The Yamaha MT-03 can hit 108 mph top speed
Yamaha’s MT-03 has been with us for a while now but actually started out as a motorcycle powered by the 660 cc single cylinder engine donated from the XT660.
That model ran from 2006 to 2014 alongside the MT-01 that was with us from 05 to 14.
Despite the ‘MT’ names these two motorcycles could not be more different and only shared distant DNA via the series name ‘MT’ would suggest.
In 2014 Yamaha reimagined the MT series with the introduction of both the MT-07 and the MT-09.
In 2016 both models were joined by the MT-10 and the new MT-03 which we are performance reviewing.
At least now all new MT range all share at least a few things in common despite having quite different engines and configurations.
They are all naked motorcycles with a focus on attitude and performance under the badge of ‘MT’ which as far as I am aware means ‘Maximum Torque’.
The new Yamaha MT-03 looks just like its bigger sisters in the MT range but has lost half the capacity of its predecessor.
It is now powered by the same 321 cc parallel two-cylinder engine of the Yamaha YZF-R3 though it makes very similar peak power to the model it replaces.
Just like many naked variants of their sportier faired version the Yamaha MT-03 is aimed at a similar rider.
This rider likely wants a little bit more comfort and practicality wrapped in the aggressive naked style language we have become used to with many recent naked motorcycles.
In what is a very crowded entry-level and learner motorcycle segment the MT-03 competes with many naked and faired motorcycles across a wide range of engine sizes.
Yamaha MT-03 Engine performance and dyno
We see the Yamaha MT-03 with the same familiar engine as the YZF-R3.
It’s a compact 321 cc two-cylinder engine making a claimed 42 horsepower at 10,750 rpm and 22 ft/lb of torque at 9000 rpm.
It is a compact and lightweight engine that thrives on revs just ike many other smaller capacity engined motorcycles.
On the dyno, the Yamaha MT-03 produces a very respectable 36 horsepower at 10,400 rpm and 20 ft/lb of torque at 9000 rpm.
These are good numbers though they are a little down on the Yamaha YZF-R3 we tested earlier.
They make the same power of course but conditions on hte day and dyno variation play a role in slightly different rear wheel numbers between the two machines.
Also, the curve is a little less smooth and the throttle a little more snatchy than how I remember the Yamaha YZF-R3.
There are parts of the rpm range where the Yamaha MT-03 makes a little more power and torque than the Yamaha YZF-R3.
I would put this slight difference down to our example running with a slip-on exhaust that has not been set up on a dyno.
Still, the power and torque curve is particularly good, as the Yamaha MT-03 drives well from as little as 3000 rpm.
Yamaha MT-03 in gear acceleraiton
The little dip you see at 3500 rpm is not really felt on the road.
As you drive through 4000 rpm the engine starts to gain in urgency and picks up strongly at 6000 rpm and drives hard to 9000 rpm where we see another momentary dip.
But then picks up again at 10000 rpm and drives nicely until a little over 12000 rpm.
If this Yamaha MT-03 was stock I suspect would see no dips or much less dips. though again it is not really felt that much on the road and it is unlikely if it affects performance.
Despite the curve from the Yamaha MT-03 and the Yamaha YZF-R3 looking slightly different they feel the same on the road from memory.
Like all smaller capacity motorcycles, the Yamaha MT-03 can’t get away from the fact that it has a small engine.
So no matter how well tuned the bike is, if you want to really move you really need to have the rpm’ up in the second half of the tacho.
The Yamaha MT-03 is no different and really thrives above 6000 rpm.
But also has the added advantage of having more peak power once the rpms go above 6000 rpm.
The only engine that has the edge is the 80 cc larger Z400/Ninja 400, but the advantage is not as high as you would think if only looking at the dyno curves.
Also, we could say that the KTM Duke 390 is a little stronger. Here you can see the Ninja 400 vs the YZF-R3
Yamaha MT-03 0-60 mph in 5.11 seconds
With the same engine as the Yamaha YZF-R3, we expect similar real-world performance.
