The Yamaha R3-based MT-03 will be launched in India very soon. We got to ride one in Thailand and can let you know what to expect.
The MT-03 is Yamaha’s first twin-cylinder naked bike in India since the OG MT-01. In fact, that’s where its name comes from, but the abbreviation MT translates to something a little different on the smaller current-gen 03, which we will come back to. Instead, let’s start with the way this bike looks.
Yamaha MT 03 design
The design language is clear to see, and while the MT-07, MT-09 and MT-10 have all taken different approaches, the 03 is quite similar to the MT-15 we have here. You’ve got the same theme with a central projector headlamp flanked by a set of sharp LED DRLs. But to my eyes, this bike has a sleeker, angrier look, and there’s a small spoiler on either side of the projector that adds to the dynamic look.
The rest of the silhouette is similar to the MT-15, but the 03 has broader shoulders and a nice wide fuel tank. This tank effectively makes up for the big difference in how the MT feels next to the R3 and it comes across as larger and wider, but still holds the same 14 litres.
Yamaha MT 03 comfort, riding position
The MT-03 has the same seat and tail section as the R3, as well as the same footpeg placement. The main difference in the seating position comes from the flat handlebar, which puts you in an upright position. Normally, this would always be preferred to a crouched-down riding position, but curiously, taller riders on this ride all preferred the R3 for longer durations of riding. I think it comes down to the MT’s fuel tank shape, which locks your legs in place better and reduces chances of you moving around. The upright position also creates more of a pressure point on the seat, which I found uncomfortable after about an hour or so.
It’s worth pointing out that this is a larger, more spacious bike than the MT-15, and while it’s not perfect, the overall comfort factor is not bad at all. This should come as no surprise because this bike uses the same suspension set-up and chassis as the R3, right down to the wheelbase figure. The same goes for the 321cc parallel-twin engine, which produces the exact same output figures. The only spec difference of note is that the MT weighs two kilos less.
Yamaha MT 03 performance
Predictably then, the MT-03 has the same set of pros and cons as the R3. Its motor is chilled out at low speeds and a delight to wring out to the 12,000rpm redline. It feels just as fast and just as capable.
Now, the name MT stands for “Master of Torque”, which was an apt description for the original MT-01, but a bit of a stretch on a bike that produces 29.5Nm at a screamy 9,000rpm. Then again, the motor is so flexible in the city that I’m happy with changing MT to Master of Tractability.
In terms of handling, you will notice the small sacrifice in front-end feel that comes from a more upright riding position, but the moment you start hanging off and attacking corners, there’s just as much fun to be had as on the R3. In the same vein, the MT’s brakes feel like they should have packed more when you’re in attack mode and you will miss having a slip-assist clutch.
Yamaha MT 03 features
In fact, just like its sibling, this is a very well-made motorcycle, and everything looks and feels enjoyably high quality. But you will always have spec sheet envy if a friend pulls up on the likes of a 390 Duke with its TFT display, traction control, riding modes, quickshifter, and what not. The MT-03 turns its nose up at such extravagances, but it guarantees you a solid, reliable and very enjoyable riding experience in exchange.
Yamaha MT 03 verdict
Sadly, many potential customers are likely to turn their noses up at the MT because this will be an expensive bike. Like the R3, it is also coming in as a CBU import from Indonesia, and it will also cost between Rs 4 lakh-4.5 lakh, ex-showroom. As with the R3, I suspect it will struggle a little in our market until Yamaha can localise some of the production and bring costs down. Which is a shame, because it’s a well-engineered, easy-going and endearing machine, just like its sibling.