I’m going to start this review of my 2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT with this statement…I love this bike. I really do. It fits and flatters my riding style to a tee. When I get on it after a winter layup it feels like I’ve come home. That Yamaha CP3 engine is near perfection as far as I’m concerned.
It came from outer space!
I even like the style of the, somewhat divisive, dash which reminds me of that beloved 1980s alien, Alf. Don’t pretend you don’t remember who that is. It might be an odd dash design but does what it needs to and I have no issues with it.
It’s those doleful eyes
Some background. I bought this bike brand new in May 2021, just after it’s release. It has been around Scotland and to England (a few times), Ireland, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Germany (including a lap of the Nurbergring/Nordschleife), the Netherlands, Spain & Portugal. It’s been ridden in a variety of conditions and temperatures even though it gets laid up over the winter months (it was cold in the Alps). I think I’ve done a decent test.
Furka & Grimsel Passes, Switzerland
Serra da Estrela Nature Park in Portugal: Not the easiest place to get to on a road bike
How has it got on?
As of the time of writing, July 2023, it has done a smidge over 19,000 miles and had 2 dealer services and 1 oil/filter change done by myself. I’m on my 3rd set of tyres, the OEM Bridgestone T32s were pretty good but I like Michelins. I had a set of Road 6s last year and currently a set of Road 5s. The 6s were very good but I don’t think they were worth the extra over the also very good Road 5s. So I’m sticking with them for now.
I have found the bike to be very comfortable for big miles as well as for short day trips. For the big trips I use a sheepskin which helps keep me cool/warm depending on the conditions. But I have also done 300+ mile days without and have never found the standard seat to be uncomfortable. This is rare for me as I’ve struggled for comfort on other bikes.
Bouncy bits are great
The electronic suspension is sublime and it’s easy to switch between the two modes (hard &slightly less hard) whilst on the move. I like both modes for different road surfaces but the slightly less hard mode is good enough most of the time.It’s also easy to adjust the preload with the remote adjuster. It would be nice if the electronic suspension included preload but it’s a more budget bike so I can live with this.
There are 4 riding modes, 3 of which are essentially just different throttle maps with the 4th being a power limited “rain” mode which I must admit I’ve never used. I keep it permanently in mode 2 which is still good for the open road but gives a bit more control in the slower stuff.
The electronic trickery works well
The quick shifter/auto blipper is one of the best I’ve tried, it’s mostly very smooth but can get a wee bit clunky when an oil change is due.
It has a 6-axis IMU with cornering ABS, traction control & lights. Other than the lights, which are excellent at night, I don’t think I’ve managed to test the ABS and traction control. Hopefully won’t ever need to but it’s nice to know they are there.
Good comfort levels
The seat, bars and pegs are adjustable but I haven’t needed to, I find the stock position of the bars/pegs and low seat height are fine for me.
The panniers are a good size and easy to get on and off. They are both the same capacity as the exhaust is hidden under the bike. They didn’t come with inner bags so I had to buy them separately, but they are worth the extra. I’ve also added an SW Motech top box and tank bag. Unless I’m going on a multi-daytrip I mostly just use the top box which is a good bit of kit to add.
Not all has been rosey in the garden
But, and there are a number of buts, it’s not been a perfect 2+ years.
There’s no getting away from the fact this is a pretty tall bike and I’m a short arse with a 28” inside leg. Even on the low seat height I’m on tippy toes which does make moving the bike around whilst sitting on it very difficult. I will caveat this, in my 10 years of riding I have never ridden a bike that I can flat foot, balls of my feet is the closest I’ve come. As such, I am very used to that feeling but I know a lot of people would be put off by this. I work around it by getting off the bike to manoeuvre it around which works fine as it’s fairly light.
I wouldn’t consider lowering it as this would compromise too much. Needing to adjust the side & centre stands as well as hitting the pegs down more easily on corners just puts me off. So, I just suck it up and tippy toe everywhere.
Another issue that many reviewers & owners have picked up on is the noisiness of the stock screen. And it is an issue, the stock screen is not great. I replaced mine with the MRA screen with built in spoiler and it was so much better. I’d highly recommend this screen. Unless you also use a Garmin XT on an Evotech mount. In which case the MRA screen leans on the Garmin in an alarming fashion. I was terrified it would push the XT off its mount. I’ve now swapped it for an Ermax screen which is lovely to look at and doesn’t lean on the XT, but it’s a bit noisy again. Definitely a compromise but one I’m willing to take for the XT. I might try and add a spoiler but haven’t as yet.
Since the beginning of this year I have also had the throttle issue that other owners have mentioned. For the first 5 minutes or so of setting off from cold there was a violent hesitation to the throttle which made slow speed control difficult and sometimes scary. But it mostly seemed to clear up after 5 minutes of riding.
However, one time the throttle stopped as I was accelerating in a spirited fashion through a corner which really scared me. Ever run out of fuel? That’s how it felt, and it was my first thought until I realised that the engine was still running, I just had no throttle. I pulled into a layby, blipped the throttle a couple of times and it seemed to sort itself out.
The dealer couldn’t find anything wrong with it, there were no error codes. They re-flashed the ECU and checked to make sure the throttle was within parameters which it was. So, I merrily went to Spain & Portugal, where the issue just got worse and worse. Ultimately ending in a drop when I slowly pulled out of a steep car park on full lock and the throttle died. Not a great look.
I also had another issue rear its ugly head in Portugal, my chain began to let go. It was fine before we left and I thought it would last to nearer 20k.At about 16k the front sprocket was hooking badly and the chain clanking alarmingly. I found a Yamaha dealer in Evora (big shout out to these guys, they were awesome) who managed to swap the front sprocket from a recently arrived MT09 SP onto my bike to get me home. I really should have changed the chain & sprockets before the holiday, lesson learnt.
The flame still burns
I have considered swapping the GT next year for the updated GT+, provided they release it in a decent colour like red, but I might not bother. Despite the issues, I do still love this bike.
Words and Pictures: Gillian Pierce
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