“It will be hard for all the mechanics” said Bastianini, as some teams still have none of their apparatus in Argentina to build the garages and get the bikes set up. But every cloud has a silver lining. Losing Friday’s running is disappointing, but once track activity gets underway on Saturday, we face a bumper, non-stop schedule of action that will be thrilling for fans. A challenge for the riders and teams, of course, but it should provide a compelling day that consists of both Free Practice and qualifying.
The famous American layout has been on the MotoGP™ calendar since 2013, and it’s one that boasts an array of challenges for the best riders in the world – riding some of the fastest bikes in the world – to tackle. The 150,000 capacity, world-class venue consistently hosts a phenomenal weekend of action on track, and there’s no shortage of activities to keep you busy when MotoGP™ isn’t creating a spectacle on track – both at the circuit and in the incredible city of Austin.
Logistical issues affecting freight for the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship have obliged a schedule change for the upcoming Grand Prix of Argentina. Five cargo flights were scheduled to ship paddock material from Lombok, Indonesia, to Tucuman, close to Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina, in the week following the Indonesian GP.
Yamaha elevates the pedigree of its 2022 Tracer 9 GT sport-touring bike by infusing high-end features like semi-active suspension. (Joseph Agustin/)
Yamaha’s 2022 Tracer 9 GT ($14,999) is a middleweight-plus sport-touring bike that replaced the tuning-fork brand’s more budget-minded FJ-09 in 2021. The Tracer carries over to the 2022 model year with a slight $100 bump in MSRP.
We love this streetbike’s inline-three engine. After twisting the throttle for a few hundred miles, it’s obvious Yamaha closely studied the Triumph’s formula when engineering this mill. It has gobs of torque (upward of 50 pound-feet from 2,600 revs), sounds awesome, gives great throttle response, and generally has a pleasing character. Overall, it’s smoother with much less engine vibration; a well-rounded powerplant.
In the suspension department, the Tracer 9 GT ditches the MT-09′s manual suspenders for a semi-active setup. This means the fork and shock automatically adjust damping force in real time based on rider control input and/or vehicle dynamics. The system is managed by an inertial measurement unit, or IMU, which gives this vehicle positional awareness on the road.
The Tracer 9 GT offers two suspension maps, a more aggressive setting (A1) and a more forgiving option (A2). This takes the guesswork out of making clicker adjustments. After all, most casual and commuting riders don’t want to mess with clickers. But the application is questionable. While it works well around town and gives pleasing compliance over bumps, when you’re getting aggressive in the turns the handling is a bit unglued and the bike is less composed than its naked sibling. In spite of the automation, the components aren’t as capable as a standard MT-09 during sport application. Yet, if you’re someone who never wants to mess with clickers and just wants the machine to do it for you, you’re going to like this suspension.
While the performance of the suspension is questionable, the ergonomics aren’t. This is a comfortable motorcycle to ride all day. We love the adjustable windshield, which is easily tweaked up or down with one hand. We also like the OE plastic fitted hand guards, which do a fine job of keeping your mitts warm in cooler temperatures. Heated grips with a large window of adjustment are another nice touch; when it’s chilly, you’re going to value this accoutrement.
Cruise control is another nice feature, though we wish you could engage it in the lower gears; as it is, the vehicle must be in fourth or higher gear to enable cruise. The factory-fitted hard luggage is handy and the lockable cases are easy to open and close. They’re also simple to remove and put back on the bike. Each case swallows nearly 8 gallons of gear and can accommodate some narrower full-size helmets.
When we rode after dark, the LED headlights did a nice job illuminating the road. Although they benefit from a cornering headlight function, the Tracer’s lights aren’t very effective through turns. Yamaha needs to revisit this application and boost the cornering headlamps on this model.
Electronics-wise, the Tracer 9 has all standard modern bells and whistles. Traction, slide, and wheelie control (which Yamaha calls lift control) are standard. But the user interface could be improved, especially the displays. Dual displays borrowed off an MT-09 look neat, and it’s cool that Yamaha is trying something different. But each individual screen is too small, and there’s also a lot of redundancy between them, so it’s wasted space.
