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.
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.
The following Yamaha Ténéré 700 adventure story about a trip to beat the winter blues in France came from a new contributor, Jean-François Muguet, and appeared in the July issue of Rider, our second Adventure Issue. – Ed.
At some point, all motorcyclists must admit that winter sucks. Especially here in France. You can dress warmly and put on raingear to stay dry, but the roads will still be soaked, dirty, cold, and slippery. Not the best season for a road trip.
Fed up with yet another bleak winter, I called my friend Robin. He’s a great friend to have. He knows all the roads of the Basque Country and northern Spain, and he owns Rental Motorcycle Biarritz, just south of the coastal resort town in southwestern France. Biarritz is the home of Wheels & Waves, the annual festival that celebrates motorcycles, surfing, skateboarding, music, and art. But W&W is in June, at beach time, which was six months away.
Robin and I have known each other for a long time, and we both needed to get away from crowded places, preferably on motorcycles. We would be joined by another friend, Eric, and our busy schedules afforded us just three days, so we couldn’t go far. Robin suggested a trip to Bardenas Reales Natural Park, a desert badlands area in Navarre, an autonomous region in northern Spain.
Since we’d be riding off-road, Robin’s rental fleet gave us two options: the Royal Enfield Himalayan or the Yamaha Ténéré 700. We would be logging road miles to get to Bardenas, including small, curvy roads through the Pyrenees, so we opted for the larger, twin-cylinder T7.
We got an early start from RMB headquarters on a gray, rainy day. It was foggy and beautiful in the Pyrenees, the mountain chain separating Spain from France, dividing the Iberian Peninsula from the rest of Europe. We made our way south to Pamplona, the city known for the Running of the Bulls during the Feast of San Fermín. The sun decided to come out and warm us a little bit, right in time for us to hit the dirt.
It was time to press the button to turn off the T7’s ABS, and it would stay off for a long time. After starting our day cold and wet, we welcomed the warm, dry, dusty conditions. We began on trails that were easy and wide, sometimes rocky, sometimes with ruts, but nothing too challenging. We floated through hills and among sandy dunes, and the landscape opened more and more.
We’d been riding for hours, and our stomachs started making strange noises, so we left the trails and found a restaurant. We were in Spain, so everything was closed until 2 p.m. because of siesta. But the good news is, once the restaurants open, you can have a starter, a main course, dessert, wine, and coffee for about $12. Some might think it’s unwise to ride dirtbikes after a big meal, but we needed our strength for the rest of our trip.
Bienvenida a Las Bardenas
We continued our ride and entered a huge valley. From the plateau we were on, it looked like the ground had been torn apart. Welcome to Bardenas Reales. It was incredible, tremendous – all ocher, white, and yellow. It was late afternoon, and the sun was sinking low. Time for a picture, then many pictures. We parked the T7s in the grass, which was actually thyme. Each step we took shook the thyme and released a fragrant aroma to our noses.
From the cliff where we stood, we could see for miles. This incredible scenery was cut in two by a serpentine trail, and it was all ours. Our goal was to ride the trail and get to Tudela, where we would spend the night. For the next hour and a half, we chased the sunset through the desert, the yellow and white canyons, sandstone cliffs, and rocks slowly turning orange and then red. It was gorgeous – pure pleasure for the eyes and pure happiness for our hearts.
It was getting dark, and fatigue was setting in as we finally reached a paved road. The lights of the city got closer as we approached Tudela. We had ridden 170 miles, but the day passed so quickly. Checking into the hotel, we looked at each other and realized we were filthy. We were dirty and tired but happy like little kids, which made the receptionist laugh. We needed a shower and dinner.
Ride, Eat, Sleep, Repeat
Day 2 started off slow as we were a little sore from the previous day. This ride would be about 125 miles, with 90% on dirt trails. The sun was shining, but it was still a bit cold in the morning. The first few miles of trail got our blood flowing and warmed us quickly, and we had splendid views of snowy mountains.
