After overhauling its MT-09 naked bike, Yamaha is giving its Tracer touring bike the same treatment. For 2021, the US and Canada are getting the new Tracer 9 GT, and it looks like a big step forward (for 2021, it looks like we’re not getting the base model Tracer 9 in North America).

Updated engine

The Tracer 9 gets the new 890cc liquid-cooled inline three-cylinder engine. Yamaha had to update the triple to meet new Euro5 emissions regs anyway, so it did some other work at the same time. Along with the added displacement (thanks to a longer stroke), Yamaha also overhauled the exhaust and intake systems. Add in new pistons, connecting rods, fuel injectors, camshafts and crankcase, and you get more power. Peak output rises to 117 horsepower at 10,000 rpm for the Euro model, and 68 pound-feet of torque at 7000 rpm. That’s a gain of four horsepower, and 7 percent torque increase.

The clutch comes with slipper/assist functions, and as you’d expect, there’s a six-speed gearbox.

Yamaha pairs the three-cylinder engine with a new ride-by-wire throttle system, similar to what’s found on an R1. In turn, that means the ability to upgrade the bike’s electronic engine management systems. The Tracer 9 GT comes with four riding modes built in, adjusting engine response from rip-your-face-off-fun to mild-mannered rain riding. The GT also comes with an up/down quickshifter fitted as standard equipment.

Yamaha’s Tracer 9 GT sees a price hike for 2021, but it’s much closer to the truly top-shelf Euro competition now. Photo: Yamaha

Electro-trickery

Speaking of electronics: The MT-09 also got a new six-axis IMU, and the Tracer 9 GT gets that upgrade as well. This means Yamaha has the same safety electronics as the MT (leaning-sensitive two-level ABS and traction control, along with wheelie control). There’s even a slide control system, which sounds a bit superfluous for a touring bike. Still, it’s all on par with the Euro competition now. The Tracer 9 GT also gets a cruise control system, a much more sensible feature on a tourer.

The IMU is also tied into a new cornering-sensitive lighting system. Along with the normal headlight and running lights (all LEDs, along with indicators and brake lights), the Tracer 9 GT has cornering-sensitive lighting that detects the bike’s lean and shines “into corners.” Yamaha says the lights’ brightness automatically increase the further the bike is leaned over, allowing for sporty riding long into the night (maybe not in moose country, though). The cornering lights kick in when the bike leans 7 degrees or more, at speeds 5 km/h or higher.

You can also order an optional topbox. Photo: Yamaha

The Tracer 9 GT’s six-axis IMU also integrates into the bike’s semi-active suspension, along with the ECU. The Tracer 9 GT has electronically-managed suspension, courtesy of Kayaba. The rider can choose from one of four different suspension modes. Once under way, “Damping settings are instantaneously adjusted via a solenoid in order to achieve a smooth and secure ride—regardless of the load or riding condition,” the press release says.

While the MT-09 was long seen as sort of a budget-friendly alternative to pricey Euro naked bikes, it’s obvious Yamaha intends the Tracer 9 GT to be a premium machine. Its electronics are a huge jump forward from the previous-generation Tracer, same as the MT.

One difference between the Tracer 9 GT and its competitors: The Euro bikes, in particular, are moving towards massive TFT screens, allowing split-screen function. The Tracer 9 GT has dual 3.5-inch TFT screens instead. This allows for similar function, separating information between the two screens. As per the press release:

Key running information is featured on the left screen, including a multi-coloured bar-type tachometer whose colour changes as rpm rises, as well as a digital speedometer, fuel gauge, gear position and TCS mode indicator. The left screen can be switched to the TCS mode and setting display, enabling the rider to select the desired intervention mode for the electronic rider aids. The right screen is split into four separate sections, each one displaying a range of information such as odometer, tripmeters, temperature and more.

Yamaha takes a different approach with dual TFT screens. Photo: Yamaha

Chassis changes

The new engine means a new chassis, too. Like the MT-09, the Tracer 9 GT gets a new die-cast aluminum frame. Yamaha didn’t just re-cycle the MT’s frame here. Touring bikes see heavier loads, so Yamaha beefed up the frame for the Tracer 9 GT. The steel swingarm is longer, too; the extended wheelbase makes for better stability at speed.

As mentioned above, the Tracer 9 GT gets Kayaba electro-suspension.

There’s not much info on the brakes. There’s a set of dual 298mm discs up front, and a single 245mm rear disc, with no word on what calipers Yamaha used. There’s an R1-style radial master cylinder for the front brakes, the first time Yamaha’s used that arrangement on a sport tourer.

Yamaha also used aluminum spin-forged wheels on the Tracer 9 GT, same as the MT.

Those leaning-sensitive headlights make night riding much safer. Photo: Yamaha

Tarted up for touring

The Tracer 9 GT has a massive windshield, with 50mm of adjustment over 10 positions, says Yamaha. The bodywork is new, too, and Yamaha built a lot of adjustability into the riding positioning:

“The newly developed rider’s seat is mounted 15 mm lower than the previous model, and features a simple tool-free, two- position height adjuster. Further changes to the ergonomics can be made by adjusting the footrests by 15 mm up or down, and the handlebar position can also be moved forwards by 9 mm and upwards by 4 mm by reversing the direction of the handlebar clamps, giving a total of eight different riding positions.”

Fuel economy is improved, too, an important feature for touring. Yamaha says gas mileage increased by 9 percent, giving the GT a claimed 350-kilometre range from its 18-litre gas tank.

Yamaha says the hard sidecases will each swallow a helmet, and there’s an optional top case if you need more luggage capacity. Heated grips are standard equipment.

The 2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT is priced at $14,899 in the US. Canadians have to cough up $16,999. Taxes and fees are extra.

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