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Old November 22nd, 2022, 03:31 PM   #1
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[] - 2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP First Ride

Is Yamaha’s up-spec MT-10 SP worth the outlay of cash over the standard model? We find out.

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Yamaha’s MT-10 in the SP trim adds electronically adjustable semi-active Öhlins suspension. (Peter Callister/)Bucket lists aren’t for everyone. We get that. Not all of us want to ride up Mount Kilimanjaro on a 1952 Royal Enfield or pull a third-gear wheelie a Honda Gold Wing across the entire span of Manhattan Bridge. But every human with a pulse and a license should experience the visceral pleasure of a Yamaha CP4 crossplane crank engine.

The 16-valve 998cc beast first appeared in the R1 in 2009, the broken, gravelly exhaust note of its irregular firing order a thrilling new soundtrack for an inline-four. With its crankpin angles set at 90 degrees instead of a mundane 180, the CP4 had forensic feel at the throttle and V-twin-like traction at the tires. It ripped up the superbike rulebook. But it was in the MT-10, Yamaha’s first true hyper-naked, that it arguably found its true home.

All that torque and midrange muscle made Yamaha’s new flagship MT the story of 2016, and a match for almost any naked, on the road at least. While the MT-10?s chassis and cycle parts were clearly produced to an affordable, middling price point, the CP4?s drive, responsiveness, and relentless energy made it the perfect power unit for street-fighting naked.

Yamaha’s most technically advanced hyper-naked to date: the 2022 MT-10 SP. (Peter Callister/)A higher-spec SP version of the MT-10 added a little more poise to the chassis but in recent years the MT, in both formats, has started to show its age, especially in terms of electronic technology and rider aids. The MT-10 was always on the thirsty side, and the brakes were lacking by modern standards,*especially with top-spec Brembo Stylema calipers becoming increasingly de rigueur in class. It was time for an update, which is why for 2022 Yamaha introduced a new MT-10.

Engine-wise there wasn’t much to do. Peak power was increased to 164 hp at 11,500 rpm, which is 5.5 hp up from the old bike. Torque was boosted slightly too, from 81.9 lb.-ft. to 82.6 at the same 9,000 rpm, and Yamaha claimed the engine was 15 percent more efficient than before.

Peak power has been increased on the MT-10 SP’s engine by 5.5 hp, to a total of 164. (Peter Callister/)Major updates were made to the electronics with the implementation of a six-axis IMU, which means all rider aids became lean-sensitive. Slide control, traction control, cornering ABS, front wheel lift control, and changeable engine-brake strategies (as found on the R1) were linked to the IMU. An up-and-down quickshifter was installed as standard, along with cruise control, a speed limiter, and four riding modes. All this new info clearly shown via a new 4.2-inch full-color dash.

A 4.2-inch TFT dash conveys all info clearly. (Peter Callister/)Now, the $16,899 version of the MT-10 gets all that plus braided brake lines, which accompany the new Brembo radial master cylinder which was introduced on the standard bike this year. The SP is also distinguishable from the standard bike with the three-piece belly cowl and R1M-inspired colors.

But the update that will make the competition take serious note of the 2022 SP is its Gen 2 Öhlins electronic suspension. The new system features uprated NIX 30 fork and a TTX 36 rear shock fitted with new spool valve (SV) design which, according to Öhlins, enables quicker damping adjustment than a conventional needle valve while providing increased sensitivity and responsiveness at the low and high ends of the adjustment range.

It’s a first for any production bike and replaces the older SP’s KYB system while offering the rider three semi-active and three manual modes. Of the active (A) modes, A-1 is the sporty/track setting, A-2 is more suited for the road, and A-3 is the touring and comfort-focused setting. Yes, touring and comfort. The M options let’s riders electronically tune the suspension to individual taste, then store the settings.

Gen 2 suspension adds 4.4 pounds to the weight of the bike, but there are many advantages to this system. At the press of a button, suspension settings can be instantly changed while on the move, and you don’t have to be a suspension nerd to get the best performance of the bike; anyone can grasp the parameters and feel what the system is attempting to do. And you certainly don’t have to use tools or get your hands dirty. In fact, the three active settings create almost three bikes in one.

Suspension settings can be changed on the fly. (Peter Callister/)On the racetrack, in this case tight and twisty Cadwell Park in Lincolnshire, England, the bike was mainly kept in A-1 mode, the sportiest of the active settings. The base MT is no slouch on circuit but can lack the finesse and precision of some of its rivals when pushed hard, but on excellent Bridgestone S22 rubber the new SP was noticeably more poised and balanced. Crucially there was no vagueness or lack of feel at the contact patch, which some electronic suspension systems are prone to.

If we’d fitted slick or trackday rubber with tire warmers and had really wanted to push for a fast lap, we could have used one of the manual modes to create a specific track setting, particularly as the pegs were starting to touch. Certainly more support would have helped. But on standard rubber the A-1 mode was excellent.

The A-1 setting was also ideal for fast, early morning blasts on the speed-limit-free sections on the Isle of Man TT course, where the SP spent a week being put through its paces. A-2 was the go-to road setting, used on track for one session and mainly used for 70 percent of the journey. A-3 was used on long hauls up and down the motorway, its plush soft ride perfect when you just want to crack out the miles—and makes the SP noticeably more comfortable during a long day in the saddle.

