Now in its fourth generation since the FJ-09 debuted for 2015, the 2024 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ sport-tourer has been updated with an eye toward refinement and sophistication.
The ‘+’ added to the model name this year brings with it a host of upgrades: a new millimeter-wave radar that continuously measures distance to vehicles ahead and enables adaptive cruise control and a world-first radar-linked Unified Brake System, integrated ride modes, the next generation of the KYB Actimatic Damper System (KADS) electronic suspension, an updated quickshifter, a new 7-inch TFT display with simplified menus, new switchgear, and integration with the Yamaha MyLink and Garmin Motorize smartphone apps.
Rider’s Editor-in-Chief Greg Drevenstedt logged 1,400 miles for our road test and he had this to say: The Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ gets a big gold star for being a fantastic, well-rounded, well-sorted sport-tourer. Although its $16,499 MSRP is $1,500 above that of the previous model, the GT+ offers a level of technological sophistication that isn’t available on another motorcycle priced less than $25,000.
Included in the announcement are the 2024 Suzuki GSX-S1000GT and GT+ sport-tourers; the 2024 GSX-R600, GSX-R1000, GSX-R1000R, and Hayabusa sportbikes; and the 2024 GSX-S1000 and GSX-8S naked sportbikes, the latter of which was introduced last year and is powered by Suzuki’s latest 776 cc parallel-Twin platform. In the adventure bike segment, Suzuki returns with the V-Strom 650 and 1050 range of motorcycles, and rounding out this on-road wave is the Burgman 400 Scooter.
2024 Suzuki GSX-S1000GT/GT+
The 2024 GSX-S1000GT combines the performance of its GSX-R1000-based engine with a nimble, lightweight chassis to provide riders with what Suzuki calls “an exciting and comfortable GT riding experience.” The GT and GT+ are grand tourers with sportbike-level functionality, avant-garde styling, and an extensive selection of optional equipment like integrated side cases.
The GSX-S1000GT has a pair of horizontally arranged LED headlights, a V-shaped position light, and side-mounted LED turn signals that fashion an appearance that is distinctively Suzuki. The GT’s styling continues into the optional side cases and touring windshield for a fully integrated appearance.
For 2024, the GSX-S1000GT+ is presented in the new Candy Daring Red or the returning Glass Sparkle Black, both with unique GT logos that tie into subframe and wheel colors. MSRP is $14,199. The GSX-S1000GT returns in Glass Sparkle Black starting at $13,449.
Full fairing with dual mono-focus LED headlights and V-shaped LED position light.
6.5-inch TFT panel featuring Suzuki’s mySPIN connectivity application that links to a smartphone to provide access to contacts, maps, music, and phone communication. It even pairs with most Bluetooth helmet communication systems.
The 999cc GSX-R-based engine has reported impressive peak power with strong torque in the low- to mid-range and Ride-by-Wire.
The Suzuki Clutch Assist System (SCAS), standard bi-directional quick shift system, and cruise control.
The Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (S.I.R.S.) includes the three-mode Suzuki ride mode selector, the five-mode Advanced Traction Control system, Quick Shift system, and the Easy Start and Low RPM Assist systems.
2024 Suzuki GSX-R600
The GSX-R600 has a compact 599cc 4-cylinder engine, a fully adjustable Showa Big Piston Front Fork (BPF) and remote reservoir rear shock, and twin Brembo monoblock radially mounted front brake calipers grasping fully floating 310mm stainless steel brake rotors. Located between the frame’s spars, the engine’s top end is canted forward to improve cylinder head charging for increased power output. According to Suzuki: “For a rider considering a mid-size sportbike that flashes middleweight performance on the track or the street, there is only one choice: the Suzuki GSX-R600.”
Three paint schemes are available for the 2024 GSX-R600 starting at $11,899: Pearl Brilliant White/Metallic Matte Stellar Blue, Pearl Brilliant White/Metallic Triton Blue, or Metallic Matte Black No. 2/Glass Sparkle Black.
The twin-spar aluminum frame connects the steering head with the swingarm pivot portion of the chassis in a way that balances light weight and strength. The engine is suspended below the frame to keep mass low and the wheelbase short to promote nimble handling.
The Suzuki Drive Mode Selector (S-DMS) lets the rider adjust the engine’s power delivery to suit the riding conditions.
2024 Suzuki GSX-8S
Introduced for 2023, the 2024 Suzuki GSX-8S naked sporbike has a compact 776cc parallel-Twin that uses a 270-degree firing order and is equipped with Suzuki’s exclusive Cross Balancer system. Suzuki calls the GSX-8S “the ideal response to rider demands in the mid-size naked street bike category.”
A color 5-inch TFT LCD multifunction instrument panel provides the rider access and on-the-fly control over the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (S.I.R.S.) suite of advanced electronic control systems that includes Suzuki Drive Mode Selector, the four-mode Suzuki Traction Control System, the bi-directional Quick Shift system, and Easy Start and Low RPM Assist systems.
Starting at $8,999, the 2024 Suzuki GSX-8S comes in Pearl Cosmic Blue, Metallic Matte Black No. 2/Glass Sparkle Black, or the new Glass Matte Mechanical Grey.
Suzuki Clutch Assist System (SCAS), KYB suspension, and ABS-equipped Nissin radial-mounted 4-piston brake calipers with dual brake rotors
A sporty yet ergonomically comfortable riding position
2024 Suzuki GSX-R1000 and R1000R
Suzuki introduced the original GSX-R750 in 1985 and then proceeded to gain multiple road racing championships around the world before creating another milestone in 2001 with the introduction of the GSX-R1000.
At the pinnacle of the GSX-R family of ultra-high-performance sportbikes, the 2024 GSX-R1000R’s versatile engine provides power that is delivered smoothly and controllably across a broad rpm range. Like the original GSX-R1000, the 2024’s compact chassis delivers nimble handling with excellent suspension feel and braking control. Advanced electronic rider aids such as traction control, launch control, and a bi-directional quickshifter enhance the riding experience.
The GSX-R1000R is equipped with Showa’s BFF and BFRC-Lite suspension components. For stopping power up front, radially mounted Brembo monoblock 4-piston calipers fed by stainless steel brake lines grasp a pair of 320mm Brembo T-drive floating brake rotors.
The 2024 GSX-R1000R is available in a new Glass Matte Mechanical Gray paint scheme with dark red wheels or the popular Metallic Matte Black No. 2/Glass Sparkle Black scheme with new, bright blue graphics on the fairing and on the black wheels. Both paint schemes are accented by gold-anodized suspension components.
The GSX-R1000R is also available in 2024 in a race-inspired Pearl Brilliant White/Metallic Triton Blue paint scheme with bright blue wheels and blue-anodized suspension components. MSRP is $18,499.
The 2024 GSX-R1000 starts at $16,349 in a new Glass Matte Mechanical Gray paint scheme with dark red wheels or the popular Metallic Matte Black No. 2/Glass Sparkle Black scheme with new bright blue graphics on the fairing and on the black wheels.
Inline-Four with DOHC and the Variable Valve Timing (VVT) system, as well as a 4-2-1 exhaust with a revised muffler and heat shield.
Electronics include an IMU, adjustable traction control, the Suzuki bi-directional Quick Shift system, and Suzuki Drive Mode Selector, plus the GSX-R1000R–specific Motion Track Anti-Lock Brake and Launch Control systems.
The GSX-R1000R–specific black background LCD multifunction instrument panel was inspired by the GSX-RR MotoGP dash.
Fairing houses a bright LED headlight with eyebrow position lights above the Suzuki Ram Air Direct ducts that feed the engine’s electronic throttle bodies.
2024 Suzuki GSX-S1000
The 2024 GSX-S1000 naked sportbke has a 999cc engine based on the GSX-R1000 and produces claimed high peak power with strong torque in the low- to mid-range. The bike has upright streetfighter ergonomics, a twin-spar aluminum frame, and fully adjustable KYB suspension, while braking comes from ABS-equipped Brembo monoblock 4-piston calipers with dual 310mm floating discs in front and a Nissin 1-piston caliper squeezing a 240mm disc in the rear.
Two available body colors – Metallic Triton Blue with white accents or the new Metallic Matte Sword Silver with red accents – combine with modern logos for a starting MSRP of $11,699.
A stacked mono-focus LED headlight assembly and angular styling that includes MotoGP-inspired winglets for an aggressive naked sportbike stance.
Ride-by-Wire, Suzuki Clutch Assist System (SCAS), and bi-directional Quick Shift system.
The GSX-S1000 uses the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (S.I.R.S.) with a three-mode Suzuki Drive Mode Selector and the five-mode Advanced Traction Control System plus the Easy Start and Low RPM Assist systems.
2024 Suzuki Hayabusa
The 2024 version of Suzuki’s flagship sportbike celebrates its 25th anniversary of production this year. The Hayabusa is propelled by an 1,340cc inline-Four with DOHC and housed managed by the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (S.I.R.S.) Suzuki says the engine’s adjustable power delivery, traction control, cruise control, launch control, quick shift, and Motion Track ABS and Combined Brake systems “offer the Hayabusa rider unmatched options on how they want their ride to unfold.”
For 2024, in addition to the recently announced 25th Anniversary Hayabusa, riders may choose from Metallic Thunder Gray/Candy Daring Red or the deep, dark Metallic Matte Black/Glass Sparkle Black combination starting at $19,099.
Ride-by-Wire electronic throttle bodies with dual fuel injectors feeding each cylinder, mixing with pressurized air from the Suzuki Ram Air Direct (SRAD) intakes in the nose of the aerodynamic fairing. The symmetrical twin silencer exhaust system is lighter than previous generations with better flow and an exciting exhaust note.
The Hayabusa’s superbike-caliber, twin-spar aluminum frame reportedly delivers a stable ride with nimble handling that can be personalized through the adjustable KYB-supplied suspension.
The Hayabusa employs an advanced version of the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (S.I.R.S.): a comprehensive collection of electronic rider aids like cruise control and bi-directional Quick Shift systems. Only the Hayabusa offers this premium suite of riding aids.
