I guess I wasn't that impressed, initially, with the photos I'd seen of the new (all-conquering?) Yamaha MT-10. It looked too big, and the headlamp assembly/bikini fairing all seemed a bit out there. Definitely a move away from its simpler, smaller siblings, the MT-09 and MT-07.
So when a good mate of mine brought his brand new (just delivered) bike out for a blast on the weekend, I was surprised how good it looked in the metal, especially in these colours. The first thing that came to mind was Transformers, and if it had turned into Optimus Prime and whacked me in the fizzog I wouldn't have been surprised. Maybe they have a new movie on the way and this bike's the star. Who knows?
It looks evil and savage, but actually pretty cool, just what I needed on today's damp roads... not.
I've got to hand it to Mike, he buys a lot of bikes, and always asks me if I want to have a ride on them. Usually I'm busy and decline. Today I was busy again, but Suzuki projects could wait. I kitted up quickly and gave him the key to the Gixer.
It's bulky — and from the bottom of the headers to the top of the tank it looks huge — but when you sit in it, and yes I mean in it, the bulk subsides and it feels, well, right. He bought the accessory comfort seat to go with it and it's plush, looks good too.
Once aboard I survey the front. The lefthand switchgear has a lot going on — even cruise control! The dash runs through its self-checks once ignition's switched on to reveal all the usual niceties. Functional, not pretty, I think I prefer an analogue tacho mixed with digital speedo, but it's all there. The orange light you can see is the ABS light, and it stays on until you move off. The top yoke, or triple clamp, is pretty classy and those fat bars are really bloody fat!
Mike ran through the drive mode selection and put it to standard for me.
B-mode is ballistic, A-mode, I'm guessing, is slightly mellower and STD is for doddering about town? Or a dose of something nasty from the docks, but whatever it stands for I'm taking it slow today. Normal pace then.
Full power is actually available in every mode, but it's the way it gets there that's the difference between the three (or how many changes of underwear you have).
Although everyone raves about the big-bang sound, I still prefer the conventional inline-four howl, but the R1 engine sounds pretty good through the shorty can he's fitted. He took it off his ZX10R and it fits perfectly (54mm pipe in case you're wondering).
So off we go. The roads are too wet for any proper fun so I take it steady because I didn't fancy handing over the nineteen grand if I drop it. Mike saw no such reason to hang around, and swiftly disappeared on my thou. I cruised and got used to the power, handling and brakes. Expecting it to be an armchair, cruiser type of bike like the old FZ range, I was surprised to to feel how stiff and sportsbike-like it was, but then it's an R1 made into a robot-type of modern art thingy, so it should've been expected.
You sit all relaxed, in the sports-tourer type position of a seventies/eighties UJM. Big wide bars, good legroom, sat up high, but with the ability to wipe out the odd S1000RR when you feel the need. That's no throwaway comment, the average sportsbike rider is going to get a royal kick up the jacksy if he/she takes you on, when all you've been doing is picking up a box of teabags from the shops.
And that's what this sort of bike does best. It combines so many styles — custom streetfighters of the nineties, sports touring comfort of the eighties, but the killer instinct of the millennium superbikes. If I wasn't fed up with thou's, this might be on my bucket list.
Mike's waiting for me at the bottom of the mountain run on the Gixer, and I turn to head back up. The wet conditions are going to stop playtime to some extent, but I need fun and uphill is the best, and safest, way to do it. As I wind it on in second the front wheel lifts, and it does it in the most calm manner possible. A tiny bit more throttle keeps it a foot high, let off or give it a bit more and you can play with the height easily. I'm not used to this — this is easy control, and will have even the most sedate riders trying a wheelie.
Unfortunately, it's also a bit moorish and as I come out of the next turn I grab another handful, then notice the plod coming down the hill. I shut the throttle, sip my tea and politely tip my cap as I pass. Their cheerful smile lets me know that all is well in the world.
Mike soon zips past again as I mooch along taking in the scenery. What isn't good is that 1000cc bikes are beginning to seem like a good idea again. Maybe because it's not an out-and-out sportsbike, and I'm not on the track. Who knows, but I like the MT-10. This would be fun on the road... no, it's over the top... but...
Like anything new, it would take a while to get used to throwing it around because of the upright position. The big-bang motor is different, feels slower than a conventional four, but it's all perception. This thing has stomp everywhere, and I'd like to have a go using the three traction control settings in the dry. Today, however, I'm not game enough to risk a two-day old bike in slippery conditions.
The bars are a foot longer than standard bikes to incorporate this huge switch. Ok, that's a lie... it is big though!
He's already fitted carbon hand guards and the cool bar-end mirrors.
Now that seat just oozes quality.
It's all in there, one big lump of speed, torque, adrenaline and excitement. 158 BHP is the figure being rallied around. That sounds pretty mellow nowadays, but still way more than enough. Back in my day... I remember when all this were fields.
I love the colour scheme, Mike put the rim tape on to add a little pizzazz maybe.
The looks of the MT-10 have really grown on me, its big-bang motor sort of combines a V-twin with a four, it's on a modern chassis and wheelies like it was legal. And it comes with cruise control, how wonderfully delightful.
Right, who's offering 0% finance?