More precision and versatility have been added to the MT-10 SP. (Peter Callister/)The new Gen 2 setup adds precision and versatility to the MT, though to be critical, the MT-10 SP’s claimed 476-pound wet weight is still noticeable on fast direction changes, particularly on track. It is not as flickable as BMW’s S 1000 R, for example, but that extra weight brings with it reassurance and stability;*larger and taller riders, especially, enjoy the muscular feel of the MT-10.

Stopping power, a relative weakness of the old bike, has been improved with a Brembo radial master cylinder and, on the SP, upgraded braided brake lines. The Yamaha four-piston calipers up front remain the same as the previous bike’s but like the standard MT cornering ABS now comes as standard.

Despite the upgrade, the base MT’s stoppers were still slightly dull and uninspiring when that bike was tested earlier in the year, but the SP stoppers were sharper on both road and track. This might be down to the braided lines or maybe the pads had been bedded in differently. Meanwhile, despite best attempts at provocation, there was no indication of fade on track while the ABS wasn’t too intrusive.

The introduction of a six-axis IMU on both 2022 MT-10 models has made the electronics lean-sensitive. There are four riding modes available but, for most riders, Mode B is the optimum setting given that throttle response in Mode A is a little too sharp, while C and D are more suited for town or slippery conditions, especially for inexperienced riders.

A six-axis IMU gives the MT-10 SP lean-sensitive traction control and ABS. (Peter Callister/)The list of rider aids available is extensive;*there’s even engine-brake management. But their operation isn’t as intuitive as it could be. The navigation wheel is mounted on the right bar, which isn’t ideal, and some adjustments can’t be performed on the fly, same as the standard MT-10 and R1.

As mentioned, the jewel in the MT’s crown, that crossplane engine, is the same as the standard MT-10, which is a positive. Yamaha claims the engine is 15 percent more efficient than before, with a quoted 41.4 mpg.

This has been achieved through new fueling. The throttle is no longer directly linked, there’s a new intake and airbox configuration and a new exhaust, some of which has been changed for Euro 5 compliance. The exhaust, for example, now has four catalytic converters; to compensate for the weight the header pipes are titanium.

Our bike averaged 37.3 mpg on the test, including some hard riding on the Isle of Man and a trackday. It’s easy to assume that normal riding would deliver Yamaha’s claim of 41 mpg. Irritatingly, the digital fuel gauge reports that the tank is fully fueled for ages and then, suddenly, drops dramatically, just like gauges did in the good old days.

During our testing the MT-10 SP showed versatility, being usable in various conditions on the street as well as the track. (Peter Callister/)The motor is incredibly versatile. Around town, the fueling is soft and friendly, especially if settings are used to soften the power. Then away from town, there’s low-down grunt and a lovely spread of midrange from 4,000 rpm to 8,000 rpm. On track or on the unrestricted roads as on the Isle of Man, you can really let it sing, and 164 hp is more than enough.

Like many, I have always loved the distinctive sound of the CP4, and for 2022 Yamaha has amplified its rasping growl with a new induction system. Those air scoops on top of the fuel tank are not just for show; they’re new acoustic sound grills in the tank designed to direct the intake noise to the rider.

Now riders can almost feel the induction noise as you open the throttle. At higher revs the howling exhaust takes over, giving the Yamaha a character that no other Japanese bike can match.

There’s much to like about the MT-10, and the SP adds a shot of quality to an already excellent bike and gives the MT-10 even more versatility. The new Gen 2 Öhlins suspension modes mean the SP can be a composed track bike, complete with great feel from the tires, on one day; a compliant but sporty road bike the next; and a relaxed mile-eater the next, with a ride quality to match that of many dedicated tourers. It’s an impressive system which adds to an already desirable all-round and charismatic road bike.

Yamaha’s up-spec MT-10 SP carries a $2,900 premium over the base model. (Peter Callister/)The only problem is it’s going to cost you an extra $2,900. It’s a quality system, and for the few who choose to fork out the extra cash, it’s worth it.

2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP Specs

MSRP:$16,899Engine:DOHC, liquid-cooled inline-four; 16 valvesDisplacement:998ccBore x Stroke:79.0 x 50.9mmCompression Ratio:12.0:1Claimed Horsepower:164 hp @ 11,500 rpmClaimed Horsepower:82.6 lb.-ft. @ 9,000 rpmTransmission/Final Drive:6-speed/chainFuel System:Electronic fuel injection w/ YCC-TClutch:Wet, multiplate w/ assist and slipper functionsEngine Management/Ignition:ElectronicFrame:Aluminum DeltaboxFront Suspension:43mm Öhlins Gen 2 electronic suspension, fully adjustable; 4.7 in. travelRear Suspension:Öhlins Gen 2 electronic suspension, fully adjustable; 4.7 in. travelFront Brake:Radial-mount 4-piston calipers, dual 320mm hydraulic discs, Brembo master cylinder, w/ ABSRear Brake:2-piston caliper, 220mm hydraulic disc, w/ ABSWheels, Front/Rear:5-spoke cast-aluminumTires, Front/Rear:Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22; 120/70-17 / 190/55-17Rake/Trail:24.0°/4.0 in.Wheelbase:55.3 in.Ground Clearance:5.3 in.Seat Height:32.9 in.Fuel Capacity:4.5 gal.Average MPG:37.3 mpgClaimed Wet Weight:476
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