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Thread: 2015 Yamaha MT-09 Tracer

  1. #1
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    Default 2015 Yamaha MT-09 Tracer

    So I took a bunch of pictures, but most of them turned out crap, so you'll have to live with my walkaround video and my test ride video (with comments).

    Since I like to be wordy, a little background first. Feel free to skip to the walkaround video if you're not into reading.

    After my ride in Okinawa on a VTR250, I started casually looking at bikes of much smaller displacement and weight. I had so much fun on that little thing I wanted something as close as possible to that without being ridiculously cramped. I knew I wanted something taller, something lighter, and something with decent power. I looked at a whole bunch of sumos, but I'm a die hard roadie and the off road look just killed it for me. The hardcore adventure bikes were also in contention. I really wanted a VFR1200X Crosstourer but that was out of my budget and seriously heavy. I very seriously considered a BMW R1200GS (non adventure) but I was seriously concerned about maintenance costs.

    At the end of January, I started to get a little more serious about my search, so I sat down at my local Red Baron and had a long chat about different options. The Tracer came up as a possibility and they ordered one from the factory for me to look at. It arrived on February 12, and I was over there first thing in the morning to sit on it. We started crunching numbers and I started thinking about it very seriously, but I wanted to ride it first. So I booked a test ride at a Yamaha dealership in Fukuoka city.

    Before I get into my text review, here's a walkaround video.


    The ride quality on this bike is really impressive. Once I got into the twisty stuff, I was seriously surprised how easily it took to the corners. It just fell effortlessly into the corners, and the front felt light and took input quickly, in part due to the relatively wide (950mm) bars. The ride-by-wire technology is surprisingly indistinguishable from cabled throttles. The suspension is also well balanced and confident. Preload and rebound adjustment was available on the front and preload adjustment on the back (interestingly, the US version called a FJ-09, lists the rear as having also having rebound adjustment, so that's a possible easy upgrade). The ABS brakes are superb and left the bike very stable and controllable in the slick conditions for my test ride. Dual twin-piston 298mm disks up front and a single 245mm disk single piston rear in combination with ABS meant the bike comes to a halt mighty quick.

    Technology for the price point was pretty impressive too. With toggelable traction control, and three selectable riding modes (sport, touring, and standard). Honestly, I only rode in standard mode and really didn't have the opportunity to try the others, but the guy at the dealership indicated that sport mode would surprise me. Although I didn't really believe him, the rainy and slick conditions kept me away from that mode. The ride modes are also toggleable while riding as long as the throttle is closed. LED lights all around as well as a power socket available to the left of the dash. The dash itself is split into two sections. On the right is the multi-function meter which offers a lot of information including trip odometers, fuel efficiency tracking, gear selector indicator, and a host of other options that would take an owners manual to figure out, and I found it to be unnecessarily complicated. The clock was also difficult to find because it isn't on the multi-function meter side (where I expected it to be), but the speedometer/tach side. The display of the dash itself is underwhelming at best.

    .

    In the cockpit, the bark busters are a nice addition and they were designed like a wind screen, to keep the wind off the rider's hands. This was quite noticeable during my test ride because my hands didn't get cold despite the lack of heated grips. The controls are unusual and will take some getting used to. On the right, the kill and starter switches are on the same button (up for kill, down for start, middle for run). The thumb toggleable ride mode switch (labeled "mode") is also over here. On the left, there is a passing light trigger that didn't do anything (and was labeled “mode”), and a big bulky up/down switch for toggling the multi-function meter modes (also labeled "mode" ... creative). Of course, there is also the standard bright/dim switch, turn signal switch, and horn here as well. All of these were clearly labeled and easily selectable, including a big enough difference in location between the turn signal switch and horn that I never hit the horn while trying to cancel the turn signals (something I've frequently done on most Hondas). I also struggled to get the mirrors to give me a satisfactory rear view in comparison to my CB.

