Yamaha’s MT-10 has never been a paragon of subtlety. Those searching for proof need look no further than the googly-eyed headlamps. If that avant-garde façade isn’t enough evidence, the MT’s wheelie-happy nature is the smoking gun. Those rebellious ways have saddled Team Blue’s hyper naked with a hooligan's reputation since its 2016 debut. We all have to grow up at some point, though, and 2022 presented the perfect opportunity for an attitude adjustment.

Euro 5 emissions standards provided the primary motivation, but Yamaha didn’t restrict those reformative efforts to the model's CP4 (Crossplane inline-four) engine. The Iwata factory also revisited the raucous roadster's tech, styling, and chassis to complete the MT’s metamorphosis. The mightiest Master of Torque may hail from the Dark Side of Japan, but in 2022 form, it carries a slight uptown air.

Those refinements should attract even more riders to the bLU cRU’s ranks, but could that image overhaul abandon the current customer base? Can the hair-raising hyper naked reconcile its checkered past with its polished present? To find out, we wound the 2022 Yamaha MT-10 through the sleepy streets of Asheville, North Carolina, and the endless curves of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Without giving too much away, the MT didn’t disappoint.

A Rip-Roaring Good Time

2022 Yamaha MT-10 - Engine

Starting with the YZF-R1's vaunted 998cc inline-four, Iwata engineers altered the peaky powerplant for life on the mean streets. Choice changes to the crankshaft, AC generator, and conrods increased the mill’s inertial mass, optimizing torque between 4,000-8,000 rpm. European emissions restrictions forced Yamaha to pull double duty in 2022 as well, differentiating the four-banger not only from the R1 but also from MT-10s of the past. 

The exhaust chamber now boasts two additional catalyzers, bringing the total to a whopping four. That congested catalytic converter helps the MT achieve Euro 5 compliance, even if it robs the CP4 of its patented growl. The sotto voce exhaust note doesn’t brave it alone, though. Instead, Yamaha supplements the tailpipe's whine and wheeze with a reworked intake system featuring three air ducts and new acoustic grilles.

2022 Yamaha MT-10 - Exhaust
2022 Yamaha MT-10 - Intake System

Unlike the MT-10s of old, the 2022 model’s side scoops act as functional passages instead of decorative accouterments. They both open the MT’s airways and divert intake noise directly at the rider. Admittedly, I wrote off the tank-mounted grilles as a gimmick upon first sight, but the liter bike almost exclusively relies on the induction grunt for its soundtrack. The timbre is more of a bellow than a roar, and the clever contraption amplifies that grumble to satisfy both strict noise emissions and sound snobs.

At a leisurely pace, the grilles produce a negligible hum. Though, all it takes is a terse tug on the throttle to send the MT-10 howling down the road like a baritone banshee. The effect returns the best results above the 7,000-rpm mark, building in intensity as the tach bar approaches the 11,750-rpm redline. Customers chasing a throatier exhaust tone can always turn to Yamaha’s accessories catalog or aftermarket options. However, the new grilles will fulfill the auditory appetites of most buyers.

Gallery: 2022 Yamaha MT-10

Regulations forced Yamaha to reduce the CP4’s carbon footprint, but along the way, the firm voluntarily cleaned up the MT-10's power delivery. Snatchy throttle action plagued the platform in the past, yielding an on-off throttle response at initial pickup. The departing MT-10 often bucked and reared like an unbusted bronco, with the resulting stutter step growing more burdensome as the lean angles deepened.

Armed with a 42-tooth rear sprocket (down from 43T) and a new accelerator position sensor, the incoming MT now bolts ahead with the speed and discipline of a quarter horse—even when banked over in a turn. That newfound agreeability doesn’t make the hyper naked any less engaging. Pinning the throttle still sends your eyebrows shooting toward your hairline. The drivetrain updates simply steady that jolty first step, making the liter bike that much more manageable.

Electric Glow Up

2022 Yamaha MT-10 - TFT Dash

The MT-10's electronic interface used to occupy a budget-conscious corner in the tech-rich hyper naked segment. With just three ride modes and three traction control settings, market standards all but forced Yamaha to elevate the model's digital UX in 2022. Owing its new electronic ecosystem to R1-infused tech, the MT’s maturation is more a result of osmosis than outright innovation.

A modern six-axis IMU improves both safety and performance by governing the platform’s first lean-sensitive traction control and cornering ABS systems. With the new LIFt (wheelie) control and slide control, the naughty naked upholds its hooligan demeanor without sending the rider ass over teakettle. Cruise control lightens the load on the open road, and a new Variable Speed Limiter helps riders outwit pesky speed traps en route. When it’s time to slow the MT’s roll, the two-setting Engine Brake Management System and updated bi-directional quickshifter put the rider in complete control.