The T7s were roaring along, a pleasure to ride. Robin was leading with the GPS, and Eric and I were just enjoying ourselves. The trails were easy, but we still needed to stay focused. In some places, parts of the trail had collapsed, creating holes where you wouldn’t want to put your front wheel or else you’d learn how to fly.
The rest of the day was like riding through the set of a Spaghetti Western like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. There were no cowboys, but a Spanish military base was nearby. Sometimes we came across soldiers in cars or trucks or saw signs warning that areas were off-limits. But the trails were fun, and the landscape was perfect. Once again, the sunset in the desert was an incredible show. We slept well with colorful dreams.
Ride to Eat, Eat to Ride
As French people, we love to eat. Oftentimes while eating a meal, we’ll talk about meals we’ve had in the past, both good and bad. It might seem strange to people from other countries, but that is what we do.
During the day, we’d found a cheap menú del día at a roadside eatery. At night in Tudela, we enjoyed going to an old-fashioned restaurant called Remigio. Locals recommended it, and it turned out to be great. Always trust the locals. Robin was a chef for many years before he started his motorcycle rental business, so he knows good food. Remigio served us traditional dishes like pig’s ear and snail stew with sausage. It was delicious, and so was the Riojà wine. Robin was like a kid in a candy store.
Taking the Yamaha Ténéré 700 Home
Helmets on for Day 3. It was time to go back north to Biarritz. Clouds followed us for the first few miles through the desert. We stopped at the spot where you must take a picture to show the world you have been to Bardenas: Castillo de Tierra, a natural column of sandstone that rises up to the sky and was formed by millions of years of erosion.
We squeezed as much trail time as we could out of our final day before finally returning to tarmac. We got back on the road near the medieval village of Olleta, continuing north to Pamplona. We summited many passes as we wound our way up and down through the Pyrenees. Before we knew it, we were back in Biarritz.
The trip was fun, and Robin made it easy by providing the bikes and planning the route. He was a great traveling companion, even if he ate more than his fair share of the pig’s ears. And Eric was our third musketeer. The T7s were fantastic on the road and on dirt. And Bardenas Reales was amazing, like a lunar park for motorcycles.
Those three days passed like a colorful dream – a bubble of fresh air, sun, desert, and fun with motorcycles that provided relief from the doldrums of winter. Exactly what we were looking for. From April to November, Rental Motorcycle Biarritz rents BMW, Ducati, Indian, Royal Enfield, and Yamaha motorcycles – including the Yamaha Ténéré 700 – with prices starting at 50 euros per day. RMB can provide GPS routes as well as guided tours. For information, visit the Rental Motorcycle Biarritz website.
On the same day that Yamaha announced the all-new Tracer 9 GT+, the company also released details on an updated 2024 Ténéré 700, a bike that Yamaha says has “quickly become a favorite among adventure enthusiast around the world.”
The 2024 Ténéré 700 has a liquid-cooled 689cc inline-Twin derived from the MT-07 naked sportbike that features Yamaha’s “Crossplane Crankshaft Concept” 270-degree crank.
After 3,000 miles of mixed riding for a tour test of a 2021 Ténéré 700, our reviewer had the following to say: “In my local mountains or out in the desert, on pavement or off, the T7 has been an excellent partner for exploration, corner carving and flat-out movin’ down the road.”
The Ténéré 700 has a fully adjustable 43mm inverted fork with 8.3 inches of travel and a rear single shock with remote-adjustable preload, rebound damping, and 7.9 inches of travel. The bike rides on spoked wheels (21-inch front/18-inch rear) wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires with tubes. It has a 34.4-inch seat height, 9.4 inches of ground clearance, and a wet weight of 452 lb.
The Ténéré 700 still has dual 282mm discs up front and a single 245mm disc in the rear, but a new feature for 2024 is the addition of a new ABS mode. Instead of the previous model’s on/of ABS selection, the new model now features three-mode selectable ABS allowing riders to choose their preferred level of braking intervention. Mode 1 fully activates ABS on both front and rear wheels, Mode 2 enables ABS on front wheel only and turns ABS off for the rear wheel, and Mode 3 turns ABS off for both the front and rear wheel.
