Yamaha MT-09 Tracer test


Trace strong and far

The impressive commercial success of the Yamaha MTs is a quantified reality: 3,700 MT-09 (including 15% of Street Rallye and Sport Tracker) in France, 10,372 in Europe. The MT-07 figures are even higher, with 15,437 units in Europe, the second sales figure behind…. the BMW GS ! The manufacturer with tuning forks is not resting on its laurels and is offering, for 2015, a new version of its three-cylinder machine with multiple talents: the MT-09 Tracer. This road roadster, not a trail, is intended to be more conciliatory for travel and duo use, but without denying the sportiness part of its character DNA. Fairing with dynamic lines, engine mapping (D-Mode) revised, ergonomics and specific saddle as well as many standard equipment, the novelty is striking. To get a fair idea, we try the Tracer around Malaga in rather wintry conditions. That TM should quickly heat up…

On the basis of the MT09, Yamaha declines the Tracer


While waiting for the Tracer, some evoked Fazer and TDM to suggest an idea of ​​the future Yamaha. Really neither, the Tracer is part of the spontaneous generation MT09. Based on the mechanical base and cycle part of the roadster, the novelty dresses and evolves to cut the terminal, always dynamically, but now more comfortably. Therein lies the very principle of the machine: to unite fans of more or less distant trips and fans of sporting sensations on the handlebars..

It would almost be difficult to recognize his naked sister as the Tracer differs aesthetically. Her magnificently sculpted volumes, with taut lines, sculpt the surfaces and stretch the flats of her short dress. For my part, I can only praise the pencil line of the creator. Efficient, subtle and sharp, the design calls out, attracts.

Adjustable windshield and dual LED optics, the look of the Tracer is totally different from the original naked roadster

Topped by an elegant adjustable screen (over 30 mm) and dressed in an LED rimmel, the tapered double optic, split into two blocks by a dummy front air intake, entices the eyes. A tunnel directs the air flow up the fork crown to reduce any eddies. The long scoops are surmounted by wide shoulders, cleverly truncated and hollowed out, which reveal textured surfaces and enclose the 18-liter tank. Or a 20% increase in its capacity. Composed of two elements, the double element seat has been redesigned and considerably thickened. It is based on a rear loop lengthened by 130.6 mm (!) And the passenger now benefits from large grab handles. These feature many lugs and overlook the plates receiving the luggage. The stern, sheathed, concludes with the fire equipping the MT09.

A tunnel directs the air flow up the fork crown to reduce any eddies

This tubular aluminum structure is bolted to the frame of the same die-cast metal, diamond type. Composed of two perforated side members, its wide uprights in the front part curve strongly behind the engine. It supports the 847 cc, twin ACT, 12-valve three-cylinder block incorporating the latest technology. Connecting rods with fractured heads, forged pistons and offset cylinders, the heart of the Tracer is a work in its own right. Outside too. Magnesium cylinder heads cover the block, the housings of which feature bronzed-tinted surfaces. The design of the elements, their arrangement and the integration of the hoses is without reproach. The Yamaha boiler, set at 120 ° with a bore-stroke ratio of 78×59.1 mm, develops 115 hp at 10,000 rpm (84.6 kW) and 8.75 da.Nm at 8,500 revolutions-minutes. All available on demand, a good part of which from low revs ….

Equipped with a Ride by Wire type throttle control, the road roadster has three maps (D-Mode) updated for this vintage. They allow the engine response to be adjusted to driving conditions or the rider’s desire, while maintaining performance. A "Standard" mode for sport and touring, the "B" mode reduces the response to opening the throttle when the "A" gives the liveliest character. And the Tracer, unlike the MT09, curbs the possible surplus of cavalry by a disconnectable traction control. The system works according to three variables: ignition, injection and valve opening management (YCC-T).

The 847cc 3-cylinder engine block of the MT-09 is as expressive as ever

Captured by three-in-one collectors, the breath of the three-cylinder flows into a hyper-compact silencer, placed under the engine. This arrangement is made possible by the adoption of a horizontally placed Monocross suspension. The Kayaba shock absorber adjusts for preload and rebound, the wheel of which is found through a hole in the frame, on the left side. It manages, over 130 mm, the movements of the banana swing arm, whose elegant asymmetry brings more dynamism to the style of the machine. Up front, a 41mm Kayaba inverted fork, sliding 137mm, adjusts for preload at the top of each tube and rebound on the right side. The set is identical to the suspensions of the MT09 naked but the damping laws are specific to the Tracer.

