Yamaha has taken their venerable Tracer 900 GT and given it the full treatment, including a name change.
Yamaha’s Tracer range dates back to 2015 when we saw the first derivative of the MT-09 platform. The-then named FJ-09 proved a massive hit — a beautiful mixture of snarly three-cylinder rage combined with a gentleman’s touring attire. A bit like the headbanger who finally grew up. The FJ remained untouched until 2019 when it was renamed the Tracer 900 GT. That iteration wasn’t so much a redesign as it was a facelift, coming with new bodywork, 30L bags as standard fitment, a new dash, heated grips, better suspension, and, hallelujah, cruise control. Fast forward to 2022, however, and the $14,899 MSRP Tracer 900 GT has been given a full makeover. Now dubbed the Tracer 9 GT (stop renaming the bike, Yamaha!), this brand new beast gets a new motor bumped from 847 cc to 890 cc, a new chassis wrapped in all new and sadly uglier bodywork, a massive split TFT dash, IMU-based electronics, cornering headlights and KYB’s first crack at semi-active suspension.
This is Yamaha’s attack on bigger bikes like the BMW S 1000 XR or the Kawasaki Versys 1000, slotting in nicely when compared on price and features offered.
The new motor is more than just a capacity increase. A new intake, cylinder head, camshafts, 3 mm longer stroke crank, 1.5 mm shorter fracture-split conrods, and new exhaust, plus reworked settings for the Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle (YCC-T), combine to give a claimed six percent increase in overall torque, and a claimed nine percent better fuel economy.
The transmission gets a redesign as well, with a taller first and second gear and a new slip and assist clutch to keep it all in line under braking when downshifting.
On the road, the new engine is miles ahead of the 2020 edition. The extra capacity gives the motor a bit more room to breathe — you’re not constantly searching for the next cog but letting the torque do the talking. Matched to a lovely up and down quick shift as standard, the motor and gearbox package feels more refined. The initial throttle opening is smooth and light, but there’s plenty of go on offer if you decide to turn up the wick.
The new motor is supported by an improved chassis that loves to get on its side as much as tourer in comfort. Yamaha is claiming a massive 50 percent increase in lateral rigidity with the swingarm now mounted within the frame, a feeling which is transmitted to the rider by exceptional stability when cranked over and you begin to feed the power in at speed.
This is where the new electronics of the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT come into force. I spent the majority of the time in the A2 mode (softer) for the KYB electronic suspension after I found A1 was only suited to billiard smooth roads. A1 is quite stiff, and you’ll begin to feel the pounding of the road a lot quicker if you spend more than an hour in this mode. In A2 suspension with the throttle, traction control, wheelie, and slide control (yes, it has slide control) all on level one, the 1.5-lb lighter wheels and the excellent Bridgestone Battlax T32 GT rubber fitted, made the Yamaha the perfect dance partner up the notorious Angeles Crest just out of LA.
The electronic suspension isn’t the most advanced out there but it does the job just fine. Monitored by the IMU, you get semi-active compression and rebound adjustment on the fork and rebound only on the shock, with preload done by the hand dial under the seat.
If you’re new to electronic suspension on your ride, this is a great starting point as you can’t get too lost in the settings like on a Panigale V4, for example.
This is a touring bike that loves a good scratch but equally can play the long game well. Raising the seat height to the taller 32.5 inches (from the base of 31.9 inches) height gave me a touch more room to move, but I ran out of time to really explore the options available like altering the position of the handlebar and footpegs. Yamaha’s done really well to give the rider plenty of options for cockpit customizing, which is the kind of thing many other manufacturers make you pay extra for.
Yamaha’s fitted a linked braking system to the GT, which takes some time to get used to because if you only use the rear brake, for example, you’ll feel the front brake lever depress slightly. In my eyes, the linked system is too linked, and I’d have much preferred to have a traditional unlinked version available.
An interesting point is the dash. This is the first (as far as I know) split dash on the market today, and it takes a bit to get used to. With speed and revs on the left and general rider info on the right, it’s a funky way to space the available information out although the one thing I need almost as much as my speedo, a clock, is mounted way down in the left corner, which is a pain in the ass. If you could customize the dash and put the various pieces of info where you want, this would be the best dash on the market.
Regardless, Yamaha’s done exceptionally well with the new GT. Linked brakes aside, the $14,899 MSRP Yamaha Tracer 9 GT makes a very compelling argument when you take into consideration all the stuff you get as standard, like the quick shifter, cruise control, heated grips, plenty of ride position adjustability.
It looks like Yamaha’s got a bit of competition in this department from homeboys Suzuki with their recently released GSX-S1000 GT, and we might just be on the edge of a new golden era in sporty touring bikes from the Land of the Rising Sun.
Images: Ray Gauger