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2019 Tracer 900 GT Early impressions

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Handlebar Controls:  The usual effective levers and switches.  The cruise control is easy to use and the clutch is commendably light although it was a surprise to find a cable.  I thought hydraulic clutches had become the norm now.  Not a problem, just something else to keep well oiled.  The exception is the so-called thumbwheel on the right.  There isn't any known thumb that could reach that from the twist-grip and  its operation as a push-switch is quite clunky.  It is probably not something that you need on the move anyway. Engine mode switches - yeah, if you must but I rarely change the setting


The instrument panel is another story.  OK - it's in colour but it is just too small.  It looks like they bought up the TFT screens from a long defunct small phone model.  I thought that my Garmin SatNav took the biscuit for tiny, unreadable messages but this is even worse.  What is the point of a clock that needs you to dip your head under the screen to read it and what is that tiny ECO word that appears now and then.  Who the hell buys a high performance motorcycle and needs to be told if they are driving it in an ECO manner?  Perhaps Yamaha salve their ECO consciences or get brownie points for including it.  Fortunately the tacho and speedo are fairly clear although I'll never understand why manufacturers insist on their speedos reading fast.  Mine is about 8% against my Garmin which I prefer to rely on.  The instantaneous mpg feature ought to be illegal on any vehicle.  As it is always changing, it's only interest is in observing how different throttle openings and loads change it.  To watch this effect, you need to take your eyes off the road for far too long to be safe. I do approve of the readout of fuel consumed.  I've never encountered that before and, used with the fuel gauge, it enables reliable judgements about when to refuel.  I just wish they had forgone the colour novelty and fitted an LCD screen that used all the available space to give readable information.


General Performance:  The engine is a gem with a super-wide power band and plenty of go when asked.  It is even a pleasure to ride in town!  Fuel economy is better than I expected but lately I've been used to V-twins.  Mid 50s per UK gallon seems usual.  The gearbox is Japanese so it is predictably precise and reliable.  I've already published my views on the gimmicky quick-shifter.  The brakes are just the standard excellent equipment that come with modern bikes.  The older among you may recall what truly inadequate brakes felt like in the 1960's and 70's.  I haven't given the ABS a thorough workout yet but it works and I'm confident that it will not disappoint.


Suspension and Comfort:  Now I have set the suspension sag to sensible levels, the suspension seems to work quite well on the standard settings.  I will try a click or two of adjustment but won't be disappointed if I end up back at the standard settings.  The extended swing-arm probably helps the well-planted feel of the handling but the steering remains light and responsive and it maintains a unflustered line on long bends.  The absolute best you can say about any handling is that you don't really notice it and that describes the Tracer so far.  I am aware of claims of instability at high speeds which I haven't reached yet because the bike is so new.  Nevertheless, I am a big rider ( over 210lbs in full riding gear) and that usually serves to "overwhelm" instabilities that bother other riders by putting more weight on the front - we'll see.  I thought that the footrests were a bit rear-set at first but now I don't notice and this is the first bike ever that I haven't needed to adjust the position of the pedals.  The seat suffers from a Yamaha peculiarity where, on either height setting, it slopes downwards toward the front meaning that I find myself with a sore "undercarriage" where I have slid forward under braking or spirited riding.  My 1200 Super Tenere was exactly the same.  Yamaha need to take a leaf out of the Italian's book.  My Aprilia and my Ducati had very stylish looking seats that swung up towards the tank at the front and were very comfortable.  My wife is no longer able to ride pillion so I can't comment on the rear seat.  The standard screen is quite inadequate for me at 6ft 2.  Just in passing, I have already used all the available tyre side grip and not touched those footrest extensions so it is scary to imagine what you need to do to grind them away.  Maybe they only work to prove you've just crashed or perhaps they serve the same purpose as the 99% of  knee sliders that have never touched the road; they just look impressive.


Styling is in the eye of the beholder.  I once had an Aprilia Futura which was styled in the angular way of modern bikes but was a sales failure because it was too far ahead of its time.  I quite like the Tracer but I frankly don't care if the styling is plug ugly as long as it performs well.  I'm sat on it not stood looking at it.  The panniers fit easily, look like they belong and are well made with effective seals.  They are big enough for solo touring but no way enough for two.  You need to look for the larger FJR1300 cases or lids that will fit (see the forum thread)


Accessories fitted so far: 

A home-made SatNav mount.  This places it above the screen adjuster to bring the SatNav as near as possible to my eye line.  It just needs a quick glance (safety again) instead of the supplied handlebar mount that needs you to lower your eyes too far.  I have also re-fitted my home-made super-bright LED indicator warnings alongside the SatNav.  I've used them for the last ten years.  They totally prevent the indicators being accidentally left on and I am lost without them.

A Vario touring screen with adjustable aerofoil which isn't silent but smoothes the air sufficiently to be comfortable.  Probably the best I can achieve.

A slim(ish) camera case type box that fits over the pillion seat and hinges at the back mount to allow access for seat removal.  Somewhere to put the puncture goo, the pump and tools, etc. to leave the panniers free for travel gear.

A Baglux tank cover to enable me to use my existing Baglux tankbag or map carrier.  It is amazing how they mass manufacture these covers to fit so well.

My Air-Hawk seat cushion which mostly cures the seat's shortcomings though the Air-Hawk isn't the complete answer some would have you believe.


OK, I'm ready to cover some serious miles.

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@OLD DVB good write up and summary.  Would not disagree with any of it.  Some of your positives that jump out for me:

Engine is a gem for sure - rev that sucker.

Cases do fit in well - I am from Ducati as well and on the GT the cases look good on the bike.

Not so good:


Amazing that the same bike in the UK market, reading mph, reads 8% different to the GPS.  My GT in the US is always within 1 mph of my Garmin, with both the stock tires and the Pilot Road 5s I now run.

Have fun and try to squeeze some more good weather out of the year.

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13 hours ago, vincep said:

@OLD DVB good write up and summary. 

Amazing that the same bike in the UK market, reading mph, reads 8% different to the GPS.  My GT in the US is always within 1 mph of my Garmin, with both the stock tires and the Pilot Road 5s I now run.

I wonder whether this is a regulatory thing and Yammy adjust the unit for each market?

I know that in our market there are design rules that require the speedo to read within a certain percentage *above* the actual speed. It can never legally under-read. Presumably so that no one will ever be able to use the reading of their speedo as an argument against a speeding ticket.

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Yes, I've used the heated grips a fair bit.  I love the ability to adjust the levels of the three settings.  Mine is on 3, 5 and 10.  Why do all heated grips fail to take account of the insulation from the metal bars provided by the twistgrip sleeve so that the left is way cooler than the right.  It can't be impossible to adjust the heating elements to compensate or, as one aftermarket set I once bought, provide a similar plastic sleeve for the left side to balance things out.

I read somewhere that an EU speedo regulation stipulates something similar to OZ i.e. a percentage above actual, but my Audi TT car and my BMW Mini are almost exactly right so go figure!

I tested the reserve fuel remaining yesterday.  The warning came on just as I was passing a service station so I refilled and found that there had been EXACTLY 2.6 litres still in the tank as specified in the handbook.  Well done Yamaha.  On the other hand, I am not yet convinced about the Fuel Used readout.  It seems to be under-reading which might explain why the MPG is  4-5% optimistic.

Edited by OLD DVB
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