To stop the edgy steed, two radial-mounted calipers and four pistons attack 298mm discs on the steering gear. The opposite, single piston retarder grips a 245mm element. And ABS is standard to monitor the rotation of the 17-inch aluminum rims with five split-spokes. Yamaha has chosen Dunlop D222 casings with a road profile, in 120/70 and 180/55. The finish is excellent, down to the details, where the trim is adorned with elements and ridged side covers. The whole machine makes for a stylish, clean, dynamic and remarkably thin frame.

The compact silencer is placed under the engine

In the saddle

The contrast between the width of the shoulders and the finesse at the crotch is pleasantly surprising. This narrowness makes the Tracer appear taller than it is. Admittedly, with 30mm more than the MT09, its 845mm of saddle height seems high. But, on this point, the Tracer has many advantages over the roadster. First of them, the width at the crotch loses 26 mm…. Enough to ensure good ground support. In addition, the latter have a much longer length: 405.2 mm and 322.9 mm (rider-passenger, against 385.8 mm and 269.0 mm on the MT09). In fact, we find our place without difficulty. And thicker, they should take care of trips and duets. Last advantage, located under the pilot saddle, a plastic plate, hardly attractive, allows the largest to raise the seat to 860 mm (+15 mm). A low saddle reduces this value to 815 mm.

The pleasant ergonomics also concern legs and arms. The very thin central section of the frame, obtained by mounting the swingarm axle assembly outside the frame, allows the machine to be clamped easily. Slightly set back, the footrest plates maintain a certain dynamic in the general position. The flexion of the legs is rather reduced. The bust, barely leaning forward, rests the arms lightly on the large aluminum hanger with variable diameter. Adjustable 10 mm in height, it is 45 mm wider than that of the naked roadster. Sturdy hand guards with integrated deflectors are supplied as standard. High magnesium-tinted saddles surround the handlebars, rising above the similarly finished upper triple clamp. Around, the fork then masks most of the peripherals and the cable sheathing is satisfactory.

The seat of the Yamaha Tracer is a model of finesse

A large instrument block faces the pilot, far from that of the MT09. The Tracer adopts the equipment of the XT1200Z Super Tenere, consisting of two digital windows. The larger one for the usual information and the smaller one for the ancillary functions. In the first, tachometer, tachometer, clock and engine mapping. The latter is selected, even while driving, at the right chest of drawers by a dedicated pusher. In the second, an engaged gear indicator overcomes indications that will be scrolled by a button on the left handle. A first series comprises odometer and two partials, a second odometer and average and instantaneous consumption. A last one displays the ambient temperature, that of the engine and the travel time. The heat level of the optional heated grips may also appear here. The whole is remarkable legibility.

We also appreciate the presence of a warning control and a brake lever adjustable in spacing. Too bad, the clutch one does not have it. Practical, a 12-volt outlet adjoins the dashboard and can be supplemented with a second optional. Next to them are the screen release wheels, which are not very ergonomic, and the adjustment wheels, differentiated, for each of the headlights. Finally, the central stand is standard, more practical to lubricate the chain and make possible mechanics..

Here we find the digital instrumentation of the XT1200Z Super Tenere

In the city

The roar of the three-cylinder Yamaha promises pleasures that we had a hard time keeping it. No, nothing to do with the Tracer, but with the winter weather. Cold, cloudy, even thick fog and a large proportion of dusty and wet roads did not help the streamlined roadster in the first part of the test. Fortunately, a little more mercy from the heavens ended up suspending the recurring activation of the traction control ….

The Tracer is an easy bike. Not that she gives herself to everyone, but her agility and liveliness quickly make her evident. Accusing 210 kg on the scale, our athlete still took 19 kg compared to his sister. The price of versatility…. This excess weight is not very noticeable, the ergonomics on board being different. However, with new high-pitched masses, the additional inertia when maneuvering is very real, compared to the MT09. Correct turning radius and good weight distribution make the machine pleasant for everyday use in urban areas.

On a little sudden braking, the front axle plunges reasonably. It is always possible to adjust it, which I did, the modifications being quite sensitive to the behavior of the machine. More closed hydraulics significantly improve comfort between walls.

