YAMAHA TRACER 9 (2021 - on) Review

Highlights

  • Sporty adventure tourer for the road
  • Same CP3 triple engine as the MT-09
  • Great handling

At a glance

Power: 117 bhp
Seat height: Medium (31.9 in / 810 mm)
Weight: Medium (470 lbs / 213 kg)

Prices

New £10,199
Used N/A

Overall rating

Next up: Ride & brakes
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Yamaha Tracer 9 is the latest version of the firm's popular Tracer 900 model, but now it has received an energising shot from the rasping attributes of the 2021 MT-09.

Yamaha’s Tracer 9 and the enticing upgraded Tracer 9 GT – just £2000 extra with a range of super-value additions – have cannibalised the 889cc 117bhp CP3 triple, the chassis, and the agreeable ergonomics to form another thoroughbred option in an increasingly crowded segment of the market.

We swapped between both bikes for more than 130 miles in the wine country of Catalunya and for what felt like a never-ending route of corners and curves. Does the Tracer 9 earn its spurs as the leader of Yamaha’s grandiose ‘Roads of Life’ campaign?

The turning prowess and power of the MT-09 with added comfort, less vibration and a range of add-ons with the GT make the Tracer 9 a motorcycle that lingers in the mind, long after the sidestand has dropped.

The sheer ease and stability of the handling, together with the MT torque makes quite an impact and just enough to cover how uncomfortable the ride can be in the 80-90mph range on straight roads.

This is a fine sports-tourer that should keep the Tracer name at the top end of the sale charts upon its arrival in the UK in May but the extra specs of the GT really make it an essential purchase. 

2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 and Tracer 9 GT

Ride quality & brakes

Next up: Engine
5 out of 5 (5/5)

A Deltabox chassis with 50% more lateral rigidity comes straight from the MT-09 as do the highly effective and lighter 10-spoke SpinForged wheels (lower gyro effect) and an engine rotated almost 5 degrees more upright in the frame.

The front end feels lower thanks to the new KYB forks and the MT-09-styled fuel tank brings you nicely into a position that is both sporty and instantly controllable.

Combine willing Bridgestone Battlax tyres and the sensation through corners is the stuff of dreams: precise, light, so stable and fantastically reassuring.

Yamaha have given the Tracer a new longer 64mm aluminium swingarm that still keeps the bike’s wheelbase at 1500mm and hikes a potential extra payload to 193kg but the overall effect on centred rideability is very tangible.

The Tracer 9 launch accentuated the strengths of the bike through all manner of turns and kinks where the R1-style Nissin front brake was more than capable; the extra linear emphasis delivering the right amount of contact.

2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 on the road

Engine

Next up: Reliability
5 out of 5 (5/5)

The CP3 triple is Euro5 friendly, 2kg lighter than the motor used on the outgoing MT-09 and provides 6% more peak torque, 3% more peak output and 9% more efficiency.

That the Japanese have dropped weight, met emissions targets and still found a small elevation in power means the engine is one of the finer technical accomplishments of the Tracer 9.

From the four D mode throttle response options the sportier setting is still the best choice giving a bigger slice of verve from Yamaha Control Chip Throttle.

New intakes and chambers mean the growl from the Tracer is eminently satisfying. Yamaha claim the audio ‘boosts the emotional connection’ with the bike and they’re not too wide of the mark.

2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 engine

Reliability & build quality

Next up: Value
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The CP3 engine in the Tracer may have been tweaked for the new version of the bike but if the old version is anything to go by, there shouldn’t be any problems. CP3 engines have been known to see off 100,000 miles without issue.

Value vs rivals

Next up: Equipment
4 out of 5 (4/5)

The Tracer 9 faces stiff competition from the similarly triple-cylinder engine powered Triumph Tiger 900 GT and GT Pro. Although the Triumph is more expensive and less powerful than the Yamaha, it's a classy machine with lots of tech and worth considering.

