Review: 2024 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+

Review: 2024 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+

The sport-touring category is alive and well—but motorcycles don’t look like your dad’s Honda ST1300 anymore. The bikes in this segment have evolved, with more focus on sportiness and technology alongside a healthy dose of aggressive styling. If you’re a street rider who goes on trips, what’s not to love about all-day comfort, thrilling performance, and the latest tech?

The Tracer 9 GT+ is Yamaha’s flagship sport-touring model. It has an upright seating position, comes with crucial touring accessories, and features the world’s first unified braking system on a motorcycle. But let’s peel back the layers of this advanced machine to determine if it justifies adding it to your fleet.

Testing Grounds

I’ve been to Boise, ID, several times. With a population of approximately 240,000, it’s on the manageable side—big-city feel with small-town charm. Idaho’s state capital is situated on flat ground, but to the north lie the Boise Foothills with plenty of curves to put the T9GT+ to the test.

The side cases will hold some, but not all, full-face helmets. I appreciated the locking mechanism, which allowed one-handed operation and the ability to leave them unlocked.

Bogus Basin Rd took me up to the eponymous ski resort. As a winter sports enthusiast, I have to give several brownie points to Boise. First of all, the hotel I stayed at had a hockey rink attached to it for their ECHL team, the Idaho Steelheads. How cool is that? Next, imagine a short 20-mile drive to hit the ski slopes. While I’m very happy in North Carolina, Boise has a lot to offer.

After doubling back on Bogus Basin Rd, I headed north on SR 55 to hook up with the Payette River, which I followed until riding south again. With the rushing river filled with rafters and kayakers, a road with lots of motorcycles, RVs, and other vacationers, and the jaw-dropping scenery all around me, I had my hands full to concentrate on the ride. Things kept getting better with each mile. First, I marveled at the steep mountains along the Wildlife Canyon Scenic Byway. Then, the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway served up tight curves that demanded all of my attention. The whole test ride was about 190 miles.

The Base

Before diving into the technology, let’s look at Yamaha’s engine and chassis. Unless you’ve been living under a rock and this is the first time you’re reading a recent motorcycle review, the 890cc CP3 engine is a real gem. From the sidewalk, you’ll notice the striking sound. In the saddle, you’ll feel the torque. Yamaha really emphasized the “sport” part of this sport-touring motorcycle. The steel chassis with a steel subframe provides, according to Yamaha, “the perfect balance of agility and strength.” I’m inclined to agree. Riding at a very spirited pace, there’s really nothing to complain about with the frame. It’s 2024, after all. Most notably, the subframe has a payload capacity of 425 pounds and the fuel capacity is five gallons.

Weighing about seven pounds more than its predecessor, the T9GT+ is still a supremely nimble motorcycle with a ton of fun in the curves.

The electronic suspension helps keep the rubber on the road. Riders can choose between two modes—A-1 Sport for when the pavement is smooth or A-2 Comfort for when it’s a little rougher. During testing, I rode mainly in the A-2 mode, as I’m a comfort-over-speed type of guy.

The T9GT+ can certainly haul and swallow up uneven road surfaces that always seem to pop up right when you’re in the middle of a curve scraping a foot peg. Bogus Basin Rd is a lovely stretch with very little traffic. Photo stops allowed me to enjoy the long-range views, so I could fully concentrate on my line through each curve. Some had uneven pavement, others were strewn across with gravel. One curve had a bunch of mud from water runoff. Even in borderline pucker moments, the T9GT+ was compliant with my mid-turn inputs and remained settled at all times. The whole package, from the engine and chassis to the electronics and the wide handlebar, is very confidence inspiring.

The Accoutrements

Does the new Tracer fit the bill for touring, though? The bike comes with 30-liter side cases, but the top case is optional and costs about $400 with the mount. The locking mechanism works well, and I dig the option of not having to lock the cases. I can leave them unlocked and still open and close the sides using the latch. When I leave the bike in a hotel parking lot, I can then lock them to keep sticky fingers out of my gear.

The seat not only looks but also feels nice. It has an almost suede-like finish. Plenty of padding provides all-day comfort and, for once, we have a motorcycle that doesn’t need an aftermarket seat. Thanks, Yamaha.

Heated grips with 10 levels of adjustment may sound excessive, but most of us know that only three heat settings usually translate to scorched or cold hands. I can get fully behind the ability to effectively adjust the heated grips for any riding condition and glove type.