Turning radius and weight distribution make the machine pleasant for everyday use

Particularly flexible, the block well supports the cycle part, supported by a precise box, although a little sound. The Tracer is not pushed to crime in the city, benefiting from a Standard mapping, or B, softer than that of the naked. Its three-cylinder knows how to accompany your evolutions with a certain restraint. However, do not believe that the Tracer is wise. Chase away the naturalness of an immoderate rotation of the right handle and its naturalness returns, to the "triple" gallop of course..

Motorway and expressways

Already acclaimed on the MT09, the Yamaha water heater is still a sensation. But how did they put so much watt into this block? Although displaying 115 hp, it comes out without ever finishing, catapulting the Tracer to 200 km / h and more, without even thinking about it. In legal terms, the speed stabilizes at 5,300 rpm, making the times on the last report less breathtaking. But everything is relative and we are far from anemia.

Heading is impeccable, but airflow protection is less so. Reducing wind pressure, windshields and fairings provide decent protection, but in line with sports tourism. Arms and shoulders are exposed. In the high position, the bubble generates eddies on the top of the helmet. The too small amplitude will invest the most demanding in the optional touring bubble. Well sheltered, the legs benefit from the work of the long scoops.

Another good point, the saddles provide real comfort and the absence of vibrations allows you to calmly contemplate the long stages. If boredom is felt on the tariff tape, it is up to you to take the road MT09 Outline the route on the secondary network.

The protection of the screen remains limited but the driving comfort makes it possible to seriously consider long distances


The best way to get from one point to another is certainly not a straight line when riding a racehorse walking on oats, the arson, the fluff. Even if it means drawing, as much as it is curves. Long, tight, fast or less, it doesn’t matter, the pleasure of riding the Yamaha is the same. We are angry that we do not have the right conditions to take the Tracer as it should, as it deserves. In addition, the defects and qualities of the cycle part will have to be examined by testing a non-shod D 222 machine. These envelopes did not convince any of us. Lack of feedback from the front axle and suspicious inertia are probably due to the tires. Their too rigid carcass seems to serve the road sport.

And yet, this one does not demerit, releasing its thoroughbred stud in a furious herd as soon as one twists the right rubber. The Tracer rears naturally, on the first two reports, underlining its evolutions with a powerful rumble. Particularly efficient from 5,000 to 10,000 rpm, the three-cylinder impresses in intermediate gears. Torque and power combine at best to energize the Yam ‘. Naturally good at tilting on an angle, the wider handlebars give the Tracer a large lever arm, making it even easier to move around. Combined with a very tight caster angle (24 °), the liveliness of the machine is not just a word.

Long, tight, fast ... no matter the curves, the pleasure is always there

Easier to register on the angle than the naked, the road also benefits from a better configured Ride by Wire control. If Mode A still generates jerks that are too sensitive, Standard mode is almost as responsive and its convenience and efficiency superior. To appreciate a high rhythm, it is good to preload the suspension slightly and especially to close the trigger. Precision is then gained while maintaining acceptable comfort. The mass transfers then remain more contained when the brakes are applied. When putting (big) throttle in a curve, the Tracer is also more homogeneous and does not move like its sister. The suspensions, better tuned than those of the MT09, correctly manage the slow compressions, but less the big fast shocks. The reaction is then drier.

The driving conditions and the standard tires highlighted the good behavior of the electronic assistance systems. The TCS traction control reveals a progressive implementation, without generating parasitic behavior, preventing any dangerous skidding of the rear wheel.

The same goes for braking. Progressive and powerful, the front calipers provide first-rate decelerations. The ABS does not come into action until the latest, allowing bold piloting. The too long rear retarder pedal travel is combined with a lack of consistency. However, with the habit coming, the efficiency in curves is correct and effectively supports the elements before.

Despite having a sporty temperament, the Tracer enjoys a driving position more conducive to touring

You can also ride in contemplative mode on the Tracer. Not to admire the machine, but the landscape. We then find the deceptive softness of its sports block. With legal looks, the road MT09 seems tamed, ready to take you far without excess. The driving position offers a compromise rather favorable to touring, conducive to lengthening the stages. Until, the playful soul, you suddenly broke your right wrist to test other limits.

