Thursday, 13 August 2015

Comparo: Yamaha MT09 – Vs – Aprilia Shiver

Let me preface this with.........

I am not a professional motorcyclist, journalist or human-being. 

I am a daily commuter, weekend scratcher, sometimes tourer, ride with the hammer down,  and take my riding seriously.

I'm no track star. But have completed advanced training.

Over time motorcycling has deeply embedded into my life and identity.  
I love my Wife, my Dogs and Bikes – people can piss off. 

Let's begin.............

….....Soooo, I've been asked - “How does the Yam stack up compared to the Ape?”

Here goes. 

It's no secret the MT09 has a stonking triple banger. It was the power-plant offered by the Yamaha which made me seriously reconsider the MT09.

The 2015 bike has the updated ECU map straight out of the crate and delivers very predicable throttle application. Yes, there is still hesitation on small throttle openings from fully closed – however it is nowhere near as snatchy as the 2013 I tested a couple of years back.  

Snap the throttle open in first or second and the front will play ball. There is immediacy and torque everywhere and once you ecplipse 5-6K RPM, the Tri-Pot comes over all excited and gets going like a stabbed-rat with vengence. 

It'll pull without hesitation and keep on going. License preservation is an issue. 

Off the line the front is hard to keep on the deck. Luckily smiles are free, otherwise this bike would cost you more than just tickets from the constabulary. 

That said, the Aprilia is no slouch – it's just not intense. The 750 offers an engine character which can only be found in the guise of an Italian V-Twin - visceral, emotive. Strangely, unlike other V's - the Ape likes to be revved - and it needs to be.

Unfortunately it runs out of puff pretty quickly. You can't be as lazy with this motor, it demands to be ridden, in the correct gear, to realise its potential. I like that. Makes you work for the reward. 

Off the bottom, the Ape is lurchy and can surge and hunt the Tacho for stability. This can be remedied somewhat through the addition of a 15T counter-shaft sprocket and an A/F adjuster such as the FatDuc. It cannot be eliminated all together. 

Each bike offers 3 throttle modes which can be switched on the fly. After a while you'll just end up using the most aggressive mode on either bike. It's a nice feature, albeit somewhat unnecessary.

Both bikes have great clutch action and feel with low friction points and minimal travel. 

The Yammy uses a cabled clutch with a non-adjustable lever – the reach is a little far for me and the lever length is quite long. I'm a two finger clutch guy so the stock levers are likely to be swapped out. 

Conversely, the Ape uses a hydraulic clutch – a very nice one – with a light action. The stock levers are adjustable, however the lever thickness (vertical-aspect) is ridiculous – I soon swapped these for Pazzo's and never looked back. 

Yamaha = 9/10 
Aprilia = 6/10

We'll get the easy one out of the way first – brakes. 

Both bikes are equipped with non-switchable ABS. Both implementations are good. 

As a commuter ABS is nice to have, especially on those cold, wet and traffic clogged mornings when cagers are particularly unpredictable and moronic. 

Not something to rely on. Not Ever. But nice to have. 

Out in the hills, the ABS does not dilute braking power or performance. 
No problem with the brakes on either bike. If you want or need to stop, you will – no doubt. 
These bikes can and do stop much harder than you'll be prepared for. 

The suspension and handling characteristics is where the Yamaha and Aprilia differ the most. 

Firstly, the Yamaha's suspension is comedy. It's like having pipe-cleaners up front and a pogo-stick in the rear. 

I've dialed it in as much as possible on the stock boingers and for the daily grind, popping wheelies and the urban environment, it's fine, OK, manageable, acceptable? 
Hmmm....up to maybe 8/10 pace and commitment. then it gets a bit wild. 

I've had to adjust the way I ride somewhat and recalibrate my expectations – that's not entirely a bad thing as it required me to learn how to get on with the bike. 

The MT09 will tip in on a knife-edge and can change direction via thought alone, it just demands more work and finesse to keep it compliant. 

Trail-braking is key to get weight over the front when pushing harder. Brake application and release must be deliberate in order to load and unload the suspension as progressively as possible – being severely under-damped this is quite a chore. 

When on pace it gets a little shabby – if you intend on taking this bike to the track you'll need suspension work. For sure. 

The chassis is compact and taught. the seat height is low – you are very much a part of the bike – this is a good thing.

On the contrary, the non-adjustable front end on the Aprilia is pretty damn good for what it is, the rear is planted and when coupled with a longer chassis the Ape is stable when pitched over. 