2024 Suzuki V-Strom 650
Suzuki says its V-Strom 650 models are “renowned for versatility, reliability, and value.” The 2024 V-Strom 650 has a liquid-cooled 645cc 90-degree V-Twin and rides on lightweight 10-spoke cast wheels shod with adventure-spec Bridgestone Battlax 19-inch front and 17-inch rear tubeless radial tires.
The adventure bike has 6.7 inches of ground clearance, and a spring-preload-adjustable 43mm front fork and link-type rear suspension are combined with a rebound damping adjustment and hand-operated spring preload adjuster.
The 2024 Suzuki V-Strom 650 comes in Solid Iron Gray starting at $9,199.
Suzuki’s Advanced Traction Control system, Easy Start system and Low RPM Assist feature.
2-piston brake calipers and dual 310mm discs up front and a single-piston caliper and 260mm disc in the rear, plus standard ABS.
Vertically stacked headlights and adjustable windshield.
2024 Suzuki V-Strom 650XT and 650XT Adventure
The Suzuki V-Strom 650XT and 650XT Adventure feature the same liquid-cooled 645cc 90-degree V-Twin, suspension, and braking as the V-Strom 650 but take the off-road capability up a notch with anodized aluminum spoked wheels, hand guards, and a protective lower engine cowl. The V-Strom 650XT Adventure is equipped with Suzuki’s ADV-style 37-liter black aluminum side cases, as well as mirror extensions and a handlebar cross-brace that can be used to mount accessories like a GPS.
The 2024 Suzuki V-STROM 650XT comes in Glass Sparkle Black bodywork with new gray and gold graphics to complement the gold-anodized aluminum rims starting at $9,699.
The V-STROM 650XT Adventure is clad with Pearl Vigor Blue/Pearl Brilliant White paint with blue graphics and blue-anodized aluminum rims starting at $10,899.
Suzuki’s Advanced Traction Control system, Easy Start system, and Low RPM Assist feature.
ADV fairing with vertically stacked headlights and adjustable windshield.
Integrated mount points on the chassis for Suzuki’s accessory family of V-Strom luggage.
2024 Suzuki V-Strom 1050
The 2024 V-Strom 1050 adventure-touring bike has a 1,037cc V-Twin that Suzuki says produces “great horsepower, all while retaining its strong pull in the lower-rpm range and good fuel economy.” It has 6.5 inches of clearance and rides on cast aluminum wheels shod with a 19-inch front and 17-inch rear Bridgestone Battlax Adventure A41 radial tires.
The Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (S.I.R.S.) includes standard cruise control, Suzuki’s bi-directional Quick Shift system, and the Motion Track Brake system that activates cornering ABS. A full-color 5-inch TFT LCD multi-function instrument panel displays the bike’s operating status and S.I.R.S. settings.
The 2024 Suzuki V-Strom 1050 will be available in a new Glass Blaze Orange and Metallic Matte Black No. 2 paint scheme starting at $15,299.
Fully adjustable inverted fork, link-style rear shock, and hand-operated, hydraulic spring preload adjuster.
Radially-mounted 4-piston brake calipers grasping dual 310mm discs up front and a 2-piston caliper and 260mm disc in the rear.
A USB port to the side of the instrument panel supplies power for smartphones or other accessories like a GPS.
2024 Suzuki V-Strom 1050DE and 1050DE Adventure
The 2024 V-Strom 1050DE models also have a 1,037cc V-Twin engine but ride in a chassis with 7.5 inches of ground clearance and 21-inch front and 17-inch rear spoke-style wheels with Dunlop Trailmax Mixtour adventure tires. Compared to the base V-STROM 1050, the DE has a longer rake and wheelbase for better handling on gravel roads and dirt trails, a longer suspension stroke to better absorb bumps on rough surfaces, as well as wide steel foot pegs and a large diameter tapered aluminum handlebar.
A 5-inch color TFT LCD multi-function instrument panel displays the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System (S.I.R.S.) settings that include a Gravel (G) mode in the Suzuki Traction Control System and the ability to switch off the rear ABS, as well as the bi-directional Quick Shift system. The V-STROM 1050DE further emphasizes the aggressive look of its Suzuki Dakar-inspired styling with its unique front fender, aluminum engine protector, and rugged accessory bar.
The V-Strom 1050DE Adventure is equipped with Suzuki’s black aluminum side case set with 37 liters of capacity and an LED fog lamp set. The V-Strom 1050DE Adventure is available in Pearl Vigor Blue and Pearl Brilliant White body colors starting at $17,799.
The V-Strom 1050DE comes in Glass Sparkle Black/Metallic Matte Black starting at $16,199.
Fully adjustable inverted fork with 6.7 inches of travel, link-style monoshock with 6.6 inches of travel, 4-piston brake calipers that grasp dual 310mm discs in front, and a single-piston caliper and 260mm disc in the rear.
USB port to the side of the instrument panel supplies power for smartphones or other accessories like a GPS.
2024 Suzuki Burgman 400
The 2024 Suzuki Burgman 400 features a 400cc Single with DOHC and four valves powering a CVT automatic transmission. It has Suzuki’s dual-spark technology ignition system, and like the systems used on Suzuki’s Hayabusa and GSX-S1000GT, the Burgman features a rider-selectable Traction Control system and Suzuki’s Easy Start system.
The 2024 Suzuki Burgman 400 comes in a Metallic Matte Sword Silver paint scheme with blue wheels for $8,699.
Spacious under-seat storage and two front compartments with a DC power outlet.
Triple-disc brakes (two 260mm discs up front and a single 210mm disc in the rear) with standard Suzuki ABS.
When a bike wins Rider’s Motorcycle of the Year award, as the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT did in 2021, it’s a special machine that beat out dozens of others in the year it was selected. But every motorcycle, even very good ones, can be made better. Just two years after earning MOTY honors, we have the new and improved Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+.
What does the ‘+’ at the end of the name entail? Quite a bit, actually. Tucked under the nose of the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ is a new millimeter-wave radar that continuously measures distance to vehicles ahead and enables two features: adaptive cruise control and a radar-linked Unified Brake System. Also new on the GT+ are integrated ride modes, the next generation of the KYB Actimatic Damper System (KADS) electronic suspension, an updated quickshifter, a new 7-inch TFT display with simplified menus, new switchgear, and integration with the Yamaha MyLink and Garmin Motorize smartphone apps.
This fourth generation of the Tracer 9 platform – which began with the FJ-09 for 2015 and became the Tracer 900 GT for 2019, the Tracer 9 GT for 2021, and now the Tracer 9 GT+ for 2024 – is about refinement. It adds useful tech and smooths out a few rough edges but retains what has made the FJ/Tracer a Rider favorite for nearly a decade. As we wrote when the Tracer 9 GT won MOTY in 2021, “Thanks to steady evolution and improvement over three generations, Yamaha has demonstrated just how good a modern sport-tourer can be, especially for riders who value agility over couch-like luxury. Performance, sophistication, comfort, versatility, load/luggage capacity – the Tracer checks all the right boxes and leaves nothing on the table.”
Returning unchanged is the star of the show – the liquid-cooled 890cc CP3 inline-Triple with a crossplane crankshaft, which made 108 hp at 10,000 rpm and 63 lb-ft of torque at 7,200 rpm at the rear wheel on Jett Tuning’s dyno. The CP3 has always been an exciting engine that’s full of character, and it continues to deliver in spades. As before, wrapped around the engine is a controlled-fill diecast Deltabox aluminum frame that is both strong and light. The GT+ also has an aluminum swingarm, a steel subframe, and lightweight spinforged wheels shod with excellent Bridgestone Battlax T32 sport-touring tires. A comprehensive electronics package, 30-liter side cases, LED cornering lights, heated grips, a height-adjustable windscreen, adjustable ergonomics, and many other useful features are all part of the deal.
Since this review takes a deep dive into the new tech, I’ll cut to the chase: The Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ gets a big gold star for being a fantastic, well-rounded, well-sorted sport-tourer. For this test, I logged over 1,400 miles in three days, and my admiration for the bike deepened with each passing mile. Although its $16,499 MSRP is $1,500 above that of the previous model, the GT+ offers a level of technological sophistication that isn’t available on another motorcycle priced less than $25,000.
A millimeter-wave (mmWave) radar system emits short-wavelength electromagnetic wave signals that are reflected by objects in their path, allowing the system to determine the distance and velocity of those objects. In the case of the Tracer 9 GT+, the radar detects vehicles ahead in the same lane – it’s unaffected by vehicles going in the same direction in adjacent lanes or approaching vehicles in opposing lanes. When adaptive cruise control (ACC) is engaged, the system shows a car icon if a vehicle is detected within a certain range. If the vehicle ahead is traveling at a slower speed than that set for cruise control, the Tracer will slow to match the lead vehicle’s speed and maintain a set distance. A trigger on the left grip allows the rider to select among four set following distances, ranging from a minimum of one second to a maximum of two seconds. With the mmWave radar box tucked into a central cavity between the headlights and weighing only 7 ounces, it has minimal impact on aesthetics or overall weight.
After riding 200 miles around Boise, Idaho, during the one-day press launch, I logged two consecutive 600-mile days riding home to Ventura, California. Day 1 took me due south from Boise through the empty high desert of southwestern Idaho, down into Nevada to Eureka, and across Nevada’s basin-and-range landscape on U.S. Route 50 – “The Loneliest Road in America” – to Carson City. On Day 2, I climbed up the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range, rode along the shore of Lake Tahoe, crossed into California, and bagged four of the highest paved Sierra passes – Ebbetts (8,730 feet), Monitor (8,314 feet), Sonora (9,624 feet), and Tioga (9,945 feet) – before cruising south on U.S. Route 395 and west on State Routes 14 and 26 to the coast.
There were few people in these wide-open spaces, and the heaviest traffic I encountered was millions and millions of Mormon crickets that covered some of the roads in Idaho and Nevada for miles. At times I shared the road with a coyote, a few antelopes, and several fast-moving pikas, their tails sticking straight up in the air as they scurried across the hot asphalt. Temperatures ranged from 50 to 100 degrees, and several desert rainstorms provided cooling relief from the summer heat.
