2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT | Road Test Review

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT
Replacing the FJ-09 in Yamaha’s sport-touring lineup is the Tracer 900, which has been updated for 2019 and is now available in standard and GT versions. (Photos by Brian J. Nelson)

When Yamaha introduced its 847cc triple with a Crossplane Concept Crankshaft on the FZ-09 naked bike for 2014, it was revelatory—a powerful, audacious engine in a light, affordable package. The following year it was joined by the FJ-09, a more user-friendly and practical sport tourer built around the same feisty powerplant. Yamaha has decided to standardize its model names globally, so the FZ-09 is now known as the MT-09 and the FJ-09 is called the Tracer 900. Updated for 2019, the Tracer now comes in two versions, a standard model and a premium, touring-ready GT model.

Read our 2017 Yamaha FZ-09 first ride review

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT Mount Adams
Riding the Yamaha Tracer 900 GT through the canyon carved by the Klickitat River in southern Washington State, with Mount Adams in the background. The GT is an ideal motorcycle for solo sport touring.

You’d be hard pressed to find a better place to showcase the Tracer 900 GT than the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, which straddles the border between Washington and Oregon. Yamaha organized a 250-mile backroads test ride along the Columbia and Klickitat rivers and deep into the evergreens of Gifford Pinchot National Forest, a route highlighted by postcard vistas of snowcapped volcanic peaks. After that first ride, I took the long way home via the scenic byways of Oregon’s Cascade Range and some of the most remote and convoluted roads in Northern California, grinding down the GT’s improbably long peg feelers and making sure tire wear was even from shoulder to shoulder. On a bike as frisky, agile and comfortable as the Tracer 900 GT, consecutive 500-mile days were a delight, even during an oppressive heat wave.

Read our 2015 Yamaha FJ-09 long-term review

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT
The premium, touring-ready Tracer 900 GT comes standard with saddlebags, upgraded suspension, cruise control, a quickshifter, a full-color TFT display and heated grips. That’s the Bridge of the Gods in the background, where the Pacific Crest Trail crosses the Columbia River.

Since the first-generation FJ-09 won hearts and minds with its exhilarating engine, solid chassis and sensible design, updates to the Tracer 900 GT focused on refinement and increasing versatility. New suspension, with a fully adjustable fork and a linked shock that’s adjustable for rebound and preload (with a new remote adjuster), delivers a suppler, compliant ride, eliminating the previous model’s harshness over rough pavement. Extending the swingarm by 2.4 inches improves straight-line stability and drive out of corners without sacrificing the bike’s light, intuitive steering. And regardless of mode (A, STD or B), response from the YCC-T throttle-by-wire is less abrupt, making on/off adjustments smooth and seamless. Together, revisions to the suspension, swingarm and throttle response—as well as clutchless upshifts thanks to a new standard quickshifter—make the Tracer 900 GT more enjoyable on curvy roads. With fewer variables to manage, it’s easier to focus on the pleasure of taking graceful lines through corners and listening to the engine’s soulful tune.

Read our review of the Tracer 900-based Niken Leaning Multi-Wheel Vehicle

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT
New bodywork includes a redesigned headlight assembly, slimmer hand guards, new fairing panels that are more aerodynamic and integrated saddlebag mounts. For 2019, the Tracer 900 GT comes in Raven only, with bluish-purple (blurple?) wheels.

Greg’s Gear
Helmet: Fly Sentinel
Jacket: Scorpion Yosemite XDR
Pants: Rev’It Cayenne Pro
Boots: Tourmaster Epic Air Touring

For more touring capability, the GT comes standard with cruise control and heated grips, its windscreen is larger and easily adjustable with one hand, and its tail section now has integrated mounts for standard 22-liter saddlebags. For more comfort, the handlebar is narrower, the rider and passenger seats have a new shape and thicker foam (height of the adjustable seat increased a bit, to 33.5/34.1 inches), and the passenger footpeg brackets and grab handles have been redesigned. It has the same upright seating position with plenty of legroom and a comfortable reach to the bars. Although it’s rather small, a new full-color TFT display has bold, easy-to-read graphics and customizable features, and there’s a new menu wheel on the right grip. To set it apart from its predecessor, the Tracer 900 has new bodywork, with a reshaped headlight assembly, slimmer hand guards and new “triangular pyramid” fairing panels that improve airflow.

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT seat saddlebags
New rider and passenger seats have a more comfortable shape, thicker foam and grippier cover material, and the passenger grab handles and footpeg brackets have been redesigned. Saddlebags hold 22 liters each and they open/lock using the ignition key. New remote preload adjuster for the rear shock is below the silver side panel, and check out the length of that peg feeler!

The liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valves-per-cylinder in-line triple is as potent as ever, sending 105 horsepower and 60 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheel (based on our 2017 FZ-09 test on Jett Tuning’s dyno) through a 6-speed transmission with an assist-and-slipper clutch and chain final drive. Keeping the revs up catapults the bike out of corners and produces an intoxicating wail from the low-slung exhaust. Some vibration creeps into the grips and pegs when hard on the gas, but at cruising speeds it hums along smoothly and quietly. Tipping our scales at 503 pounds, the GT is a lightweight among sport tourers, making it ideal for solo touring (I loaded the saddlebags and strapped a tail bag to the passenger seat for my three-day, 1,600-mile ride home). Obedient in the best possible way, only minimal effort is required to tip the bike in and carve surgical arcs around corner after corner, and tossing it from side to side is a real pleasure. The dual 4-piston radial front calipers are strong, but they could use more initial bite and better feel at the lever. Also, to avoid dragging my toes in tight corners I ride with the balls of my feet on the pegs, but limited space means that my heels must do battle with the passenger peg brackets.

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT
The tall, height-adjustable seat (33.5/34.1 inches) provides ample legroom and the seating position is comfortably upright (my forward lean is a bit exaggerated in this photo). The on-the-fly one-hand-adjustable windscreen and standard hand guards provide decent wind protection.

We liked the 2015 FJ-09 so much that we kept it in our long-term fleet for a year. We heaped praise on its engine but struggled with its herky-jerky throttle response and limitations imposed by its suspension and OE tires. The Tracer 900 GT rolls on the same Dunlop D222 tires, with the same middling grip and compliance. Upgrading to dual-compound Dunlop Roadsmart IIIs, which we tested on a high-powered sport tourer last year, would boost confidence and performance (we’d upgrade the brake pads too). Otherwise, the GT has been transformed by its new suspension and smoother throttle response, and the other changes make it more well-rounded.

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT
At just over 500 pounds fully fueled, the Tracer 900 GT is a lightweight sport tourer, and its new suspension and longer swingarm greatly improve control and stability without compromising agility. This bike is an absolute blast in the twisties!

What about the standard Tracer 900? It gets the same improvements in styling, wind protection, rider/passenger comfort and chassis geometry and has some of the same standard features such as ABS, traction control, a centerstand and a 12V outlet on the dash, but it lacks the GT’s saddlebags, quickshifter and heated grips (they’re available as accessories) and isn’t available with the upgraded suspension, TFT display or cruise control. At $12,999, the GT costs $2,400 more than the standard model, but it’s money well spent.

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT
Updated cockpit includes a one-hand-adjustable windscreen, a new full-color TFT display with a menu wheel and mirrors with longer stalks.

Like its predecessor, the renamed, revised and refined Tracer 900 GT has quickly established itself as a staff favorite. We just can’t get enough of its rowdy triple, and it manages to be practical without being boring and sophisticated without being complicated—an all-purpose, high-performance bike that fits nearly any budget.

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT
In the new Tracer 900 GT, Yamaha’s exhilarating Crossplane Concept Crankshaft-equipped 847cc triple is wrapped in a well-rounded sport-touring package that delivers a lot of bang for the buck.

(KEEP SCROLLING FOR COMPLETE SPECS AND MORE PHOTOS)

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT Specs
Base Price: $12,999
Warranty: 1 yr., unltd. miles
Website: yamahamotorsports.com

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT Mount Hood
During my 3-day, 1,600-mile ride home, I explored scenic byways that cut back and forth over the Cascade Range in Oregon, with fantastic views of snow-capped, volcanic peaks like Mount Hood. (Photo by the author)

Engine
Type: Liquid-cooled, transverse in-line triple
Displacement: 847cc
Bore x Stroke: 78.0 x 59.1mm
Compression Ratio: 11.5:1
Valve Train: DOHC, 4 valves per cyl.
Valve Insp. Interval: 26,600 miles
Fuel Delivery: EFI w/ Y-CCT & 41mm throttle bodies x 3
Lubrication System: Wet sump, 2.85-qt. cap.
Transmission: 6-speed, cable-actuated wet assist-and-slipper clutch
Final Drive: O-ring chain

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT Crater Lake
No scenic ride through the Oregon Cascades would be complete without a stop at Crater Lake National Park. The ultra-blue lake sits within a collapsed volcano known as Mount Mazama, and Rim Drive is a 33-mile road around the caldera’s rim. Elevation of the lake’s surface is 6,178 feet, and a maximum depth of 1,946 feet makes Crater Lake the deepest in the U.S. (Photo by the author)

