Review: Yamaha Tracer 7

Do you smell that? The scent of incense? Yes, your nose already guessed it: you’re reading a review in which Yamaha’s universally praised CP2 twin plays a role. This time it’s spooned in between the legs of a sports touring model: the Tracer 7. But that incense of praise, does it apply to just the engine or the whole bike? Let’s find out.

Never change a winning team, they say. That is, until someone commands you to “Apply Euro5 standards, now!” which forced Yamaha to work on their two-cilinder engine (year of birth: 2014). The air intake, injection system and exhaust got reworked among other things. Yamaha claims a more linear power curve, but at the same time they also lost some power: the Tracer 7 has 73.5 hp, while its predecessor (that went by the name of Tracer 700) had 74.8 horses shining on its passport. Newton meters stayed the same at 68 units.

Yamaha didn’t just do an engine update: it’s impossible to miss the new face of the Tracer 7. It looks a lot more modern, sportier, yes, even more aggressive than the previous generation that all of a sudden seems to be boring and dated. The position of the two headlights, the frowning light strips, the tight lines of the bodywork: great design.

The rather plump indicators of the previous model were replaced by slimmer ones, but apart from that the design department got rid of their job quickly. The rear end is unchanged with a rather big license plate holder and the same dashboard.

The Tracer’s rugged appearance is one thing, but the other characteristic is to be discovered as soon as you hop on: accessibility. The bike feels compact and during the first meters you’ll notice its lightness and nimble agility straight away. As opposed to its naked sibling with the same engine, the Tracer 7 is a bit higher up, which translates to a 840 mm seat height (the MT-07 is at 805 mm). The seat is rather narrow, so it’s very easy to reach the ground. This Jap is an excellent starter bike as everything feels easily manageable.

The fog of incense that’s getting really thick now gives it away: the 689 two-pot claims its spot in this review. Is there anything that I haven’t already said about this little jewel? Since my first acquaintance (the XSR700 in 2016), and during every test since (Tracer 700 GT in 2019 and Ténéré 700 last year) the parallel twin effortlessly convinced me of its qualities. No brute force, no show stopping numbers in the tech specs, and yet it provides so much fun.

Calm, controlled cruising goes without any labour or poking to go faster. Some lazy riding? No problem. And when you want to ride sporty, the parallel twin engine is really eager on the throttle over the whole rev range. Push it all the way up to the limiter and it will give you an excellent last push of torque with noticeable joy.

The suspension likes to play along. As standard, the Tracer 7 feels rather firm with precise and tight cornering. On the flip side you will miss a bit of comfort, something I really noticed on the unavoidable strips of poor asphalt when going on a weekend trip in the Belgian Ardennes.

If you want to adjust the suspension, that’s no problem – both front and rear – or at least if you’ve got a screwdriver handy. Personally, I wouldn’t touch it and just leave it the way it is. The Tracer handled lightly and willingly, and I could seldom catch it off-guard. Both the brakes and gearbox receive a good report as well.

Better as compared to its predecessor: you’re now able to scroll the menu via a button on the handlebars (on the previous version you had to reach for a display button). The TFT display itself stayed unchanged and is still rather Spartan: the speed, revs, gear indicator, clock and fuel meter get the most space. With the previously mentioned handlebar button you can click through the odometer, two tripmeters, air and oil temperature, instant and average consumption.

When you hop on the sports touring member of Yamaha’s CP2 family, you would expect some touring abilities next to its sporty side. Did you notice the incense has disappeared? Don’t expect too much of it on the Tracer 7.

The basics are good though: a nice, straight seating position. The knees need to bend quite sharply, but only after quite some long hours in the saddle, my legs and rear started complaining. So far the good news.

I’m less enthusiastic about the windscreen. Yes, it’s now easier to change its position with one hand while riding and in the lowest position it will protect your upper body. But put it in the most upright position, and only at highway-speeds you will really notice the difference, with a lot of riding wind still reaching the head and shoulders. Could be better.

Cruise control, heated grips, adjustable seat and other comfort gadgets? None of that. Strapping on a roll bag? There’s no luggage rack, so your passenger will have to stay home. On top of that the passenger grips are very unpractical to secure luggage. Furthermore there are no mappings, traction control or any of the “modern” stuff we see appearing more and more on other bikes.

Whether you need all of that? It’s just a matter of choosing the luxury vs. the “less is more” side of things. The Tracer 7 surely proves that you don’t need much to come up with a very good bike. The economical approach translates to an attractive price tag, starting from £8,202.00.

Do you want some more comfort and features? Not only is there an options list, but also the Tracer 7 GT, which has pannier mounts, side panniers, a bigger windscreen, an LCD display and a comfort seat. Price starts from £9,002.00.

Conclusion

It seems as if Yamaha can’t go wrong with their CP2 twin. Build a bike around it, and everyone will be enthousiast. But of course there’s more to it than that, because you want the picture to be perfect. On the Tracer 7, that’s taken care of by a solid rolling chassis and a fine design.

As we’ve seen before on the CP2 family, Yamaha tends to keep things basic with few gadgets or modern technology. This keeps the price low, but on the other hand the number of smiles per miles is astronomical. The most important question to ask here is whether touring riders won’t expect more from its equipment, or should we just see it as a faired MT-07 instead of a real sports tourer? I’ll answer that question for you: Can someone please light up the incense once more?

Photography: Michele Micoli

Pros

+ Still in love with that engine
+ Successful design update
+ Light and agile handling

Cons

– Windscreen could be better
– Inadequately equipped for touring riders

Tech specs

Engine

Engine type: 2-cylinder, 4-stroke, Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves
Displacement: 689cc
Bore x stroke: 80.0 mm x 68.6 mm
Compression ratio: 11.5 : 1
Maximum power: 54.00 kW (73,5 hp) @ 8,750 rpm
Maximum torque: 68.0Nm (6.93kg-m) @ 6,500 rpm
Lubrication system: Wet sump
Clutch type: Wet, Multiple Disc
Ignition system: TCI
Starter system: Electric
Transmission system: Constant Mesh, 6-speed
Final transmission: Chain
Fuel system: Fuel Injection

Chassis

Frame: Diamond
Caster angle: 24.8º
Trail: 90mm
Front suspension system: Telescopic forks
Rear suspension system: Swingarm, (link suspension)
Front travel: 130 mm
Rear travel: 142 mm
Front brake: Hydraulic dual disc, Ø282 mm
Rear brake: Hydraulic single disc, Ø245 mm
Front tyre: 120/70 R17 M/C 58W (tubeless)
Rear tyre: 180/55 R17 M/C 73W (tubeless)

Dimensions

Overall length: 2,140 mm
Overall width: 806 mm
Overall height: 1,290 mm
Seat height: 840mm
Wheel base: 1,460 mm
Minimum ground clearance: 140 mm
Wet weight (including full oil and fuel tank): 196 kg
Fuel tank capacity: 17.0L
Oil tank capacity: 3.0L

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