Some rides are tougher than others. Typically we search out the problem, and typically the problem finds us. It was slightly of each when I discovered myself stopped on the aspect of the street, attempting to remain upright on a Yamaha MT-10 whereas being battered by 60-mph winds and sandblasted by a mud storm.
It was Valentine’s Day, and I used to be headed for Las Vegas to attend the AIMExpo seller present whereas a winter storm was sending a freight practice of frigid air down from the Sierra Nevada mountains. South of me on Interstate 15 within the Mojave Desert, tractor-trailers had been being overturned by the wind. I had prevented that route as a result of I’ve ridden it 1,000,000 occasions and discover it boring, so I used to be taking an extended, extra scenic trip alongside a part of the Jap Sierra Scenic Byway (U.S. Route 395) and thru Demise Valley.
Associated: 2023 AIMExpo Highlights
Whereas I anticipated it to be a chilly, windy day – and was warmly cocooned in my Zerofit HeatRub baselayers, Gerbing’s 12V heated jacket liner and gloves, and traffic-cone-orange Aerostich R-3 go well with – I didn’t anticipate it could be fairly this dangerous. My arms and neck had been sore from leaning into the wind for the previous couple of hours, and issues went from dangerous to worse after I crammed up in Olancha and turned east on California Route 190 throughout the Owens Valley. The snowcapped Sierras had been partly obscured by dusty haze, and shortly I grew to become engulfed in a beige cloud and bought blitzed by stinging sand.
After a number of gusts practically knocked me off the street, I slowed approach down and turned on my hazard flashers. At one level, I ended on the aspect of the street to get my bearings close to the Olancha Dunes OHV space, with my legs splayed like outriggers and my toes planted firmly on the bottom. I didn’t dare get off the bike or it could have toppled over, however I managed to dig my cellphone out of my pocket to seize a video of the blasting sand beginning to cowl the street and slamming into me and the bike like hundreds of thousands of miniature BBs.
When you’re in it, you’re in it. You possibly can both wait it out or proceed with warning.
Sport-Touring on the 2023 Yamaha MT-10
In calmer days final fall, I traveled to North Carolina to attend the press launch for the Yamaha MT-10, a unadorned sportbike based mostly on the YZF-R1 that was up to date with engine refinements, R1-sourced electronics, new styling, and revised ergonomics.
The MT-10’s suck-squeeze-bang-blow comes courtesy of a 998cc inline-4 with a crossplane crankshaft that produces sound and really feel like a V-4, and its aural symphony is amplified by acoustic sound grilles atop the air intakes on both aspect of the tank.
Associated: 2023 Yamaha MT-10 SP | First Experience Overview
On the launch, we rode inventory MT-10s within the Cyan Storm colorway, which has a mixture of gloss black and grey bodywork with brilliant blue wheels. One of many Yamaha guys rode a Matte Raven MT-10 fitted with manufacturing unit equipment: Windscreen ($249.99), GYTR Body Sliders ($209.99), Consolation Seat ($299.99), Rear Rack/Prime Case Mount ($250.99), 39L Prime Case ($241.99), and Common Mount ($24.99). After the launch, Yamaha agreed to allow us to borrow the accessorized bike for an prolonged check.
The very first thing we did was take the MT-10 right down to Jett Tuning for a dyno run. Measured the place the rubber meets the street, the MT-10’s quartet of 249.5cc cylinders happy out 138.5 hp at 10,200 rpm and 76.5 lb-ft of torque at 9,000 rpm. Sure, that’ll do properly.
Then we flogged it round city and up and down the canyon roads that make Southern California such a land of milk and honey for motorcyclists. The steadiness and smoothness of an inline-4 is at all times a delight, however the MT-10’s explicit mix of herbs and spices is really mouth-watering. Twist the throttle exhausting, and the bike leaps ahead, emits a joyful noise, and flashes an amber gentle because the wheelie management retains the entrance wheel near the bottom.
