Yamaha MT-09 Tracer: Walking the torque
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YAMAHA’S SPORTY MT TOURER DELIVERS MORE THAN IT SAYS ON THE BOX
Riders seeking fun-filled bikes that won’t break the bank or send them to prison are climbing aboard Yamaha’s Monster Torque (MT) range.
With a focus on usable torque-filled engines instead of chasing peak horsepower, it’s Yamaha’s answer to the Ducati Multistrada and Triumph’s Tiger Sport, sitting in the more sporty end of the adventure touring market.
Priced from $18,199 and powered by an 847cc DOHC triple, the MT-09 Tracer is based on the venerable MT-09 and uses the same engine as the naked sportster — a bike well-known for its high-performance character in that segment.
Settling into the cockpit you are greeted by a slab of digital dashboard, shared with the 1200cc Super Tenere Adventure. This resembles a giant Game Boy in a LifeProof case when compared to the high resolution, near TV-quality unit of the flagship R1. However, it’s well laid-out and, unlike similar digital displays of the past, it’s easy to read the copious amounts of data on screen — even with the glare of the sun behind you.
The Tracer gains an adjustable windscreen, handguards and a fairing over its naked sibling. The package provides decent protection from the elements. With the screen at its lowest setting I experienced a lot of buffering in my helmet, but a quick adjustment to the highest setting sorted that.
As part of the MT range, copious amounts of torque are a given. With the MT-09 Tracer you have the full 87.5Nm available from 8500rpm, with a huge hit available when the throttle is twisted.
Using Yamaha’s D-Mode system, the Tracer has three selectable settings altering everything from throttle response to traction control, so you can attune the bike to the conditions.
A-mode is the most aggressive, the throttle acting more as an on-off switch on the street; B-mode is better suited for the wet, dampening throttle response and softening power delivery to easily manageable levels.
The Standard mode offers the best of both worlds, but I used B-mode for most city trips. The throttle was just a bit too sensitive for my liking in Standard and A-modes for traffic-dense Auckland.
Out in the twisties looking for some fun, flicking into A-mode rewarded me with maximum power from down low, the traction control kicking in to put all that torque to use without spinning the rear wheel. You can turn the traction control off, but I found the bike’s tendency to pop small wheelies with it on far more fun compared to spinning the rear tyre with traction turned off (especially when shooting off from a stop sign).
Braking is taken care of by twin 298mm discs up front, gripped by twin piston calipers and assisted by ABS. The pads have an aggressive bite which I initially found would put the long travel 41mm forks into a dive.
With the MT-09 Tracer being of the sportier tourer variety, fully adjustable suspension will let you dial the bike into your needs. After a couple of turns of the adjuster on the top of the forks I tuned out the dive in the forks by dialling in more preload.
With big panniers screaming “long-distance travel” I planned to take the Tracer to Whangamata for the annual Beach Hop. However nasty weather and a head-cold conspired against that. Plan B: circumnavigating the Hunua Ranges coast in search of new land-based fishing spots.
Investigating one such spot (no, I’m not going to say where), I found myself in a situation where turning off the traction control was beneficial. With the rear tyre in mud on a layby, I tried to ride back to the road, but the traction control kept cutting in and stopping drive to the rear wheel. Turning it off meant I could get back on the road with a mud-filled wheelspin without the bike losing momentum and wanting to topple over.
Pillion accommodation is generous, a large seat and easy-to-reach hand rails offering a sense of comfort.
You could easily fit a change of clothes for two people in the large panniers and hit the road for an overnight getaway.
Just try not to have too much fun while doing so. Willing pillions are hard to come by.
YAMAHA MT-09 TRACER
|ENGINE:||847cc 3-cylinder DOHC|
|PROS:||Awesome engine, decent protection|
|CONS:||Front brake a little touchy, looks not for everyone|