Listen and learn.
The MT-09 was an immediate attention-getter when it burst onto the scene in 2014. The middleweight naked didn’t turn heads with its looks, however, it did so with its sound. Thanks to its crossplane crankshaft, the 12-valve inline-three powerplant delivered a throaty exhaust note that sent moto enthusiasts into a frenzy. Nowadays, it's hard to find a modern parallel-twin without a 270-degree crankshaft, due in part to the success of the MT-09 and its smaller sibling MT-07.
From Honda’s updated Africa Twin to Aprilia’s all-new RS660, the 270 crank is a common fixture in today’s road-legal market. While Yamaha certainly kickstarted the trend, they realize that there’s always room for improvement and that’s exactly what they set out to do with the 2021 MT-09.
Of course, during the MT-09's officially unveiling, the bLU cRU talked up the increased 890cc capacity, revised chassis, and the polarizing new headlight design. Though the cyclopic LED cluster hogged all the shine, many assumed that Euro 5-compliancy would render the engine quieter if not a bit more docile. Fortunately, the Yamaha engineers exercised some forethought and made some internal changes to retain and improve that husky sound quality we love so much.
By trimming the thickness of the gear teeth, the Iwata factory reduced engine noise to further highlight the lovely baritone note at low revs. At the other end of the spectrum, Team Blue reworked the intake ports to increase noise at high rpm, increasing the sensation of acceleration. All of those qualities come together with the new muffler design that helps deliver the full experience back to the rider.
Do we suspect that Yamaha is playing up the impact of these minor changes? A wee bit. Does that make us any less excited to hear the new MT-09 in person? No way. Beyond the corpspeak and polished marketing, the CP3 engine is still a hoot to handle and we wouldn’t be surprised if it's just as much of a head-turner in this 270 crank-saturated market as it was in 2014.