Sport-tourers are certainly not as common on our roads as they used to be. Why is that you ask, or should? Well, it has to do with the rise of the Adventure bike. ‘They’ can do everything a sport tourer does, with the added advantage of being able to venture into serious off-road excursions. The latest breed of adventure motorcycles also tends to have powerful engines, where in the past the ‘sport-tourer’ had the advantage on the horsepower scale. So, are sporty-touring motorcycles a dying breed?
Most certainly not is the resounding answer here! Yamaha seem to agree as they’ve thrown a severe spear into the current range of sport-tourers from other manufacturers, with their all-new Tracer 9 GT. To be honest I first thought this new version was just another dose of fancy bodywork ladled with a few fancy electronic additives. However, I’m now the first to admit I was totally wrong.The Tracer 9 GT is by far the best sport-tourer to ever be released from the mighty Yamaha stable. And once I delved into what has made this particular Tracer better than previous models, I wasn’t really that surprised.Ok let’s start with what has changed, which is basically every component. Even though it still looks like a Tracer it actually has very little in common with last year’s bike, besides the famous Tracer name.The frame is new, adapted from the also new MT-09, and it’s stiffer on all counts with less flex. The swing-arm is 60mm longer than the old bike improving traction and straight-line stability. The new chassis design also tilts the motor back five-degrees for improved weight distribution. One of the main chassis additions is the use of new KYB semi-active suspension (electronic), where you can program damping and the like, very nice indeed. You can also ‘customise’ the riding position to suit the rider regarding seat height, adjustable ‘bar position, and adjustable footrest position, which all combines nicely with the newly designed and easily adjustable multi-step screen.The always-superb CP-3, three-cylinder engine has also been attended to. This, again, is from the new MT-09 with a bloated capacity to 890cc from last year’s 847cc. Four horsepower is the claimed increase to 117hp and seven percent more torque equates to 93Nm. We did run the Tracer 9 GT on our Dynojet dyno and it came away with a commendable 105hp at the rear wheel. Not too bad at all for an 890cc tourer, don’t you think?Obviously, the bodywork and styling has changed for the better. The newly shaped fairing and smooth lines of the 19-litre tank look fantastic, especially in this fetching silver paint, offset with new and lighter weight blue anodized wheels. All well and good but possibly the major talking point of the 2021 Tracer 9 GT is the advanced electronics package.If you admire a wealth of electronic aids, and stuff, you’ll adore the new Tracer 9 GT. All relayed on the twin 3.5-inch TFT screens. Personally, I’d prefer one big screen but that’s just me, and they can be difficult to see/read in direct sunlight (like many others), but well done to Yamaha for trying something a little different.There’s now so much on offer it’s a book within itself, so maybe a visit to a Yamaha site for more technical and detailed information is in order. In short, you’ll enjoy cruise control, power modes, traction control modes, throttle aggression, braking control with linked brakes, suspension modes, slide control, wheelie control, 10, yes 10, levels for the heated grips and probably more. It also has a six-axis IMU, similar to the one found inside their R1, to detect what the bike is doing and adapt accordingly. Should be enough to keep everyone happy and content then? Oh, and the quick-shifter, like a converted lesbian, now goes both ways, as in up and down the gearbox.So, the new Tracer 9 GT, retailing at R239,995, is a technical masterpiece to say the least and more than worthy of the sport-tourer badge. In fact Yamaha have enforced the ‘sporty’ nature of the new Tracer ten-fold. It’s 213kg mass feels far less than that, a tribute to the new KYB adaptive suspension and chassis package. Even a rapid track-day is well within its entertaining abilities. The handling is superb and it’ll take a fast rider to stay with it through twisty lanes. Or, you can turn off the rider aids and turn the Tracer 9 GT into a wheelie beast that will easily stay up through the gears into third, whilst you’re pointing the front wheel towards Venus, or another distant object. It really is a fun and exciting package to ride, or you can simply slip into ‘boring’ touring mode and cruise all day until your bum is content, a proper sports-tourer and then some. And let’s be honest here there’s nothing wrong with venturing up a dirt lane or two because it does have that ‘adventure style’ riding position, so there.So, Yamaha has vastly transformed, their already good 900 Tracer, which was always a favorite of ours in the past. It’s far from just another quick update mate – it’s a fookin’ lovely motorcycle on all counts.
Images: Gareth Davidson.
Go to www.yamaha.co.za for dealer locations.
Also go to www.linex.co.za to book a highly recommended test ride.