Any deficit would be down to the fact that the Yamaha MT-03 is naked and will of course suffer as the speeds get higher.
Typically, naked versions of sport bikes are de-tuned for low-end and midrange, as well as opting for lower gearing to increase their in-gear acceleration.
This is also dpene perhaps to counteract their poor comparative aerodynamics.
But detuning the engine and making gearing changes is not seen as often with the naked entry-level and learner motorcycles.
They seem to run the same engine spec and gearing as their sportier versions.The same can be said about the Yamaha MT-03.
Launching the Yamaha MT-03 is pretty much the same as launching the Yamaha YZF-R3.
Clutch progression and feel are exactly the same with the Yamaha MT-03.
It has a very nice and light clutch with a distinctive and well-defined biting point that typical of many learner motorcycles
The Yamaha MT-03 is easy to launch with the best results coming from a firm but progressive clutch dump between 8000-9000 rpm.
The key is to get the clutch engaged as quickly as possible but without the rpms dropping below 8000 rpm otherwise.
If you get the clutch engaged too quilkly it will bog down, and you will add a whole second to your 0-60 mph time.
Once engaged you can pretty much take each gear to just a fraction before the redline and shift.
It’s pretty straightforward, though watch out for wheelies in first as it will lift which is a hoot on a learner bike. This will mostly only happen if you are too aggressive with the clutch.
After only a few attemps it was not too hard to get the times down to competitive numbers.
In the end the Yamaha MT-03 did 0-60 mph in 5.11 seconds which is bang on the same as the Yamaha R3.
The 0-100 km/h time for the YamahaMT-03 arrives in 5.41 seconds.
Surprisingly, the Yamaha MT-03 pipped the Yamaha YZF-R3 to the quarter mile with a time of 14.05 and a terminal speed of 92 mph.
It is only after that point the Yamaha YZF-R3 would slowly real in the Yamaha MT-03 with the 0-100 mph time for the MT-03 arriving in 18.82 seconds.
This 00-100mph time iss almost two seconds slower than the Yamaha YZF-R3.
It looks like the Yamaha MT-03’s lack of aero starts to rear its ugly head from 80 mph onward and especially so from 90 plus mph but it does remarkably well considering.
While we do sometimes correct our data for weather and conditions when necessary, there is nothing like running two bikes back-to-back on the same day which is where the Yamaha YZF_R3 would edge the Yamaha MT-03 consistently.
Pf course all other things being equal due to its better aerodynamics.
|Yamaha MT-03 Acceleration|
|Top Speed||108 mph|
Yamaha MT-03 Top speed 108 mph
The Yamaha MT-03 managed a top speed of 108 mph.
Like all naked bikes, there is not much protection from the elements, so this does eat into the available power which in the case of the Yamaha MT-03 is only 36 horsepower.
Top speed on the Yamaha MT-03 can almost be had in fifth if it were not for having a few more rpm so sixth is required where revs barely rose and sat dead on 11000 rpm.
I am sure with some tweaking of my tuck a few more mph could be encouraged and if you are a smaller rider, I bet that you could hit 110-112 mph.
As our Yamaha MT-03 example had an exhaust and probably was not running as well as it could this might have influenced our top speed results to the negative.
If we get our hands on a totally stock bike, we will return to this and update the numbers.
On the road, the engine of the Yamaha MT-03 is genuinely nice and it punches above what its 321 cc would suggest.
Yamaha has done a great job making an engine that has a good spread of power while also making a respectable peak figure and all from only 321 cc.
The Yamaha MT-03 feels like it is a 400 almost.
In most situations, you can use a gear higher than many of its rivals.
And if wanting to overtake at highway speed you only need to drop down one gear to fifth and the Yamaha MT-03 has more than enough to get you past traffic quickly.
Ultimately the Yamaha MT-03 shines much more on slower roads and not big fast open roads.
This is becuase with 36 horsepower, no matter how well it is delivered, it can only offer so much,
So you are often left wanting more power if you are asking for performance above 85 mph, but anything below 85 mph the Yamaha MT-03 offers peppy and fun performance.