A Motorcycle For All Seasons & Reasons
In a world filled with niche motorcycles, a do-everything bike can be hard to find. Cruisers, adventure bikes, heavy touring rigs and hard core sport bikes excel in their realm, but do so at the compromise of either weight, comfort or versatility.
Enter the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+. Yamaha’s Tracer, revised for the 2024 model year, is listed as a sport touring motorbike, but after spending time on the Tracer, I find it is a flexible sport touring platform for whatever your flavor of motorcycling.
It all starts with the cross-plane 890cc triple engine. Shared with the MT-09 and XSR900 the big triple is listed at 117 hp at 10,000 rpm and 68 ft. lbs. of torque at 7,000 rpm. Enough propulsion is on tap for downshiftless passing yet it’s smooth enough to live with all day long while it sings the beautiful baritone growl of a big triple.
That cross-plane triple in the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ makes all the right noises with enough power to propel a fully loaded bike with ease. We love a throaty triple.
Power passes through a six speed transmission with a new for this year up/down quick shifter, capable of smooth upshifts under deceleration and downshifts under throttle. Green arrows on the bright 7” TFT display show when the quickshifter is available and hammering clutchless upshifts while giving the big triple the beans is an addictive trigger pull.
Ride modes tailor engine output and bike characteristics to suit conditions or your mood. Three fixed modes of Sport, Street, Rain and one Custom mode can be changed on the fly via the left handlebar thumb switch, and each mode adjusts engine output, traction control, slip control and wheelie control.
Gone is the awkward scroll wheel replaced by an intuitive joystick on the left handlebar that makes navigating menus simple, a good thing since the tech in the Tracer 9 GT+ runs deep. Connecting your phone and helmet communicator allows you to use the menu to make calls, change songs and even use the built-in and adjustable equalizer, something a music nut like me appreciated. For a small subscription fee, Garmin navigation can be displayed on the dash for turn by turn navigation of your trip, or just using the real time traffic updates to plan work-arounds.
Beneath the adventure bike styling lives a sport machine waiting to be unleashed. Electronically adjustable suspension keeps the action level when things get sporty. Straightening the curves above Boise, ID.
Comfort adjustability is everywhere on the Yamaha to customize the fit to your stature. The windscreen has 10 positions that are easily adjustable on the fly and the revised seat with its improved material and foam shape can adjust depending on your inseam. Handlebar reach was comfortable for my long arms, although some riders with less wingspan might like to spin it back towards themselves. While these minute adjustments might not sound like much, added together they make a big difference when commuting or putting in long touring days.
The Tracer’s biggest update, and a possible game changer piece of tech for the category, is it’s adaptive cruise control and it’s link to the Unified Braking System. While adaptive cruise control appears on bikes from other manufacturers like KTM, BMW, Ducati and Kawasaki, Yamaha’s Tracer 9GT+ is the only motorcycle to link the adaptive cruise control to the electronically adjustable suspension and braking.
Riders of all body types will appreciate the adjustable footpegs, windscreen and saddle. Options abound.
Millimeter wave radar mounted in the nose of the Tracer 9 GT+ detects vehicles ahead and when the pre-set following distance becomes too close, it first uses engine braking, then braking force to slow the bike. When the brakes are applied, the Unified Braking System also adjusts brake bias front and rear for optimum performance while adjusting the electronic suspension settings to keep the bike level. All of this happens instantaneously and seamlessly through the brains of the Inertial Measurement Unit and the radar. Incredible.
While it is interesting to have the bike apply the brakes when the adaptive cruise control hits the limit of its pre-set following distance, the UBS goes largely unnoticed in regular riding. At times, I could detect a slight difference in pressure at the front lever, yet under most conditions, including spirited riding through curves, UBS does its job silently in the background, doing all of its math to make adjustments of brake bias and suspension firmness to help the bike stay in balance.
At full trot, the Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) is working brake bias and the suspension’s compression and rebound damping to keep the bike at optimum pitch.
Unified braking is not an accident avoidance system. You still have to be an aware and skilled pilot. However, the system aids the Tracer 9GT+ in keeping a level pitch in braking situations that would otherwise upset a motorcycle, a system we could all benefit from.
As motorcyclists we are generally reluctant to accept technology that has the potential to detach us from the riding experience. I remember being wary of fuel injection, ABS and cruise control, old school rider that I am. However, I expect the Tracer 9’s pioneering adaptive cruise and linked UBS will soon spread throughout the touring category.
Calling the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ just a sport tourer is limiting, I think. The tech and standard hard saddlebags means it is happy doing everything from a daily commuter, sport mount or long haul tourer. I even asked Yamaha to give Road Dirt one as a long term touring bike. I would have no reservations filling the Tracer’s 30L saddlebags full of gear and taking off on a multi week trip.
I would add Yamaha’s optional 45L top case, a larger windscreen, synch my phone and Cardo unit to the bike, crank up the stock heated grips and pile on the miles.
At $16,499, the $1500 price increase reflects the larger TFT dash, new switchgear, adaptive cruise control and Unified Braking System. Suzuki’s GSX-S 1000GT+ is $14,099 and includes saddlebags standard like the Yamaha, but has a more leaned over riding position and lacks the LED cornering lights and advanced braking system of the Tracer 9 GT+. Kawasaki’s Ninja 1000 appears to be a bargain at $13,199 until you realize that to outfit the bike for touring with saddlebags and other equipment requires the $2,235.95 touring package bringing it to within $1,000 of the Tracer.
I loved the Yamaha’s engine characteristics, riding position, bright and simple dash, adjustability of the riding position, and standard hard saddlebags big enough to swallow a full face helmet. A little more wind protection for my 6’ 2” frame would make this a great sport touring mount flexible enough to do any riding I could ask from it. In a market filled with niche motorcycles, the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ can fill the role of daily commuter, long haul tourer and sport mount.
Tour, commute or rip canyons. Yamaha’s Tracer 9 GT+ is the utility infielder of motorcycles.
As I type this, I just got off my 1998 Honda VFR800 after riding Cottonwood Pass in Colorado, during the annual Colorado 500 . I love my sportbike, and riding it in the mountains here around Crested Butte, Colorado is every rider’s fantasy. However, as the miles piled on today, I found myself longing for the Tracer 9 GT+, it’s comforts and technology. It’s that good.
The Yamaha could, in skilled hands, keep pace with my sport bike while making the long stretches between mountain passes much more livable. When I hit traffic today, I was even missing the adaptive cruise control. Commute, long haul tourer or sport mount, the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ fills every niche.
For more on the updated Tracer 9 GT+, click here:
All photos and footage courtesy of Yamaha Motor USA/Spec PR
*Watch Ted’s video review here without ever leaving this page: