Yamaha MT-03 price, seat height, accessories, India review – Introduction

The MT-03 packs an excellent motor and is a proven package, but costs more than all of its competitors.

Yamaha’s MT-03 is the naked version of the beloved R3. For 2024, Yamaha has decided to bring MT-03 via the CBU route, which has skyrocketed its price. In a market where more and more manufacturers are resorting to localisation of products, can a nearly decade-old motorcycle still command such a premium and bring value? 

A monotone LCD feels outdated in the age of TFTs.

Yamaha MT-03 design, features

I quite like the Yamaha MT-03’s friendly Autobot-like face, and it also has a very functional headlight design that works well at night. This shade of grey and cyan is eye-catching, but the bike can be easily mistaken for an MT-15 as its front appears to be quite similar. However, the resemblance ends there, and the rest of the MT-03 looks like a naked R3 while carrying over the same seat, tail and footpeg positioning as the latter. Overall, the MT-03 looks more muscular than the R3, and I wish Yamaha had launched it with more unique colour options.

The MT-03 is rare and will provide some snob value each time it isn’t mistaken for an MT-15. At a time when most manufacturers have switched to TFTs or coloured LCDs, Yamaha still offers the MT-03 with a monotone LCD dash, which is simple and clean but looks and feels outdated. There are no fancy electronics, and ABS is the only thing on offer. For the price the bike commands, the switchgear quality could have been better, and the absence of a slipper clutch is an odd omission.

Low seat; taller riders will struggle to find room.

Yamaha MT-03 ergonomics

The front seat is low and scooped out—that’s a great thing for short riders. Conversely, the passenger seat is a little too high, making it quite a climb. Though the MT-03 is a comfortable motorcycle, I found it too cramped for my height, which is about 6 feet for reference. The seat is adequately padded and does an excellent job keeping saddle soreness at bay. The tank is well sculpted, with recesses for your knees, and is broader than the one on the R3. However, I wish I had more room to move around and not be confined to one position.

The MT-03’s sound and performance will win you over.

Yamaha MT-03 engine, performance

The Yamaha MT-03 shares its internals with the R3 and has the same screamer of a motor that enjoys revving to the redline. Small pops and bangs from the exhaust usually follow downshifts, and riding the MT-03 hard is a great experience. This motor is my favourite part about the MT-03, and with an aftermarket exhaust, it would be a total hoot around your favourite twisty road. The brakes are progressive and don’t pack a powerful bite. Under hard riding, the ABS can be very intrusive and cannot be turned off. The suspension is the same as the R3 and is good when the roads are great, but it feels unsettled on our uneven cement roads and easily loses composure over mid-corner bumps.

Riding the MT-03 inside the city feels tedious; its throttle is snatchy at low speeds. The lengthy turning radius makes tight manoeuvres tricky and forces you to plan your turns better on our compact streets. Since this motorcycle is the same as the R3 under the skin, we expect similar fuel efficiency figures of 25kpl in the city and 37kpl on the highway. As capable as the MT-03 may be, it doesn’t match up to the sort of handling we’ve come to expect from the latest sporty naked motorcycles in its segment.  

Yamaha MT-03 verdict

The Yamaha MT-03 is a capable motorcycle and will carry a lot of snob value for a true Yamaha fanboy. I am so enamoured with the MT-03’s engine that I’m willing to look the other way when it comes to shortcomings. But the bike’s price tag—its biggest downside—always snaps me back to reality. It feels like an unreasonable purchase when you consider what the competition is offering for less. On the other hand, there’s no denying its bulletproof reliability, inevitable exclusivity and fun nature around twisties. For potential buyers who can’t justify the hefty price tag, the only option is to wait either for a used model to pop up in the market or for Yamaha to (hopefully) localise these likeable but simple 321cc twins.

Also see: Aprilia RS 457 vs Yamaha R3 comparison

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