June 1, 2011
Introduced in 2006, Yamaha’s MT-03 features a liquid-cooled 660cc single-cylinder engine that makes close to 50 horsepower. A modern steel frame and chassis features powerful dual front disc brakes and a uniquely mounted rear shock intended to centralize mass in the 390 pound machine (claimed dry weight).
The 17″ aluminum wheels allow the mounting of modern sportbike tires to take advantage of the extremely nimble handling (by all European accounts I have seen) and the powerful brakes. The five speeds offered by the transmission are more than enough given the flat torque curve provided by the big single. The upright, dirt bike-style riding position mates perfectly with the instant thrust and agility, again according to virtually every review of this machine I have read.
A remnant, perhaps, of the old adage among OEMs that “Americans just don’t like singles, and won’t buy them”, the unavailability of the MT-03 here might deserve a second thought from Yamaha. We sense changing tastes, and a shift in interest toward simpler, less expensive motorcycles that offer good gas mileage along with plenty of the fun U.S. motorcyclists expect, whether commuting or play riding.