2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT | Long-Term Review

We spent 12 months with Rider's 2021 Motorcycle of the Year

2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT
The 2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT won Rider’s Motorcycle of the Year award last year, and we’ve tested it over a period of 12 months. Photos by Kevin Wing.

Related Story: 2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT | Road Test Review

Mileage: 6,294
Base Price: $14,899 (2021); $14,999 (2022)
Accessories: $729.95

After a year together, it’s finally time to say goodbye to our 2021 Motorcycle of the Year. We’ve had a great time with the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT, so we’re sad to see it go.

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2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT
We added several Yamaha factory accessories to improve wind protection, storage capacity, and passenger comfort.

The Tracer 9 GT is the culmination of several generations of development and refinement, and the result is a fantastic lightweight sport-tourer built around Yamaha’s 890cc inline-Triple, which is good for 108 hp at 10,000 rpm and 63 lb-ft of torque at 7,200 rpm at the rear wheel. This is one of the most fun and engaging engines around – it’s like hanging out with three hellraising buddies who know how to keep it cool in polite company but love to get rowdy when the clock strikes 6,500 rpm.

In stock trim, the Tracer 9 GT is a versatile, comfortable machine that served us well on day rides, weekend jaunts, and multiday trips. We appreciated the Yamaha’s good wind protection, upright riding position, generous legroom, dual-height seat (31.9/32.5 inches), and adjustable handlebar and footpeg positions. None of our testers complained about soreness in wrists, lower backs, or shoulders, nor was engine heat ever an issue.

2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT
We replaced the OE Bridgestone tires with Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart IVs.

Any time the road turned twisty, we were glad to be on the Tracer. With its raucous engine, excellent chassis, and semi-active suspension, we attacked corners with gusto, enjoying the confidence boost that a well-sorted motorcycle can provide. 

To get to the good stuff, we logged many miles on the slab. One of our nits to pick is how busy the engine is in 6th gear at freeway speeds. At 65 mph, the engine turns 4,200 rpm. We lost count of how many times we grabbed ghost shifts to 7th thinking there might be another gear up top. We’d like to try a rear sprocket with one less tooth to make the gearing taller.

2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT
Yamaha’s Touring Windshield is taller and wider than stock.

In terms of maintenance, we did routine checks of tire pressure, oil level, chain tension and lubrication, and such. We changed the oil and filter after about 5,000 miles, and we used the recommended Yamalube products. We also took the Tracer to our local Yamaha dealer after a safety recall was announced that all 2021-22 MT-09 and Tracer 9 GT models had an improperly programmed ECU that could cause engines to stall unexpectedly in certain circumstances. It was fixed quickly at no charge.

The Tracer proved to be unforgiving of laziness with the clutch when pulling away from a stop, both before and after the recall repair. Without adequate revs, we’d stall the Tracer like a newbie.

After about 5,000 miles of hard use, the rear Bridgestone Battlax T32 GT tire was toast. We spooned on a set of Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart IV radials, and they’ve provided excellent grip and ride quality. MSRP for the Roadsmart IV tires is $189.95 for the front (120/70ZR17) and $250.95 for the rear (180/55ZR17). You can read our Roadsmart IV review here.

To enhance the Tracer 9 GT’s touring ability, we installed several Yamaha factory accessories, including the Touring Windshield ($179.99), Top Case Mounting Kit ($116.99), 50L Top Case ($289.99), 50L Top Case Backrest Pad ($74.99), and 50L Fitted Top Case Inner Bag ($66.99). 

2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT
We installed Yamaha’s 50L Top Case. It’s also available in a 39-liter size.

Installation was straightforward. The Touring Windshield is 2.8 inches wider and 3.2 inches taller than stock, and it made a big difference in terms of wind protection. The Tracer’s 30-liter saddlebags are large enough to hold a full-face helmet in each side. The 50L Top Case bumps total storage capacity to 110 liters, and the backrest pad was appreciated by passen-gers.

Over the course of nearly 6,300 miles, we averaged 44.4 mpg, which yields 222 miles from the 5-gallon tank (premium unleaded is required). Our fuel economy ranged from as high as 60.4 mpg to as low as 33.7 mpg, the latter after giving it the whip in a serious headwind.

After whining to Yamaha reps about having to return the Tracer 9 GT, we wiped away our tears when they offered us a lollipop: an accessorized 2022 MT-10. Stay tuned to find out how we get along with the Tracer’s big brother.

5 COMMENTS

  1. You passed on some useful info from this long term test, however what exactly do you mean by comfort? there’s a lot of things that affect that. On the Tracer 9 GT group on FB, there are numerous mentions of the hard uncomfortable seat. Also, the touring screen received criticism. You mentioned the touring screen made a difference in wind protection which logically one would expect a larger screen to do. But did it make the buffeting/ noise tolerable? I know seats and screens are subjective depending on the rider, but if there are enough complaints about it, it could be an issue. Uncomfortable seats and noisy windscreens are deal breakers for me no matter how excellent the technology is. Of the last 6 bikes I’ve owned there is not one that I haven’t changed both these items. That includes Suzuki, BMW and Yamaha. Just about anyone can tolerate a short 75 mile jaunt or a commute to work, but a sport tourer implies maybe 200 to 500 mile days. If I were to consider buying the Tracer 9 GT, I’d first verify that my favorite seat and screen manufacturers made products for this bike.

    • Comfort is a subjective issue. People have different pet peeves, sensitivities, and tolerances for things like heat, vibration, wind noise, ergonomics, etc. People also come in all shapes and sizes, which affects how they perceive comfort, airflow, etc. Even the type of helmet and apparel a rider wears affects perceptions of comfort.

      We evaluate motorcycles and accessories to the best of our abilities based on our years of experience testing a wide range of motorcycle types/models. We didn’t have a problem with buffeting/wind noise with the Touring Windshield, but then again our testers always wear earplugs and aerodynamic full-face helmets. We also didn’t have any issues with the stock seat, though we’re aware that stock seats are the most common “pain point” for many riders. But aftermarket seats are also contentious. For example, some people swear by Corbin seats and others think they feel like sitting on a rock.

      Based on your years of riding experience, you know what your comfort issues typically are. If you don’t find a stock windscreen or seat to your liking, then hopefully you can find a factory or aftermarket accessory that meets your needs.

  2. 9 out 9 of my last bikes needed seats. Last good seats I had where on a78 Suzuki GS1000 and Suzuki GS1000S. Both had the same all day seats. My ’15 Versys 1k seat was not uncomfortable, it was painful! after 50 miles… Who the f makes metric seats?

  3. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but Damn… It should count for something. Unfortunately, so-called “Sport Touring Bikes” have morphed from the utilitarian BMW GS style bikes instead of the more classic standard bikes of yesteryear, with rare exception. There should be yet a different category for these monstrosities.

    • I wanted there to be a new ST1300 quite frankly. Not a Wing, not a bagger and not an offroad, manual windshield, chain driven type bike…

      Basically a 3/4 Wing.

      Alas…

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