Feature article

Best Yamaha Motorcycles Available in NZ: Buying Guide

Yamaha was an instrument manufacturer until 1955 when it spun off Yamaha Motor and started making motorcycles.

Last updated: 1 July 2024

Yamaha was an instrument manufacturer until 1955 when it spun off Yamaha Motor and started making motorcycles. Like the other major Japanese motorcycle brands, Yamaha is heavily invested in racing. It initially made two-stroke rockets like the RD350 and more recently four-stroke flyers like the YZF-R1.

MT-07 twins

Yamaha Motor is arguably best known in New Zealand for its MT bikes, one of the most popular being the MT-07LA learner legal machine. This is essentially the middle of the broad MT (Mighty Torque/ Master of Torque) line-up. It is widely recognised as being one of the best sounding parallel twins on the market. As the MT title suggests, this also has a healthy dose of midrange magic. That’s in part due to its crossplane crank set-up, improving torque at everyday revs and rideability. 

The MT-07 is available with a choice of two engines, one a 655cc learner approved twin, the other a full power 689cc example for the more experienced rider (MT-07HO). Both perform well because their ready-to-ride weight is only 184kg.

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Yamaha MT-07

Tracer 7 sport tourer

If you fancy something more oriented for sport touring with better weather protection, consider Yamaha’s Tracer 7. It uses MT-07HO mechanicals but adds an adjustable screen and suspension, dual LED headlights and a 17L tank. It sells for $18,806 compared with $14,106 for the MT-07LA model and $15,292 for the MT-07HO variant. More recently, Yamaha added a pair of sport bikes based on this pair, the R7 LA (learner approved) and the more track-focused R7 HO, costing $15,393 and $16,413, respectively.

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Yamaha Tracer 7

MT-09 allrounder

Another notable MT model for more experienced riders is the MT-09, which costs $17,707. This launched in 2014, inspired by the success of Triumph’s 675 Street Triple. Yamaha chose an inline three-cylinder engine displacing 847cc for its mix of low-end torque and high-end power. Coupled to a lightweight frame and with “roadster motard” styling, it proved a hit for the company. Updated in 2017 with extra kit and in 2021 with added capacity (890cc) it is currently available as a standard bike for $17,706, or an enhanced SP version with adjustable suspension for $18,907. There’s also a Tracer 9 GT Plus sport tourer version that features high-tech safety kit such as a radar-linked unified braking system, and radar wave adaptive cruise control. These modulate speed and braking force according to the distance from the vehicle ahead. The Tracer 9 also has electronic suspension with Sport and Comfort modes, hard luggage, LED lights, and a quickshifter for $28,307.

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Yamaha MT-09

Tenere 700 for adventures

And finally, we should mention another popular and practical Yamaha, the Tenere 700 adventure bike. Costing $20,186 it is a highly versatile dual purpose machine. It’s happy to ply highways all day at 100km/h and equally well set up for adventure riding with ground clearance of 240mm, suspension travel of 200mm, a 21-inch front wheel and a solid skid plate to take the knocks.

View listings on Trade Me Motors: Yamaha Tenere 700


Kyle Cassidy
Kyle Cassidy
Editor NZ Autocar magazine - autocar.co.nz

Kyle has been reviewing cars since starting at NZ Autocar magazine in 2003 and has been editor since 2009. In that time he’s become an expert on what makes for a good vehicle while also gaining insights into the local automotive industry.