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 Continue reading

Review: Yamaha Ténéré 700

It was the year 2016 and as the first pictures of the Yamaha T7 Concept came in, I couldn’t stop drooling over them. It was a long wait until the Ténéré 700 finally arrived in 2019 and an even longer wait until I could finally swing my leg over it mid-2020. Enough with the drooling, shall we go for a ride?

Before I turn over the key, let’s have a look at what I’m dealing with. A middleweight adventure bike. That’s a very crowded segment with all the usual suspects and mavericks. It’s not hard to find some ten competitors once you start listing them up. BMW F 850 GS, Triumph Tiger 900, KTM 790 Adventure, Suzuki V-Strom 650, Moto Guzzi V85 TT, Ducati Multistrada 950, Kawasaki Versys 650, Benelli TRK 502, Royal Enfield Himalayan, Honda CB500X … almost all brands have got one in their model range. What added value can Yamaha offer?

The looks and equipment clearly state which side the Ténéré 700 is choosing. Offroad? Yes, please! It turns its back on more road-focused adventure bikes, thereby shortening the list of competitors.

The high, slim figure, the rally-inspired face, the long suspension travel (8.3 inch front and 7.9 inch rear), block pattern Pirelli’s, aluminum engine guard: it all looks pretty tough. The seat matches the adventurous appearance: Continue reading

Review: Yamaha Tracer 700 GT

The “sport tourer” moniker probably brings big muscular bikes to mind, like the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT or the BMW S 1000 XR, or rather bulky long-distance runners such as the FJR1300 or the GSX1250FA.

Going fast is easy with those bikes but if you look for light-footedness in a sport tourer, you need to look somewhere else. Enter the Yamaha Tracer 700 GT.

For a few years now, the Yamaha MT-07 has been a popular model from which Yamaha smartly derives other models. The XSR700 already stole my heart in 2016 and now the (already reasonably touring-oriented) Tracer 700 gets an (even more) touring-oriented relative: the Tracer 700 GT.

The Japanese kept it simple and drafted an easy upgrade: take a stock Tracer 700, exchange the windshield for a bigger one, replace the seat with a comfort seat and mount color-matched 20-liter side cases. There you go: the Yamaha Tracer 700 GT. Price for that suffix: £600, bringing the total to £7,999. That’s an attractive price tag. But isn’t the GT label too promising?

Hop on the comfort seat and you’ll immediately notice that the Tracer 700 GT doesn’t make an overwhelming first impression like the big sport tourers mentioned in the intro do. The Tracer feels compact and very manageable. At 835 mm the seat isn’t Continue reading

Review: Yamaha FJR1300AS

FJR. What do these three letters stand for? Fast Joy Ride? Furiously Jumping Rhino? For Jackass Racers? Nope. The correct (and official) answer is Fast Journey & Ride.

Since many years the Yamaha FJR1300 has a permanent spot in the sports tourer segment. Yamaha introduced this model in 2001. Today it exists in three versions: the FJR1300A (the basic version), the FJR1300AE (with electronically adjustable suspension) and the FJR1300AS (everything from the AE plus a semi-automatic transmission). I had a date with the latter.

The AS, the most complete FJR model, costs £17,099. In return for that pile of pounds you receive a bulky package: generous fairing, electrically adjustable windscreen, two mappings, ABS, switchable traction control, height-adjustable seat, sidecases, electronically adjustable suspension, semi-automatic transmission, cruise control, heated grips, LED lights with front cornering lights, 12v socket, shaft drive. In other words, everything you need and more.

The FJR is perfect for long journeys. The sitting position on the wide seat is comfortable yet slightly bowed towards the handlebars. Yamaha sells the FJR1300 as a sports tourer and not as a pure touring machine, so that forward bend seems legit.

With the windscreen down, only your head’s in the wind. If you raise the screen, there’s minor turbulence around the helmet, depending notably on the traffic in front of you: behind a truck, your head will shudder more than when you’re flying down an empty highway. Also a minor (but subtle) Continue reading

Quick test: Yamaha Niken

A few weeks ago, Maxxmoto sent me a message. “Jean, Niken test. What do you say?” The Yamaha Niken? That three-wheeled creature that got labelled “the Multipla of motorcycles” online? What do I say? Yes, of course! Because I really doubted Yamaha would release such a controversial machine if they didn’t believe in it for 200%. On top of that, the reactions, photos and videos after the first press introduction were very promising. So off I went, together with a dozen of other curious helmet heads, for a speed date with the Niken.