Another update is a new 5-inch color TFT display. With functionality controlled by a new scrolling dial on the right handlebar, the new display offers two different screen themes: a modern dynamic design and a more traditional look reminiscent of the analog era.
The 2024 Ténéré 700 also features Yamaha Y-Connect smartphone connectivity, which works in conjunction with the Y-Connect app to enable a direct connection between motorcycle and smartphone. Y-Connect capability for the Ténéré 700 includes the ability to receive incoming text and phone call notifications on the new TFT display and track and record key motorcycle ride data within the app, including distance covered, average fuel consumption, top speed, and more.
Additional updates include new front and rear LED turnsignals, along with prewiring for the installation of Yamaha’s accessory Quick Shifter.
The 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700 will be available in either Team Yamaha Blue arriving to dealers in September 2023 or Shadow Gray arriving to dealers in October 2023 for $10,799 MSRP.
2024 Returning Models
Along with the new 2024 Tracer 9 9 GT+ and 2024 Ténéré 700, Yamaha announced that the XT250, TW200, and Super Ténéré ES will return unchanged for 2024. The XT250 will be priced at $5,399 and the TW200 at $4,999. Pricing has not been announced for the 2024 Super Ténéré ES.
“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.
Choices for smaller, affordable motorcycles are growing, and that’s good news for riders looking for a fun bike that won’t break the bank. Whether you’re new to riding and want something easy to handle or an experienced rider looking for a lighter or shorter bike, you have more options now than ever when it comes to finding the best motorcycles for smaller riders!
Below is Rider’s 2023 list of best motorcycles for smaller riders, an update of the popular post from 2019. This list includes motorcycles with seat heights between 31.0 and 31.9 inches with an MSRP of $17,000 or less.
When possible, we’ve included a link to our test ride reviews so you can get a sense of how each bike performs in action. We’ve also included the 2022-2023 model year’s U.S. base MSRP (as of publication), seat height, and claimed wet or dry weight. On models with options to lower the seat height or suspension, we’ve listed the standard and lowered seat heights. You can also click on a model’s name to go to the manufacturer’s webpage for a full list of specifications and details.
The models in this list are arranged by seat height, with the first model having the shortest seat height and the last model having the tallest seat height in the list.
In January of this year, EIC Greg Drevenstedt asked me what was on my list of “riding resolutions” for 2023. I had heard about the Yamaha Champions Riding School from content we had published, and even though I have no false pretenses about my future as a professional racer, I told him I would love to attend one of the YCRS classes – even better on a bike like the Yamaha MT-09 SP.
The reason for the latter is that I knew my normal cruiser was clearly not going to be the optimal bike for the two-day ChampSchool class I would attend at the end of January at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Since the program has “Yamaha” in the name, we opted for one of their bikes.
The Yamaha MT-09 naked bike was introduced in 2014 and was a crowd pleaser from the jump. In 2021, the bike received a major overhaul, and the up-spec MT-09 SP was introduced. Displacement on the MT-09’s CP3 inline-Triple was bumped from 847cc to 890cc, and claimed output increased to 117 hp and 69 lb-ft of torque. Yamaha also updated the throttle-by-wire and slip/assist clutch and added a quickshifter.
A 6-axis IMU derived from the YZF-R1 manages the bike’s traction control, slide control, and front-wheel lift control systems. The IMU was designed to be smaller and lighter, and along with other weight-shaving measures, including spin-forged aluminum wheels and an aluminum swingarm, the MT-09 comes in at a trim 417 lb, with the up-spec SP at 419 lb. Both bikes also have two levels of ABS intervention and four D-Mode engine maps that regulate engine response and output.
