Yamaha Tracer 9 GT + (2023) review


The updated Yamaha Tracer 9 GT + boasts more tech, revised ergonomics and radar-assisted cruise control for 2023

THERE was once a time when the biggest, baddest sports bikes were at the top of the technological tree. Now though it’s the sports touring and adventure sector that gets all the best kit and goodies - and the new Yamaha Tracer 9 GT + might just be the best-equipped middleweight sports tourer on the market.

To sample Yamaha range-topping Tracer 9 GT +, we headed out to Sardinia, for a double-header launch with this bike and the new 2023 Yamaha Niken GT. We had a fairly lengthy ride around Sardinia on some of the best roads I’ve ridden in Europe, a perfect playground for Yamaha’s latest, greatest sports tourer.

2023 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT + price, colours and availability

The new 2023 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT + will be landing in showrooms in June 2023 with an RRP of £14,910 including on-the-road charges. Side cases, heated grips, quickshifter and everything else mentioned here are all standard fitment. Two colours will be available Power Grey (as ridden) and Icon Performance silver. The stock Tracer 9 GT will be arriving then too with an RRP of £13,100 including on-the-road charges.

What’s new with the 2023 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT +

With the Tracer 9 already being blessed with the latest generation 890cc CP3 engine at its last update, Yamaha’s focus with the 2023 was upping the technological prowess of the top-spec Tracer. The new bike features some tweaks and updates, but also some entire systems have been included, one of which is a world-first inclusion on a motorcycle of any kind.

As before, you have the familiar inclusions on a bike of this type, IMU controlled cornering ABS, traction control, slide control and lift control. That’s already a pretty comprehensive suite of technology, and it’s all been tweaked for this year. Now the D-mode (drive mode) links the traction control, engine power mode, throttle map, slide control and lift control (wheelie control to you and me) altogether - before it only acted upon the engine power mode and throttle map. The result is a much more joined-up riding experience and a more easily noticeable change in the bike’s dynamics when you move from one mode to another. 

Full colour 7” TFT

The most visual of all the changes comes in the form of a clear, bright and easy-to-read TFT dash. That’s right, the Graucho Marx-a-like dash of the previous bike and you no longer have to trawl your eyes from one small TFT to the next to see the piece of information you need. Another welcome change is an update to the switchgear on the plus, as the annoying and fiddly jog-wheel of old is gone and in its place is a slick and accurate 5-direction joystick - hurrah! The quickshifter on the bike remains, although now it is the third generation of the system, allowing up and down shifts through the gearbox even when the throttle is partially open.

Radar-assisted cruise control with Millimetre Wave Radar

We’ve seen radar-assisted cruise control on some of the bigger sports touring and adventure bikes already in 2022 and 2023. The inclusion of the system on the Tracer 9 GT + though seems like a first in the middleweight category. Just below the headlights of the bike is the radar unit, and it’ll monitor the road ahead and maintain a gap to the vehicle in front according to four levels. It also features an overtake assistance function, rolling on some extra revs when you hit the indicator to change lanes when the cruise control is engaged.

Rader-linked front/rear assisted Unified Brake System

The new GT + is also the first motorcycle to benefit from a clever new type of braking tech that links into the adaptive cruise control mentioned above. The system, with help from the IMU, can actuate the rear brake of the bike independently of the front, when the rider is braking heavily or slowing the vehicle down in traffic. The idea is to maximise braking performance and keep the bike more stable when decelerating from any speed. It also has the added benefit of being able to detect if you aren’t using enough braking power - in an emergency stop situation for instance - and dial in some extra braking power to help you get the bike halted. It’s not a collision-avoidance system though, and will only dial in the required braking power if the rider is already using the brake and if the Brake Control system is switched on.

Improved KYB semi-active suspension 

The KYB electronic suspension was on the last version of the Tracer 9 GT we rode in 2021, although for this year, Yamaha has gone to town on the system, adding in what could be a world-first on a motorcycle of any capacity. The new tech involves the suspension, adaptive cruise, and unified braking system to keep the bike more level and stable during braking. It can also adjust the suspension settings when the bike is slowing down via the adaptive cruise control, keeping the bike level and removing that annoying and slightly clumsy dive that can occur with some adaptive cruise control systems.