Whichever way you look at it, the Niken has an odd appearance. It’s not easy to get used to those three wheels. So it makes (sort of) sense that people dislike it, based on looks alone. And if you have a motorcycle license, why would you want two front wheels!? Plenty of prejudices, so it’s time to ride!

The first few meters leaving the parking lot feel weird. There’s no doubt that you’re manipulating two front wheels that are guided by a bulky construction including two forks per wheel (which makes four in total!). It’s not just getting used to, you really have to steer that thing in the direction you want.

But as soon as the speed slightly increases, everything changes. And a new Continue reading

Review: Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Ténéré

Travel back in time to 1983 and there it is: the very first Ténéré. After impressive Paris-Dakar participations in the late 1970s, Yamaha decided to commercialize their rally bike as an all-round kind of touring model: the XT600Z Ténéré. 43 hp, 595 cc and one single cylinder.

Thirty-five years later and there’s no longer a monocylinder bike in Yamaha’s adventure range. In 2016 we said goodbye to the last one, the XT660Z Ténéré, and with the brand new Ténéré 700 coming soon (we hope), a new twin will be added to the range. The other twin in the Yamaha’s allroad line: the Super Ténéré.

The Super Ténéré was introduced in 2010 as a direct competitor of that other 1200 cc shaft-driven adventure bike: the 1200 GS. I took the XT1200ZE Super Ténéré to the Vosges (travel report here). 2000 km should be enough to tell something meaningful about it.

The ZE has better specs than the basic Super Ténéré: adjustable electronic suspension, centerstand, cruise control and heated grips. There’s also a substantial price difference: 13.495 euro for the XT1200Z Super Ténéré, 15.895 euro for the XT1200ZE Super Ténéré (German pricing).

Still, the basic Ténéré’s configuration isn’t very basic: adjustable seat height (845 – 870 mm), two mappings, adjustable traction control, integral brake system, shaft drive, spoked wheels and adjustable windscreen. My demo bike also got crashbars, skid plate, LED fog lights and side cases.

More punch please

The 1199 cc parallel twin delivers 112 hp at 7,250 rpm and 117 Nm at 6,000 rpm, which certainly aren’t the highest peaks in the segment. If you keep close to those peaks, the power delivery is quite alright, yet it’s hard to deny that the XT1200ZE misses some punch. This becomes even more striking with the T (of Touring) mapping. In S (of Sport) the bike reacts more snappy without being too on-off.

The exhaust too could use some more punch. Stationary and full throttle sound good, but otherwise: meh. Sometimes the Super Ténéré is so quiet that you hold your breath, just to hear if the engine is still running.

Superb suspension

The S10 (the Super Ténéré abbreviation often used by S10 fans) counters its lack of balls with Continue reading

Review: Yamaha Tracer 900

In 2013 Yamaha released the MT-09 (then called FZ-09 in North America). A brutal naked with a widely praised three-cylinder engine, although comfort and versatility aren’t its strenghts. Which sparked an idea: in 2015 the Japanese manufacturer revealed the MT-09 Tracer (then called FJ-09 in North America): a sporty motorcycle with clear touring features and the same MT-09 engine. Since this year it’s called Tracer 900 but otherwise the bike remains unchanged.

So how do you transform a naked into a sports tourer? Yamaha did the trick with a few additions and changes. A more upright sitting position, some fairing, a bigger tank, an adjustable windscreen, wider handlebars, a higher, adjustable seat, a centerstand, a 12V socket and handguards. Only cruise control and heated grips are missing, even though the latter’s on the option list.

But before we go into detail, first let’s have an overall look. The Tracer 900 appears a lot less aggressive than the MT-09 but it does have personality. Okay, maybe a bit of a “Transformers” personality but other than that there’s hardly anything to complain about. The finishing is good, with a nice looking, powerful LED headlight.

Touring additions

Let’s go a little deeper into the touring additions. The seat is quite spacious and offers two heights (check the video to learn how to change the seat height). It’s pretty firm so your butt might start complaining after an hour’s ride. The optional comfort seat could counter those complaints.

In contrast to your butt, your legs can easily cope with longer rides: they’re not forced into a too sharp angle. The seating position is straight and relaxed, with the windshield leading most of the wind away from your torso. You can adjust that windshield in height but not while riding. Continue reading