To create the MT-09 SP, which retails for $11,499 (a $1,700 premium over the standard MT-09), Yamaha added high- and low-speed compression adjustability and sportier damping to the KYB 41mm inverted fork and swapped the KYB rear shock for a premium Öhlins unit that is fully adjustable and includes a remote preload adjuster. The SP also has standard cruise control and styling inspired by the YZF-R1M.
Southern California to Southern Utah
I picked up the MT-09 SP from Cypress, California, the weekend before ChampSchool. The first thing I noticed when I fired up the bike was the sound. It’s not the low rumble I’m used to from my V-Twin, but it emits a nice throaty bellow from the symmetrical muffler with dual outlets mounted under the bike. The pleasing tones continue into the mid- and upper-range thanks to the three variable-length intake ducts that also came along with the 2021 upgrade.
With the suspension and other settings dialed in, I set off for the 450-mile ride back to my home in southern Utah. On the unfamiliar California highway system, I was glad to be on the MT-09 SP. Its throttle-by-wire provides smooth, crisp response. Even in D-Mode 2 (moderate engine response), overtaking was a breeze when I needed to, and when a quick stop was required, the radial-mounted Nissin master cylinder, 4-piston calipers, and dual 298mm floating discs up front worked in concert nicely.
My mid-January ride started in beautiful weather, but right around San Bernadino, I hit a 20-mph headwind that stuck around for almost the entire 200 miles to Las Vegas. Enter cruise control.
I’ve never ridden a bike with cruise control – and I was okay with that fact. It seemed like there was something inherently unnatural about cruise control on a motorcycle, and on a bike like the MT-09 SP, it felt akin to taking your hands off the steering wheel of a rocket (and yes, I’m aware it’s actually called a “reaction wheel,” but you get the idea). However, with those kinds of winds on the naked bike, I felt more like I was just fighting to hold on as opposed to controlling the motorcycle, and cruise control became my new best friend.
However, I think the cruise control could use some improvement. Once it’s turned on and engaged, cruise control can be disengaged by applying the brakes, throttle, or clutch, but the on/off, set, and resume buttons are a stretch from the left grip, and they’re small. With my winter gloves on, when I had disengaged the cruise control and then attempted to reach my thumb across to hit resume, several times I inadvertently ended up hitting the on/off button by mistake, which resulted in deceleration when I didn’t want to slow down. Then I had to start the process over, turning it back on and re-setting my speed. The placement and size (or style) of the cruise control buttons could be made more user-friendly.
One place I certainly wasn’t using the cruise control was at the Las Vegas Speedway, and this is where the MT-09 SP really shined.
The quickshifter was a thing of beauty for getting up to speed (at the behest of my instructor to practice blipping the engine on downshifts, I didn’t use the quickshifter there, but it was smooth when I tried it elsewhere). The quickshifter has up/down arrows that light up on the 3.5-inch color TFT display when it’s possible to use the feature in each gear, which is handy. However, despite the manual’s recommended speeds for shifting, I found the transition from 1st to 2nd kind of clunky at the recommended 12 mph. It was definitely smoother if I accelerated a little more before using the quickshifter.
The MT-09 SP combines traction control, slide control, and wheelie control into four TCS settings: 1 (minimal intervention), 2 (moderate intervention), Manual (settings can be customized), and Off. At the track, at my instructor’s recommendation, I had TCS mode set at level 2, which is moderate intervention across the board. There was one particular turn where I felt the rear end slip out a little on multiple passes, but the traction control did its job with subtle intervention.
For someone who had never been on a track, I felt surprisingly comfortable on the MT-09 SP – several instructors said, “Oh yeah, that’s a good one.” I was able to trust in its abilities while practicing the finer details of track riding. And when it came to riding the MT-09 SP in a favorite canyon closer to my home, all the thought-out details that went into the 2021 upgrade – from the lighter curb weight, stiffer chassis, and throttle-by-wire to the up-spec suspension of the SP – worked together for some nice carving, as well as quick evasive maneuvering around a couple corners where heavy precipitation had loosened some rocks from the roadside cliffs and dropped them in my unsuspecting path.
