously, the fairly upright driving position and the total lack of protection naturally confine the crew at speeds close to legality, unless you have a bull’s neck and like to take tornadoes in the face. The saddle is not distinguished by its generosity but in reality, it is rather a pleasant surprise given its small thickness. And the rather smooth rear damping helps to pass the test of the highway..

Yamaha MT-09 TCS on highway

On departmental

A playful motorcycle can only flourish on a playground within its reach: the MT-09 remains the queen of fun. The traction control is not a superfluous accessory, given the generosity of its mechanics, its lively chassis and its contained dimensions. Note despite everything the good grip of the Bridgestone S20: on the winding Spanish roads of this test, the MT-09 proved capable of putting the potato on the ground without setting in motion the electronic chips, despite a pace rather sustained driving, without triggering a TCS often set in position 1, a little more permissive. There is no doubt that in more precarious grip conditions, such as in the rain for example, the TCS will be a precious guardian angel. We almost would have liked rain to fully test it … but this is only part of the delay for a longer test.

Yamaha MT-09 TCS on the road

In the spirit of Yamaha and within the range powered by the CP3 engine (which therefore includes the MT-09 Tracer and the XSR 900), the MT-09 remains the most fun and turbulent machine. Changes in settings must soften it without making it quieter: its mappings are always specific to it and compared to its cousins, the MT-09 must remain the most responsive, the most aggressive..

This character is reflected in mode A: the by-wire accelerator remains dosable (it would be a lie to say that we are on / off), but the response is immediate and each time you resume at low speed, the neck of the pilot goes back a little, as if the latter were slightly overtaken by the elements. It is therefore better suited for use on the track or in the event of a big attack, even if a little jerk may remain on the gas net at the exit of a tight curve, which can widen the trajectory of a chouia and very fortunately , the supernatural agility of the MT-09 allows it to resume its trajectory while keeping its body in the turn.

Yamaha MT-09 TCS on departmental


Again, a pair of yellow rims does not revolutionize the concept (especially since they are not mandatory). The MT-09 can collect a few qualifiers for lack of a perfect agreement: agile, funny, playful, healthy. The imperfection lies in a disagreement between the suspensions, with a fork harder than the rear shock absorber, this one being able to cause a little pumping in support on the big curves, gas in big. And god knows the MT-09 likes to be pushed around !

Yamaha MT-09 TCS sport


Discs of 298 mm in diameter, not enough to impress the crowds, when real sports cars often have them close to 320. And yet! The MT-09 shows in its own way that it is not the size that matters, because the braking is quite up to the mechanical exuberance and offers powerful and measurable decelerations, coupled with an excellent feeling. Even when driving sportingly on a small country road, the MT-09 does not call for criticism. Special mention to ABS, transparent in its operation.

Brakes Yamaha MT-09 TCS

Comfort / duo

The MT-09 is far from being a bad compromise: it offers fire performance worthy of more radical machines while being quite accommodating to driving. Admittedly, the space on board is relatively limited, especially for the passenger, but the flexibility of the engine (in B mode), the rather flexible rear suspension and the gain provided by this 2016 vintage in terms of mechanical smoothness make it a machine clearly more frequentable than most other character roadsters.

Yamaha MT-09 TCS saddle


It’s obvious: the 2016 vintage corrects the main flaw of the MT-09 without removing an ounce of character and adds a guardian angel in the form of a traction control so well calibrated that it is even transparent. in severe use. Easier, safer but no less efficient, the MT-09 retains its TCS version therefore all its arguments despite a rear shock absorber lacking a little rigor in the attack. However, for € 8,499, the sum of the qualities offered arouses respect, especially as the MT-09 is particularly generous in an area where points count double: fun.

Strong points

  • Welcome traction control
  • Smooth throttle response
  • Well-differentiated engine maps
  • Enjoyable engine !
  • Powerful braking
  • Unbeatable price / performance / fun ratio

Weak points

  • Attack suspensions agreement
  • Grows into crime (but is it really a fault?)

The technical sheet of the MT-09

Test conditions

  • Route: 110 kilometers, mainly on mountain roads in the Sierra de Bernia and surroundings, in the vicinity of Altea (Spain)
  • Motorcycle mileage: 225 km
  • Problem encountered: try to stay wise on the handlebars. Mission impossible with such a machine…

The competition: Triumph Street Triple, Kawasaki Z800, MV Agusta Brutale 800, Honda CB 1000 R, Ducati Monster 821

More info about Yamaha

  • All Yamaha tests
  • All roadster tests

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6 thoughts on “Yamaha MT-09 TCS test

  1. Ah, it was SIMA that took over the import…

    This is really not a good idea.

    The owners of machines bought at the DIP will have it badly in the ass, the others too !!!

    Given the pedigree of the character who presides over this company, they will quickly understand that the acronym "SIMA" means "Sex Introduced Into the Anus…

    Good luck anyway !!!

  2. Quotewaboo
    This trend of "250, 300, 400 cm3 that’s too-top …" at best saddens me, at worst worries me. Go cut 900 or 1,200 km in the day with that and loaded, in the mountains. Except in India or deep in Mongolia, why not, it’s in the mind.

    Or in second / third machine.

    But that…


    it depends on the use of each … I have a 300, I am in A2. I do 50km daily and do not use it to go on vacation. In fact, do I need more despite my annual 15-20000km?

    (I’m talking about need, desire is something else).

  3. Question: two mudguards at the front, what’s the point ?

    Apart from making it even uglier…

    The R.E designers were so hesitant about the question:

    which one is too many ?

    That they left both …; o)

    This burn was not spoiled by nature, but that’s unforgivable.

    Reminder: design must serve function, never the other way around !

    So that they send their crayons on internship in Italy, it will do them the greatest good! ; o)

  4. QuoteF-X LACROIX

    I have owned an RE Himalayan since November 2018. I was won over by the look of a "utility" motorcycle.

    After 3000 km and following a manufacturing defect, cylinder, piston must be replaced under warranty.

    I am without a motorbike and bought a small vehicle to go to work.

    The motorcycle is stuck at the dealer who has no visibility on repair times. The parts are not in Marseille at DIP and SIMA, new 2019 importer, does not yet manage the after-sales service of motorcycles sold previously.

    So that poses the problem of reliability in general and after-sales service in France in particular for the RE brand. Today, after almost forty years of riding, I am in awe of whether to buy an RE. Very nice look, pleasant driving, attractive price. it is not enough to build loyalty and attract customers. What about reliability, but more importantly what about after-sales service? Is it really urgent to wait before buying an RE?

    Your opinion is of particular interest to me on RE’s after-sales service. For reliability, let’s say at this point that I’m unlucky…

    Best regards.


    PS: my beautiful sister has a RE BULLET from 2018. She got knocked over on 08/31/2018. She recovered her repaired motorcycle on 11/17/2018

    It was not the time taken by the expert to send the repair order that was sizing but the time taken by DIP to send the parts

    from India and in this case, a poor gasoline pump…

    I had ignored this when I bought my motorbike in November thinking it was "bad luck"…

    RE’s after-sales service has a bad reputation. Dealers have little stock of parts, while motorcycles often need some adjustments or repairs depending on the type of use. it can get stuck if several motorcycles to do. And at the price of motorcycles you should not expect Honda or bmw quality.

    Waiting for something RE to buy a motorcycle I don’t think so. Getting your hands dirty and anticipating some spare parts is surely the best solution. And most importantly, stay zen.

  5. Hello,

    Obviously the motorcycles on the 2 vintage black-white photos are not the same, clear numbers on one, dark on the other. So the photos are not taken during the same race, or there were two machines ???

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