The multifunction control wheel which debuted with the 2015 YZF-R1 is another gripe. While it was a functional improvement seven years ago, today it feels clunky, lacking the tactile precision of others in this segment. Still, it’s nice that Yamaha is trying something different with its split-screen setup.
Quirks aside, we do enjoy riding this motorcycle. It’s comfortable, has decent luggage capacity and nice creature comforts. However, its overall handling, especially in a more sporting environment, is just so-so. Which calls into question its lofty price.
Some would do better to buy a standard $9,500 MT-09 and fit a windscreen, heated grips, and some luggage. This would likely save a couple grand for a motorcycle with superior handling, if you like riding on twisty stretches of road. Then again, if you’re not going to carve a lot of curves, and you want a nice, cozy steed for going from point A to point B with a passenger and all your stuff in relative comfort, this $14,999 Tracer 9 GT might be what you’re looking for.
Helmet: Shoei RF-SR
Jacket: Rev’It Tornado 3
Pant: Rev’It Jackson RF
Gloves: Rev’It Sand 3
Boots: TCX Rush 2 Air
2022 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT Technical Specifications and Price
Yamaha’s 2022 Tracer 9 GT is outfitted with removable hard case luggage and rings in at $14,999. (Joseph Agustin/)
The 2022 Tracer 9 GT is powered by Yamaha’s recently overhauled 890cc inline-three. It pumps out a strong, sweet-sounding spread of torque with a pleasing overall character. (Joseph Agustin/)
Yamaha’s Tracer 9 GT generally handles well for a 503-pound motorcycle. But its suspension isn’t as poised during fast-paced rides as the MT-09. (Joseph Agustin/)
The Tracer 9 GT offers comfortable seats for rider and passenger. We liked riding with the rider’s seat in the lower of two positions. (Joseph Agustin/)
Lockable and removable hard case luggage is standard on every Tracer 9 GT. The cases can swallow nearly 8 gallons of gear. (Joseph Agustin/)
The Tracer 9 GT impresses with its lofty level of comfort. So much so that we wish the 5-gallon fuel tank was larger so we could cover more miles. (Joseph Agustin/)
Bright LED lights help the Tracer 9 GT rider stand out after dark. Cornering headlamps are standard but could do a better job of illuminating turns at night. (Joseph Agustin/)
A tall, manually adjustable windscreen does a fine job of shielding the rider from the elements. (Joseph Agustin/)
Cruise control, heated grips, and cozy-riding semi-active suspension make for an enjoyable experience. (Joseph Agustin/)
Semi-active suspension takes the guesswork out of manual damping force adjustment. The system works well on bumpy surfaces but could offer improved road holding at faster paces on curvy stretches of tarmac. (Joseph Agustin/)
Miles melt away with ease on Yamaha’s Tracer 9 GT. (Joseph Agustin/)
While comfortable and fun to ride, the Tracer 9 GT certainly isn’t cheap, commanding a $5,500 premium over the standard MT-09. (Joseph Agustin/)
“Unfortunately, I will not race this weekend in Argentina. I got a positive PCR test just before flying to Termas. I am really sorry for my team, sponsors and fans. I don’t have any symptoms and I am feeling good, I am just very sad and disappointed. I am hoping to be back on track in Austin for the Americas GP. Fingers crossed,” said Nakagami.
Sunshine, wine, good food, and savoir vivre (knowing how to live) – these are just a few reasons why the Côte d’Azur and the Provence region of southern France are so captivating. But for motorcyclists, the real draw of this region near the western border of northern Italy are the roads threaded throughout the Maritime Alps. The Edelweiss Bike Travel Best of Southern France Tour gives motorcyclists a taste of the good life in this enchanting part of Europe.
The tour begins and ends in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a medieval village tucked into the mountains with views of the picturesque Mediterranean coast. The town is not far from iconic French Riviera cities like Cannes and Nice (which has the closest major airport), as well as the casinos and Formula 1 course in Monte Carlo, Monaco.
