We were riding the 2020 Yamaha Niken GT. And like many curious onlookers, we were wondering if the tilted three-wheeler is the answer to a question no one is asking. Testing it with a normal motorcycle, Yamaha’s own Tracer 900 GT, with which it shares a version of the MT-09’s three-cylinder cross engine, seemed like the best way to find out.
Michael Gilbert, the resident professional runner of CW , and I headed for the green hills of the central coast, weaving our way through the traffic jam of Southern California, searching for answers to many pending questions. Namely: “Which it is the point of the Niken GT? “
The first is the first. Last year, Yamaha updated its FJ-09 sport-tourer and renamed it Tracer, which is what the rest of the world has called it since it debuted for the 2015 model year. It makes $ 12,999 (an additional $ 2,300 over the base model) And you get the GT version, which comes with hard bags, heated grips, and cruise control.
On paper, the Tracer 900 GT looks like an ideal package, taking the functionality of the sports touring of yesteryear, but modifying the form to appeal to modern preferences. For motorcycles that have been carried away by vertical ergos and ADV styling, but want none of the off-road simulation, the Tracer GT is a great option. And like the Kawasaki Versys 1000, it is much less expensive than bikes with a similar spirit, such as the MV Agusta Turismo Veloce, the KTM Super Duke GT and the Ducati Multistrada 950.
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Much has been written about the Yamaha three-cylinder engine and it lives up to its reputation. It’s manageable, accelerates quickly, and sounds like your airbox is filled with a swarm of wasps waiting to sting your nether regions. If you’ve never ridden a triple before, don’t assume they feel halfway between a twin and a four. They are more like four, if you ask me. It sounds busy and accelerated like an average of four with a bit more “space” between combustion events giving it a more throaty exhaust note, and it’s tuned for more torque on the bass.
Also like some inline fours, the Tracer can get a bit loud, especially above 6,000 rpm. Which makes the smaller mirrors pretty useless at high speeds. The gearbox is very slippery and the quick shift (upward only) works perfectly. Throttle response can be toggled between the sadly named “STD” (standard, presumably), “A” (more aggressive) and “B” (less aggressive). The “A” mode complicates things a bit, considering the Tracer’s sports touring intent, and especially considering that Yamaha’s three-cylinder engine is notoriously edgy when it comes to throttle response.
Gilbert notes that the Tracer feels a bit stiff for a sports touring, but when riding aggressively, higher loads move the suspension deeper into the ride and the bike feels balanced. But dialing in some conformity would make the Tracer a more comfortable tourer.
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There are a few features that place the Tracer in the light sports touring category. Wind protection isn’t too abundant, so there are some bumps at highway speeds (we’d pick a larger aftermarket windshield).
Also, the saddlebags are on the smaller side; I filled one bag with a backpack and the other with things for a weekend. The TFT dashboard is a bit small too, and I found the switching and navigating through the dashboard information and settings to be contradictory.
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Overall, the Tracer GT feels like a Yamaha. Everything is almost clinically accurate: acceleration, shifting, handling. Yamaha’s trademark telepathic steering is present and true to the breed culminates in a motorcycle that is highly mobile without being unstable or fickle.
Put it in a sporty 24-degree steering angle, a relatively short wheelbase, a stiff aluminum chassis, and taut damping – the Tracer GT’s sporty precision is the allele of Yamaha’s R-series pointy-edged racing genome. .