Luggage shown on bike in above photo:
Nelson-Rigg Hurricane Waterproof Backpack/Tail Pack

Electrical
Ignition: TCI/32-bit ECU
Charging Output: 415 watts max.
Battery: 12V 8.6AH

Chassis
Frame: Aluminum controlled-fill die-cast perimeter w/ tubular-steel subframe & cast aluminum swingarm
Wheelbase: 59.1 in.
Rake/Trail: 24 degrees/3.9 in.
Seat Height: 33.5/34.1 in.
Suspension, Front: 41mm USD fork, fully adj. w/ 5.4-in. travel
Rear: Linked shock, adj. for rebound damping & spring preload (remote) w/ 5.6-in. travel
Brakes, Front: Dual 298mm discs w/ opposed 4-piston radial calipers & ABS
Rear: Single 245mm disc w/ 1-piston pin-slide caliper & ABS
Wheels, Front: Cast, 3.50 x 17 in.
Rear: Cast, 5.50 x 17 in.
Tires, Front: 120/70-ZR17
Rear: 180/55-ZR17
Wet Weight: 503 lbs.
Load Capacity: 366 lbs.
GVWR: 869 lbs.

2019 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT Highway 36
Northwestern California has several fantastic motorcycling roads that we rode during this test, including State Route 96 (Bigfoot Highway) along the Klamath River, State Route 299 through the Trinity Alps and State Route 36 (above), aka Serpent to the Sea, which passes through an ancient redwood grove and crosses rugged mountains. This sign at the eastern end of Route 36 in Red Bluff tells motorcyclists all they need to know. (Photo by the author)

Performance
Fuel Capacity: 4.8 gals., last 0.7 gal. warning light on
MPG: 91 PON min. (low/avg/high) 39.8/45.2/52.3
Estimated Range: 217 miles
Indicated RPM at 60 MPH: 4,000

8 COMMENTS

    • How much engine heat is radiated onto you legs? I live in North Carolina and it gets so uncomfortable in the 90’s if the engine is not shielded….Otherwise I would love to take delivery on one if I don’t need to worry about par-broiling my legs!

      • Engine heat wasn’t an issue. I rode the Tracer 900 GT in temperatures above 100 degrees for several hours one day, and I didn’t notice excessive heat radiating from the engine. During our long-term test of a 2015 Yamaha FJ-09, we noticed some engine heat when wearing mesh pants, but again, it wasn’t excessive. The FJ-09/Tracer 900 is a narrow bike with plenty of airflow down low, so the only time you’d probably notice engine heat is sitting in stop-and-go traffic.
        – Greg Drevenstedt

  1. Pity the load capacity is so low. The wife and I would be right at the limit in just our underwear, never mind clothes, gear and luggage. Guess I’ll have to go with the Versys 1K instead.

  2. The Yamaha demo truck has one, or at least it did when they were in Loveland, CO, a couple of weeks ago. If you get a chance to take a demo ride, you won’t want to give it back at the end. Nor was a 30-minute ride nearly long enough. The demo had the accessory touring windscreen, comfort seat and rear rack. I had no wind buffeting with the touring screen and even rode with my helmet visor up (it was a hot day; mid to upper 90s) at speeds that were a little above the posted limit. Anyway, the dealer now has a buyer for the first one they get in. BTW, I love those electric blue wheels!

  3. How noisy and turbulent is the new windshield? The most off-putting aspect for me of the previous model was its gawdawfully noisy windscreen. I’ve read some reviews of this new model that mention a similar problem with the new, taller windscreen, the criticism being that long freeway slogs are ruined by the excessive noise, turbulence, and back-pressure (behind the helmet) which result from the windblast tumbling over the windshield, regardless of whether it’s in its low or high position.

    • The windscreen has been reshaped for smoother airflow, and I had no problem with turbulence or wind noise (though I always wear earplugs to protect my hearing). Due to differences in rider body sizes and types, windscreens really are a personal preference. Yamaha offers a larger touring windscreen, aftermarket companies like National Cycle will have options available soon if not already. The new pinch-and-slide one-handed height adjustment feature is nice.

  4. I picked up the first 2019 Tracer GT that arrived in Omaha, NE before it had been unpacked 24 hours. I love, love it. I own a MT-09 and switching between bikes seems familiar. So far my Tracer does everything well. I can’t think of a single thing that I could complain about. This will be a long term keeper for sure.

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