I’ve never been a heavy user of cruise control – I’d use it occasionally to give my right arm a break, to do some stretches, or to keep the bike at a steady speed while I opened or closed vents in my jacket – but I disliked having to disengage and re-engage cruise control when I came upon other vehicles in my lane. But I used adaptive cruise control for much of my 1,200-mile trip home. I’d set it to avoid the speed creep that can happen on long rides, sometimes leading to unpleasant interactions with the local constabulary. When I’d come upon a vehicle ahead of me, ACC would adjust the bike’s speed using engine braking, and then, if necessary, the front and rear brakes. If I changed lanes to overtake the vehicle, ACC would accelerate to the set speed.
ACC works from 20-99 mph in all gears, and only if traction control, slide control, and (front wheel) lift control are turned on (which they are by default in all ride modes). When using ACC’s acceleration and deceleration toggle switch, speed can be adjusted in 1-mph or 5-mph increments. Furthermore, using inputs from the 6-axis IMU (inertial measurement unit), ACC employs cornering assist (limits acceleration when leaned over), passing assist (smooths acceleration when the turnsignal is on), KADS integration (adjusts suspension damping to limit chassis pitch), and a rider warning system if following distance is too close. While all the different features of ACC may make it sound complicated, in practice it is very intuitive to use. ACC, however, is not a collision avoidance system or some sort of autopilot; the rider needs to stay engaged at all times.
The mmWave radar system also enables a radar-linked Unified Brake System that Yamaha says is a world-first technology on the Tracer 9 GT+. Using inputs from the IMU, suspension control unit, and engine control unit, the system adjusts braking and suspension forces to help keep the motorcycle under control. If the rider applies the brakes and the radar system detects an object or vehicle in the road, UBS will apply additional front/rear braking as needed, and compression damping will be increased to prevent chassis pitch. The Brake Control (cornering ABS) system must be turned on, and UBS works whether or not ACC is engaged. UBS is not an emergency braking system; it provides assistance only if the rider is already on the brakes. To support UBS and improve overall braking performance, Yamaha increased the diameter of the Tracer’s rear brake disc from 245mm to 267mm and made the rear brake pedal slightly wider with a more beveled shape.
I used ACC for many hours of my two-day ride home, and how it worked when I approached or passed other vehicles on the road was obvious. Perhaps because there was little traffic on the road, I don’t recall any moments of hard or abrupt braking that would have engaged the radar-linked UBS function. An icon will flash on the TFT display, similar to a traction control light flickering when rear wheel spin is being managed, but I didn’t see such an icon. Then again, if I’m braking hard to avoid hitting something, I’m focused on the road and not on the dash.
Other New New on the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+
Whereas ACC and UBS are new features, other updates refine existing ones. The quickshifter previously allowed clutchless upshifts during acceleration and clutchless downshifts during deceleration. On the GT+, the quickshifter also allows upshifts during deceleration (e.g., to limit engine braking) and downshifts during acceleration (e.g., to assist with making a pass). Also, the quickshifter can be used when ACC is engaged.
From a user-interface perspective, two of the best upgrades on the Tracer 9 GT+ are the move from a pair of 3.5-inch TFT displays to a single 7-inch TFT display and revised switchgear. The TFT has crisp, full-color graphics, three display modes, and an anti-glare coating that makes the screen legible even in bright sunlight. Simplified menu systems are more intuitive than before, and the joystick and home button on the left grip make navigating between screens, menus, and functions easy (though occasionally I’d mistake the joystick for the turnsignal switch, which is just to the left of it). All the switches have ergonomic shapes, a tactile feel, and new backlighting.
The Tracer 9 GT+ offers Bluetooth connectivity, allowing a smartphone and up to two headsets to be connected to the bike for controlling music and phone calls. The free Yamaha MyLink app allows text messages and incoming call info to be displayed on the dash, provides weather info and alerts, and allows use of the Garmin Motorize navigation app (subscription required – $4.99/month or $39.99/year). I used both, and Garmin Motorize was especially useful because it displayed Garmin’s familiar GPS screen right on the TFT display, eliminating the hassle of mounting a separate GPS unit or my smartphone on the bike for navigation. Using the Garmin app, however, was a drain on my iPhone’s battery, going from 100% to about 50% in just a few hours. There is a USB-A outlet just below the dash, so I ran a charging cord from the outlet to the phone in my pocket as needed.
As much as I liked the features and capabilities of the Yamaha MyLink and Garmin Motorize apps, I do have a couple nits to pick. First, the Yamaha app must be paired to a smartphone via wi-fi, but when the bike is shut down (such as removing the key to open the fuel filler) and then turned back on, the bike and Yamaha MyLink app wouldn’t always reconnect automatically. Sometimes it would be just a matter of opening the app and tapping the paired device button to reestablish the connection. But occasionally it would connect and then quickly disconnect, saying “communication error.” I’d get stuck in a connect/disconnect loop until finally the app and the bike decided to start talking to each other again. When on the side of the road after a photo stop or at a gas station during a long day’s ride, such connectivity issues can be frustrating.
My other nit to pick may reflect my personal proclivities and be completely irrelevant to others. When the Garmin Motorize app is being used, a long press of the home button on the left grip switches between the main screen and the navigation screen (a short tap of the home button brings up other functions). When the navigation screen is up, only limited vehicle information is displayed: coolant temperature on the left, fuel level on the right, and along the top, speed, ride mode, gear position, quickshifter status, and one of only four data points: odometer, tripmeter 1, total travel time, and clock, which can be scrolled through using the joystick. One of my favorite data points is ambient temperature, but it’s not available on that screen.
When adaptive cruise control is engaged, ACC info replaces the engine temperature gauge on the left side of the navigation screen. Switching over to the main screen, ACC info is also shown on the left, and it replaces the vehicle info that is normally displayed on the left side of the screen. On the right side of the screen, the rider can choose three vehicle info “favorites” from among the following: ambient temperature, coolant temperature, average speed, tripmeter 1, tripmeter 2, total trip time, average mpg, instant mpg, and low-fuel tripmeter (which begins counting once low-fuel warning comes on). Three of the remaining vehicle info data points are shown on the left, and the rest can be scrolled through using the joystick but their order can’t be changed. And when ACC is engaged, the remaining vehicle info data points are not available.
Riding the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+
Whew, that was a lot of technical info! But for those who are interested in keeping abreast of new technology, we do our best to report them. Now comes my favorite part of the review: what it’s like to ride the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+.
As mentioned, the Tracer’s 890cc Triple is a gem of an engine. Yamaha’s “crossplane concept” design means that each crankpin is offset 120 degrees from the next, and the three cylinders fire sequentially (1-2-3) in even 240-degree intervals. The engine is versatile, remaining smooth and docile at low revs and cruising along at highway speeds with minimal vibration, but it’s ready to party with a quick twist of the throttle. Horsepower builds linearly to its peak at 10,000 rpm, while torque holds steady: 54-63 lb-ft between 3,000 and 10,200 rpm (redline is 10,500). With a max of 108 hp, the Tracer doesn’t launch out of corners like an open-class sport-tourer, but keeping revs in the sweet spot between 6,000 and 9,000 rpm will please all but the greediest power addicts.
Rather than power modes (four), suspension modes (two), and electronic rider aids (traction control, slide control, and lift control) that must be adjusted separately as on the previous model, Yamaha made the Tracer 9 GT+ more user-friendly by giving it integrated ride modes with intuitive names and presets for all of the above: Sport, Street, Rain, and a Custom mode for those who like to tinker with settings.
With an upright seating position more like an adventure tourer than a traditional sport-tourer, the Tracer 9 GT+ is comfortable for long rides and allows the rider to quickly adopt an attack stance as needed, with the wide handlebar offering ample steering leverage. With a curb weight below 500 lb, a robust chassis, and frame geometry that favors agility, the Tracer loves to dive into and out of curves and responds obediently to small inputs. Strong, responsive brakes shed speed with good feedback or stop quickly as needed, and the 6-speed transmission changes gears effortlessly with either the slip/assist clutch or the quickshifter. The adjustable windscreen and standard hand guards provide good wind protection, and the revised seat, which has a new shape and cover, is reasonably comfortable but could use more support for long days in the saddle.
We’ve been heaping praise on the FJ/Tracer platform for years, while also pointing out flaws. With each new generation, Yamaha has addressed many of those flaws while also raising the bar in terms of performance, technology, safety, and convenience. If Rider selected a Motorcycle of the Decade, the Tracer 9 GT+ would be on the short list.
“We are excited to mark the return of the much-lauded Tracer 9 to the model lineup in the form of this extremely advanced new 2024 Tracer 9 GT+,” said Derek Brooks, Yamaha Motorsports Motorcycle Product Line Manager. “Already offering an incredibly sporty riding experience with its thrilling 890cc CP3 inline-Triple engine, well-sorted lightweight chassis and semi-active suspension, the new Tracer 9 GT+ ups the level of capability and comfort significantly with a long list of features that make it equally adept at attacking canyon twisties as it is tackling a multi-state tour.”
Topping the list of updates on the 2024 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ are innovative electronic rider aids, including Adaptive Cruise Control and a radar-linked Unified Brake System, which are enabled by a new Millimeter Wave Radar unit that constantly measures distance to vehicles ahead. Similar to systems used in automobiles and motorcycles such as the Ducati Multistrada V4 and BMW R 18 Transcontinental, Adaptive Cruise Control automatically controls cruising speed, deceleration, and acceleration to match the speed of the vehicle in front in order to maintain a constant following distance based on four adjustable pre-sets.
The 2024 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ is the world’s first motorcycle to employ a radar-linked Unified Brake System, which uses inputs from the Millimeter Wave Radar and a 6-axis IMU to assist the rider’s braking input when the distance to the vehicle in front closes to a certain level while simultaneously adjusting front/rear braking bias and front/rear suspension damping force for a higher degree of braking efficiency and handling. If the vehicle ahead is determined to be too close for the given brake pressure, the system assists by adding more braking force. Yamaha says the system is not a collision avoidance system. It will only provide braking assistance when the Brake Control (BC) feature is turned on and the rider is braking, and it includes cornering brake control.