    The chassis is high and light at 210kg (462lbs). It's also very narrow, so I feel more like I'm sitting on a bicycle than a horse. Lots of adjustment available here as well. The rider's seat can be raised or lowered (two positions), the bars can be moved forward or aft, and the wind screen is also adjustable and did well to protect me from the wind (though I didn't take it on the expressway). The passenger seat is big and roomy as well and the grab bars are big and well contoured. Mounts for side cases were also included on the subframe and they look like the standard slots on the BMWs. I was also happy to see that they included a center stand (I have to park my bike on the center stand at my apartment). My biggest complaint here is that there's essentially zero on-bike storage unless you add luggage.



    The drivetrain is excellent. A sweet sounding, jewel of a motor that offers more than enough power, and a 6 speed transmission that is smooth and confident with a light touch on the clutch. As others have mentioned, it lacks in the torque department but not so much that it caused me to look at another bike instead. The cylinders are also angled quite far forward to help keep the center of gravity low. Biggest complaint here is that it takes premium fuel, and with no anti-knock sensor, you'll be paying premium prices at the pump.

    I highly recommend this bike for someone looking to move from a sports or standard bike to a budget touring bike, since the entry cost is low and the riding position is high and much more neutral. Maintenance fees will also be lower than the import competition.

    Here's the ride video with my thoughts as I ride:


    Spec sheet
    Model nameMT-09 Tracer
    Make・Model number・Engine numberYamaha・EBL-RN36J・N703E
    Overall length×width×height2,160mm×950mm×1,345mm
    Wheelbase1,440mm
    Seat height845mm
    Weight210kg
    Number of riders2
    Fuel efficiency(Km/L)27.0(60km/h fixed speed, level course)
    19.3(WMTC mode, Class 3, Subclass 3-2, 1 rider)
    Engine typeLiquid cooled 4 stroke DOHC 4 valve inline 3
    Displacement846cm3
    Bore×stroke78.0mm×59.0mm
    Compression ratio11.5
    Power output81kW(110PS)@9,000r/min
    Torque88N・m(9.0kgf・m)@8,500r/min
    Starter typeSelf
    IgnitionTCI
    Fuel supplyElectronic fuel injection
    LubricationWet sump and splash
    Oil capacity3.4L
    Fuel capacity18L
    ClutchWet multi-plate
    Transmission6 speed sequential
    Gear ratio1st: 2.666
    2nd: 2.000
    3rd: 1.619
    4th: 1.381
    5th: 1.190
    6th: 1.037
    Reduction ratio
    (primary/secondary)
    1.680/2.812
    Caster angle/Trail24°00′/100mm
    Tire sizeFront: 120/70ZR17M/C (58W)
    Rear: 180/55ZR17M/C (73W)
    BrakesFront: hydraulic dual disk
    Rear: hydraulic single disk
    SuspensionFront: telescopic
    Rear: monoshock
    Frame typeDiamond truss
    Last edited by dmizer; 25-02-15 at 11:00 AM.

  2. #2
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    Nice review. Thanks for taking the time!
    ----------------
    2008 R1200GS | 2009 NSF100 | 2009 CRF250X | 2011 Address V125S


  3. #3
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    Thanks for the review.

    I think you will have a partner soon! This bike is now at the top of my list.

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    Thanks for the review! Being more and more interested by this bike, seing I can get affordable insurance for it in France.

  5. #5

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    A belated thanks dmizer for your time in writing this review - I'm not sure why I didn't see it 3 months ago...

    The MT-09 Tracer is currently on my bike shortlist for a possible move from the CB400 (a move I've been mulling for 5 years, but the damn thing is so reliable and simple to ride). The Tracer just keeps seeming to get great reviews though, so I think I too need to get a test ride on it. One question I did have though was that you say it takes premium fuel, would that be the hi-oc here in Japan? I remember Rider Magazine's site said it did, but was that a US rating? That though could dampen my enthusiasm somewhat!

    [Update: I went to the Yamaha JP page and it says Premium Unleaded, which I'm expecting is Hi-Oc]

    Another bike I was looking at was the Honda NC750X, and whilst it would be a nice commuter bike, it lacked something in the fun department. Right now then, I'm looking at the Tracer and a V Strom 650.

