I had the chance, a few weeks ago, to take a Yamaha MT-03 for a quick spin. As far as I know Yamaha has used the engine from the XT 660 and put it in a more modern sci-fi-like chassis. If you’ve read my opinion on the XT 660, you will now that I was thrilled by its high fun factor.
The MT-03 ranges equally high in fun factor and higher in design factor and use possibilities. In fact I can’t really shake the bike from my mind. It’s the best choice of a short range traffic cutting fun package I’ve tried yet. You have the kind of weird (but fun) upright riding position of an off-roader/motard, that gives you good traffic overview. The wide handlebars makes it extremely easy to handle and feel very steady and stable. The sound of the single cylinder 660cc engine is a beauty, and the low range pull is quite nice as well.
I didn’t have the chance to ride with a passenger, but it looks like the passenger seat is on the comfy side compared to that of the XT-660. It has grab rails, so how bad can it be. I recon it will do just fine for some evening show off rides around town with your spouse. I wouldn’t take it for a cross country baggage packed two-up tour. But should I ever need a bike for daily commuting, which also has some spunky street credibility; the MT-03 is very high on the short-list.
If you are a beginner and considering this as your first bike, I’d say go for it. It has just the right amount of power, forgiveness (excellent brakes without being too aggressive) and high potential to keep a big fat grin on your face for years to come.
I’d love to see a Ducati-Multistrada-like 1000cc model of the MT-03. That would make a serious replacement option for my present Honda 919.