As I mentioned in my report on the YCRS ChampSchool, I’ve always been more of a cruiser guy than a sportbike guy, but after more than 1,300 miles on the 2023 Yamaha MT-09 SP, including track, interstate, around town, and canyon riding, I’d gladly take more rides on the dark side.
As part of Yamaha Motor’s goal of reaching zero motorcycle fatalities by 2050, using a three-pillared approach of technology, skills, and connectivity, the company is working on a prototype of the Advanced Motorcycle Stabilization Assist System – or AMSAS. The Yamaha stability assist system, which is specifically designed to address instability when starting or at low speeds, is being tested on a Yamaha YZF-R25 equipped with a 6-axis IMU and drive and steering actuators. The dynamics of the process at the drive actuator has been compared with holding a broom upside down on your palm, combined with the idea of the minute steering adjustments required to keep a bicycle upright when standing still without pedaling. For more information, read the press release from Yamaha Motor below.
Last year, Yamaha Motor announced its Jin-Ki Kanno x Jin-Ki Anzen Safety Vision, which aims to create a world free of accidents together with our customers. The three pillars of the approach are: 1) “Technology” that assists with rider recognition, judgment, operation, and damage mitigation, 2) “Skills,” in which we encourage improvement of users’ riding skills, and 3) “Connectivity,” where the Cloud is used to provide feedback for safety initiatives. To highlight the Technology pillar, we spoke with the developers of the Advanced Motorcycle Stabilization Assist System (AMSAS). As it is naturally linked to Jin-Ki Anzen, we asked about its aims and the value it offers.
A Rider Aid to Enhance Stability with Starts and at Low Speeds
Accidents involving motorcycles have been attributed primarily to recognition errors (10%), decision errors (17%), and operation errors (5%) on the part of the rider. Data also indicates that approximately 70% of motorcycle accidents occur within two seconds of the trigger leading to the accident. Based on these analyses of accident causes, Yamaha Motor’s development of rider aids is underway according to four vectors: assisted danger prediction, damage prevention and assisted defensive riding, assisted evasive riding maneuvers, and damage mitigation.
Unveiled last year, AMSAS stabilizes a vehicle’s attitude at low speeds by controlling drive forces and steering forces.
“[Its most distinctive feature is] its approach to use an arrangement highly applicable to existing vehicles since it does not require any modifications to the frame,” says Project Leader Akitoshi Suzuki. The prototype system under development uses a production YZF-R25 for its platform and is equipped with a 6-axis Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU) along with drive and steering actuators.
AMSAS is a rider aid that focuses on the instability a motorcycle experiences when starting off or when riding at low speeds, and it works to enhance the stability of the vehicle during these moments. “When starting or stopping, the drive actuator fitted to the front wheel aids with stability, and from there up to about 5 km/h (3 mph), the steering actuator attached to the handlebars takes over,” explains Suzuki. Through the coordination of the two, the mid-development AMSAS prototype vehicle can move at walking speeds without falling over, regardless of the skill level of the rider aboard.
Yamaha Stability Assist System is Adaptable to Various Applications
Yamaha Motor once made headlines when it unveiled the MOTOBOT—an autonomous motorcycle-riding humanoid robot—and MOTOROiD, a proof-of-concept experimental motorcycle equipped with AI and self-balancing technology. “The R&D for AMSAS began with the idea of bringing the technologies and know-how acquired through developing these two models to customers around the world,” says Suzuki.
Jun Sakamoto, who handles safety strategy at Yamaha, explains the value AMSAS aims to offer: “It’s to create conditions where the rider can focus more on operating their bike, so that everyone can enjoy that sense of being one with your machine. By providing an assist when the bike is more unstable and requires skill to operate, we want to deliver fun rooted in peace of mind to a wide range of riders.”