In addition to the new Adaptive Cruise Control and Unified Brake System, the 2024 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ is equipped with a full suite of other electronic rider aids, including the Traction Control System (TCS), Slide Control System (SCS), front-wheel LIFt control system (LIF), and Brake Control System. Yamaha says all systems work together seamlessly, each of them can be turned off, and TCS, SCS and LIF offer adjustable levels of intervention.
The 2024 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ also features the next generation of the KYB Actimatic Damper System (KADS) electronically controlled suspension. Using inputs from the IMU and various sensors, the system adjusts suspension damping in real time based on prevailing riding conditions. The semi-active suspension also operates in conjunction with the Adaptive Cruise Control and Unified Brake System.
An updated quickshifter not only enables rapid-fire, clutchless upshifts and downshifts, it also works in conjunction with the new Adaptive Cruise Control, allowing riders to change gears without disengaging cruise control.
With such a deep roster of electronic functions, Yamaha has given the Tracer 9 GT+ a new 7-inch TFT display, which replaces the pair of 3.5-inch displays on the previous model. Riders can choose from three different screen layouts, and below the TFT is a USB-A outlet for connecting to a smartphone.
Smartphones and Bluetooth helmet communicators can now be connected directly to the bike to make and receive phone calls or control music. Using the Yamaha MyRide-Link app allows riders to receive weather information, receive text messages, and access a range of additional features. And the Garmin Motorize app provides full-screen turn-by-turn navigation through a subscription service. All functions can be controlled using a new joystick on the left handlebar switchgear and shown on the TFT display.
Returning unchanged is Yamaha’s liquid-cooled, crossplane-crankshaft 890cc CP3 inline-Triple. When we tested the 2021 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT, it produced 108 hp at 10,000 rpm and 63 lb-ft of torque at the rear wheel on Jett Tuning’s dyno. Four integrated ride modes – Sport, Street, Rain, and Custom – have unique throttle-response maps and level presets for TCS, SCS, LIF, and semi-active suspension.
The Tracer 9 GT+ has a proprietary CF (controlled filling) aluminum die-cast frame, lightweight spin-forged wheels, a 10-level adjustable windscreen, a height-adjustable seat with new padding and cover material, adjustable footpegs, 10-level heated grips, lockable/removeable hard cases that hold a full-face helmet in each side, and cornering lights.
Available in a Storm Gray two-tone colorway, the 2024 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT+ will be in dealerships in August with an MSRP of $16,499.
BMW Motorrad has announced the first updates for model year 2024. BMW models receive new color options, and BMW has also rearranged some of the options packages, moving some features from one package to another and removing some features from options packages to make them stand-alone add-ons. The brand has also added a new Intelligent Emergency Call feature, which comes standard on some models and as an option on other models.
The Intelligent Emergency Call feature includes an SOS button, a loudspeaker, and a microphone on the right handlebar controls. The system uses BMW Motorrad Connected Services, which can be activated during new vehicle delivery to the customer, to connect a rider to an agent whenever the SOS button is pushed or when a crash is detected. Once connected, the agent communicates with the rider to determine the situation and level of injury and to contact emergency services if needed.
For 2024, the Intelligent Emergency Call system comes standard on K 1600 models, R 1250 models, the R 18 B and Transcontinental, the S 1000 R and RR, and the CE 04. It’s available as an option on the F 900 R and XR.
Also included in this announcement is that all new BMW M models will include a 600-mile Ultimate Care Break-In Service, a program that was launched in 2021.
BMW has already released information on a couple new/updated models for 2024 in earlier announcements, including the new R 18 Roctane, the R nineT 12 to replace the R nineT, and a prototype for the BMW M 1000 XR.
The BMW CE 04 will have an MSRP of $12,195 and come in Light White as standard. The optional Avantgarde Package is available in Imperial Blue Metallic, which replaces the Magellan Grey Metallic color option. Intelligent Emergency Call has also been added.
The BMW C 400 GT will have an MSRP of $8,245. Colors include the standard Alpine White, the optional Style Triple Black, and the Style Exclusive Imperial Blue Metallic to replace the Callisto Gray Metallic option.
The BMW G 310 R will have an MSRP of $4,995. Cosmic Black 2 is the standard color. The Style Sport option comes in Racing Blue Metallic to replace Polar White/Racing Blue Metallic, and the Style Passion option comes in Granite Grey Metallic to replace Racing Red.
The BMW G 310 GS will have an MSRP of $5,695 and come standard in Cosmic Black 3. The Style Sport option comes in Polar White/Racing Blue Metallic, and the Style Rallye option comes in Racing Red to replace Kalamata Dark Gold Metallic
The BMW F 900 R will have an MSRP of $8,995 and come standard in Racing Red to replace Black Storm Metallic. The Style Sport option comes in Light White with updated graphics, and the Style Triple Black option replaces the Style Exclusive/Bluestone Metallic.
The F 900 R’s option packages have been changed. The Select Package, which included Heated Grips and Keyless Ride, has been removed and those features have been incorporated into the Premium Package. The Premium Package now has M Endurance Chain and ABS Pro, and a number of features have been removed from the package, including cruise control, the adaptive headlight, Headlight Pro, the center stand, GPR Prep, saddle bag mounts, and tire pressure monitoring. The new Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as a stand-alone option.
The BMW F 900 XR will have an MSRP of $11,695 and come in Light White with updated graphics as standard. The Style Sport option comes in Blue Metallic 2 to replace Racing Blue Metallic, and the Style Triple Black option has updated graphics. This model now has the Intelligent Emergency Call system as a stand-alone option.
The BMW R 18 will have an MSRP of $14,995 and come in Black Storm Metallic as standard. Other color options include the unchanged Manhattan Metallic Matte, Black Storm Metallic/Vintage to replace Mars Red, and the Style Option 710 Velvet Green Metallic to replace the Option 719 Mineral White Metallic.
The BMW R 18 Classic will have an MSRP of $17,995 and come in Black Storm Metallic as standard. The Manhattan Metallic Matte option is unchanged, and the Black Storm Metallic/Vintage option replaces Mars Red. Style Option 719 Moon Stone Mineral White Metallic replaces Option 719 Mineral White Metallic and Option 719 Galaxy Dust/Titan Silver Metallic.
The Select Package will no longer include the locking gas cap for 2024, but it is available as a stand-alone option.
The BMW R 18 Roctane is a new model for 2024. It will be available for $18,695 and come in Black Storm Metallic as standard. Other color options include Manhattan Metallic Matte and Mineral Grey Metallic Matte.
The BMW R 18 B will have an MSRP of $19,945 and come in Black Storm Metallic as standard. The unchanged Manhattan Metallic Matte is also a color option, as well as Racing Blue Metallic to replace Gravity Blue Metallic. The Style Option 719 Black Pearl Black Storm Metallic 2 will replace Option 719 Mineral White Metallic and Option 719 Galaxy Dust/Titan Silver Metallic.
The options and packages have been rearranged, including the removal of the anti-theft alarm, tire pressure monitoring, a heated seat, locking fuel cap, and central locking from the Premium Package. The anti-theft alarm, heated seat, and central locking features are now available as stand-alone options. The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
The BMW R 18 Transcontinental will have an MSRP of $23,995 and come in Black Storm Metallic as standard. Manhattan Metallic Matte returns as an option, and the Racing Blue Metallic option will replace Gravity Blue Metallic. The Style Option 719 Moonstone Mineral White Metallic will replace Option 719 Mineral White Metallic and Option 719 Galaxy Dust/Titan Silver Metallic.
As with the R 18 B, the anti-theft alarm, tire pressure monitoring, a heated seat, locking fuel cap, and central locking have been removed from the Premium Package. The anti-theft alarm, heated seat, and central locking features are now available as stand-alone options. The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
The BMW R 1250 R will have an MSRP of $15,345 and come in Ice Grey as standard. The Style Sport Racing Blue Metallic option returns, as well as the Style Triple Black option.
The Premium Package sees some changes, including the addition of MSR Dynamic Engine Brake Control, Gear Shift Assist Pro, and Ride Modes Pro. Some features have been removed from the package, including the Design Option Silencer, the chrome exhaust pipe, cruise control, and tire pressure monitoring (now available as a stand-alone option). The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
The BMW R 1250 RS will have an MSRP of $15,995 and come in Ice Grey as standard. Other color options remain unchanged, including the Style Sport Racing Blue Metallic option and the Style Triple Black option.
The Premium Package will no longer include the Design Option Silencer or chrome exhaust pipe. The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
The BMW R 1250 RT will have an MSRP of $19,995 and come in Alpine White. Other color options include the Style Sport Racing Blue Metallic 2 to replace Racing Blue Metallic, the Style Triple Black’s Black Storm Metallic 2, and the Option 719 Meteoric Dust 2 Metallic.
The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
The BMW R 1250 GS Adventure will have an MSRP of $20,745 and come in Ice Grey as standard. Other color options include the Style Triple Black’s Black Storm Metallic/Black/Achat Gray, the Style GS Trophy Gravity Blue Metallic Matte option, and the Style Rallye Racing Blue Metallic to replace Light White/Racing Blue/Racing Red.
The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
The BMW S 1000 R will have an MSRP of $14,295 and come in Black Storm Metallic as standard. Other color options include Style Sport Bluestone Metallic and Light White/M Motorsport with updated graphics.
The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
The BMW S 1000 RR will have an MSRP of $18,295 and come in Black Storm Metallic as standard. Other color options include Style Passion Racing Red with updated graphics and Light White/M Motorsport with updated graphics.
The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
The BMW K 1600 GT will have an MSRP of $24,295 and come in Black Storm Metallic as standard. Other color options include the Style Sport Light White/Racing Blue Metallic/Racing Red option and the Style Option 719 Havanna Meteoric Dust 2 Metallic to replace the Option 719 Meteoric Dust 2 Metallic.