Like so many cities, towns, and villages in southern France, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is full of history and character. The picturesque walled city was initially a fortified medieval defense post and played a significant role in the French Revolution. For centuries it has been a lodestone for tourists, travelers, and artisans, as well as a significant center for the Impressionist and Expressionist art movements of the 20th century. Recently it was home to, and is the final resting place of, modern artist Marc Chagall, who bequeathed to the city some of his most significant works.
Part of what draws one here is the magical blend of tranquility and brilliance. For artists it’s the light, for others it’s the mild climate and rustic setting. For many it is simply the nearness and yet quiet respite from the hustle and bustle of France’s more famous Mediterranean cities.
Seven guests have arrived, coming from the United States, Brazil, and Germany, and all have chosen to ride adventure bikes: BMW R 1250 GSs and S 1000 XRs and a KTM 1290 Super Adventure. The bikes are parked next to the pool, ready to ride. For all but two of the tour participants, this is their first time in this region. For some, this is their first time in France. The evening before the tour we met for a briefing, followed by camaraderie over a delicious meal of good wine and poisson à la provençale. Marlene and Klaus, a couple from Germany, received a special recognition for having completed many Edelweiss tours already.
Day 2: Saint-Paul-de-Vence to Saint-Michel-l’Observatoire
Our day begins with a nip in the air and long shadows stretching across the lawn. There’s not a cloud in the sky, yet the sweltering heat of summer is behind us and it’s a pleasure to don some warmer riding gear for a picture-perfect autumn day. It’s in the mid-40s now, but by the afternoon it will be in the mid-60s. Our route takes us along the Gorges du Loup, to the medieval walled city of Gourdon, and ultimately the spectacular Gorges du Verdon – one of the most iconic canyon landscapes in Europe. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is our last stop of the day, right at the foot of an ancient monastery, for a coffee before reaching our lodging for the night. This ancient town was first settled in the 5th century, and with its 12th-century Romanesque church, it is considered one of France’s plus belle ville de pays (most beautiful country towns).
After a full day of riding, the day ends with a respectful appreciation of the amazing scenery, stunning vistas, extensive history, and relaxed simplicity that is typical of Provence. Our group is getting into the swing of things as the cares of their lives back home begin melting away. Can it get any better?
Day 3: Saint-Michel-l’Observatoire to Avignon
We’re on our way to Avignon, and it’s a gorgeous day, with blue skies dotted with fluffy white clouds, creating the perfect backdrop for the charming villages we visit. After a short warm-up ride, we stop in the beautiful village of Roussillon for coffee. With its ancient buildings seeming to tumble down the mountainside, we find our lunch stop in Sault even more enchanting.
After lunch, we follow part of the famous Tour de France route over 6,263-foot Mont Ventoux, where the blue skies give way to thick, gray fog. We pause to allow a herd of sheep to pass and keep a keen eye out for bicyclists. They’re everywhere! We must be cautious, as some of the bicyclists descend the mountain faster than our motorcycles. We’re amazed, and the fearless cyclists command our respect.
Upon arriving in Avignon, we enjoy a little tailgate party with snacks and post-ride “boot” beers served from the back of the chase van. The night’s accommodations are in an old palace in the center of the city, and we’ve arrived early enough for a visit to the spa or to explore the beautiful city perched on the bank of the Rhône River, which is a veritable jewel of provincial culture and heritage. We’re rewarded with another delicious dinner, and afterward we all linger to chat about what we’ve seen and experienced so far. The anticipation of the next day’s ride is palpable.
Day 4: Avignon to Mostuéjouls
The Côtes du Rhône region is renowned for its red cuvée wines made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre grapes. We visit La Chartreuse-de-Valbonne, a monastery founded in 1203, where Carthusian monks first cultivated the grapes and fermented the juices to produce the wine that made this region world famous.
The day continues with a major highlight: a thrilling roller-coaster ride on narrow, heavily shaded forest roads, over a 3,000-foot pass, and into Grands Causses Regional Natural Park. Within the park is Gorges de la Jonte, a jagged, plunging canyon up to 1,500 feet deep where vultures can be seen circling in the thermic winds high above the rugged terrain. After another thrilling day of riding, we arrive in Mostuéjouls, where we spend the next two nights and a rest day at a first-class hotel with a pool.
