Yamaha’s MT line of naked sportbikes—the MT-07, MT-09 and MT-10—have earned heaps of praise from Rider staffers since the MT-09 (formerly FZ-09) debuted for 2014. MT stands for “Master of Torque,” and with all three models powered by feisty engines with crossplane-style crankshafts, they live up to the name.
For 2020, Yamaha is adding a new model to its Hyper Naked family, the MT-03. Although it has the same aggressive, mass-forward styling as the larger MTs, the MT-03 does not have a crossplane-style crankshaft. Essentially a naked version of the YZF-R3 sportbike, the MT-03 is powered by the same smooth, counterbalanced, liquid-cooled 321cc parallel twin with a 180-degree firing order, whereas the MT-07’s parallel twin has an uneven 270-degree firing order that gives it a scrappy character.
Inside the MT-03’s engine cases are carburized connecting rods, lightweight, heat-resistant forged pistons and all-aluminum DiASil cylinders that provide excellent heat dissipation. The fuel-injected, DOHC, 4-valves-per-cylinder engine has a 11.2:1 compression ratio, a 6-speed transmission with a wet clutch and chain final drive.
The MT-03’s most distinctive feature is its position lights, a pair of thin, angled LED “eyebrows” where headlights would normally be. Instead, the main headlight is an inconspicuous round LED tucked into the center of the small front cowl. Further adding to the minimalist design are thin LED turn signals.
Connected to the diamond-type tubular-steel frame are a non-adjustable KYB 37mm upside-down fork and a long swingarm with a preload-adjustable Monocross rear shock. There’s 5.1/4.9 inches of front/rear suspension travel, and steering geometry is sporty with 25 degrees of rake and 3.7 inches of trail. Rolling on 17-inch wheels, the MT-03 has a single disc brake front and rear, and ABS is standard. Said to weigh just 373 pounds with its 3.7-gallon tank full, the compact bike has a 54.3-inch wheelbase and a 30.7-inch seat height.
The 2020 Yamaha MT-03 will be available in Ice Fluo and Matte Raven Black for $4,599 starting in February 2020.