Long term update: 250 miles of B-road heaven

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Days off work during the week are so commonly greeted by sideways rain that I’ve stopped making a plan involving bikes. Instead I’ve started going with whatever the weather is doing when I wake up.

A recent Friday off started once the kids were packed off to school. The sun was still shining and I had nothing to do all day except enjoy the three-cylinder Tracer for the first time away from the daily commute. Working for MCN means I ride a lot but for much of the time that riding is done for jobs and almost always there’s a firm destination and a timetable attached. It’s still fun, but it’s restricted a little. The freedom from not having a destination, plan, route or a return time was a day to savour.

No matter how far away you are intending to go, the first few miles are obviously on familiar roads but I was determined to get away from the known and discover some of central Britain’s beautiful countryside.

I ended up covering more than 250 miles of mostly B-road heaven on my day out with stop-offs in Suffolk for a drink and a quick lunch before heading home on the most roundabout-littered route I could conjure up. The Tracer showed it’s a really fun, agile and light-handling bike.

I played around with the adjustable screen and found for my 5ft 9in height the lowest setting suited me best and kept the wind roar down. Bizarrely, at maximum height the buffeting is nasty; particularly when following cars on faster roads. Tank range is also in the bike’s favour and with some calmer riding it will do 200 miles before needing a fill-up, which is better than my usual range of 175 miles when I’m commuting.

I had to head home in the end, but I stopped for a quick drink somewhere peaceful before the final few miles home so I could savour the last moments of a lovely day of riding on a motorcycle that feels as though it has been built for enjoying UK roads.

The Tracer isn’t perfect but I reckon with some simple tweaks to the suspension it can be made significantly better – and when you consider the amazing value this bike represents at £8149 it’s easy to see why Yamaha are selling them as rapidly as they can make them.

Other than new tyres the only modification I’ve made is to fit a Twisty Ride mount for my iPhone (£70, www.twistyride.com), so I can use it as a sat-nav. The mount secures to a Telferizer Ram Mount (£20, www.telferizer.com).

Fitting everything was easy enough, except for the battery terminals on the Tracer. One has an uncaptured nut, which made it a finger-torturing pig of a job. Why anyone would design a battery like this is a mystery. A simple capture nut would have meant no drama at all. I know there is a 12v power socket on the dash of the Tracer but this is no use with the existing power supply I have and I’m not sure how waterproof a 12v socket would be.

I have also fitted the Yamaha tank mount for a tankbag. This accessory part is £48 and is supplied separately to the Yamaha tankbags, which come in a variety of sizes. The tankmount has the advantage of being made by Bags Connection, so any of their products will work. As I was travelling super-light that day I used a very small tankbag to carry my wallet, house keys and a drink. It was all I needed for a liberating day out on my bike.

Andy Downes

By Andy Downes

Former MCN Senior Reporter