I don't know why I'm enjoying this so much. Yamaha's planned route for its new 2008 Yamaha MT-03 includes one of Europe's best roads, a ribbon of tarmac that hugs the spectacular Costa Brava of Northeastern Spain. As tourist in this South European country, I can't find a thing; it is because I've gotten lost.
On another bike I'd be going mad with frustration. But the Yamaha MT-03 rental bike is so maneuverable and zips through city streets so sweetly; I'm having a good time just blatting around town. The famous Road of 320 Bends did live up to its reputation when I finally found it. Even so, I ended the day as impressed by the bike's usefulness in town as I was by its cornering ability.
This ability to make the best of a dull road is one of the attributes the Yamaha MT-03 shares with the Yamaha MT-01, its predecessor in Yamaha Torque Sport family. Along with those matching initials, the two share a design brief that rates style and character as important as performance. Yamaha says the Torque Sport label covers both models in opposing ways: While the Yamaha MT-01 is all about torque, the Yamaha MT-03 focuses on sport, most notable in the agile handling delivered by its simple but effective chassis. With only 45 horsepower produced by its four-valve SOHC, single cylinder liquid-cooled 660cc four-stroke engine, which can also be found on the Yamaha XT660, and at a claimed 174.5 kilogram dry weight, the Yamaha MT-03 is far from a true sportbike. But it is light and agile enough to feel lively and responsive.
To that end, more than half of the bike's static weight is over its front wheel. The riding position is also purposely well forward, putting the pilot leaning almost over the headlight in order to reach the wide, near-flat handlebar. The seat is low at 80.4cm, which along with the light-action controls will help make life easy for female riders who Yamaha expects to make up a substantial proportion of owners. The bike is surely not a sissy bike. Straight-line speed was never going to be one of the Yamaha MT-03's assets, especially as the engine is not particularly powerful even by single-cylinder standards. It is respectable flexible, though. Overall gearing has been lowered, which helped make the Yamaha MT feel lively away from traffic lights at the expense of a slightly busy feel on the open road.
It is a pity that this bike is not available in Thailand, it light handling and good street performance perfect bike for Thai traffic.