MSRP $15,087 (as tested)
Last September I participated in the Three Flags Classic, an endurance ride from Mexico to Canada totaling more than 5,000 miles (read about it here), and had my pick of motorcycles on which to do it. I needed something comfortable, of course, but also wanted some cornering clearance for when things got twisty, plenty of luggage space and an athletic, upright riding position in case we encountered gravel or dirt (which we did). Then Senior Editor Drevenstedt came home with a new Yamaha Tracer 900 GT, which he’d ridden back to SoCal from the launch in Washington, and I had my mount.
Before I left, however, we needed to address some minor touring shortcomings and prepare the bike for its adventure. So off the Tracer went to Yamaha to be outfitted with a Yamaha accessory comfort seat and taller touring windscreen, along with a set of new Dunlop Roadsmart III tires and some DP Brakes sintered pads that would offer better bite and feedback than the stock pads. When it came back a couple of weeks later, we discovered Yamaha had gone above and beyond by also adding a radiator guard, front fender extender, engine case guards, a larger rear rack and a full Yoshimura exhaust system.
Almost 5,000 miles later, I was grateful and impressed with everything…with the exception of the exhaust. Its sporty, aggressive song became tiring and abrasive, even with earplugs, after eight-plus daily hours of high-speed droning. Everything else, though, made a good sport tourer a great one. While I never tested the engine guards (thankfully), Yamaha’s comfort seat and touring screen kept me comfortable, the big rear rack made it a breeze to attach the dry duffel holding my camping gear and after miles of loose gravel in Montana, the radiator guard had proved its worth. The Dunlops especially impressed me, proving to stick faithfully regardless of temperature or road condition, including rain, sleet and slush, and even after my ride they were only just starting to square off and had plenty of tread left.
Some have complained of a bit of buzziness generated by the Tracer’s 847cc triple, but I had no issues; perhaps the comfort seat helped, and I made judicious use of the cruise control, which worked very well. My only remaining niggle is that the footpegs are set fairly far back, resulting in a sporty knee bend that could get tiresome. Otherwise, though, our kitted-out Tracer turned out to be a solid sport-touring machine that inspires me to wonder: where shall I go next?