Cycle part

Rigid, narrow frame, better tuned suspensions, always incisive geometry, the Tracer does not concede any of its qualities of part cycle to a more road use; on the contrary, the cycle part is in progress, benefiting from an adjustable damping. Performance and claims of the Yamaha, however, deserve an even more efficient suspension. Even if it means offering it as an ex-factory option.

The cycle part is in progress and benefits from an adjustable damping


The radial clamps are not there to argue. Powerful, braking retains appreciable progressiveness, leaving the pilot to modulate his pressure on the lever. Powerful, the standard ABS manages the frame sportily. Like it should be. The rear caliper control is less convincing with a longer stroke and a less crisp feel.

Difficult to fault the front brake perfectly assisted by ABS

Comfort / Duo

The foundations provide an approval that 240 km of often damaged roads have not encumbered. They sometimes compensate for somewhat dry reactions of the suspension. Like the pilot, the passenger has adequate space and support. However, its handles would have deserved a lower section with softer angles. Perfectible, the windshield provides welcome protection over long distances, especially in winter. An optional soft luggage containing waterproof bags will improve the crew’s trips.

High windshield, side cases, additional headlamps ... there are many accessories available


The additional capacity of the Tracer tank (+ 4 liters) will increase the range of action of the character steed. Our average consumption, without forcing the handlebars, is 6 liters per 100 km. It seems 0.5 liters more than that of the MT09. Fairing and additional weight probably explain this finding.

The tank now offers a capacity of 18 liters


Aesthetic, clearly borrowing some of its lines from the streamlined roadster of the brand, the novelty retains only the essentials, creating its own identity. Without losing any of its character, the Yamaha MT09 Tracer is forging a light and dynamic road destiny. In this roadster with two faces, Sport and Touring come together, each trying to compete for first place. It is up to the pilot to determine his priorities at the moment. Those of the competition should be quite different…. because like the MT09 naked, the Tracer could bring the competition up to speed, as much by its dynamic qualities as its equipment and its price. At € 9,999, the global offer has something to seduce.

It will first be opposed to the top of the range capable of competing: Ducati 821 Hyperstrada, € 13,050, with a cheerful engine, but probably less conciliatory on a daily basis and as a duo. Another Italian, the MV Agusta Stradale, freshly tested by my colleague, priced at € 13,990. Pretty sculpture devoid of traction control and practical equipment of the Japanese. In the road trail segment that the Yamaha can claim to attack, we can mention the Triumph Tiger 800 XRx, € 11,290. Excellent road high perched and richly endowed. Its three-cylinder does not have the same verve, but the general approval makes it a real challenger. At Honda, the VFR800X Crossrunner, € 11,999, does not display mechanical exuberance, nor such a comprehensive offer. Its weight is also high. Finally, Kawasaki with its new Versys 1000, available against € 12,699, offers a high-performance road, more robust and comfortable but, also, heavier..

With the MT09 Tracer, Yamaha takes the lead further, optimizing the capabilities of its sales champion roadster. This versatile version, still as muscular, sets new standards in the road segment. And could even create a new adage: From now on, who wants to swarm far away whips his mount ….

Strong points

  • Engine character and availability
  • Agility of the cycle part
  • Comfort
  • Finishes
  • Equipments

Weak points

  • Tires
  • Bubble perfectible in mechanism and amplitude.
  • Damping a little dry on strong compressions

The technical sheet of the Yamaha MT-09 Tracer

Standard equipment

  • 3 engine maps (D Mode)
  • 18 liter tank
  • ABS braking
  • Disconnectable TCS anti-slip
  • 41 mm inverted fork adjustable in preload and rebound
  • Monocross rear suspension adjustable for preload and rebound
  • Height-adjustable windshield, handlebars and rider’s seat
  • Hand guards
  • Dual LED optics
  • Two radial-mount front calipers
  • 12V socket
  • Central stand

Main accessories

  • High windshield
  • Additional spotlights
  • Heated grips
  • Comfort saddle
  • Low saddle
  • Soft side cases
  • Top case
  • Tank bag
  • Akrapovic full exhaust

The Yamaha MT-09 Tracer is offered in red,

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5 thoughts on “Yamaha MT-09 Tracer test

  1. nostalgia, I had one on the road, no speed cameras or permit points at the time. formidable engine, I never found such sensations since, for the part better were worth the big curves than the pins.

  2. I don’t believe it, you still have it ??? I thought you sold it a long time ago.

  3. I only have one … and it’s my faithful everyday steed … barely running in!

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