The Yamaha MT-09 Tracer was a standout motorcycle from the off. It would have been a strong contender for our overall bike of the year, were it not for Kawasaki’s outrageously impressive Ninja H2. It’s an impressive machine that simply does everything well, bringing an all-round versatility that makes it superb to own and live with.
This has been one of the busiest years for the MCN road test team in recent memory, and it’s been a long time since we’ve seen the thick and fast introduction of so many exciting new bikes. 2015 has seen the arrival of great new adventure bikes, cruisers, retros, 125s, A2 licence-friendly machines and scooters, while also being hailed as the return of the superbike.
The MCN awards are our pick of the best metal to be released this year and covers multiple categories. Over the next week, we will reveal all the winners, so keep checking back.
‘This is a seriously good bike at a seriously
Yamaha’s new MT-09 Tracer has been the success story of 2015. According to official figures from the MCIA, it’s the best-selling bike over 125cc so far this year.
It’s a machine that really punches above its weight and could have easily have taken MCN’s Overall Machine of the Year award, if it wasn’t for the dramatic, once-in-a-decade Kawasaki H2.
It looks the part with sharp, aggressive styling, a stubby underslung exhaust and radial monobloc calipers. The screen is adjustable and the clocks are clear and informative. You can easily scroll through the information on the dash and switch between riding modes without taking your hands off the bars.
Initially the Tracer feels like a machine much larger than an 850cc triple, but the narrow seat means even riders with short legs can reach the floor with ease. The 19-litre fuel tank is wide and the bars are high, making the Yamaha feel a bit like an old-school streetfighter. But it’s a natural, comfortable riding position and the handguards and small screen are effective at deflecting the cold air away from your body.
The three-cylinder motor has an engaging bark and feels much more powerful than its claimed 115bhp. Get the Tracer revving and it can certainly kick off its high heels and run. At our test track, the Tracer clocked 100mph in 7.57 seconds and recorded a standing quarter-mile time of 11.52 seconds. Top speed is just shy of 130mph. It churns out an impressive amount of torque, too, and the midrange is more comparable to that of a 1000.
On the move the Tracer has a lovely balance and the suspension copes well with British roads. The set-up is plush enough to soak up the majority of bumps and tarmac imperfections, but isn’t so hard it’s going to jolt out your fillings. It also has excellent traction control and equally good ABS-assisted brakes.
I believe the key to the Tracer’s success is its all-round versatility and excellent price. We’ve had competitively-priced middleweights in the past, but they’ve been ugly or let down by poor build quality. The Tracer well and truly bucks this trend.
In fact, given Yamaha’s excellent PCP and finance deals, there should be very little to put you off the award-winning MT-09 Tracer. But we do have one word of warning: ‘if you try one you’ll buy one’.
||847cc (78 x 59.1mm), 12v inline triple
||Cast aluminium diamond frame
||Riding modes, ABS
||£1933.30 deposit, 36 monthly payments: £115, final payment: £3643
Click here to read our review of the MT-09 Tracer