Roll on: air surges, injectors spray, electrodes spark. Bang! Kick up. Second gear: scenery blurs, bars buzz, front wheel lifts. Kick up. Third gear: full tuck, shift weight, clench tank. Brake! Pop up, knee out, eyes ahead. Tip-in: trail brakes, tag apex. Roll on, rinse, repeat. This is what it’s like to ride Yamaha’s MT-10.
Jump-cut to Iwata, Japan, where someone at Team Blue headquarters pitched the brilliant idea of pairing that sensory blitzkrieg with electronically-adjustable Öhlins suspension. That flash of genius gave way to the MT-10 SP in 2017. Five years later, Yamaha’s high-tech hypernaked earns more than semi-active sorcery.
Steel-braided front brake lines sharpen the feel at the lever, while the Liquid Metal/Raven color scheme, brushed aluminum swingarm, and black finishes bring the SP closer to its YZF-R1M cousin. A belly pan-inspired, three-piece sub-cowl only strengthens those family ties. Regardless of that distant relative, the SP remains the patriarch of the MT-10 platform, one which gains its own raft of revision in 2022.
Laying the Groundwork
No knowledgeable motorcyclist would confuse Yamaha’s Master of Torque family with conservative design decisions. From the MT-03 to the MT-09, the firm’s hypernaked range makes a fashion statement with one part aggression and one part futurism. The flagship MT-10 is no different. By 2022, however, the model’s Autobot aesthetic grew somewhat stale.
Staying true to the bLU cRU’s edgy “Darkside of Japan” theme, the MT-10 retains its cyberpunk roots but forfeits its googly-eyed headlamps in favor of more sinister stylings. Two LED position lights now furrow over the low and high beams. The result sits at the intersection of extra-terrestrial and insectile. This Martian-meets-mantis motif may not appeal to more conventional consumers, but it’s difficult to object to the MT’s offerings under the surface.
Yamaha peppers the 2022 MT-10's product page with the word “new”. A new intake system here. A new exhaust chamber there. Those altered airways don’t just help the 998cc CP4 (Crossplane inline-four) engine meet Euro 5 regulations but also bump mileage estimated from 30 mpg to 36 mpg. Petrol heads worry not, as those fuel-saving measures don’t sacrifice the four-banger's 164 horsepower (at 11,500 rpm) and 82.6 lb-ft of torque (at 9,000 rpm).
An R1-derived aluminum Deltabox frame still anchors the torque-rich CP4, but new Brembo front (radial) and rear master cylinders elevate the chassis with top-tier braking performance. Bridgestone’s latest Battlax Hypersport S22 tires only complement those additions. Despite all the MT-10's rigid ways, Yamaha doesn’t forego comfort. A stout steel subframe, reshaped saddle, and firmer seat foam accommodate both pilot and passenger.
Gallery: 2022 Yamaha MT-10 SP
Team Blue ties a big bow on the package with an overhauled electronics suite. The R1 lends the MT yet another hand-me-down in the form of an advanced IMU. Whether its traction or braking, lift (wheelie) or slide, the six-axis unit oversees all forms of chassis control. Yet, the rider can still dictate that level of governance through a (yup, you guessed it) new 4.2-inch TFT panel.
For a full breakdown of the base model’s upgrades, check out our 2022 MT-10 First Ride Review. If you’re here for the SP variant, though, we’re just getting to the good part.
Yes, the MT-10 SP stands apart with cosmetics, but make no mistake, the real belle of this ball is the second-generation Öhlins Electronic Racing Suspension (ERS). On the hardware front, titanium-nitride-lined fork tubes smooth front-end actuation, while spool valve dampers fine-tune bump compliance. Of course, the other side of the semi-active equation calls upon the MT-10's souped-up software for guidance.
While the system adapts to conditions based on IMU data, Yamaha puts the power in the user’s hands. Three semi-active options (A1, A2, and A3) expand the SP’s shapeshifting abilities, but the first two come with the same canned settings. Yamaha predisposes A3 to a leisurely pace by removing Corner and Acceleration Support functions. Those baseline parameters enable the user to personalize the separate modes. Fortunately, our friends at Yamaha pre-populated the intuitive adjustments prior to our ride through Malibu, California’s curvy canyon roads.
Within the settings submenu, Brake, Corner, and Acceleration Support cater to changing circumstances and conditions while Front and Rear Firmness rely less on the IMU’s event-based inputs. By maintaining the standard settings, the A2 option favored an even-keeled ride. A1 turned the performance dial up to 11 and A3 prioritized comfort with relaxed Support and Firmness levels.
Cycling through the three semi-active modes puts the Öhlins ERS’s flexibility on full display. In its most aggressive form, the system offers rapid turn-in, apex-homing agility, and phenomenal front-end feedback. On the flip side, the taut chassis doesn’t handle undulating pavement as astutely as it does decreasing-radius hairpins. Tackling such asphalt inconsistencies calls for the plushly-damped A3 mode.
That comfort-oriented option may remain composed when the road gets rough, but the SP also squats under acceleration and dives under heavy braking. To offset the downsides at each end of the suspension spectrum, I frequently reverted to A2. That Goldilocks zone found the middle ground between supple and rigid, between sporty and spongy.
With the benefit of time, owners can fully customize the experience to match their preferences and moods. Unlike the standard compression, rebound, and preload clickers, the system’s submenu presents the suspension settings in simple terms. Does the fork collapse when you brush the binders? Crank up the Braking Support. Looking for more feedback at the back tire? Add extra firmness to the rear end.
That's the beauty of the Öhlins semi-active suspension. There’s no either/or. You can have it all, as long as you’re willing to make the time investment to find the ideal settings. Personally, I would save A1 for track days and recently-paved roads. A3 suits pothole-riddle urban environs while A2’s standard settings answer the call between the margins. For those that prefer the old-school approach, Yamaha even includes three manual modes where users can dial the system’s compression and rebound attributes.
In 2022, Yamaha made it abundantly clear: the MT-10 was out for hypernaked domination. With the SP variant’s R1M styling influences, up-spec braking hardware, and latest-generation Öhlins ERS, this heavyweight plays the undercard to no one. Despite those high-performance aspirations, the up-spec model remains accessible, both to riders and their wallets.
At $17,899, the SP trim adds $2,900 to the base model MT-10's $13,999 sticker price. We’d venture to say that the semi-active suspension alone justifies that markup. Toss in unrivaled electronic control along with classy cosmetics, and the value only swings in the customer's favor. There’s no doubt about it, the lithe literbike harnesses the power and poke to overload the senses, but in SP guise, the MT-10 achieves its ultimate form.