2023 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT + review

Okay, now the tech stuff is out of the way, we can finally talk about riding the new Tracer 9 GT +, and what a day of riding it was. Yamaha had laid out 140 miles on some of the best roads I’ve ever ridden in Europe for this one, and they covered everything, from neverending switchback hairpins, fast sleeping mountain passes and even some motorway miles, too. It had been a while since I last rode a Tracer 9, and I immediately felt right at home. The seat is new and has been trimmed down to make it easier for shorter riders to flatfoot the ground. While the new seat felt okay for my height, it didn’t feel the plushest, even as we were just trundling out of the hotel gates. Comfort worries aside, we seemed to almost instantly land on a beautifully grippy, twisty road, and the handling dynamics that made hoards of riders fall in love with the Tracer 9 were instantly brought into focus. This 223kg bike is a demon in the corners, diving into fast curves and hitting apexes with pinpoint precision. It carries corner speed like few other middleweights can, and I am struggling to think of another in the class that can match the performance on these types of roads. A large part of this performance comes thanks to the chassis, which is a perfect blend of stability on the straights and agility in the corners. Then you add in the KYB semi-active suspension, which is like having a suspension-savvy monkey clambering around the bike and twiddling the rebound and compression as you ride, and you really do have a match made in B-road riding heaven!

While the bike feels for the most part like a long-legged R1 in Sport Mode, flick it into Street and you’ll be rewarded with a much plusher and more forgiving bike. It’s slightly slower to turn in this mode (as the bike isn’t quite so sat on its nose) but the throttle connection is much more forgiving, masking those ham-fisted throttle openings at the apex of tight turns.

Of course, for those wishing to mix elements of the Sport and Street modes, the rider-configurable Custom mode allows you to do just that, although as with previous versions of the bike, the interface will take a little bit of getting used to. Life is made easier on this front thanks to the addition of a five-way joystick - bye-bye dodgy jogwheel!

Another noticeable change from the previous bike is the updated suspension, handling the rigours of fast riding much better than before. Clattering on the brakes hard into slow corners feels a much more natural experience, and the KYB kit fitted to the GT + seemed to deal much better with the dive when you hit the stoppers and the rebound when you released the front brake. 

After a morning of chasing apex and pulling wheelies (which are nice and controlled thanks to the improved Lift control) the afternoon was more about getting to grips with the new systems fitted to the GT +. First up, the adaptive cruise control. It’s not my first time using the system, and it’s something I’ve grown to accept if not fully appreciate. The system on the Yamaha works well and is very easy to engage and adjust. I did, though, find it a touch on the conservative side and, even on the closest gap, supposedly around two seconds to the vehicle in front, there was still a tantalising gap ahead of me. It’s likely a space that no self-respecting Audi or BMW driver would be able to stop themselves from pulling into! I was also impressed with how the system seemed to not be flustered when lots of vehicles were sharing the same spot of road. Some bikes I’ve ridden have confused cars on either side with the one ahead of me and begun to react to them and not the one directly in front. Not the Yamaha system, though, so it’s a thumbs up there.

One system that is integrated into the adaptive cruise control is an overtake assist, which works by rolling on the throttle when you indicate to change lanes. I was [not?] totally cool with this part of the system and found that if I indicated and then didn’t pull out, the bike would still accelerate even when the vehicle was still in front of me. I didn’t push the system to see how far it would go, but would always chicken out and end up grabbing the brake when we got too close for my personal preference. I’d much prefer the overtake assist to only begin accelerating the bike once it no longer can ‘see’ the vehicle in front, or at least once the IMU has registered that you have leant the bike over a little to move from one lane to the next. Other than that, the adaptive cruise control works well, and when it does reduce the speed of the bike in-line with the traffic around it, it’s smooth and measured, and the bike stays nicely level thanks to the KYB suspension.

The motorway miles covered in the afternoon also gave me a chance to get to grips with the new bike’s comfort and, for me, this is a tale of two halves. While the ergonomics are spot on for me, and the weather protection improved over the previous bike, I found the seat to be a bit hard and under-padded. The previous day we’d been riding the brilliant new Niken GT and, compared to the T 9 GT +, it felt like an armchair. There is an option of a more comfortable seat from the Yamaha accessory catalogue, although for me I’d want a bit more comfort included as standard!

2023 Yamaha Tracer 9 GT + verdict

With a price tag that sits fairly central in the sports touring category (when benchmarking against the Tiger 900 GT Pro, BMW F 900 XR, and MV Agusta Turismo Veloce) you’d be forgiven for thinking this was a middle-of-the-road machine. I don’t think that is the case, though. In fact, even taking some of the larger 1,000cc and higher bikes into the equation, it punches much harder than its list price would suggest. Okay, it’s probably not the most comfortable of the bikes on offer (in standard trim at least), but it looks great, has a premium feel to it, is ready-equipped for cross-continent cruising and handles better than pretty much anything else in the class. Then you add in the amount of technology you are blessed with and it gets harder and harder to argue against the plucky contender from Iwata. 

The CP3 range of bikes from Yamaha has steam-rolled pretty much every class they have entered, and with the mid-weight sport touring market being so competitive, Yamaha really has thrown every at the top-spec Tracer 9 GT +.