The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
The BMW K 1600 GTL will have an MSRP for $27,295 and come in Black Storm Metallic as standard. Other color options include the Style Exclusive Gravity Blue Metallic and the Style Option 719 Havanna Meteoric Dust 2, which replaces the Option 719 Meteoric Dust 2 Metallic.
The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
The BMW K 1600 B will have an MSRP for $22,945 and come in Black Storm Metallic as standard. Other color options include the Style Exclusive Manhattan Metallic Matte and the Option 719 Special Edition Midnight Meteoric Dust 2 Metallic.
The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
The BMW K 1600 Grand America will have an MSRP for $28,130 and come in Black Storm Metallic as standard. Other color options include the Style Exclusive Manhattan Metallic Matte and the Option 719 Special Edition Midnight Meteoric Dust 2 Metallic.
The Intelligent Emergency Call system has been added as standard.
Riding new and unfamiliar motorcycles is one of the best aspects of working for a motorcycle magazine. But what I enjoy even more is riding updated versions of motorcycles I’ve tested before, particularly those on my short list of favorites. What I love about them is still there, but performance has been elevated, refinements have been made, and features have been added. That’s very much the case with the 2023 KTM 1290 Super Duke GT.
Derived from the 1290 Super Duke R – a 180-hp naked sportbike known as “The Beast” – the sport-touring GT was introduced in early 2016. Rider’s former EIC Mark Tuttle got a first ride on the 1290 Super Duke GT at the global press launch in Mallorca, Spain, and he gushed about it in his review, calling it “nearly flawless, the perfect sport-touring bike for a rider who doesn’t want to give up sportbike levels of engine performance and handling.”
I’m not above petty jealousy, and Tuttle’s hi-pro glow after that launch made me green with envy. Good guy that he is, Mark twisted the arm of Tom Moen, KTM North America’s head of marketing, to get us a pre-production 1290 Super Duke GT as soon as one arrived on our shores. I flogged and hogged it for nearly 2,000 miles, obsessively guarding its keyless fob like Sméagol with the One Ring, and then I logged another 1,500 miles on a production version, disappearing from the office for days at a time.
Two years later, we tested a 2019 model, which featured updates to the GT’s engine, suspension, comfort, and instrumentation. We had mixed feelings about the refresh of the angular styling, but you can’t see what a motorcycle looks like when you’re riding it, and that’s where the magic happens. Every staffer, to a person, was strung out like an addict on the 1290 Super Duke GT’s torquey Twin and heroic handling.
So you can imagine our heartbreak when the GT disappeared from KTM’s lineup for a few years, forcing us to get our fix elsewhere.
KTM 1290 Super Duke GT: Back With a Vengeance
KTM has been on a roll. Its Austrian parent company, Pierer Mobility AG, has seen 12 successive years of record sales, and at the end of 2022, its three core brands – KTM, Husqvarna, and GasGas – posted a combined 13% increase over the previous year. Annual U.S. sales have topped 100,000 units and $1 billion in revenue, and last year, it surpassed Yamaha in terms of sales volume.
In 2022, KTM built and sold 268,575 motorcycles. That’s a far cry from the 6,300 motorcycles KTM produced in 1992, the year Pierer Mobility purchased the company out of bankruptcy.
On March 28, I attended the grand opening for Pierer Mobility’s new North American headquarters in Murrieta, California. CEO Stefan Pierer spent $53 million on the development, his single largest investment ever.
After enjoying the festivities and touring the facility, I loaded a KTM SX-E 3 electric dirtbike (look for a test in a future issue) into the back of my 4Runner and a 1290 Super Duke GT onto a trailer.
“Where are the GT’s saddlebags?” I asked Andy Jefferson, KTM North America’s media relations manager.
“They’re no longer standard in the U.S.,” he said. “They’re available as accessories, but they’re on backorder.”
List price for the 2017 model was $19,999, and side cases were standard. They were also standard equipment on the 2019 model, but the MSRP had increased to $20,499. The base price for the 2023 model is $19,799 – back below the crucial $20K mark – but the side cases are now optional. Although they weren’t available for this test, the 30-liter bags are priced at $824.99. Our test bike was equipped with the optional Tech Pack ($999.99), which adds the Track Pack, Motor Slip Regulation, Hill Hold Control, and Quickshifter+.
What makes the Super Duke GT so super is its 1,301cc LC8 V-Twin, a potent, versatile engine that’s a true workhorse in KTM’s stable; it’s also found, in various states of tune, in the 1290 Super Duke R Evo, 1290 Super Adventure R, and 1290 Super Adventure S. This V-Twin is no appliance-like powerplant that hums quietly, as dull as listening to a classic rock station with the volume turned down. No, the big LC8 turns it up to 11, making its presence known with visceral power pulses and an authoritative bark from its single exhaust pipe. Sucking fuel and air through a pair of 58mm throttle bodies and compressing it to a ratio of 13.2:1, in Sport mode the 1.3-liter mill laid down 158 hp at 10,000 rpm and 92 lb-ft of torque at 9,400 rpm at the rear wheel on Jett Tuning’s trusty dyno.
While the 1290 Super Duke GT is pretty incredible, it’s no Hulk ready to explode in a rage with one mistimed input. Rather, the GT is a well-behaved beast, one with finely tuned throttle response and easily controllable power. A full complement of electronics allows the ride experience to be tailored to conditions and provides a wider safety margin. Three standard ride modes (Sport, Street, and Rain) adjust throttle response and engine output, and the optional Tech Pack adds two extra modes – Track and Performance – with unique throttle-response settings, launch control, a nine-level rear wheelspin adjuster, and the ability to turn off wheelie control.
A 6-axis IMU provides inputs for KTM’s Motorcycle Stability Control, which includes cornering ABS with two modes (Road and Supermoto) and lean-angle-adaptive traction control. WP semi-active suspension has three damping modes (Sport, Street, and Comfort) and four presets for rear spring preload.
Ride quality and responsiveness are good in all three suspension modes, but differences between them came into sharp relief while making passes on a tight, rough section of road during our photoshoot. In Comfort mode, the chassis felt too loose, and I struggled to find confidence while cornering at speed. Switching to Street increased the sense of tautness, and my confidence ratcheted up accordingly. But it was in Sport mode where the GT’s damping felt the most disciplined and well-controlled, allowing me to dive deeper and push my limits.
For most of this test, I toggled back and forth between the Sport and Street ride modes, and I left ABS in Road mode. I didn’t take the GT to a track day, but with its new, grippy Continental ContiSportAttack 4 tires, I’m confident it would hold its own. Having said that, hypersport tires like the SportAttack 4s may not be the best choice for longevity. Performance mode is the street-oriented version of Track mode for those who want to be able to adjust traction control on the fly and loft the front wheel. (Yes, this is still a review of a sport-tourer.)
Confident handling has always been one of the best characteristics of the Super Duke GT. Its chromoly-steel trellis frame is strong and light, its chassis geometry balances responsiveness and stability, and its curb weight is a respectable 517 lb. New lighter wheels reduce unsprung weight by 2.2 lb, giving the GT even lighter steering response without ever feeling twitchy, thanks in part to the standard steering damper. The bike rolls in and out of corners with ease, and it stays planted when firing out of corners like a cannon. Brembo Stylema front calipers pinching big 320mm rotors and a Brembo radial front master cylinder allow speed to be scrubbed off with finely tuned authority.
Rather than just tacking a windscreen and saddlebags on a 1290 Super Duke R, KTM invested significant development resources to make the GT suitable for touring. It has a frame-mounted fairing with integrated LED cornering lights, a hand-adjustable windscreen, a larger 6.1-gal. fuel tank (compared to 4.2 on the SDR), and a longer rear subframe that better accommodates a passenger and loaded saddlebags.
Standard comfort and convenience features include cruise control, handguards, heated grips, tire-pressure monitoring, self-canceling turnsignals, and the KTM Race On keyless system, which uses an electronic fob to power on the bike and to lock and unlock the steering and fuel filler cap.
Compared to the Super Duke R, the GT has more relaxed ergonomics, with lower footpegs, a taller and wider handlebar, and seats that are larger and more supportive. Rider ergonomics can be dialed in with an adjustable handlebar, adjustable levers, and three different positions for the shift and rear brake levers.
Updates for 2023 include a larger 7-inch color TFT display with new graphics, Turn by Turn+ navigation that integrates with the TFT via the KTMconnect app, and redesigned switches with adjustable backlighting. Like several other KTM models we’ve tested, the GT has two customizable quick-access buttons that allow the rider to change ride mode, damping mode, etc. without going through the menu, and information shown on the bottom of the main TFT screen can be customized with four favorites.
Also new are two storage compartments that fold away inside each side of the fairing. Due to the proximity of the fork tubes, neither can be opened unless the handlebar is turned one way or the other to move the nearest fork tube away from the inner fairing. The left storage compartment has a USB charging port, but the compartment itself is too small for my iPhone, and I doubt many other smartphones would fit either.
Fountain of Youth
My invitation to join AARP should arrive in a few months, and the older I get, the harder it is to stay in shape. These days, mysterious aches and pains come and go, injuries take longer to heal, and what hair I haven’t lost has turned gray. But as soon as I swing a leg over a motorcycle and fire it up, I feel like Benjamin Button. My biological clock switches into reverse, and I feel younger, friskier, more alive.
Every motorcycle has this effect to some degree, but a few, like the KTM 1290 Super Duke GT, have extra mojo. Riding them is like taking a pill packed with special vitamins A, C, and E (adrenaline, confidence, and excitement).
This bike is the pointy end of the sport-touring spear, and it’s sharper than ever.
Suzuki has announced additional models to its 2023 product line, including the sport-touring Suzuki GSX-S1000GT/GT+ models, plus three Boulevard models: the M109R B.O.S.S. muscle cruiser and the C50 and C50T. The announcement comes on the tail of Suzuki’s unveiling of an all-new 776cc DOHC parallel-Twin engine at the EICMA show in Milan, Italy, in November. The new engine will power the 2023 Suzuki V-Strom 800DE (and Adventure variant) and the 2023 Suzuki GSX-8S.