Yamaha has set a target of reducing the number of fatal motorcycle accidents to zero by 2050 and is ramping up efforts according to the three aforementioned pillars of Technology, Skills, and Connectivity. AMSAS is one technology with the potential to become a pivotal rider aid if used in conjunction with other technologies, like the radar-linked Unified Brake System – the first of its kind in the world – already deployed on the TRACER 9 GT+.
“With the base technologies in place now, we’re halfway to our goal of bringing AMSAS’ value to customers,” asserts Suzuki. He and the team have high aspirations for the technology. “From here on, we’ll be working to downscale the sizes of the various components and so on, as we want to develop it into a platform not just for motorcycles, but one also adaptable to a wide range of other personal mobility applications, like bicycles.”
Some rides are more challenging than others. Sometimes we seek out the challenge, and sometimes the challenge finds us. It was a little of both when I found myself stopped on the side of the road, trying to stay upright on a Yamaha MT-10 while being battered by 60-mph winds and sandblasted by a dust storm.
It was Valentine’s Day, and I was headed for Las Vegas to attend the AIMExpo dealer show while a winter storm was sending a freight train of frigid air down from the Sierra Nevada mountains. South of me on Interstate 15 in the Mojave Desert, tractor-trailers were being overturned by the wind. I had avoided that route because I’ve ridden it a million times and find it boring, so I was taking a longer, more scenic ride along part of the Eastern Sierra Scenic Byway (U.S. Route 395) and through Death Valley.
While I expected it to be a cold, windy day – and was warmly cocooned in my Zerofit HeatRub baselayers, Gerbing’s 12V heated jacket liner and gloves, and traffic-cone-orange Aerostich R-3 suit – I didn’t anticipate it would be quite this bad. My arms and neck were sore from leaning into the wind for the past couple of hours, and things went from bad to worse after I filled up in Olancha and turned east on California Route 190 across the Owens Valley. The snowcapped Sierras were partly obscured by dusty haze, and soon I became engulfed in a beige cloud and got blitzed by stinging sand.
After a few gusts nearly knocked me off the road, I slowed way down and turned on my hazard flashers. At one point, I stopped on the side of the road to get my bearings near the Olancha Dunes OHV area, with my legs splayed like outriggers and my feet planted firmly on the ground. I didn’t dare get off the bike or it would have toppled over, but I managed to dig my phone out of my pocket to capture a video of the blasting sand starting to cover the road and slamming into me and the bike like millions of miniature BBs.
Once you’re in it, you’re in it. You can either wait it out or proceed with caution.
Sport-Touring on the 2023 Yamaha MT-10
In calmer days last fall, I traveled to North Carolina to attend the press launch for the Yamaha MT-10, a naked sportbike based on the YZF-R1 that was updated with engine refinements, R1-sourced electronics, new styling, and revised ergonomics.
The MT-10’s suck-squeeze-bang-blow comes courtesy of a 998cc inline-Four with a crossplane crankshaft that produces sound and feel like a V-Four, and its aural symphony is amplified by acoustic sound grilles atop the air intakes on either side of the tank.
At the launch, we rode stock MT-10s in the Cyan Storm colorway, which has a mix of gloss black and gray bodywork with bright blue wheels. One of the Yamaha guys rode a Matte Raven MT-10 fitted with factory accessories: Windscreen ($249.99), GYTR Frame Sliders ($209.99), Comfort Seat ($299.99), Rear Rack/Top Case Mount ($250.99), 39L Top Case ($241.99), and Universal Mount ($24.99). After the launch, Yamaha agreed to let us borrow the accessorized bike for an extended test.
The first thing we did was take the MT-10 down to Jett Tuning for a dyno run. Measured where the rubber meets the road, the MT-10’s quartet of 249.5cc cylinders chuffed out 138.5 hp at 10,200 rpm and 76.5 lb-ft of torque at 9,000 rpm. Yes, that’ll do nicely.