The LED cornering lights are supposed to activate at speeds above three mph when tipped over more than seven degrees. I can’t unfortunately vouch for how well they work, since my whole test ride was in daylight.

You can choose between two different seat heights on the well-padded and good-looking saddle. Yamaha offers a heated seat as an optional accessory, also with 10 levels of adjustability.

World’s First

Three years ago, I got a work truck with more features than I knew what to do with. Today, I wouldn’t buy a vehicle without them. The T9GT+ comes with adaptive cruise control (ACC) and a radar-linked unified braking system (UBS)—the latter being the world’s first on a motorcycle. Both are quite hot topics among riders. The motorcycle also has a plethora of sensors, control units, and a next-generation quickshifter, which is still one of my favorite features. In its third generation, the quickshifter now allows for up- and downshifts when either accelerating or decelerating. You can even use the quickshifter without interrupting an engaged ACC.

If you don't know what it is, you'll barely notice the millimeter wave radar unit that controls the adaptive cruise control and unified brake system.

Right in the middle of the front lights is a little black box housing the millimeter wave radar unit. Looking at the bike head-on, you can barely see it, but it is what makes the ACC and UBS functionalities possible. I tested the ACC throughout my ride wherever doing so was appropriate and I found that it worked best when following a vehicle other than a motorcycle. A car takes up the whole lane and the unit easily locks onto it. Once engaged, I was able to maintain a fixed following distance, with the T9GT+ decelerating and accelerating along with the vehicle in front of me. The cool part was that the process was smooth. When reducing speed, engine braking slowed me down first before the physical brakes activated.

The ACC even worked in some high-speed sweepers, although it felt like heresy to use cruise control in a curve. You can set the system to adhere to four different following distances with the controls on the left side of the handlebar, and it works in all gears above 20 mph. The ACC kicked in when I followed another motorcycle rider but only if we were on the same line. When I tried to use it in a group that rode in a staggered formation, the radar locked onto the bike directly in front of me instead of the one closest to me. Not that any rider should be using cruise control when riding in a group—it was simply an interesting experiment with a feature new to me on two wheels.

The UBS is a braking assistance feature that amplifies the braking input. For example, if there’s an object on the road and you hit your brakes, the UBS will determine if additional braking force is needed. If so, the system adjusts the front and rear brake input appropriately. From a safety standpoint, it’s a wonderful feature. It worked so well that I barely noticed the UBS-led additional braking. The system doesn’t engage if the rider doesn’t touch the brakes. It’s important to note that neither the ACC nor the UBS are collision avoidance systems and that all safety features must be turned on for the systems to work.

The T9GT+'s semi-active suspension uses input from the six-axis IMU to constantly adjust damping forces depending on the riding conditions.

The new seven-inch full-color TFT dash didn’t get past me. Three display options spit out all sorts of useful information while riding. The whole assembly just looks great. I didn’t test the smartphone connectivity or the integrated Garmin navigation, but the latter seemed useful in the press materials. A paid subscription to Garmin is required, but you can upload a GPX file to display the route nicely on the Yamaha’s screen. As RoadRUNNER has more than 700 GPX files available, I find this a terribly convincing feature.

Flo’s Lowdown

With so many technological advances on the Tracer 9 GT+, it’s easy to get lost in the spec sheet. I didn’t even mention all of the available riding modes, including full customization. Most importantly, I came away from my test ride with a big grin on my face. When I look for a tour-worthy motorcycle, I seek a sporty character with ample lean angles, all-day comfort from the seat and ergonomics, and the ability to safely carry a passenger and luggage. This motorcycle ticks all the boxes. The tech seems intimidating at first but, just like with my truck, I’m sure they’ll be must-haves after a riding season.

Technical Specs

+ a complete package, comfortable seat, high fun factor
– only one trim available in North America, no USB-C outlet, ACC struggled to pick up small vehicles not directly in front of you

Distributor: Yamaha
MSRP: $16,499
Engine: liquid-cooled, DOHC, in-line 3, 4-valve
Displacement: 890cc
Power: 108hp @10,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed, multiplate assist-slipper clutch, chain final drive
Rake/Trail: 25°/4.3in
Weight (wet): 492lbs
Seat Height: 32.3-32.9in
Fuel Capacity: 5gal
Fuel grade: premium
Color: Storm Gray