2023 Yamaha MT-03: Buyer’s Guide, Pricing And Specs


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The beginner motorcycle market continues to grow year-on-year, and although competition is fierce, the smallest MT still has a lot to offer. Based on the R3, the little MT-03 actually honors the “naked sports bike” mantra more than its more powerful siblings. Even the MT-10 has an entirely different frame from the previous R1, from which it gets its engine.




The ergonomics for the R3 were already pretty good for an entry-level sports bike, and they are even better on the MT-03, offering a comfortable upright riding position and enough legroom to accommodate taller riders. It is an ideal beginner’s bike, and we need to stress the fact that it is a beginner’s bike. Yamaha doesn’t make any bones about that, either. This is their entry-level offering and is designed accordingly, with approachable everything, and not much in the way of performance.

Yam MT-03 24
2023 Yamaha MT-03

Yamaha has a selection of great beginner-bikes, and the MT-03 is their naked bike offering. It has a low seat height, comfortable ergonomics and enough power to be fun without intimidating anyone. 

Model
MT-03

Engine:
321cc DOHC parallel-twin

Torque
22 LB-FT

Transmission
6-speed

Driveline
Chain

MSRP
$4,999

Horsepower
41 HP
Pros
  • Great value
  • Beginner-friendly
Cons
  • Lacks features
  • Muted power delivery
Related
2024 Yamaha MT-07: A Comprehensive Guide On Features, Specs, And Pricing

Even after being around for a decade, the Yamaha MT-07 still delivers impressive value.

What’s New For 2023


As is the case with most budget offerings, changes are sparse throughout the lifespan of a model. The MT-03 remains unchanged from 2020 and will remain unchanged into 2024 too. If you are looking for a feature-rich offering equipped with all the latest and greatest tech, you are barking up the wrong tree. Most manufacturers keep costs and complications to a bare minimum in this segment, and those that offer more also tend to charge more.

Model Highlights

  • Great value
  • KYB front fork
  • LED lighting
  • ABS as standard

2023 Yamaha MT-03 Performance And Capability

2023 Yamaha MT-03 action shot
Yamaha


With 41 horsepower and a light frame, you would expect relatively sprightly performance. Sadly, it doesn’t really deliver in this respect, and unlike most of the competition, it will leave you wanting more.


Ironically, this is down to how the small displacement parallel-twin makes its power. Smaller 180-degree parallel twins like to rev, and as a result the torque comes in pretty late, near the top of the rev range. So it is fair to say it doesn’t really live up to its “Master of Torque” name, but this is in no way a dealbreaker. When it does arrive, it is suitable for the weight and size of the bike. It is also more than enough for a beginner. More experienced riders will find themselves hitting the limiter on occasion, but only on more spirited rides, and that isn’t really what this bike was designed for.

MT-03 Performance Specifications

Displacement

321cc

Engine Type

Parallel-twin

Bore x Stroke

68 x 44.1mm

Max Power

41 hp

Max Torque

22 lb-ft

Fuel System

EFI

Related
New KTM 390 Duke vs Yamaha MT-03 – Battle Of The Sub-400cc Streetfighters

The MT-03 is one of the popular names in the American entry-level naked market. But should it be worried about the new 390 Duke?

Design And Styling


In an effort to stand out from the crowd, the little Yamaha went with a more bold design in 2020. Whether that works or not is up to the individual, but there is no denying the fact that the MT range all look a little like Transformers. It has become a trend for Japanese naked bikes, even the more circumspect Honda updated their CB1000, and the rest of the CB range might just follow suit. The LED lights only serve to emphasize its sharp edges, so it really won’t leave you on the fence.


It really is a love-it-or hate-it kind of design theme. The one aspect of the MT-03’s design that isn’t up for debate is how it feels a lot bigger than it really is. This is down to how big the tank (or shroud, if you will) is. It makes you feel like you are sitting on an MT-07, and this could be intentional. Even though it might feel like a bigger bike, the seat height of under 31 inches means that most riders won’t have much of a problem flat-footing the bike. That, along with its nimble chassis and lightweight, makes it accessible to a wide range of riders.

MT-03 Specifications And Dimensions

Length

82.3 in

Width

29.7 in

Height

42.1 in

Seat Height

30.7 in

Wheelbase

54.3 in

Fuel Capacity

3.7 gal

Weight

373 lbs

Chassis And Handling

2023 Yamaha MT-03 action shot
Yamaha


Yamaha keeps it pretty simple with the chassis, as the MT-03 – just like all the other MTs – gets a steel diamond frame. It is more than good enough for this application, and the short wheelbase means the bike is agile, and will lean into corners with enthusiasm.


Unfortunately, while you will lean into the corners just fine, you will be exiting them with no real punch. The muted power delivery and limited overall power output means you need to really wring its neck to get the most out of it. It is, by nature, a more approachable machine destined for city commutes, not canyon carving.


For that purpose, it works great, and will zip through traffic wonderfully well. It will also inspire confidence in new riders as they learn the basics, and won’t punish them too severely when they make the odd mistake. While the suspension is pretty basic, the front fork is at least from KYB.

