Review: Yamaha Tracer 9

Fans of triples who were looking for a mid-class sports tourer in recent years, didn’t have much choice. In 2007, the Triumph Tiger 1050 Sport was launched, and that was really your only option until two new models hit the scene in 2015: the Yamaha MT-09 Tracer (renamed Tracer 900 in 2017) and the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce. That list of three was short-lived, because production of the Tiger Sport stopped in 2016.

In 2020 Yamaha unveiled the successor to the Tracer 900. In addition to a welcome facelift and two zeros less on its identity card, the new Yamaha Tracer 9 was also thoroughly overhauled underneath its fairings. Just in time, because in 2021 a third mid-class triple sports tourer suddenly showed up: the Triumph Tiger 850 Sport.

We haven’t ridden either competitor, and to be honest another model is a lot higher on our wishlist: after a very convincing week with the Triumph Trident 660, we are very curious about its sports tourer brother, the Tiger Sport 660.

But back to the order of the day: the Yamaha Tracer 9. After our test with its predecessor, I was completely convinced with what the Japanese had presented me – except for some detail criticism. Also the looks were actually already passé two years after its introduction.

Fortunately, the new looks of the Tracer 9 improved a lot. Fresh, sharp and sporty, perfectly translating the character of the bike. The Tracer 900’s bombastic handguards have been traded for less over the top ones, and the slim LED turn signals add refinement. As far as I’m concerned, only the rear light and the number plate holder should go back to the drawing board. A bit clunky.

The far-down fairing combined with the large windshield and the tank that extends wide across your legs at the top: I didn’t see any rain, but I think the Tracer can keep you surprisingly dry.

Speaking of the windshield: while you could only adjust the previous one when stationary, you can now do it while riding. In the lowest position my head was still in the wind, in the highest position I experienced slight turbulence on top of my helmet. Of course this all depends on your height.

The seat remains generously sized and comfortable enough for hours of riding without butt complaints. The rest of the body can’t complain either: the seating position is slightly sporty, with the knees in a not too sharp angle. Both the seat and the footrests are adjustable in height (2 positions).

Cruise control is standard from now on, which further boosts the comfort level. If you want heated grips and a quickshifter, you should look at the Tracer 9 GT, which also has electronic suspension, side cases and cornering lights. Comes with an extra cost of course: the “regular” Tracer 9 costs £10,700, the GT £12,700.

In addition to the design, the CP3 engine was also significantly redesigned. The lung capacity increased from 847 to 890cc, the weight went down by 1.7 kg (although the total package still weighs 3 kg more than the Tracer 900), and the performance was also spiced up: 119 hp at 10,000 rpm and 93 Nm at 7,000 rpm (versus 115 hp at 10,000 rpm and 87.5 Nm at 8,500 rpm – yup, that’s 1,500 rpm earlier).

The three-pot engine is housed in a new chassis, which is lighter and more compact (read: more maneuverability), while the swingarm has been extended (read: more stability). The 1500 mm wheelbase remains unchanged.

I would be lying if I said I’d noticed the difference of all those changes. Five years in between test rides is simply too long for that. What I do know is that the Tracer 9, just like its predecessor, is a very fun toy. Calm riding is possible, but the triple begs to be ridden sporty. And it does that very well. Lots of torque at the bottom while the nice soundtrack takes you straight towards the top end power. It enters corners eagerly, accelerates like hell, feels playful yet certain, and gives loads of confidence. Gearbox and brakes: flawless.

The adjustable suspension is sporty in its standard setting: perfect on good asphalt, less ideal when the road surface gets bad. It is, of course, difficult to reach a compromise. While I noted that the predecessor sometimes got a bit nervous when riding a bit more extreme, that seems to be a thing of the past.

Electronically, the new Tracer also goes a step further. We now go from three to four riding modes, although after playing for a while I always used the same riding mode: number 1 (the most direct throttle response). The traction control has also been expanded and bundles with the slide and wheelie control: in addition to two fixed settings, you can also completely adjust the settings to your liking.

Nothing but good news then? Nope. The display and its operation couldn’t convince me. The two screens contain quite a bit of information: the left screen contains the essentials like speed, tachometer and selected gear, while you can choose the info that’s displayed on the right screen. But it’s all just rather cluttered. Same goes for the handlebar buttons with which you can adjust the riding modes and traction control: it never feels intuitive.

Conclusion

The Yamaha Tracer 9 has taken the good things of its predecessor and tackled its flaws. Not an obvious assignment, because that predecessor was already a more than decent bike. Nevertheless, Yamaha has managed to improve a lot of things, such as the windshield, electronics and design. However, the reason why you should consider the Tracer remains its great three-cylinder: a real pleasure. Dressed in the sports tour jacket, you get a true all-rounder.

Pros

+ Nice design upgrade
+ Improved comfort
+ The engine remains the main selling point

Cons

– Display and handlebar buttons could be better
– Can the rear design be looked at again please?

Engine

Engine type: Liquid-cooled;4-stroke;4-valves;3-cylinder;DOHC
Displacement: 890
Bore x stroke: 78 x 62.1 mm
Compression ratio: 11.5:1
Maximum power: 87.5 kW (119 PS) @ 10,000 rpm
Maximum torque: 93.0 Nm (9.5 kg-m) @ 7,000 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: 25° 00’
Trail: 108 mm
Front suspension system: Telescopic fork
Rear suspension system: Swingarm
Front travel: 130 mm
Rear travel: 137 mm mm
Front brake: Hydraulic dual disc, Ø 298mm
Rear brake: Hydraulic single disc, Ø 245mm
Front tyre: 120/70Z R17 M/C (58W) (Tubeless)
Rear tyre: 180/55Z R17 M/C (73W) (Tubeless)

Dimensions

Overall length: 2,175 mm
Overall width: 885 mm
Overall height: 1,430 mm – 1,470 mm
Seat height: 810 mm – 825 mm
Wheel base: 1,500 mm
Minimum ground clearance: 135 mm
Wet weight (including full oil and fuel tank): 213 kg
Fuel tank capacity:18 L
Oil tank capacity: 3.5 L

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