I was luckily enough to be invited along to Yamaha's annual dealer experience day. This is a 9 hour action-packed day providing the opportunity to ride Yamaha's 2016 fleet, from the N-max to the V-max. It's a combination of road riding, track riding and even an off road section (which I didn't do). A few seminars are thrown in too so you get clued up on things such as parts & accessories and finance.
Early start. Arrived at work for 6.30am to meet up with my colleague on an MT07, we fired up the bikes and were ready to go. I borrowed work's MT09 Tracer demo for the day (didn't want my Suzuki to go upsetting any Yamaha guys). We set off en route to Silverstone circuit, around 60-70 miles away from us.
|I borrowed the MT09 Tracer for the trip to Silverstone and back. Great bike.|
I have ridden the Tracer before and I know that I already love it but it really made the M42 much less dull than it usually is. You sit up nice and high with fantastic vision. Ergonomics are brilliant, everything falls into place perfectly with no aching wrists or lower back. The engine revs right up through gears with plenty of three cylinder power and it has three power modes (A, STD and B mode). I had it in standard mode on the motorway as it makes the throttle much less snatchy and everything feels more relaxed. 'A' mode is great when you're out for a proper blast around some nice, twisty roads where you want to be getting the power on nice and fast, but can be irritating on motorway slogs and in traffic. The bike handles nicely even though at times the front end can feel a little flighty under hard acceleration. Brakes are great too. I would go into further detail but that's a review for another day. All in all, a great bike.
|Stowe circuit inside Silverstone|
Naturally, as the demos were released only about a week before, they had 8 MT-10s to choose from as well bikes such as the R1, R6, Mt09, Mt07 motocage, XSR 900 and a Tracer. Everyone jumped straight for the MT10 or R1s (as you'd expect) so for the first session I took out an MT09 as there were a few available.
|Waiting for my first track session. So nervous.|
It's been a couple of years since my trackday so I was a little nervous jumping on somebody else's bike and cranking it round a track. We did a few warm up laps so we could all get used to the track (it wasn't the full Silverstone circuit, it was the Stowe circuit in the centre (pictured above). It was a left hand circuit which was pretty lucky as I'm usually a bit better around left handers (I have no idea why, must be psychological) it was also a pretty small circuit so it was rare that you ever went above 4th gear.
After a few laps under my belt I began to see what the MT09 could do. I've never rode one before but I've got to say - I was extremely impressed. The bike is pure minimal and is pretty much just a set of big, wide bars and a fat tank. It handles so well and feels really light and flickable, dropping it into corners was so fun and you always had that 113bhp triple to power you out. I found myself leaning all of my weight onto the bars to stop the front wheel coming up though. After pinning it out of the hairpin in second gear the front end kept lifting and sometimes even at really high revs in third too. It would be great wheelie machine (although I don't do wheelies). The only problem that I found was that the rear shock was like a pogo stick at times. This wasn't always an issue but one of the left-hand corners that was on a bit of a slope really tested your suspension and I could feel the back bouncing around a bit.
|MT09 on the hairpin. Very impressed.|
|Quick briefing before the first road session. I'm on the far left, about to jump on the MT-10|
|You can almost see the torque bursting out.|
We stopped for lunch, watched a crazy stunt show based around the MT range and were then introduced to John Hopkins, BSB Yamaha rider which was brilliant. He even came out with us on the next track session. For this one I bagged myself an R1. Now, I've never rode a proper litre sportsbike EVER. So obviously I was shitting my pants as I clambered on the thing. The seat was so tall as to what I was expecting and when my feet were on the pegs I felt like my knees were slotted into my armpits. The whole dimensions of the bike were very similar to a 250; they are miniature - my SV looks a lot bigger than one of these. It is a very focused, nimble and agile sportsbike.
|John Hopkins, BSB rider, just behind me on an FJR1300. Of course, he left me for dead shortly after.|
|Coming out of the hairpin on the last session. John Hopkins behind me again.|
We had a few more sessions where I ended up taking out the MT09 again, as the XSR900 and R6 were no longer available. Also for our final road session I took out the XV950 which was something new to try. Quite heavy and slow but hey - it's a cruiser, that's what they should be. It looks cool and offers you the whole Harley thing without you having to 'be' the whole Harley thing. I must've looked odd on it in my RST leathers with scuffed knee sliders though.
All in all, it was a brilliant day and a great experience. I don't think I've ever ridden so many bikes in one day before (or rode so fast). Thank you Yamaha!