Yamaha FZ-09 / MT-09 Tracer – First ride and review


Well, on Sat 14.2.15 I managed to get an hour or so out on the MT-09 / FZ-09 Tracer. Having been shown the controls and menu system I jumped on board, but it was immediately apparent the seat, in its current position was too high. It took 2 of the sales team 10 mins to work out how to get the seat off, and a further 5 to work out how to lower it. Works out it only has 2 settings. High or low. Which is achieved by flipping a cheap bit of plastic one way or t’other to achieve your aim. Once it was finally sorted, I fired her up and set off.

The 1st thing I noticed was just how hard the seat was. Can’t imagine riding this heap……oops, getting ahead of myself there, this motorcycle for long periods of time without suffering serious butt ache.

The riding position itself was very neutral and comfortable. As with all these type bikes, you get the “I can see your house from here” aspect. Which is a good safety advantage and for enjoying the scenery.

The engine is a very smooth triple, which doesn’t “whistle” like the Triumphs. The exhaust note is relatively quiet unless you gun it, and then it really does roar in appreciation of being uncaged. The gearbox is excellent with no false neutrals recorded. But whilst the front brake lever can be altered the clutch lever for some reason can’t. I found the reach a little too distant for my liking, which made me ache by the end of the ride. The suspension is excellent and soaks up most of the yumps and bumps, but potholes and speed humps will send a shock through the firm seat to your back so either avoid them or slow down sufficient not to launch yourself whilst negotiating them.

Handlebar controls are generally within easy reach, and seem of reasonable quality. The clocks are well laid out and the most vital info easily read in sunlight. Everything is there, speed, revs, gear indicator, ambient temp, engine temp etc.

It has 3 power modes. Whimp mode, this is ok mode, and nuclear explosion mode. The traction control is very unsophisticated and has the whole front end lurching up and down in an attempt to stop it flipping. However the brakes and the anti locking work extremely well in scrubbing off speed.

The suspension is excellent. Doesn’t dive too far on braking, and is very confidence inspiring chucking it round the corners. Only the higher centre of gravity will stop you cornering is quick as an experienced sport bike rider with an equally good setup.

Which brings me finally to the engine and power delivery.

This thing has the torque, even from low revs, to rip your arms out of their sockets. You seriously have to be leaning forward with your bum cradled into the front of the rear seat and then just hang on for dear life. Roll on power from any revs in any gear will have you hurtling towards and beyond licence loosing figures in a matter of seconds. Clutchless gears changes make this challenge easier. And the gearbox is excellent at coping with these.

The build quality, whilst not top draw, is adequate. But it is very ‘plasticy’. The hand guards and screen are particularly flimsy and when you start looking underneath the shiny bits, you’ll find plenty of cheaply manufactured parts that won’t last the test of time.

So to sum up.

It’s a cheap bike with only the engine, brakes and suspension coming up trumps.

If you’re looking for a cheap hooligan type ride that’ll need to be off loaded within a few short  years, then this is for you.

If you’re looking for a ride all day/touring bike, you’ll be spending cash to make it more comfortable. Changing the seat, screen, clutch/brake levers, and adding a few extras like heated grips etc.

If you’re looking to invest in a bike that’s going to last years and look after you, clocking up some serious milage……leave well alone.

It’s a sprinter not a marathon runner.
After all is said and done though, it wouldn’t surprise me if these become one of, if not the biggest selling bikes in history. To date, in the 3rd week of Feb 2015, they’ve already sold out in London, and are waiting further shipments to meet high demand.


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