2023 Suzuki GSX-S1000GT/GT+
Announced as Rider’s 2022 Motorcycle of the Year, the Suzuki GSX-S1000GT+ (the ‘+’ denoting the model with standard saddlebags, whereas the base GT model goes without) returns for 2023 with all the features that merit its MOTY status and a new color choice for the GT+.
As we said in our Road Test Review of the GSX-S1000GT+, the GSX-S engine is a “gem with no rough edges.”
The GT is powered by the same 999cc in-line Four as the GSX-S1000, which churned out 136 hp at 10,200 rpm and 73 lb-ft of torque at 9,300 rpm on Jett Tuning’s rear-wheel dyno.
“From cracking open the throttle above idle to twisting the grip to the stop, power comes on cleanly and predictably,” our reviewer wrote.
Both the GSX-S1000GT and GT+ have throttle-by-wire enabling the Suzuki Intelligent Ride System, which is monitored on the 6.5-inch TFT display and includes three ride modes (Active, Basic, and Comfort) that adjust throttle response and power delivery, 5-level traction control, cruise control, and Suzuki’s Easy Start, Low RPM Assist, and Bi-Directional Quick Shift systems.
The GSX-S1000GT+ returns in Glass Sparkle Black and a new Metallic Triton Blue starting at $14,099. The GSX-S1000GT continues for 2023 in Metallic Reflective Blue starting at $13,349.
2023 Suzuki Boulevard M109R B.O.S.S.
The 2023 Suzuki M109R B.O.S.S. features a liquid-cooled 1,783cc, 8-valve DOHC, 54-degree V-Twin engine with 120mm bore and 90.5mm stroke. In Rider’s Road Test Review of the 2015 M109R, the reviewer said the bike had a “dual-personality motor; a typically torquey cruiser initially, it then morphs into a heckuva strong sport mount.”
The M109R has a 46mm inverted fork with 5.1 inches of travel, a hidden single-shock rear suspension, Twin floating disc-brakes with dual-piston calipers in the front and a single-disc rear brake with a single dual-piston caliper, and a low-profile 240/40 x 18 rear tire, the widest ever used on a Suzuki motorcycle.
The M109R’s engine is wrapped with aggressive blacked-out styling with slash-cut mufflers, drag-style bars, a supplied solo seat cowl with a 27.8-inch height, a headlight nacelle that’s uniquely Suzuki, and a 5.2-gallon fuel tank. The bike comes in at 764-lb wet weight.
The 2023 Suzuki M109R comes in a deep red and black or bright blue and black paint scheme starting at $15,599.
2023 Suzuki Boulevard C50/C50T
The 2023 Suzuki Boulevard C50 and C50T feature a liquid-cooled 805cc 45-degree V-Twin with the Suzuki Dual Throttle Valve (SDTV) electronic fuel-injection system and a 5-speed gearbox with shaft drive.
Link-type rear suspension is shaped to mimic the hard-tail lines of a traditional cruiser, connecting a truss-style swingarm and a single shock absorber with seven-way spring preload adjustability, providing 4.1 inches of smooth and responsive suspension travel, and a telescopic front fork delivers 5.5 inches of travel.
Both bikes have wide, buckhorn-style handlebars, 27.6-inch seat height, and spoke-style chrome wheels with large valance fenders. The C50T offering white-wall tires, leather-texture saddlebags with chrome studs, and a removable, height-adjustable windshield.
Both the Boulevard C50 and C50T have a 4.1-gal tank, and the C50 comes in with a wet weight of 611 lb (644 lb for the C50T).
The 2023 Suzuki Boulevard C50 comes in Candy Daring Red or Solid Iron Gray starting at $8,909. The C50T comes in Pearl Brilliant White paint with subtle blue graphics starting at $15,599.
Mileage: 6,294 Base Price: $14,899 (2021); $14,999 (2022) Accessories: $729.95
After a year together, it’s finally time to say goodbye to our 2021 Motorcycle of the Year. We’ve had a great time with the Yamaha Tracer 9 GT, so we’re sad to see it go.
The Tracer 9 GT is the culmination of several generations of development and refinement, and the result is a fantastic lightweight sport-tourer built around Yamaha’s 890cc inline-Triple, which is good for 108 hp at 10,000 rpm and 63 lb-ft of torque at 7,200 rpm at the rear wheel. This is one of the most fun and engaging engines around – it’s like hanging out with three hellraising buddies who know how to keep it cool in polite company but love to get rowdy when the clock strikes 6,500 rpm.
In stock trim, the Tracer 9 GT is a versatile, comfortable machine that served us well on day rides, weekend jaunts, and multiday trips. We appreciated the Yamaha’s good wind protection, upright riding position, generous legroom, dual-height seat (31.9/32.5 inches), and adjustable handlebar and footpeg positions. None of our testers complained about soreness in wrists, lower backs, or shoulders, nor was engine heat ever an issue.
Any time the road turned twisty, we were glad to be on the Tracer. With its raucous engine, excellent chassis, and semi-active suspension, we attacked corners with gusto, enjoying the confidence boost that a well-sorted motorcycle can provide.
To get to the good stuff, we logged many miles on the slab. One of our nits to pick is how busy the engine is in 6th gear at freeway speeds. At 65 mph, the engine turns 4,200 rpm. We lost count of how many times we grabbed ghost shifts to 7th thinking there might be another gear up top. We’d like to try a rear sprocket with one less tooth to make the gearing taller.
In terms of maintenance, we did routine checks of tire pressure, oil level, chain tension and lubrication, and such. We changed the oil and filter after about 5,000 miles, and we used the recommended Yamalube products. We also took the Tracer to our local Yamaha dealer after a safety recall was announced that all 2021-22 MT-09 and Tracer 9 GT models had an improperly programmed ECU that could cause engines to stall unexpectedly in certain circumstances. It was fixed quickly at no charge.
The Tracer proved to be unforgiving of laziness with the clutch when pulling away from a stop, both before and after the recall repair. Without adequate revs, we’d stall the Tracer like a newbie.
After about 5,000 miles of hard use, the rear Bridgestone Battlax T32 GT tire was toast. We spooned on a set of Dunlop Sportmax Roadsmart IV radials, and they’ve provided excellent grip and ride quality. MSRP for the Roadsmart IV tires is $189.95 for the front (120/70ZR17) and $250.95 for the rear (180/55ZR17). You can read our Roadsmart IV review here.
To enhance the Tracer 9 GT’s touring ability, we installed several Yamaha factory accessories, including the Touring Windshield ($179.99), Top Case Mounting Kit ($116.99), 50L Top Case ($289.99), 50L Top Case Backrest Pad ($74.99), and 50L Fitted Top Case Inner Bag ($66.99).
Installation was straightforward. The Touring Windshield is 2.8 inches wider and 3.2 inches taller than stock, and it made a big difference in terms of wind protection. The Tracer’s 30-liter saddlebags are large enough to hold a full-face helmet in each side. The 50L Top Case bumps total storage capacity to 110 liters, and the backrest pad was appreciated by passen-gers.
Over the course of nearly 6,300 miles, we averaged 44.4 mpg, which yields 222 miles from the 5-gallon tank (premium unleaded is required). Our fuel economy ranged from as high as 60.4 mpg to as low as 33.7 mpg, the latter after giving it the whip in a serious headwind.
After whining to Yamaha reps about having to return the Tracer 9 GT, we wiped away our tears when they offered us a lollipop: an accessorized 2022 MT-10. Stay tuned to find out how we get along with the Tracer’s big brother.
Kawasaki announced the return of several sport, retro sport, naked, cruiser, adventure touring, and dual-sport models to its motorcycle lineup. These 2023 motorcycles are set to arrive in Kawasaki dealerships during the summer months.
Models included in this announcement are the Ninja 1000SX, Ninja 400 and 400 ABS, Z H2 and H2 SE, Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe, Z400 ABS, the Vulcan S and Vulcan 900 lineups, 1700 Voyager ABS, Versys-X300 and Versys-X300 ABS, and the KLR650 lineup.
The Kawasaki Ninja 1000SX is back with its refined sport-touring capabilities, combining the power of a supersport with the feel of an upright sportbike and familiar Ninja styling.
The Ninja 1000SX features a 1,043cc liquid-cooled inline-Four, Kawasaki Traction Control, Kawasaki Intelligent anti-lock Braking System (KIBS), Kawasaki Quick Shifter, 4.3-inch all-digital TFT color instrumentation, and electronic cruise control.
The Ninja 1000SX includes rider aides such as electronic cruise control and integrated riding modes that combine traction control and Power Modes, and it is compatible with the Kawasaki RIDEOLOGY THE APP.
This 2023 model will be offered in Emerald Blazed Green / Metallic Diablo Black / Metallic Graphite Gray starting at $13,199
2023 Kawasaki Ninja 400 and Ninja 400 ABS
Ideal for both experienced riders and newer riders looking to step up from a lower displacement bike, the 2023 Ninja 400 sport motorcycle offers the largest displacement in its category.
The 2023 Ninja 400 features a 399cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin, a slip/assist clutch, a lightweight trellis frame, Uni-Trak rear suspension, a 310mm semi-floating petal disc brake and 2-piston caliper in the front, and 220mm petal disc brake and 1-piston caliper in the rear.
A low seat height (30.9 in.), twin LED headlights, and high-grade multifunction dash instrumentation make the Ninja 400 the ideal choice for riders looking to enter the sport-riding scene.
For 2023, the Ninja 400 and the Ninja 400 ABS are available in Metallic Carbon Gray / Metallic Matte Carbon Gray, Pearl Blizzard White / Metallic Carbon Gray, and Metallic Magnetic Dark Gray/ Metallic Matte Twilight Blue. The Ninja 400 starts at $5,299, and the Ninja 400 ABS starts at $5,699.
The Ninja 400 ABS KRT Edition is painted in a Lime Green / Ebony color scheme and starts at $5,899. The Ninja 400 KRT Edition without ABS will come in the same color scheme starting at $5,499.
