“The original Tracer exceeded everyone’s expectations” explains James McCombe from Product Planning. “It offered such a good balance of performance and value that it was a daunting task to improve upon it! We decided to keep the concept as a sporty versatile machine with great dynamic qualities, and refine it for an even wider range of usage."
“When we investigated what to improve, we set a couple of key objectives for this project.
First, with the original Tracer we weren’t able to provide hard cases from the factory and people regretted that so we needed to change this. Second, we wanted to offer more value to customers, in line with the latest technological trends like rider aids and interfaces. And third, we wanted to ensure that the bike remained accesisble from a price perspective.”
Standard or GT
That also led to the split into two models: the standard Tracer and the more upscale Tracer GT. “The GT version has equipment that enlarge both its sports capabilities as well as its touring capabilities, for the most demanding customers. Obviously this means a higher price range. The standard version benefits from many upgrades, yet remains very affordable for the budget conscious buyer.”
James confirms “This is an evolution, not a revolution. We kept the light and sporty feeling and sharp design theme. But all plastic parts have changed, for a more integrated and high quality look. The original bike had a sporty front and a very sparse and functional rear. Especially at the rear you can see a big difference, with a more beautiful style and more spacious seat.”
“At the front, especially the handlebars and handle protectors have become less bulky. As a versatile bike, city use is important and this helps to ride in tight areas.”
Versatility for long distance riding
“Technically an important item was to keep the bike more neutral under loaded conditions. For this, the whole rear geometry and rear suspension settings are changed. The swingarm is 6 cm longer, which came about after a lot of testing: we could retain the agility while the stability with luggage improved a lot. Also the rear frame is lengthened by 5 cm, and is designed to mount Yamaha Genuine hard cases.“
“The windscreen is a bit larger and can be adjusted by a one-hand operation. The riding position is refined and the passenger is a lot more comfortable due to a separate seat, longer footrest stays and improved handle grips.”
High-spec Tracer 900GT
Compared to the ‘normal’ Tracer 900, the new Tracer 900GT offers a lot of additional features:
· Quickly detachable side-cases are included: Colour-coordinated hard cases with a narrow fit to the bike, aesthetically pleasing. With the whole case system included, the wet weight of the bike (so including oil and full fuel tank) is only 227 kg, by far the lightest GT on the market!
· A full colour TFT instrument panel provides a brilliant quality and a comprehensive range of information with items like a clock, gear indicator, outside temperature, fuel meter etc. Plus a view of the settings for D-mode, grip heater, and cruise control.
· A Quick-shift system (QSS) enables speedy and seamless upshifts without clutch.
· Cruise control offers more convenience on long trips or in speed-controlled areas.
· Heated grips add versatility for all-weather use; they can be set in 10 levels and operated via the dashboard menu.
· Premium KYB front suspension with beautiful gold finish and full adjustability (spring preload, compression and rebound damping) set the GT version also visually apart from the standard version.
· Premium KYB rear suspension features a remote spring preload adjuster so the setting can be changed easily for use with a passenger or luggage. Also the damping adjuster is easier to reach.
Key highlights kept
Obviously Yamaha has kept the fundamental strengths of the machine, for both versions:
· The sporty and emotional 3-cylinder engine with 115HP and its characteristic sound.
· The D-mode that enables to set throttle response / power delivery to your personal preference.
· An upright riding position that offers a good view over traffic, an excellent control of the bike and good comfort on long distances.
· The LED headlight system which is compact, powerful and light weight.
· The 3-mode Traction Control System that provides extra confidence in rough or unexpected conditions.
· An Assist/Slipper clutch for easy operation and smoother downshifts.
Looking back on the project James says: “We’re most happy with how the overall package has become such a competent machine and how we could improve genuine issues that customers were suggesting, like the luggage carrying capability, the passenger position, the windscreen adjustment.”