Have Trunk, Will Journey
Flash ahead to my journey in February. The temperatures had been within the 40s all morning, and after making it by means of the mud storm and climbing out of the Owens Valley, it dropped into the 30s by the point I ended for a photograph in entrance of the Demise Valley Nationwide Park signal. It was a Tuesday, and there have been few vehicles on the street – simply the best way I prefer it.
Irrespective of what number of occasions I go to Demise Valley, I by no means get bored with it. Overlaying practically 5,271 sq. miles, you could possibly match Rhode Island and Delaware inside its borders and nonetheless have 1,237 sq. miles left over. It’s a spot of extremes, contrasts, and wonders. And with practically 1,000 miles of paved and unpaved roads starting from tame to intense, it’s a two-wheeled playground.
I savored the lengthy, winding descent into Panamint Valley, loved the sweeping curves as much as 4,956-foot Towne Cross, and cruised the 17 miles again right down to sea stage at Stovepipe Wells in Demise Valley. After passing Mesquite Dunes, I used to be engulfed in one other mud storm close to the Satan’s Cornfield, the place clumps of arrowweed resemble corn stalks. Despite the fact that wind was battering me, mud was obscuring the wide-open views that make Demise Valley such a singular place, and hours of being chilly had been starting to take their toll, it felt good to be a whole bunch of miles away from my desk.
The windscreen supplied extra safety than the MT-10’s inventory flyscreen however not by a lot. The consolation seat, nevertheless, was an enormous enchancment over the inventory seat. It has a flatter form, extra supportive foam, and a suede-like end. The highest case supplies 39 liters of lockable storage, and I used it as a strong anchor level for my Nelson-Rigg Hurricane 2.0 Waterproof Backpack/Tail Pack that sat on the passenger seat. For individuals who need extra storage, Yamaha sells a 50L Prime Case ($298.99), Aspect Case Brackets ($249.99), and MT Mushy ABS Aspect Instances ($484.99).
By the point I made it to Las Vegas, the MT-10 not seemed Matte Raven however a lightweight grey as a result of it was so powdered with mud and grit. In my resort room, I poured handfuls of sand out of the pockets of my Aerostich go well with.
Chilly and Flat
As I wrote about in First Gear final month, it wasn’t simply me at AIMExpo. Our dispersed editorial workforce additionally got here collectively in Las Vegas, and we loved a gaggle trip to Hoover Dam and Valley of Hearth State Park. Within the resort parking storage after the trip, my colleague Kevin Duke identified the middle of the MT-10’s rear tire was getting skinny on tread. Admittedly, of the two,000 miles on the bike’s odometer, most of them had been ridden with little to no lean angle, however I figured the tire had sufficient life left to get me dwelling.
From Vegas, I rode north on I-15 to St. George, Utah, the place I spent the weekend with my father and stepmother. Desirous to keep away from the interstate for the lengthy trip dwelling, Dad helped me plot out a route west by means of the sparsely inhabited inside of Nevada.
On Presidents Day, I suited up, plugged in my heated attire, and set off north from St. George on State Route 18, which passes by Snow Canyon on its approach to Enterprise. Daybreak was simply breaking, and it was under freezing – and it stayed that approach for the subsequent two hours, principally down within the 20s. My heated gear did its greatest to maintain up; my core was heat, however my palms, even with the heated, insulated gloves turned to the very best setting, had been nonetheless chilly. The accent I most wished the MT-10 had was heated grips (Yamaha doesn’t supply them).
After crossing into Nevada, my enamel chattered as I rode over 6,718-foot Panaca Summit, after which I made a short cease at Cathedral Gorge State Park, which has partitions of eroded bentonite clay that appear to be intricate sandcastles. Persevering with southwest on U.S. Route 93, I went from chilly to colder over 6,243-foot Oak Springs Summit. At Crystal Springs, I turned onto Nevada Route 375, often called the Extraterrestrial Freeway as a result of it passes close to Space 51, the notorious secret authorities facility the place there have been experiences of UFO sightings.
