Just when you thought the best-selling Tracer 9 couldn’t get any ‘more’ (first they added the GT model, then they updated it with the new Euro5 890cc engine), Yamaha now gives us this, the GT+ with more kit, quality and technology which aims to be the Japanese brand’s best sports-tourer yet. And, on the strength of our first ride at the world press launch in Sardinia, the newcomer is exactly that (although that doesn’t mean we don’t have some reservations).
Firstly, let’s cover the basics: The GT+ is intended, as its name suggests, to be an enhanced version of the GT with extra premium touches and technology. With the Tracer being Yamaha’s second best-selling model (after the MT-07), over 147,000 sold since 2015, and with three-quarters of Tracer 900 sales being of the GT model, it was almost a no-brainer.
The result, the GT+ is, obviously, based on the latest GT, already the more luxury, touring version of the Tracer 9, complete with panniers, quickshifter and so on, as last updated in 2021. So, the ‘plus’ shares that bike’s 890cc, Euro5-compliant version of the CP3 triple engine, die-cast aluminium Deltabox frame, KYB semi-active suspension, heated grips and cornering lights. However, to raise all that to new, exalted ‘plus’ status, Yamaha has addressed three areas.
First there’s a hefty dollop of extra touring ‘class’ via a new, wider, thicker adjustable screen, a redesigned, more luxury seat, new ‘3rd generation’ quickshifter plus dedicated, more premium paintschemes.
Second, the new GT+ also receives a much-improved, larger TFT dash along with redesigned, simplified switchgear.
Finally, the new ‘+’ also gets two technology ‘firsts’ – Yamaha’s first radar-controlled cruise control and, in what Yamaha claims is a world first, radar-assisted brakes.
The result of all that costs £1800 more than the GT and is available in dealers in June. So, the key questions are: How well does it all work and is it worth the extra?
Well, from our ride along the fabulous, velvet-surfaced, cliff hanging switchbacks of Sardinia’s S125 before diving down through mountainside hairpins to the Italian island’s Mediterranean coast, our only answers have to be ‘Very well’ and ‘Yes’.
Even at standstill, the new Tracer GT+ is conspicuously a class act, significantly more luxurious than the GT and a world beyond the affordable, budget nature of the original Tracer 900.
The bespoke new ‘split paint’ schemes – two fairly sensible alternatives are offered, in predominantly white or grey – feature hand-masked coachlines, up to five different colours and radiate ‘premium’.
The new, more contoured, dual-texture seat does the same. While the whole caboodle is sprinkled with quality, features and class.
It quickly gets better yet. Swing a leg over its pleasingly manageable saddle (the Tracer 9 remains an ideal blend of approachable ease and stature), and you’re immediately confronted by the new seven-inch TFT dash which has been developed from that of the latest TMAX. While the more basic GT version retains (for now) the controversial and widely disliked twin 3.5in TFT dash set-up, the GT+ gets the new, big, bright display which brings to mind BMW’s latest version in being comprehensive but clear and being quickly understood. Three switchable but similar design themes can be toggled between, too, which gives another touch of class.
Even better is the new switchgear which works hand in hand with the new dash, was again developed from that on the latest TMAX, and which all at once is pleasingly tactile, simple to use (there and fewer buttons, a new thumb joystick navigates the dash, and the engine modes are now selected by a single button on the right block) and completely intuitive. The old setup, as retained for the time being by the more basic Tracers has been widely criticized for being fiddly, over-complicated and unsatisfactory. But this new system is an utter delight – and that’s before you delve into all the MyRide Bluetooth connectivity options, Garmin satnav and more…
But it’s how the new Tracer 9 GT+ rides, performs and satisfies that is its most acid test and it’s here, although arguably less different than the base GT (there wasn’t much wrong with that one, after all) that new bike impresses most of all.
On the move most things (dash and switchgear apart) are familiar, but enhanced, too. The riding position, at least for 6’3” me, is ‘cute’ rather than excessively roomy and capacious – but it’s enough. The upright ergonomics are spot on; the new seat comfortable (any aches and required stretches only came after most of the day in the saddle) and the new screen is conspicuously better, too, without any of the wobbles or occasional turbulence the old version suffered from.