Day 5: Rest Day in Mostuéjouls
This picturesque alpine village on the Tarn River is popular with climbers, kayakers, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. Some took the opportunity to squeeze in another day of riding on the fantastic local roads, while others explored or relaxed. One of the area’s highlights is located nearby in Cévennes National Park – an enormous limestone cave called Aven Armand that’s filled with intricate stalagmites and stalactites. Another is Viaduc de Millau, an 8,000-foot-long multi-span cable-stayed bridge that’s the tallest in the world, with a structural height of just over 1,100 feet.
Day 6: Mostuéjouls to Chabrillan
We continue our triangular, clockwise loop route, riding through the Gorges du Tarn and Gorges de l’Ardèche, where we stop at Pont d’Arc, an enormous natural stone bridge that was formed when the Ardèche River broke through a narrow escarpment of soft limestone. The arch is nearly 200 feet wide and more than 100 feet tall, and a nearby beach makes it popular with swimmers and sunbathers. It’s another beautiful day, and we take the opportunity to stop and enjoy the view down into canyons and across to distant mountains carpeted in rich green vegetation.
Day 7: Chabrillan to Chambéry
As we travel northeast, we’re making our way into the foothills of the French Alps. The scenery gets more rugged and the mountains soar higher. We summit Col de la Machine, a breathtaking 3,316-foot pass, followed by another gorge. We’ll spend the next two riding days at higher elevations, mostly above 6,000 feet. Days like this are why we go on alpine motorcycle tours. The vistas, the undulating pavement, and the surprises around every unfamiliar corner. This is riding heaven – we all know it and enjoy sharing it with each other.
Day 8: Chambéry to Arvieux
More alpine passes today. Col du Télégraphe (5,138 feet). Col du Galibier (8,668 feet). Col du Lautaret (6,752 feet). Col d’Izoard (7,743 feet). Each is legendary in its own right. They are rites of passage for bicyclists – challenges on the grueling Tour de France race. We are grateful for throttles!
Being high in the Alps made for an ideal location to enjoy one of Edelweiss’ famous picnic lunches. One of the tour guides bought a variety of local delicacies, and the chase van was stocked with tables, chairs, and everything needed for a nicely catered buffet. With the sun shining and beautiful mountain views, we relaxed and enjoyed having this little part of paradise all to ourselves.
Day 8: Arvieux to Jausiers
We wake up in Arvieux to cold rain and fog, our only inclement weather of the trip. After riding briefly into and out of Italy (ciao!), we ride back into France and find that a landslide on the route to Col de la Bonette has blocked our passage. With torrential rain and temperatures just above freezing, our hands are soaked and our spirits are numbed. We detour back to Vinadio, Italy, and assuage our disappointment with hot beverages and perhaps the best pizza we’ve ever eaten. We backtrack and follow a clear route to Jausiers, where we all welcome a hot shower, a warm dinner, and a soft, dry bed.
Day 9: Jausiers to Saint-Paul-de-Vence
Since we missed Col de la Bonette (8,907 feet) yesterday, on our last riding day we do an early-morning up-and-back ride to the monumental pass. We squeeze in more mountain riding on our way back to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, where we put down our kickstands for the last time.
Our international group shares a mix of elation and disappointment. We’ve had a wonderful tour and even faced a few challenges, and we don’t want it to end. Over our final dinner together, Edemar from Brazil says, “The end of a dream is the birth of new plans!”
We all were at a loss for words to describe how stunning the trip had been. Great food, amazing riding, impressive historical sites, exploration of new places, and a soul-warming group experience. A wonderful adventure that made us ready for more!
Edelweiss Bike Travel’s Best of Southern France tour is scheduled to run in June and September of 2022 and 2023. Prices start at $6,550. Visit edelweissbike.com for more details.
2. In the MotoGP™ paddock, a lot of people can speak at least two languages – their native tongue and, normally, English. However, Oliveira speaks five languages: Portuguese, English, Spanish, Italian, and French. Quite the skillset Oliveira possesses then, considering his degree in dentistry and his obvious ability on a MotoGP™ bike.