Then we flogged it around town and up and down the canyon roads that make Southern California such a land of milk and honey for motorcyclists. The balance and smoothness of an inline-Four is always a delight, but the MT-10’s particular blend of herbs and spices is truly mouth-watering. Twist the throttle hard, and the bike leaps forward, emits a joyful noise, and flashes an amber light as the wheelie control keeps the front wheel close to the ground.
Flash forward to my trip in February. The temperatures had been in the 40s all morning, and after making it through the dust storm and climbing out of the Owens Valley, it dropped into the 30s by the time I stopped for a photo in front of the Death Valley National Park sign. It was a Tuesday, and there were few cars on the road – just the way I like it.
No matter how many times I visit Death Valley, I never get tired of it. Covering nearly 5,271 square miles, you could fit Rhode Island and Delaware within its borders and still have 1,237 square miles left over. It’s a place of extremes, contrasts, and wonders. And with nearly 1,000 miles of paved and unpaved roads ranging from tame to intense, it’s a two-wheeled playground.
I savored the long, winding descent into Panamint Valley, enjoyed the sweeping curves up to 4,956-foot Towne Pass, and cruised the 17 miles back down to sea level at Stovepipe Wells in Death Valley. After passing Mesquite Dunes, I was engulfed in another dust storm near the Devil’s Cornfield, where clumps of arrowweed resemble corn stalks. Even though wind was battering me, dust was obscuring the wide-open views that make Death Valley such a unique place, and hours of being cold were beginning to take their toll, it felt good to be hundreds of miles away from my desk.
The windscreen provided more protection than the MT-10’s stock flyscreen but not by much. The comfort seat, however, was a huge improvement over the stock seat. It has a flatter shape, more supportive foam, and a suede-like finish. The top case provides 39 liters of lockable storage, and I used it as a solid anchor point for my Nelson-Rigg Hurricane 2.0 Waterproof Backpack/Tail Pack that sat on the passenger seat. For those who want more storage, Yamaha sells a 50L Top Case ($298.99), Side Case Brackets ($249.99), and MT Soft ABS Side Cases ($484.99).
By the time I made it to Las Vegas, the MT-10 no longer looked Matte Raven but a light gray because it was so powdered with dust and grit. In my hotel room, I poured handfuls of sand out of the pockets of my Aerostich suit.
As I wrote about in First Gear last month, it wasn’t just me at AIMExpo. Our dispersed editorial team also came together in Las Vegas, and we enjoyed a group ride to Hoover Dam and Valley of Fire State Park. In the hotel parking garage after the ride, my colleague Kevin Duke pointed out the center of the MT-10’s rear tire was getting thin on tread. Admittedly, of the 2,000 miles on the bike’s odometer, most of them had been ridden with little to no lean angle, but I figured the tire had enough life left to get me home.
From Vegas, I rode north on I-15 to St. George, Utah, where I spent the weekend with my father and stepmother. Wanting to avoid the interstate for the long ride home, Dad helped me plot out a route west through the sparsely inhabited interior of Nevada.
On Presidents Day, I suited up, plugged in my heated apparel, and set off north from St. George on State Route 18, which passes by Snow Canyon on its way to Enterprise. Dawn was just breaking, and it was below freezing – and it stayed that way for the next two hours, mostly down in the 20s. My heated gear did its best to keep up; my core was warm, but my hands, even with the heated, insulated gloves turned to the highest setting, were still cold. The accessory I most wished the MT-10 had was heated grips (Yamaha doesn’t offer them).
After crossing into Nevada, my teeth chattered as I rode over 6,718-foot Panaca Summit, and then I made a brief stop at Cathedral Gorge State Park, which has walls of eroded bentonite clay that look like intricate sandcastles. Continuing southwest on U.S. Route 93, I went from cold to colder over 6,243-foot Oak Springs Summit. At Crystal Springs, I turned onto Nevada Route 375, known as the Extraterrestrial Highway because it passes near Area 51, the infamous secret government facility where there have been reports of UFO sightings.