MT-03 Chassis And Suspension Specifications

Frame

Steel

Front Suspension Travel

5.1 in

Rear Suspension Travel

4.9 in

Rake

25 degrees

Trail

3.7 in

Front Tire

110/70R17

Rear Tire

140/70R17

Front Brake

298mm disc

Rear Brake

220mm disc

Related
This Is What Makes The 2023 Yamaha MT-03 Special

A beginner-friendly naked bike with just the right amount of performance, the 2023 MT-03 has earned the MT moniker

Price And Availability

2024 MT-03
Yamaha


The entry-level market has a bike for everyone, and if you are willing to part ways with $5,000, there are several good options. Yamaha keeps the quality high and the features low, so you will have to do without things like a TFT dash and a quick-shifter, but you will get trouble-free motoring. They have established themselves as a company that is able to blend performance, affordability, and reliability like no other.

MT-03 Pricing And Features

Features

KYB forks, LED lighting

Warranty

1-year limited warranty

Colors

Cyan Storm, Matte Stealth Black, Team Yamaha Blue

Price

$4,999

Versus The Competition

Every bike in this segment is a compromise of some sort, but if you are sold on Yamaha’s line of naked bikes, then this is a great place to start. You will need to say no to some great-looking retro bikes from Royal Enfield and Triumph. But those bikes are for a particular kind of buyer, the more direct competition comes from team green, and the guys who love making things look more orange.

How The Yamaha MT-03 Compares To The Kawasaki Z400

  • Yam MT-03 24
    2023 Yamaha MT-03

    Yamaha has a selection of great beginner-bikes, and the MT-03 is their naked bike offering. It has a low seat height, comfortable ergonomics and enough power to be fun without intimidating anyone. 

    Model
    MT-03

    Engine:
    321cc DOHC parallel-twin

    Torque
    22 LB-FT

    Transmission
    6-speed

    Driveline
    Chain

    MSRP
    $4,999

    Horsepower
    41 HP
  • White 2023 Kawasaki Z400 cruising through town
    2023 Kawasaki Z400

    Expert Opinion: The Kawi Z400 has a spiky, aggressive look to its body panels to give it an edge all its own. If you are bent on performance-per-dollar within a given engine size, this Kawi deserves a test ride.

    Model
    Z400

    Engine:
    399 cc parallel twin

    Torque
    28 LB-FT @ 8,000 RPM

    Transmission
    6-speed manual

    Driveline
    RWD

    MSRP
    $5,399

    Horsepower
    44.7 HP @ 10,000 RPM


Now, comparing the MT to the Z400 almost seems unfair. Kawasaki has been hugely successful in this segment for good reason. Their 400 platform is desperately hard to beat.


Both this and the fully-faired Ninja are exceptional motorcycles, not just in the segment, but overall. These are bikes with enough get-up-and-go to satisfy experienced riders, yet are predictable enough for beginners to ride. In short, you can buy a Z400 and keep it for the rest of your life if you want to. The Yamaha is purpose-built to leave you wanting more. Yamaha wants you to upgrade to an MT-07 in short order.


What the Yamaha has over the Z400 is price and availability. This is the last year of the Z400 as they will be replacing this model with the Z500, so finding a new one is not a certainty. The Kawasaki also costs $400 more, only the individual buyer will be able to tell if it is worth the money.

Related
10 Things We Like About the Kawasaki Z400

The Kawasaki Z400 is one of the best entry-level naked bikes currently on the market

How The Yamaha MT-03 Compares To The KTM 390 Duke

  • Yam MT-03 24
    2023 Yamaha MT-03

    Yamaha has a selection of great beginner-bikes, and the MT-03 is their naked bike offering. It has a low seat height, comfortable ergonomics and enough power to be fun without intimidating anyone. 

    Model
    MT-03

    Engine:
    321cc DOHC parallel-twin

    Torque
    22 LB-FT

    Transmission
    6-speed

    Driveline
    Chain

    MSRP
    $4,999

    Horsepower
    41 HP
  • 2023 KTM Duke 390
    2023 KTM Duke 390

    KTM brings the fun to the entry level segment with the 390 Duke. This highly strung single has built up a reputation for punching well above its weight and continues to impress both new and experienced riders alike.

    Model
    Duke 390

    Engine:
    373 cc Single-Cylinder

    Torque
    27.2 LB-FT

    Transmission
    6-Speed

    Driveline
    Chain

    MSRP
    $5,899

    Horsepower
    44 HP


The 390 Duke is a different kind of beginner bike that offers more for more. On paper the power output is similar, but being a highly strung single, there is an element of theater to the Duke that you just don’t get with the MT.


Once again, the comparison seems almost unfair, as the Duke has built up a big fan base over the last 10 years and has a reputation for being a lot more than just a beginner’s bike. It has the best chassis in the segment, and also offers heaps of tech to go along with its performance. KTM has also put to bed most of the reliability issues early models experienced, refining the model over the last decade. All this will cost more, almost $1000 more.

Related
KTM 390 Duke – 10 Years Of The Game-Changing Hooligan

The 390 Duke has remained one of the best sub-400cc nakeds money can buy for a decade

Is It Worth Buying A Yamaha MT-03 In 2024?

2024 MT-03
Yamaha


Yes, but the MT-03 is there for a specific buyer. Officially, Yamaha is competing in the segment, but if you are just after a great entry-level naked bike, there are better options.


But, none of those bikes are a Yamaha. Yamaha has an unrivaled dealer network and if you are in the market for your first bike, it is hard to ignore that fact. Most beginners will also already be thinking of the next bike they want, and if that next bike is, say, a Yamaha MT-07, then the pragmatic approach would be to start on a smaller, less expensive Yamaha that will stand up to a bit of abuse and still hold its value.


Sources: Yamaha, Cycle World And MCS



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