The Ape takes more effort to tip in and change direction due to its higher centre of gravity and footprint; however once pitched over, it is less squirrely and more predictable. She does push wide getting on the throttle when cornering, requiring you to tuck her in with more inner bar pressure. Trusting she'll stay put. She will. 

I feel I am quicker on the MT09 than I was on the Shiver – however the MT requires me to work harder and demands more technique. 

Getting the Yam to dance is more difficult than the Ape – not a bike for a Greenie/Squid. 

Once I get the suspension sorted – this rating will change (I suspect) dramatically. 

Yamaha = 6/10
Aprilia = 8/10

I'm not a big guy. 
Not tall, not all that heavy. 
~174 cm @ 68-70kgs

I can easily flat foot either bike – more easily the MT09 as the Shiver has a wider saddle. 

The MT09 seat is on the firm side, however even after a couple of hours on the bike it does not cause me trouble. The Shiver might be slightly more comfortable, but I'd be splitting hairs to call a clear winner on comfort. 

Both bikes have wide bars with a natural reach – no shoulder or wrist pressure. 
All. Very. Comfortable. 

Foot position is slightly more rear-set on the Shiver, the MT09 is very Motard in the configuration of its controls. 

No clear stand-out for this component, both bikes offer a great naked-bike experience. 

Yamaha = Aprilia = 8/10

The Yamaha delivers a somewhat Spartan dash and instrument cluster. 
For the most part – it's not bad at all. 

It's a monochrome, black on white affair, with clear indications and read-out. Gear position, speed and RPM are all there and are updated promptly. It's easy to read and doesn't suffer sunlight washout or night dazzle. 

A fuel gauge is included, but you'll need to scroll for temperature – both intake (air) and coolant (engine) which is annoying. 

The real prize though is the ability to alter cylinder mixture using the on-board calibration. Yup, you can update the ECU closed loop setting straight off the bike – damn, that's good. 

The MT09 switchgear and blocks are clearly budget, albeit functional. They don't give the impression they are not up to the job or that they are about to fail, they're just not “considered.”

On the other hand, the Aprilia has a much more sophisticated dash – which is both good and bad. 

The good – constant air and engine temperature readouts, gear position, speed and large analogue Tacho.

The bad – speed and gear position indicators suffer latency between reality and readout. 
The cluster is temperamental, the slightest miss-use in terms of start-up or shut-down sequence will cause it to have conniptions. 
There is no fuel gauge – just a light.
It can fog.

In the Aprilia's defence, the switch-gear and blocks are superior and the tactile experience is more welcoming with better feedback. 

Yamaha = 7/10
Aprilia = 6/10

Visually, the MT09 is much more minimal than the Shiver. More Skeletal. 
This bike is almost like an “Urban Scrambler” - lean, taught and ready for it. Get some. 
I'm running an Akrapovic raceline system (not shown in this picture), straight through, no catalyser, no baffle and yet she's more Hornet than Howitzer. 

In contrast, the Shiver is muscular, robust – a real looker. More bark than bite. 
She's statuesque, yet diminutive, simultaneously. A moving piece of Art.
The Akrapovic cat-back slip-on is a V-Twin symphony which is a Messerchmitt, not a Mouse. 

Yamaha 7/10
Aprilia 9/10

The mundane daily test must be applied. 
Which one would I trust? 
Which bike do I believe will start on a cold morning and not cost me the price of my first born to maintain?

'Nough said

Yamaha = 9
Aprilia = 6

Yamaha = 46
Aprilia = 43 

I must stress I have remained as objective as possible and am not surprised these bikes came out so closely. 

In many ways they are similar in their approach to being motorcycles; in other ways not so similar.

It just so happens the constraints where they are dissimilar they are also somewhat polarised. Opposite.

Thus when it's all said and done – both bikes offer a great package and riding experience. 


…............My brain does my heart........


  1. Well written! Thanks

  2. Nice information about Yamaha MT-09. I want total information about Yamaha MT-09. I got but I was not totally satisfied so I did google and I found a new blog its gave me deeply information about this bike

  3. Great review here. Far too many reviews these days on how awesome bikes are on the track. Track day this track day that. P l e a s e. The MT09 is an incredible package and the cross-plane engine is a standout in this type of configuration. I had the MT-07 which while not an Mt-09 was impressive for what it is. A big ask seeing if the Shiver could compete and I'm not surprised it couldn't. Keep writing mate. Keep writing these reviews.

    1. Hi Gabriel, thanks for your kind words.

      Yes, the V-twin in the Shiver is getting a little long in the tooth now.

      Thanks for reading.