Nevada is known for its “basin and range” topography, with abrupt changes in elevation as you travel over steep mountains and across wide, flat valleys. I passed over two more of Nevada’s summits – Hancock and Coyote, both around 5,500 feet – before reaching the rundown town of Rachel, home to the Little A’le’inn bar/restaurant/motel, the Alien Cowpoke gas station, and scattered mobile homes.
Other than a few overpriced souvenirs, Rachel didn’t have much to offer. Route 375 passes through vast emptiness, but there was no evidence of Area 51 or anything otherworldly.
My dogleg westward route eventually brought me to the old mining town of Tonopah for gas. I entered California by way of Nevada Route 266, which took me over 7,420-foot Lida Summit, the highest pass of the day.
After crossing the state line, I stopped at a ranch that straddles both sides of California Route 168. Nearly 15 years ago, on a moonless night at that very spot, I crashed a Ducati GT1000. I had no business riding through an open range area after dark, but I had left home late and was on my way to meet my father at the Bonneville Salt Flats. I suddenly came upon a herd of black cows on the road, grabbed a handful of brake lever, locked up the front wheel, and went down.
All things considered, I was lucky. It could have been much worse that night. My apparel was thrashed, but I wasn’t hurt and the bike was rideable. The Swiss Army knife that I carry in my pocket to this day still bears scratch marks from sliding along the pavement during that crash. Had I not stopped this time around to preserve the memory with a photo, I wouldn’t have noticed that the MT-10’s rear tire, with just 2,600 miles on it, was worn down to the cords. Bridgestone Battlax Hypersport S22 tires are marvelously grippy, but they’re not much for longevity.
I rode slowly and gingerly for the next 50 miles, which, regrettably, also happened to be the curviest section of my entire trip. I made it over 6,373-foot Gilbert Pass and 7,271-foot Westgard Pass on my way to Big Pine, a small town that sits in the shadow of the Sierras on U.S. 395. I was safe and sound, but I was 250 miles from home.
Unwilling to risk a catastrophic blowout, I got a motel room and hunkered down. The next day, my dear wife drove up to Big Pine in our 4Runner with a motorcycle trailer and rescued me. It’s not how I wanted the trip to end, but once again, it could have been much worse. Maybe my guardian angel lives at that ranch out on Route 168.
How about a Tracer 10 GT?
The MT-10’s performance, handling, and ergonomics make it a great streetbike, and with some accessories, it makes for a very sporty sport-tourer. In fact, we’d love to see a Tracer 10 GT version with an even taller windscreen, a lower fairing, heated grips, wind-blocking handguards, hard saddlebags, and higher-mileage sport-touring tires. Hey Yamaha, whaddaya think?
Walking into a dealership as a shorter rider, or as someone who just wants a smaller ride, can feel a little limiting. You stroll by impressive and imposing machines that you might admire but don’t want to fight with as your main bike. You might find one or two models off in the back that are a comfortable fit, but you’re disappointed that there aren’t any more options to choose from. Luckily, options for smaller motorcycles are growing, and we’ve compiled those options into two Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders list.
In our first Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders post, we focused on bikes with seat heights under 30 inches. That seat height limit meant almost all the models on that list were cruisers, and while we certainly enjoy cruisin’, we like a little variety too. With this second Best Motorcycles for Smaller Riders post, we’re excited to include some sportbikes, minimotos, and an ADV. And while the seat heights may be taller than on the first list, many of the models on this list weigh and cost less than the shorter-seated cruisers.
This list consists of motorcycles with a seat height between 30.0 and 30.9 inches. When possible, we’ve included a link to our test ride review, so you can get a sense of how each bike performs in action. We’ve also included the 2022/23 model year’s U.S. base MSRP (as of publication), claimed wet weight, and seat height. On models with options to lower the seat height or suspension, we’ve listed the standard and lowered seat heights. You can also click on a model’s name to go to the manufacturer’s webpage for a full list of specifications and details.
The models in this list are arranged by seat height, with the first model having the shortest seat height and the last model having the tallest seat height in the list.