Once in a while I will come across a bike that will make me rethink if there’s truly a need for different types of motorcycles when one will already do, and one such bike is the Yamaha Tracer 900 GT. It can stitch corners nearly like a sport bike, easily cover huge distances like a sport tourer, and tackle gravel roads like an adventure tourer would. It’s a classic example of a 3-in-1 bike rolled into one very handsome package.
The Tracer 900 GT got its agility from the MT-09 sport naked where it was based, but with major improvements to key areas to make it more appropriate for its role as a grand tourer; the swingarm was lengthened by 2 inches for increased stability, the throttle maps offer more subtle throttle response, the suspension got multiple adjustments, passenger accommodation was improved, and removable panniers are now standard. It may not be readily apparent at first glance, but the quarter fairings were revised from the last Tracer 900 we tested back in 2015. It’s now more angular and more substantial. The seat height can also be adjusted between 845mm to 860mm.
What carried over unchanged from the MT-09 was the excellent 849cc crossplane triple cylinder motor that makes the Tracer 900 GT such a fun bike to ride, especially if you ride on the pavement most of the time. As an Adventure-Sport motorcycle, the Tracer 900 GT is destined for 90 percent pavement and 10 percent on unpaved roads. Having 17-inch front and rear size wheels limit the Tracer 900 GT to hard packed gravel and dirt roads where its standard Dunlop Sportmax tires work best (If you really want a serious middleweight adventure bike with off-road performance Yamaha has the excellent Tenere 700).
We took the Tracer 900 GT to our favorite adventure bike proving grounds in Lobo, Batangas and we couldn’t have chosen a better place to evaluate the bike’s on and off road performance. From Makati, we took the Skyway and SLEX going to STAR Tollway where I enjoyed the comfortable riding position and the wind protection offered by the windscreen. Speaking of which, the windscreen’s height can be adjusted easily using one hand with its clever pinch to pull up or down mechanism on the base of the windscreen. I also enjoyed using the standard cruise control to maintain a steady 100 Km/h because the Tracer 900 GT always begs you to break the speed limit. The redesigned fairings also channels hot air away from your legs more effectively than I can remember on the last Tracer 900 we tested.
When we reached the twisty roads near Monte Maria in Batangas City, the Tracer 900 GT corners like an MT-09, with its wide handlebars providing plenty of leverage for attacking corners after corners. I just wish Yamaha included a downshift function for the quickshifter, which only offers clutchless upshifts like on the previous Tracer 900.
The large color TFT screen provides all the information that you need at a glance. Like on the MT-09, the Tracer 900 GT offers 3 ride modes; A, B, and Standard. While there’s still some trace of throttle jerkiness on mode A from a closed throttle, it’s now more subtle. Mode B is best reserved for wet riding conditions because of its delayed throttle response. The Standard mode is what I used the entire time because it offers the best balance of the A and B riding modes. The triple brake setup (2 discs in front and 1 in rear) offers plenty of stopping power and I like that the ABS is not intrusive and calibrated to maximize front tire grip before intervening.
The roads after the Malabrigo Lighthouse in Lobo, Batangas are still unpaved as of this writing and it’s a mixture of severely broken down concrete slabs and hard packed gravel so I decided to turn off the traction control system just in case I need to power out of a steep incline to maintain forward momentum, and doing so simply requires a long press on the dedicated traction control button found on the left hand switch gear.
The suspension offers a compliant ride quality regardless of road conditions. The rear shock absorber has a remote adjuster knob for setting the spring preload if you want a softer or stiffer ride without the need of a C-spanner. The only thing that annoys me with the Tracer 900 GT is its foot pegs. Their high and slightly rear set positioning works well for road riding, but feels a bit awkward when riding off-road. It somehow forces you to lean down to reach the handlebar which makes it a bit hard to steer. Then again, the Tracer 900 GT is biased for ‘Grand Touring’ rather than adventure riding. If you want to be reminded of that, just look at the standard panniers that can pack enough clothes for a week of cross country touring. And they easily detach and carry like a suitcase.
After completing the Lobo loop as we call our route exiting via San Juan in Batangas, the Tracer 900 GT passed with flying colors. So if you can’t decide between a sport naked, a sport tourer, or an adventure bike, then why not buy a Tracer 900 GT and have them all? At PhP 719,000, getting three bikes in one is truly a bargain. But don’t just take my word for it. Schedule a test ride but be prepared with your checkbook. It’s really that good.
Engine: fuel-injected, liquid-cooled, Inline-3, dohc, 12 valves, 4 stroke
Max Power: 115 hp @ 10000 rpm
Max Torque: 64.5 lb-ft @ 8500 rpm
Seat Height: 845mm to 860mm
Fuel Capacity: 18 Liters
Tire, Front: 120/70 x 17
Tire, Rear: 180/55 x 17
Brakes, Front/ Rear: 2 Disc/Disc ABS
Curb Weight: 214 kg.
Top Speed: 230 Km/h (140 mph)
Price: PhP 719,000
+: Comfortable ergos, smooth and torquey crossplane triple cylinder motor, electronic rider aids
-: high and rear-set footpegs for off-road riding
C! Rating 9/10