The equivalent BMW option, the F900XR is cheaper than the Yamaha and only slightly down on power despite using a parallel-twin engine. Unlike the Triumph, the BMW also uses a sporty 17" front wheel for road-focused handling.

You might also consider the Kawasaki Versys 1000 S, which has a similar power and price to the Yamaha and also has 17" front wheel.

Equipment

4 out of 5 (4/5)

Yamaha have gone more ‘minimal’ with the sleek design of the Tracer 9. The layered plastics and panels promote better airflow while the rest of the ergonomics add to the impression of balance.

However, the company might want to consider a harsh review of the dash department in Iwata. Like the disappointing unit on the MT-09, the Tracer’s principal info interface lacks thought.

The split 3.5" TFT is a sound idea, with trip customisation data on the right and tacho and other figures on the left, but the display is set too far forward for taller riders, is hard to see in the sun and is an instant dust-trap.

Electronics including brake, slide and traction control are all funnelled through a new 6-axis IMU that is more compact than the hardware used on the R1 and runs 125 calculations per second and helped when the asphalt became a bit choppy and even muddy in parts.

The whole Tracer 9 experience dipped only through a brief blat on fast A-roads when the screen proved woefully inadequate for my 5ft 11in height, even at the peak of its 50mm range of movement. 

2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 dash

Specs

Engine size 889cc
Engine type Three-cylinder, liquid cooled, 4v, Euro5
Frame type Diecast aluminium Deltabox diamond form
Fuel capacity 18 litres
Seat height 810mm
Bike weight 213kg
Front suspension KYB 39mm telescopic fork, 130mm travel. Semi-active on GT
Rear suspension KYB shock 137mm travel. Adjustable preload & Semi-active on GT
Front brake Nissin radial master cylinder, x2 hydraulic disc, 298mm. Cornering ABS
Rear brake 245mm rear disc. Cornering ABS
Front tyre size 120/70 x 17
Rear tyre size 180/55 x 17

Mpg, costs & insurance

Average fuel consumption 56.5 mpg
Annual road tax £96
Annual service cost -
New price £10,199
Used price -
Insurance group -
How much to insure?
Warranty term Two years

Top speed & performance

Max power 117 bhp
Max torque 68.5 ft-lb
Top speed -
1/4 mile acceleration -
Tank range 224 miles

Model history & versions

Model history

  • 2015: Upright all-round ‘Tracer’ version of the naked MT-09 launched. Half faired, it has stiffer suspension, a larger fuel tank, Super Ténéré dash, more upright riding position, revised fuelling, traction control, a power socket and a centrestand.
  • 2016: Name changed from MT-09 Tracer to Tracer 900.
  • 2017: New lighter slipper clutch, longer swingarm for improved stability, plus adjustable traction control.
  • 2018: Higher-spec Tracer 900 GT introduced alongside, with colour-matched hard luggage, colour TFT dash, cruise control, quickshifter and heated grips.
  • 2021: Tracer 900 (and GT) replaced by new Tracer 9, with completely new look, increased engine capacity, more power, larger fuel tank, cruise control and fancier dash. Tracer 9 GT has semi-active suspension, all-singing traction control and ABS, heated grips and cornering lights.

Other versions

The GT is a heavier but equally poised and thrilling version of the Tracer 9. Adding £2k to the cost of the bike seems like hefty ballast but in actual fact it’s great value.

The literal and financial ‘weight’ comes through a rudimentary Kayaba semi-active suspension with new IMU and wider damping options and the installed side cases as part of the floating carrier system. The cases alone cost £1100 on the older Tracer.

The ten settings of the heated grips worked great in the chilly early hours of the Catalan sun and the Yamaha’s up-and-down Quick Shift System is joyous part of the pack, even if the Tracer 9’s gearbox - with new longer first and second gear - is a sturdy and light piece of kit.

Lastly the grey/blue Icon colour of the GT also outshines the redline and Tech Kamo of the Tracer 9.

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