Want to cover big miles but still need a touch of sportiness in your life? Then you must check out the new Yamaha Tracer 900 GT.
Yamaha created a substantial success story when it produced the MT-09 naked bike. In five years, the MT-09 has gone onto become one of the most popular bikes in Yamaha’s line-up and has spawned a whole new range of brothers and sisters in the MT-07, MT-10 and the Tracer series.
The Tracer 900—formerly the FJ-09 Tracer—was released back in 2015 as an answer to the growing cries of riders who wanted a Yamaha that could carry a passenger or luggage or both and still cut it when they’d hit the twisties. At the time the closest thing Yamaha had was a FJR1300—hardly inspiring for a sports rider and too sporty for a someone who just loves touring.
The FJ has since had a name change and multiplied by one to give us the base model Tracer and the Tracer 900 GT. Both bikes share a lot of DNA in the same chassis and engine, but the GT will set you back $2300 more and for that, you’ll get a whole lot extra in the ride.
Photography by Brian J. Nelson
Under the tank sits the same CP3 847cc three-cylinder engine that resides in the MT-09 with the usual Yamaha Chip Controlled Throttle, D-Mode switchable engine maps, traction control, and assist and slipper clutch, as well as the same chassis, 4.8-gallon gas tank, center stand, twin LED headlight set up and non-switchable ABS.
Both the GT and the base Tracer get a 60mm longer swingarm that increases wheelbase from 56.6 inches to 59.1 inches; the seat height gets a 5mm height increase in both the low and high positions to be either 33.5 inches or 34.1 inches. Overall length remains the same at 85.04 inches.
The GT gets a fully adjustable KYB fork and a shock that has remote preload and rebound adjustability; you get a quickshifter for upshifts as standard, 22L side cases, cruise control, heated grips, a redesigned rider and passenger seat and footpegs, a larger windscreen that’s 50mm adjustable with one hand and a TFT dash that has more than a few styling cues to the Yamaha YZF-R1’s unit.
We didn’t get the chance to sample the base Tracer at this model introduction, instead focusing purely on the GT. Two things on the GT initially stand out when you climb aboard. The first is the seat is firmer than the old FJ-09, helping to hold you in place better than the 2017 Tracer. It’s 5mm thicker than before, making longer rides much more enjoyable than with the 2017 FJ.
The second fact is the brightness offered by the new TFT dash compared to the basic yellow backlit unit on the base model. The new GT dash has all the same info found on the base Tracer but packs a whole lot more (like heated grip temps) in a prettier and easier to read format that’s accessible via the menu scroll just under the kill switch.
The engine has not changed for 2019, which is a good thing because there was nothing wrong with the old one. The 847cc inline triple came under fire when it was first released for having one of the jerkiest throttles released for many years but since then Yamaha has gone to work, making throttle response smoother and low-end torque easier to access. There’re three modes you can choose from when selecting a throttle map in A, B and STD, so you should be able to dial in a setting that suits you quite easily. Personally, I left it in A mode after sampling the B and STD modes for a few miles. A-mode can be a bit abrupt if you’re not ready for it, and I’d probably go for B-mode with a passenger but A-mode is fine for single rider riding.
Those three-cylinders of crossplane Yamaha awesomeness give you access to a stupendous amount of torque that’ll take you years to get sick of. A bonus is you can be super lazy with the gearbox, allowing the revs to drop low in a gear higher than you’d normally allow and just let the engine pull you out of the corner.
Alternatively, there’s lots of mid to top-end grunt that begins to taper off about 1000 rpm before the redline of 11,500 rpm. At those speeds the triple becomes too much of a buzz box anyway, as the best performance can be found in the 6-9000 rpm range.
Couple this with the sweet factory-fitted quickshifter that’s good for upshifts only and you’ve got a sport bike masquerading as a touring weapon. You can hustle a 900 GT at a brisk pace if you’re up for it, but the overall demeanor is of a bike more comfortable at checking out the scenery instead of breaking canyon records.
The addition of a 12V socket for charging a phone/sat nav and having cruise control is a big help here. There’s nothing much to say about this other than it works well and it’s accessed—importantly—by the left hand switchblock rather than the right, so you don’t need to worry about holding the exact speed you want with the throttle hand while trying to set the cruise control.
Longer days will give you the tingles pretty bad with a Tracer 900 GT. The three-cylinder engine is vibey by nature, and you’ll feel those in your fingers and feet if you’re riding for any more than one hour at a time. As such, touring riders might want to invest in some bar-end weights that help negate this issue more so than just regular commuters and weekend warriors, as it’ll probably affect them more than most.
Regardless if you’re a touring rider or not, having a screen that’s 50mm adjustable is a big bonus. My personal preference is for the screen itself to be much smaller—about half the size it is—so the wind blast hits me in the chest, rather than the helmet. This is probably a hangover for all the miles I’ve ridden on large naked bikes over the years.
Regardless, the screen does a great job of deflecting the wind and if you’re under 5’10”, you’ll probably find in the tallest setting the screen will deflect the wind right over your helmet. If so, happy days.
Ride quality is pretty good with the GT. You get a fully adjustable fork up front with rebound damping and preload adjustment on the rear—the latter importantly accessed via the remote adjuster on the left side under the rider seat. The ride can be a touch soft in standard settings for canyon riding but the KYB fork and shock does a great job of soaking up the kind of bumps you’re likely to find when you’re on your next big adventure.
The handlebar has been moved forward 10mm but the width has decreased 16.5mm, and the overall width offset of the bar has decreased by 100mm, making the machine easier to manage in tight situations (like lane splitting). You also get 30mm longer mirror stems.
The rider triangle of pegs, bar and seat is slightly more opened up compared to the ’17 model, but unfortunately (for me), the passenger pegs sit too close to the rider’s making it hard for the rider with bigger feet to get on the balls of the foot for sports riding. If you have small feet, this mightn’t prove to be a big issue, but it drove me nuts across the test day. The passenger, on the other hand, gets 33mm more length than before. So at least they are comfy.
Overall, the Yamaha Tracer 900 GT is a very good machine. It’s not the most exciting sport touring machine out there, but is an extremely dependable piece of kit that’s just as at home in the canyons as it is on Highway 1.
It’s also a bike that’ll last for years, as the build quality is very good, even if the looks will probably date in the next few years. CN
VIDEO | 2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT Review
2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT
||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 12-valve, inline 3-cylinder,
|Bore x stroke:
||78 x 59.1mm
||41mm Inverted KYB fork with adjustable compression and rebound damping, and spring preload
||KYB monoshock with adjustable rebound damping and spring preload adjustment
|Front wheel travel:
|Rear wheel travel:
||298mm dual semi-floating discs, dual 4-piston calipers, ABS as standard
||245mm disc, dual-piston caliper, ABS as standard
||33.5 in or 34.1 in
|Claimed Weight (wet):
||Raven/Team Yamaha Blue.