Is the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP Worth the Upcharge?

With models ranging from sportbikes to the Ténéré 700 adventure bike, Yamaha’s motorcycle lineup has something for everyone. And that includes fans of naked bikes, sporty standard motorcycles with stripped-down styling. Earlier this year it introduced its entry-level naked bike, the MT-03. And now the curtain’s been drawn back over a returning model, the Yamaha MT-09. However, for 2021, it has an additional trim, the MT-09 SP. But is the new SP’s higher cost worth it?

What’s new on the 2021 Yamaha MT-09?

Yamaha originally launched the MT-09 in 2014 under a different name: FZ-09, Cycle World reports. However, the naked bike was only called that in the US; elsewhere, it was called the MT-09, RideApart explains. The name confusion came to end in 2018 when the bike’s name was made ‘MT-09’ worldwide.

The Yamaha MT-09’s last major update came in 2017, Motorcyclist reports, when the bike’s suspension, seat, and electronics were upgraded. The changes for 2021, though, are a bit more extensive, Cycle World reports.

A rear 3/4 view of a gray-and-orange 2021 Yamaha MT-09
2021 Yamaha MT-09 rear 3/4 | Yamaha

The 2021 Yamaha MT-09 has a brand-new aluminum chassis, new aluminum wheels, and overall weighs 8 pounds less than the 2020 model. It also has a slightly shorter wheelbase and more ground clearance, RideApart reports.

A gray-and-orange 2021 Yamaha MT-09 at night
2021 Yamaha MT-09 front 3/4 | Yamaha

The 2021 Yamaha MT-09’s engine is still a three-cylinder, but it’s been enlarged from 847cc to 890cc. Its internal components have also been upgraded, as has its fuel-injection system, intake, and exhaust. As a result, it now makes 117 hp and 69 lb-ft, RideApart reports.

To cope with the extra power, the 2021 MT-09 has a stronger slipper-assist clutch and an upgraded quick-shifter, Motorcyclist reports. The bike also has a fully-adjustable KYB fork and adjustable KYB rear shock. As before, it has Nissin disc brakes with ABS, Rider reports. The naked bike’s adjustable footpegs and handlebar clamps are new, though.

A close-up look at the 2021 Yamaha MT-09's TFT dash
2021 Yamaha MT-09 TFT dash | Yamaha

However, arguably the biggest change for the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 is to its electronics. The naked bike now comes with a 3.5” TFT display, as well as traction control, wheelie control, and slide control. The 2021 MT-09 also sports several driving modes, including a customizable one. Plus, the ABS now adjusts itself based on lean angle.

The 2021 Yamaha MT-09, though, gives the naked bike even more.

How does the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP differ from the standard bike?

This isn’t the first time Yamaha has offered an MT-09 SP, RideApart reports. The ‘SP’ appellation (for ‘Sport Production’) has appeared on several Yamaha bikes in the past, Bennetts reports. And in 2018, it was the MT-09’s turn.

A black-and-blue 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP in a warehouse
2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP | Yamaha

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The 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP has echoes of that 2018 bike, Cycle World reports. First, the rear KYB shock is replaced by a fully-adjustable Ohlins shock. The front fork is still from KYB, but it’s an upgraded unit with additional compression damping capability, RideApart reports. This new fork also has a diamond-like coating so it slides more easily.

The black-blue-and-silver 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP's handlebars and display
2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP handlebar detail | Yamaha

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Besides the suspension, the 2021 Yamaha MT-09 SP gets a unique paint scheme, a stitched seat, and a brushed-finish swingarm. And unlike the standard bike, it has standard cruise control. Though to activate it, the rider must be in at least 4th gear and going at least 31 mph, Bennetts reports.

Is it worth buying over the standard bike?

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The 2021 Yamaha MT-09 starts at $9399, which is $400 more than the 2020 model. The 2021 MT-09 SP, though, starts at $10,999. That extra $1600 represents a 17% premium over the base MT-09. So, is it worth it?

Well, a similar Ohlins rear shock costs $1100 on its own. As for the front fork, just adding the DLC layer can cost $500-$1000, Luxon MX and Teknik Motorsports report. Add in the cruise control and trim-specific color scheme, and the Yamaha MT-09 SP actually looks like a pretty good deal. Plus, the SP is the only 2021 MT-09 to offer cruise control at all.

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