2023 Kawasaki Z H2 and Z H2 SE
The flagship model of the Kawasaki Z lineup, the 2023 Z H2 features a balanced supercharged 998cc liquid-cooled inline-Four, a 6-speed dog-ring gearbox, a slip/assist clutch, a lightweight trellis frame, high-performance Showa suspension components, and Brembo monoblock brake calipers.
The bike also offers an IMU-based electronics package, Kawasaki Quick Shifter (KQS), Kawasaki Launch Control Mode (KLCM), Kawasaki Cornering Management Function (KCMF), electronic cruise control, integrated riding modes, all-digital TFT color instrumentation, smartphone connectivity via RIDEOLOGY THE APP, and LED lighting.
For 2023, the Z H2 comes in Metallic Phantom Silver / Metallic Carbon Gray and starts at $18,500.
The Z H2 SE offers the same features that come standard on the Z H2, with the addition of the Kawasaki Electronic Control Suspension (KECS) with Skyhook EERA Technology, which adapts to road and riding conditions in real-time, providing the ideal amount of damping by combining high-level mechanical components with the latest electronic control technology and reportedly giving the rider a smoother ride as it continually adapts to the road surface in real-time.
For braking power, the 2023 Z H2 SE will once again feature Brembo Stylema monoblock brake calipers, a Brembo front brake master cylinder, and steel-braided lines.
The 2023 Z H2 SE will be offered in Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray / Ebony / Mirror Coated Black starting at $20,700.
2023 Kawasaki Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe
The Kawasaki Z900RS retro-sportbikes reignites the classic style of the original Z1 900 motorcycle.
The 2023 Z900RS and Z900RS Cafe feature a 948cc liquid-cooled inline-Four, a slip/assist clutch, horizontal back-link rear suspension, authentic retro styling, an iconic teardrop fuel tank, a tuned stainless steel exhaust system, a round LED headlight, and bullet-shaped analog dials.
For 2023, the Z900RS comes in a Metallic Diablo Black / Metallic Imperial Red paint scheme starting at $11,949. The Z900RS Cafe adds cafe-racer styling with a front cowl, a special seat, and a drop handlebar, and is available in Metallic Diablo Black starting at $12,399.
2023 Kawasaki Z400 ABS
Described in a 2018 Rider First Ride Review as a “Ninja 400 with a flat handlebar and no fairing,” the Kawasaki Z400 ABS naked sportbike features a 399cc liquid-cooled parallel-Twin, a slip/assist clutch, streetfighter styling, a lightweight chassis, an upright riding position, a low seat height (30.9 in.), and standard ABS.
For 2023, the Z400 ABS is available in Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray / Metallic Spark Black and Pearl Robotic White /Metallic Matte Graphenesteel Gray starting at $5,399.
2023 Kawasaki Vulcan S, Vulcan S ABS, and Vulcan S Cafe
The Kawasaki Vulcan S sport cruisers are geared to fit a wide range of riders as a result of not only the bikes’ reported starting curb weight just shy of 492 lb but also the exclusive Ergo-Fit sizing system, which includes 18 possible configurations for the handlebar, footpegs, and seat.
Both bikes feature a 649cc liquid-cooled DOHC parallel-Twin and sportbike-derived chassis and suspension. The 2023 Vulcan S Cafe also comes equipped with three-tone paint, signature tank badging, sport striping, and a dark-tinted windshield deflector.
For 2023, the Vulcan S is available in a Metallic Flat Spark Black colorway starting at $7,349, the Vulcan S ABS is offered in Pearl Matte Sage Green / Metallic Flat Spark Black starting at $7,899, and the Vulcan S Cafe is available in Pearl Storm Gray / Ebony starting at $8,099.
In our “Middleweight Touring Cruisers” comparison test, which included the Vulcan 900 Classic LT, Rider EIC Greg Drevendstedt wrote: “Cruisers are about style and sensation. How a cruiser looks is just as important as how it sounds and feels.”
All three of the 2023 Vulcan 900 cruiser models feature a 903cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected V-Twin and a low seat height (26.8 in.).
The Vulcan 900 Classic features rider footboards with a heel/toe shifter, tank-mounted instrumentation, and a 180mm rear tire. The Vulcan 900 Classic LT features a studded seat with standard passenger backrest, leather saddlebags, and a height-adjustable windscreen. The Vulcan 900 Custom features wide drag bars and forward-mounted footpegs, a low center of gravity for easy handling, custom styling with a teardrop tank, parallel slash-cut pipes, and pinstripe wheels.
For 2023, the Vulcan 900 Classic is available in Metallic Spark Black /Metallic Magnesium Gray starting at $8,999. The Vulcan 900 Classic LT is available in Pearl Storm Gray / Ebony starting at $9,999 with a 24-month limited warranty, and the Vulcan 900 Custom is available in Pearl Matte Sage Green / Flat Ebony starting at $9,499.
2023 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS
The 2023 Vulcan 1700 Voyager ABS touring cruiser features a 1,700cc liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, transverse 52-degree V-Twin, Kawasaki Advanced Coactive-braking Technology (K-ACT II) ABS, throttle-by-wire, and electronic cruise control.
The bike has a frame-mounted fairing, an intercom-headset compatible audio system, and integrated luggage. For 2023, the Vulcan 1700 Voyager is available in Pearl Storm Gray / Ebony starting at $19,299.
2023 Kawasaki Versys-X 300 and Versys-X300 ABS
With a compact Ninja-derived 296cc liquid-cooled DOHC Twin, the Kawasaki Versys-X 300 is a nimble, lightweight motorcycle that’s suitable for commuting or touring.
The Versys-X 300 has a lightweight chassis, long-travel suspension, a low seat height (32.1 in.), front cowling with a tall windscreen, and a rear carrier.
The 2023 Versys-X 300 is available in Pearl Matte Sage Green / Metallic Matte Carbon Gray starting at $5,899, while the ABS model comes in the same color scheme starting at $6,199.
2023 Kawasaki KLR650 and KLR650 ABS
The KLR650 sports a 652cc liquid-cooled Single nestled in a recently redesigned high-tensile double-cradle frame. In 2022, the bike was upgraded with new improved ergonomics, bodywork, a taller two-position adjustable windscreen, a larger aluminum rear carrier, increased generator capacity, and an LED headlight. It features all-digital multifunction instrumentation, an optional ABS system, and 7.9 inches of front travel coupled with 7.3 inches of rear travel.
The 2023 KLR650 is available in three colorways – Pearl Storm Gray, Pearl Solar Yellow, and Candy Lime Green – and starts at $6,899. The KLR650 ABS is offered in Pearl Storm Gray starting at $7,199.
2023 Kawasaki KLR650 Adventure and KLR650 Adventure ABS
The KLR650 Adventure model is built off of the standard KLR650 platform and designed for the rider who is looking for increased carrying capacity and convenience. It comes equipped with factory-installed side cases, LED auxiliary lights, engine guards, a tank pad, and both a DC power outlet and USB socket. It’s available both with and without ABS.
The 2023 KLR650 Adventure is available in Cypher Camo Gray starting at $7,899, while the KLR650 Adventure ABS also comes in Cypher Camo Gray starting at $8,199.
2023 Kawasaki KLR650 Traveler ABS
The KLR650 Traveler model consists of the same features found on the standard KLR650 as well as a factory-installed top case and both a DC power outlet and USB socket. It comes equipped with ABS.
The KLR650 Traveler ABS is offered in Pearl Solar Yellow starting at $7,599.
It has been four decades since BMW introduced the K 100, its first motorcycle powered by a liquid-cooled in-line 4-cylinder engine. Known as the “Flying Brick,” the 987cc Four was laid on its side, with the cylinder head on the left and the crankshaft on the right. In 1988, the K 100 became the first motorcycle equipped with anti-lock brakes.
From such humble, idiosyncratic roots grew a K Series family tree with many branches, including the K 75 (essentially a K 100 with a cylinder lopped off), the futuristic K 1 (winner of Rider’s first Motorcycle of the Year award in 1990), the 167-hp K 1200 S sportbike (its transverse-mounted engine marked the end of the “Flying Brick” era), and the opulent K 1200 LT luxury-tourer (available with such options as a CD changer and a small refrigerator).
BMW gave its K Series a clean-sheet reboot for 2012 when it launched the K 1600 GT sport-tourer and K 1600 GTL luxury-tourer. Compared to its K 1300 predecessor, the K 1600 engine grew from four cylinders to six, and displacement increased from 1,293cc to 1,649cc.
The perfectly balanced, incredibly smooth in-line Six was – and still is – one of the best engines ever stuffed into a production motorcycle. Mild and unassuming at cruising speeds, a hard twist of the right grip releases a wail like a long-tailed cat caught under a rocking chair. Generating 160 hp and 129 lb-ft of torque at the crank, the engine supplies stump-pulling grunt at any rpm in any gear. At the K 1600 GT/GTL world press launch in South Africa, my colleague Kevin Duke – at the time Editor-in-Chief at Motorcycle.com; now EIC at American Rider – demonstrated the Six’s prodigious torque by pulling an impressive wheelie on the nearly 800-lb GTL.
With features such as throttle-by-wire, ride modes, lean-angle-adaptive traction control, electronically adjustable suspension, and an industry-first cornering headlight, not to mention class-leading comfort, wind protection, and storage capacity, the K 1600 GT and K 1600 GTL were groundbreaking machines in their respective segments.
The K 1600 GTL was the unanimous choice for Rider’s 2012 Motorcycle of the Year award. “The K 1600 platform makes the most sense parked under the GTL luxury-tourer’s standard equipment,” we said. “Stacked against its luxo competition [i.e., the Honda Gold Wing], the GTL offers less weight, more power and load capacity, and, if the owner of one wants more of a sport-touring experience, the top trunk is easily removed (and it fits and is offered as an accessory for the GT). Comfort is equal to or better than anything in the luxury-touring class, and the GTL steers, stops, and handles like it weighs even less than its 776 pounds ready-to-ride.”
Over the past 10 years, the K 1600 platform has evolved and expanded. From 2012 to 2017, there were just two models: the GT, which has saddlebags (but no trunk), sport-touring ergos, and a short windscreen, and the GTL, which adds a trunk with an integrated passenger backrest, a plusher two-up seat, and a larger windscreen.