Although unchanged from the GT, the Yamaha CP3 is as impressive as ever: instant, flexible, refined, characterful and, with a charging 118 horses at the top end, more than enough to have fun with on the road. One change is, because of the new dash and switchgear, new riding modes with, like the Niken GT, now a more conventional Sport, Street (same power, softer delivery), Rain (18% less power) and Custom naming protocol, simpler enaction and more easy fun as a result.
While being essentially the same as that of the GT, the chassis of the GT+ is also familiar and brilliant. Being relatively stumpy and light for a sports-tourer (even though it’s 2kg heavier than the GT, Yamaha is at pains to point out that the GT+ is still 20kg lighter than the old, now dropped FJR1300) means its steering is also sharp and nimble enough to run rings round bigger tourers, yet it is also sufficiently stable and secure to gobble up vast distances without concern. And chassis’ ‘cherry on top’, meanwhile, remains the classy, refined, taut yet comfortable ride provided by the faultless semi-active suspension which also, incidentally, has two settings – Sports and Comfort.
But if all those facets give a plus to the Tracer 9GT experience, its biggest, ‘headline’ advance is surely its new extra ‘tech’. The Adaptive Cruise Control – the first on a Yamaha – is actually simple and impressively effective. And that’s coming from an old school technophobe. Easily operated by one familiar toggle switch on the left-hand bar, simply prod it to switch it on; when moving at your desired speed ‘set’ the cruise (you can increase or decrease it, within certain parameters, via another switch), via a finger switch on the rear of the switchpod choose from four preset ‘buffer’ distances, and away you go: the electronics will maintain that speed, slow down as the radar dictates and even allow automated overtakes (but only up to the prescribed speed) if you indicate to overtake. After half an hour’s familiarity I’d managed to convince myself, I could now ride without the need of my right arm at all!
While, last, but by no means least, is Yamaha’s pioneering radar-linked Unified Brake System. In it, the front and rear brakes are linked (the rear disc is also larger as it’s used more than normal) and servo assistance chimes on both, as appropriate for smooth deceleration, if the bike’s ECU calculates it’s required according to radar data. In truth, it comes in rarely. Normal riding means it’s a ’last resort’ aid. But when it does you feel the bike slow and squat as if by magic. With the ACC off the system merely, and only rarely, ‘assists’ – Yamaha’s again at pains to say it’s braking assistance, not actuation. But with ACC on, it can – although by definition, this happens only rarely. It’s ‘next level’, Big Brother, mind-boggling stuff.
Overall, though, I have to say I was most impressed with the more conventional upgrades the GT+ brings over the GT. The brilliant new dash, slick switchgear, improved windscreen and better paint, seat and more are what made it for me, and alone justify the £1800 premium.
I may be less convinced of the need for the radar cruise but admit it works brilliantly, while the assisted braking will take some getting used to. As an overall achievement, though, the new Tracer 9 GT+ truly takes things to another level. It’s in dealers from June.
2023 Yamaha Tracer 900 GT+ specification
Engine: 890cc, transverse triple-
Power: 117.3bhp/87.5kW @ 10,000rpm
Torque: 93.0Nm/68.6lb.ft @ 7000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed, chain final drive
Frame: Cast aluminium Deltabox
Suspension: 41mm semi-active KYB inverted telescopic forks, preload, rebound and compression damping adjust. KYM Link-type mono-shock, fully adjustable
Brakes: Radially-mounted, four-piston front brake calipers and 2 x 298mm discs. Single-piston, pin-slide rear caliper and a 267mm disc.
Wheels: 17in front and rear, cast alloy
Tyres: Front 120/70-17. Rear 180/55-17.
Ground clearance: 135mm
Seat height: 820-835mm
Kerb weight: 223kg (excluding panniers)
Fuel capacity: 18.7 litres
Words: Phil West