As press introductions go, we maintained a spirited yet sensible pace while snaking through Appalachia’s serpentine backroads. For that reason, the lean-sensitive ABS, traction, and slide functions never intervened during our 160-mile ride. The advanced safety nets provided peace of mind nonetheless. On our short Interstate runs, the new speed limiter and cruise control kept our right wrists rested and out of cuffs. Yet, the refreshed quickshifter and ride modes proved the most valuable additions throughout the day.

2022 Yamaha MT-10 - Tracking

Yamaha previously limited the MT’s quickshifter to clutchless upshifts. To make matters worse, the transmission practically leapt into higher gears under light acceleration, returning abrupt, notchy progressions. The revised unit not only unlocks downshifts but also smooths out engagement for slick yet stable transitions. From blasting down the highway to moseying up the parkway, the sophisticated system accommodates all riding styles and speeds.

Similar to the 2021 MT-09 and 2022 XSR900, Team Blue bids adieu to its old three-setting ride mode system (A, B, and C) in favor of four fine-tuned settings (1, 2, 3, and 4). The first three options all arrive at the MT’s maximum output of 164 horsepower (at 11,500 rpm) and 82.6 lb-ft of torque (at 9,000 rpm); they just take different routes to get there, with throttle response softening as numerical order ascends. When the forecast calls for precipitation, the fourth mode limits both power and acceleration to preserve purchase.

Yamaha not only overhauls the MT-10's ride modes but pre-programs the new Ride Control system to showcase each setting. All four Ride Control modes (A, B, C, and D) remain fully customizable, with multi-level traction control, ABS, slide control, engine braking, wheelie control, and ride modes accommodating personal preferences and contrasting circumstances. When stationary, riders can effortlessly explore the settings through the new, full-color, 4.2-inch TFT display, but at speed, navigation is anything but straightforward.

2022 Yamaha MT-10 - Switchgear, Left
2022 Yamaha MT-10 - Switchgear, Right

Out of an abundance of caution, the R1-inspired interface forces users to cut the throttle before adjusting any electronic parameters while in motion. Unfortunately, that restriction renders the rider a sitting duck in traffic. Separate-function navigation buttons only elongate those coasting intervals. To change a single setting, users must first shuffle to the desired category with a switch at the left handgrip. Next, the rider has to scroll through the available options with separate up/down buttons—remaining off the gas all the while.

Many of the MT-10's competitors minimize these off-throttle periods by allowing users to adjust settings at any time; only accepting the changes when drive momentarily drops. Yamaha’s approach may limit electronic distractions in the name of safety, but those constraints inadvertently contribute to other dangerous situations. Yes, the MT-10 pulls off a technological quantum leap in 2022, but Yamaha still has room to improve the electronics with future iterations.

Same, Same but Different

The MT-10 has never needed help in the handling department. And, why would it, with a YZF-R1's aluminum Deltabox frame and box-construction aluminum swingarm suspended by a fully-adjustable KYB 43mm, USD front end and rear shock? The hyper naked boogies through the bends with the utmost fluidity, and new Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tires keep the MT on its toes, rain or shine.

2022 Yamaha MT-10 - Turn, Left

As expected, the nimble naked made easy work of the Blue Ridge Parkway’s gentle curves, allowing us to take in the verdant scenery on occasion. It’s when faced with the blind corners and decreasing-radius turns of State Route 215 and 281 that the top-tier torque master dispelled all assumptions. Sure, the MT-10 packs on four pounds in 2022, but its fleet feet betray its 467-pound curb weight and liter-sized mill.

If there are any nits to pick with the ultra-capable chassis, it lies in the new Brembo front master cylinder. The upgraded braking component still outperforms the outgoing axial-mounted unit, but limited lever travel and vague feedback return a surprisingly wooden feel. In a straight line, the clamping force sheds enough speed to set a line through any corner. Sadly, the lack of trail-braking finesse doesn't quite live up to the Brembo badge.

On the Face of It

2022 Yamaha MT-10 - Headlights

Yamaha’s MT-10 has never shied away from a good time. Like a friend that lures you out to party on a weeknight, the riotous roadster relentlessly goads riders into questionable behavior. That reputation precedes the MT, but Team Blue addresses its character flaws without diluting its characterful nature. From its cutting-edge tech to its dialed intake and exhaust system, the revamped package marks a new chapter in the MT-10's tale.

As ever, riders will flock to Yamaha’s flagship naked for the punchy CP4 engine and leering LED headlights. The 2022 model doesn’t exactly shed those hooligan tendencies, it just accompanies them with other redeeming qualities. At the nexus of aggressive and agreeable, between raw and refined, the MT-10 stakes a new claim in the hyper naked landscape—and it does so with a newfound subtlety.

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