For 2018, BMW introduced the K 1600 B bagger, which has a tubular handlebar, streamlined saddlebags, and a lower profile than the GT thanks to a shorter windscreen, lower seats, and less suspension travel. Next came the K 1600 Grand America, which is to the B what the GTL is to the GT, with a trunk, a taller windscreen, and more generous rider and passenger accommodations.
For 2022, BMW has given the K 1600 platform its most extensive update yet, starting with the engine, which now meets Euro 5 regulations and makes a claimed 160 hp at 6,750 rpm (1,000 rpm earlier than before) and 133 lb-ft of torque (up from 129) at 5,250 rpm. All models get a new 6-axis IMU that informs most of the electronic rider aids, and standard equipment now includes engine-drag torque control, Dynamic ESA (Electronic Suspension Adjustment) “Next Generation” with automatic load leveling, a 10.25-inch TFT color display with integrated navigation (via the BMW Motorrad Connected app) and Bluetooth connectivity, BMW’s Audio System 2.0 (on the GTL and Grand America), and several new comfort and convenient features.
Grand Touring Luxury
In June, I picked up a K 1600 GTL with only 55 miles on its odometer in Riverside, California. The standard GTL ($26,895) has a Black Storm Metallic paint scheme. Our test bike had the $795 Exclusive Style Package, which includes Gravity Blue Metallic paint, black tank trim, chrome slipstream deflectors, and chrome saddlebag trim. It was also equipped with the $1,850 Premium Package, which adds Keyless Ride, a central locking system, a bi-directional quickshifter, LED auxiliary lights, and engine protection bars, as well as floor lighting ($100). Our GTL’s as-tested price comes to $29,640, and the destination charge adds another $795.
My first task was to download the BMW Motorrad Connected app and use it to pair my iPhone to the bike. Replacing the dash cradle that held a BMW Navigator GPS unit (a $900 option) is a new air-conditioned smartphone charging compartment. The windscreen must be raised to access the top-loading compartment, and pressing a button next to the TFT display opens it. The compartment lid is secured by two latches, and pressing the button typically released the left latch but not the right one. The button and latches were balky through our test, and my iPhone 12 Pro with its slim Otterbox case was a tight fit, making it sometimes difficult to get both latches to catch when I pressed down on the spring-loaded compartment lid.
To use the app’s turn-by-turn navigation, I had to set the app’s location access on my iPhone to “always” and change the phone’s display auto-lock (sleep mode) to “never,” both of which accelerate battery drain. Rather than leave my phone in my pocket, I used BMW’s specially angled adapter cable ($30) to charge my phone while the compartment’s A/C kept it cool. When the ignition is turned off, the windscreen automatically lowers to prevent someone with sticky fingers from opening the nonlocking phone compartment. If you want to remove your phone when you get off the bike, you must remember to do so before shutting off the power.
As much as I appreciate not having to spend another $900 on BMW’s Navigator GPS, the smartphone solution doesn’t work as well as it should. With practice, the steps involved become easier, but the app’s user experience needs to be simplified, and the smartphone compartment is too fiddly. On a $30,000 motorcycle, I don’t want to fight with the smartphone compartment or the windscreen every time I put my phone in or take it out. I also shouldn’t have to remove the protective case so my phone fits better. And if I had the taller, wider Max version of the iPhone? Forget it. It wouldn’t fit.
Once I got the maps for Southern California downloaded to the app, the app paired to the bike, my phone’s settings dialed in, and my home address punched into the app, the on-screen navigation worked great and provided clear routing for my 125-mile ride home to Ventura.
The enormous 10.25-inch TFT display, which first appeared on the R 1250 RT and is also on the R 18 B and R 18 Transcontinental, has crisp graphics that are large and easy to read. The screen is large enough that the navigation can be on the left and vehicle info on the right. BMW’s Multi-Controller wheel, which debuted on the K 1600 GT and GTL a decade ago and has since migrated to other premium BMW models, remains one of the easiest menu navigation devices available.
New on all K 1600 models are four configurable Favorites buttons, which are located within reach on the fairing to the left of the fuel tank. Each button can be programmed to provide quick access to 18 different functions, including everything from the grip and seat heaters to phone contacts and call history. Navigating to some of these functions through the menus can take multiple steps, so shortcut buttons are useful. However, the buttons are not backlit, nor are any of the buttons on the handlebar switchgear, making them difficult to use at night. On a flagship luxury touring bike, the little details matter.
Out on the road, the K 1600 GTL is large and in charge. The rider sits deeply into the 29.5-inch nonadjustable seat, which has wrap-around lumbar support. Those with long legs will want the optional high seat that’s 2 inches taller. The passenger sits on a wide, plush seat with large grab handles and a well-padded curved backrest built into the trunk. Both the rider and passenger perch their boots on wide, rubber-covered footrests.
Wind protection is first-rate. The large fairing punches a huge hole in the wind, and the aerodynamic windscreen smoothly parts the air. With the screen in the lowest position, airflow hit me at helmet level and assisted the ventilation of my Schuberth C5 modular helmet, but it caused some buffeting for Carrie when she rode as a passenger. Raising the windscreen 5 inches to full height, I had to look through the screen, but it created a quiet bubble of air for both of us. On either side of the bike, between the upper fairing and side panels, are two slipstream deflectors. In their normal closed position, they help push air out around the rider. When opened, they direct fresh air into the cockpit.
Measuring more than 8 feet from nose to tail and weighing 802 lb with its 7-gallon tank full, the Premium-equipped GTL is a long, heavy machine. You certainly feel that heft when lifting it off the sidestand or pushing it around the garage, but it’s less apparent on the road. The top-heavy bike tends to fall into turns and has remarkably light steering despite its size. Occasionally it has a vague, slightly disconnected feel when cornering, which is most likely due to its unconventional Hossack-style Duolever front end.
The GTL has three ride modes – Dynamic, Road, and Rain – that adjust throttle response, engine drag-torque control, Dynamic Traction Control, and Dynamic ESA, with input from the new 6-axis IMU. BMW has been refining its suite of electronics for years, and their integration and responsiveness are impressive. All the bits of data flying around in the background never intrude on the riding experience. The connection between the right grip and the rear wheel is direct, and the growl from the 6-into-2 exhaust with howitzer-sized cans taps into the brain’s pleasure center.
For braking, enormous 320mm discs – two in front and one in back – are grabbed by a pair of gorilla-grip 4-piston front calipers and a supporting 2-piston rear caliper. It’s hard to believe such a big bike can stop so fast and with so much feel at the front lever – and with barely any fork dive thanks to the Duolever design. The GTL is equipped with BMW’s Partial Integral ABS, so the hand lever applies the brakes to both wheels, while the foot lever applies braking only to the rear wheel.
Out of the Fog
After a series of daylong solo and two-up test rides, I was itching to put some miles on the GTL, so with photographer Kevin Wing astride our Yamaha Tracer 9 GT long-term test bike, we left Ventura early one morning and headed up the coast. After stopping in San Luis Obispo for gas and coffee, we rode up Highway 1 to Big Sur, arriving just in time for lunch. We had tri-tip tacos on the back deck of Fernwood Bar & Grill in the shade of towering redwoods.
Even though it was late July, for the previous two hours we had ridden through thick, cold fog and erratic wind gusts, so I kept the grip and seat heaters cranked up to fight off the chill. Our plan was for late-light photography on the Monterey Peninsula, but the marine layer had the coast completely socked in. Instead, we continued north on Highway 1 to Santa Cruz, crossed over the coastal range to San Jose, and then made our way to San Francisco. After crossing the fogbound Golden Gate Bridge, we climbed into the mountains of Marin County until we were out of the pea soup.
Our photo shoot lasted until after the sun went down, so it was dark when we rode along a series of tight, twisty roads through a dense forest on our way to the town of Mill Valley. Like all K 1600s, the GTL has a new headlight array that includes a pair of position lights made up of six LEDs, four high beams made up of eight LEDs, and a central low beam made up of nine LEDs. All the lights are bright, and, informed by the IMU, the low beam expertly rolls left and right through a 35-degree arc based on lean angle to directly light into corners.
Also new this year are “welcome,” “goodbye,” and “follow me home” light functions that activate the headlights, taillights, and auxiliary lights when turning the ignition on and off. Our test bike also had optional floor lighting, which activates an LED puddle light when the ignition is turned off.
By the time we checked into a motel, it was after 9 p.m. and we had been on the road for 15 hours. Packing and unpacking the GTL is a breeze. Two small fairing pockets in front of the rider’s shins, two saddlebags, and a top trunk provide 115 liters of total storage capacity. Tapping a button on the Keyless Ride fob remotely locks or unlocks all the storage compartments and luggage (except for the smartphone compartment). The saddlebags and trunks are removable, and the trunk has an interior light to help find stuff in the dark.
We were on the bikes again at 6 a.m. for a morning shoot, and then we made our way south. Our hopes for shooting the GTL at a Marin Headlands overlook with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background were thwarted by heavy fog. We filtered through city traffic, cruised the freeway, and took Skyline Boulevard (State Route 35) along a high coastal ridge under a canopy of redwoods, stopping for lunch at Alice’s Restaurant, a well-known moto hangout.
Kevin and I put in another 15-hour day of shooting and riding, logging 800 miles of our 2,000-mile test in just two days, many of them on some of the best curves in California. Hustling the big GTL through a tight set of twisties takes some work, but the reward is one of the most viscerally and aurally exciting corner exits one can hope for – lather, rinse, and repeat. When the road straightens out, it cruises smoothly and quietly, like a Great White shark gliding through the depths to conserve energy.
BMW’s K Series has come a long way in four decades, and 10 years on, the K 1600 GTL continues to impress.
2022 BMW K 1600 GTL Specs
Base Price: $26,895 Price as Tested: $29,640 (Exclusive Style Package, Premium Package, floor lighting) Warranty: 3 yrs., 36,000 miles Website:BMWMotorcycles.com