Nevada is thought for its “basin and vary” topography, with abrupt modifications in elevation as you journey over steep mountains and throughout large, flat valleys. I handed over two extra of Nevada’s summits – Hancock and Coyote, each round 5,500 toes – earlier than reaching the rundown city of Rachel, dwelling to the Little A’le’inn bar/restaurant/motel, the Alien Cowpoke fuel station, and scattered cell properties.
Aside from a number of overpriced souvenirs, Rachel didn’t have a lot to supply. Route 375 passes by means of huge vacancy, however there was no proof of Space 51 or something otherworldly.
My dogleg westward route ultimately introduced me to the previous mining city of Tonopah for fuel. I entered California by means of Nevada Route 266, which took me over 7,420-foot Lida Summit, the very best move of the day.
After crossing the state line, I ended at a ranch that straddles each side of California Route 168. Almost 15 years in the past, on a moonless night time at that very spot, I crashed a Ducati GT1000. I had no enterprise using by means of an open vary space after darkish, however I had left dwelling late and was on my approach to meet my father on the Bonneville Salt Flats. I all of the sudden stumbled on a herd of black cows on the street, grabbed a handful of brake lever, locked up the entrance wheel, and went down.
All issues thought-about, I used to be fortunate. It may have been a lot worse that night time. My attire was thrashed, however I wasn’t damage and the bike was rideable. The Swiss Military knife that I carry in my pocket to today nonetheless bears scratch marks from sliding alongside the pavement throughout that crash. Had I not stopped this time round to protect the reminiscence with a photograph, I wouldn’t have observed that the MT-10’s rear tire, with simply 2,600 miles on it, was worn right down to the cords. Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tires are marvelously grippy, however they’re not a lot for longevity.
I rode slowly and gingerly for the subsequent 50 miles, which, regrettably, additionally occurred to be the curviest part of my whole journey. I made it over 6,373-foot Gilbert Cross and seven,271-foot Westgard Cross on my approach to Huge Pine, a small city that sits within the shadow of the Sierras on U.S. 395. I used to be secure and sound, however I used to be 250 miles from dwelling.
Unwilling to danger a catastrophic blowout, I bought a motel room and hunkered down. The subsequent day, my expensive spouse drove as much as Huge Pine in our 4Runner with a bike trailer and rescued me. It’s not how I needed the journey to finish, however as soon as once more, it may have been a lot worse. Possibly my guardian angel lives at that ranch out on Route 168.
How a couple of Tracer 10 GT?
The MT-10’s efficiency, dealing with, and ergonomics make it an incredible streetbike, and with some equipment, it makes for a really sporty sport-tourer. The truth is, we’d like to see a Tracer 10 GT model with a good taller windscreen, a decrease fairing, heated grips, wind-blocking handguards, exhausting saddlebags, and higher-mileage sport-touring tires. Hey Yamaha, whaddaya assume?
2023 Yamaha MT-10 Specs
- Base Value: $14,199
- Value as Examined: $15,477
- Web site: YamahaMotorsports.com
- Engine Kind: Liquid-cooled, transverse inline-4, DOHC w/ 4 valves per cyl.
- Displacement: 998cc
- Bore x Stroke: 79.0 x 50.9mm
- Horsepower: 138.5 hp at 10,200 rpm (rear-wheel dyno)
- Torque: 76.5 lb-ft at 9,000 rpm (rear-wheel dyno)
- Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated slip/help moist clutch
- Closing Drive: Chain
- Wheelbase: 55.3 in.
- Rake/Path: 24 levels/4.0 in.
- Seat Peak: 32.9 in.
- Moist Weight: 467 lb
- Gas Capability: 4.5 gal.
- Gas Consumption: 36 mpg