Yamaha MT-03 road test review: Worth the wait?

  • Yamaha MT-03 is a naked sibling to the YZF-R3. It is being imported to the Indian market through the CBU route. Here is our review of the MT-03.
Yamaha MT-03
Yamaha MT-03 shares its underpinnings with the YZF-R3.
Yamaha MT-03
Yamaha MT-03 shares its underpinnings with the YZF-R3.

Back in 2020, Yamaha pulled the plug on the YZF-R3 from the Indian market. It's not like the model was doing huge numbers in India but there was still a huge following because of the motorcycle's analogue nature. So, yes, people were a bit sad when the YZF-R3 left the Indian market. But then in 2023, the Japanese manufacturer announced that they were bringing back the R3 but what came as a surprise was that they would also launch the MT-03 which is a naked sibling of the R3. This is the first time that Yamaha brought the MT-03 to the Indian market. We spent a few days with the MT-03 to find out whether the wait was worth it or not.

Yamaha MT-03: Looks

Yamaha MT-03
The MT-03 is a sharp-looking motorcycle with a muscular design.
Yamaha MT-03
The MT-03 is a sharp-looking motorcycle with a muscular design.

The MT-03 derives its name and styling from the larger MT-07. This was the first time that Yamaha brought the MT-03 to the Indian market. A person can also consider the MT-03 to be the elder sibling to the MT-15 which is quite popular in India. Now, this does have a few pros and cons. Pros are that we love how stealthy and menacing it looks. The negatives are that it lacks road presence on the roads. The first reason is that most people do not know what it is. Secondly, it can be easily mistaken for MT-15. Yamaha is offering the MT-03 in two colour schemes, both of which do not help the MT-03 as their primary shade is Matte Black.

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Yamaha MT-03: Features

Yamaha MT-03
There is a digital instrument cluster that shows all the vital information to the rider.
Yamaha MT-03
There is a digital instrument cluster that shows all the vital information to the rider.

There is not a lot to talk about when it comes to features. The MT-03 comes with all-LED lighting and for safety, there are hazard lights and dual-channel ABS. The motorcycle does not even get traction control which is quite surprising considering that Yamaha offers it on their FZ range of motorcycles. Moreover, there is also no quickshifter and slip-and-assist clutch on offer which the YZF-R15 gets. There is a digital instrument cluster that shows the usual stuff like a tachometer, speedometer, trip meters, Trip F, temperature gauge, average and real-time fuel efficiency, fuel gauge etc.

Yamaha MT-03: Comfort and ergonomics

Yamaha MT-03
The MT-03 comes to India through the CBU route.
Yamaha MT-03
The MT-03 comes to India through the CBU route.

Being a naked motorcycle, the riding triangle of the MT-03 is very comfortable. The handlebar is wide and the foot pegs are slightly rear-set. There is a split seat setup which is quite comfortable for the rider but the same thing cannot be said for the pillion. Speaking of seats, the seat height measures 780 mm which is accessible for most riders in our country. Then there is the wet weight of just 167 kg which makes MT-03 a very easy motorcycle to move around the parking lot. The ride quality is quite plush but we can't say the same for the seat. I found the padding to be inadequate and it develops pressure points after riding the motorcycle for an hour or so.

Yamaha MT-03: Handling and brakes

Yamaha MT-03
The MT-03 has a very comfortable riding triangle so people can also tour on it.
Yamaha MT-03
The MT-03 has a very comfortable riding triangle so people can also tour on it.

The MT-03 feels very natural through corners. It has a wide handlebar and slightly rear-set footpegs. The handlebar provides enough leverage to flick the motorcycle through traffic easily. The motorcycle goes where you want to and wants to stick to the line but what robs away the confidence are the tyres. The same can be said for the brakes as well. They lack feel and stopping power for a motorcycle with such potential.

Yamaha MT-03: Performance and fuel efficiency

Yamaha MT-03
The 321 cc parallel-twin engine is very tractable and has a very linear nature.
Yamaha MT-03
The 321 cc parallel-twin engine is very tractable and has a very linear nature.

One of the main highlights of the MT-03 is its engine. It is a 321 cc, parallel-twin that puts out 41.42 bhp of max power at 10,750 rpm and a peak torque output of 29.5 Nm at 9,000 rpm. The engine revs freely and is very tractable but not everyone would appreciate the linear nature of the engine. But then it's not every day that you get to ride a parallel-twin engine that revs to 12,000 rpm and you will be doing that a lot to extract the most out of this engine.

Having said that, you can still ride at higher gears at low speeds. Get on the throttle and the speeds start building up smoothly. The same cannot be said about the engine though, there are few vibrations that the rider can feel as the revs climb. The engine also heats up in traffic and the hot air is directly transferred to the legs of the rider. The engine can also cruise effortlessly as 100 kmph comes up at just 6,000 rpms. In terms of fuel efficiency, we managed 24.8 kmpl with mixed riding conditions.

Also Read : Yamaha YZF-R3 & MT-03 initial impressions: Motorcycles for purists

The engine comes mated to a 6-speed gearbox that shifts precisely. We didn't face the gearbox sticking issue this time. However, the motorcycle does not come with a slip-and-assist clutch which does help prevent the rear wheel from hopping under aggressive downshifts.

Yamaha MT-03: Verdict

Yamaha MT-03
The MT-03 is a pretty bare-bone motorcycle that is made for purists.
Yamaha MT-03
The MT-03 is a pretty bare-bone motorcycle that is made for purists.

People have been asking Yamaha for the MT-03 for quite some time now and the company has finally fulfilled their request. There is no doubt that MT-03 is a fun motorcycle to ride. It can do most of the things that the rider might ask from it. However, where the rivals are loading their motorcycles with features, the MT-03 is still bare bone. Also, the price of 4.60 lakh ex-showroom does not help it either. Most people in today's day and age prefer features, but there are still some of them out there who want a motorcycle that can provide an analogue feel. The MT-03 will make a great case for itself for purists which means there will be few takers of MT-03.

First Published Date: 06 Apr 2024, 17:12 PM IST
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