    Did you buy in the end?
    Last edited by nanikore; 19-05-15 at 10:45 AM. Reason: grammarr difikult
    2016 Yamaha MT-09 Tracer 2016 - // 2006 Honda CB400 Super Four 2006-2016
    www.nanikore.net

  6. #6
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    You are in the same spot as me in the beginning of this year... narrowed the list to a VStrom or the Tracer. I went with the Tracer and am happy with my purchase! The bike is blast with lots of horsepower and torque... with a bonus its light and easy to handle. I agree with you on the NC750X its a super easy bike to ride... but dont feel any excitment. Yes, premium is hi-oc in Japan.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by nanikore View Post
    A belated thanks dmizer for your time in writing this review - I'm not sure why I didn't see it 3 months ago...

    The MT-09 Tracer is currently on my bike shortlist for a possible move from the CB400 (a move I've been mulling for 5 years, but the damn thing is so reliable and simple to ride). The Tracer just keeps seeming to get great reviews though, so I think I too need to get a test ride on it. One question I did have though was that you say it takes premium fuel, would that be the hi-oc here in Japan? I remember Rider Magazine's site said it did, but was that a US rating? That though could dampen my enthusiasm somewhat!

    [Update: I went to the Yamaha JP page and it says Premium Unleaded, which I'm expecting is Hi-Oc]

    Another bike I was looking at was the Honda NC750X, and whilst it would be a nice commuter bike, it lacked something in the fun department. Right now then, I'm looking at the Tracer and a V Strom 650.

    Did you buy in the end?
    Terribly sorry, for some reason I didn't see your reply.

    Yes, I bought the bike and I've been riding it for 3 months (10000 km) now. I'm extremely happy with my purchase and the bike, but aftermarket manufactures are being slow about releasing equipment for this bike. There is a lot of stuff available in the US and Europe, but none of that is available here in Japan yet. Even so, I would HIGHLY recommend this bike over the NC700/750 unless you want a dedicated commuting machine.

    Also ...

    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    On the left, there is a passing light trigger that didn't do anything (and was labeled “mode”)
    I finally figured out what this trigger switch does. The multi-function meter on the right is customizable. You can select what information you'd like displayed on each of the three pages. The trigger allows you to enter the menu for customizing these pages.

    Also, there was some discusson about the ECU firmware being restricted in Japan, but there is an ECU flash available in the US now. It won't be long before a firmware flash will be available in Japan as well.

  8. #8
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    Default 2015 Yamaha MT-09 Tracer

    Looking forward to the ECU flash. I took it up to 185km last weekend and need more speed :-).

  9. #9
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    I'm also looking into purchasing the Tracer. The width of the handles bar is 950mm. It is quite wide. Do you guys have any diffculties lane splitting between cars?

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    Quote Originally Posted by David View Post
    I'm also looking into purchasing the Tracer. The width of the handles bar is 950mm. It is quite wide. Do you guys have any diffculties lane splitting between cars?
    I don't have too much trouble. Of course, there are always situations where I decide to sit in line instead. But the same was true for my CB1300. Also keep in mind that a lot of the bar width comes from the hand guards which can easily be removed if you want a narrower profile. There are some pictures here: http://fj-09.org/thread/246/removed-handguards

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    dmizer, any further feedback now that you've had it for 6 months or so? Any mods etc?
    ----------------
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    Quote Originally Posted by David View Post
    I'm also looking into purchasing the Tracer. The width of the handles bar is 950mm. It is quite wide. Do you guys have any diffculties lane splitting between cars?
    I test-rode one through Tokyo traffic and was very impressed at how it negotiated traffic jams, brilliant in the city given the size bike it is. As long as you're not expecting 125cc scooter maneuverability you should be happy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rider2371 View Post
    dmizer, any further feedback now that you've had it for 6 months or so? Any mods etc?
    I'm working on this. I have a lot on my plate at the moment.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dmizer View Post
    I'm working on this. I have a lot on my plate at the moment.
    Cool. No rush.
    ----------------
    2008 R1200GS | 2009 NSF100 | 2009 CRF250X | 2011 Address V125S


  15. #15
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    Default 2015 Yamaha MT-09 Tracer

    I also don't have the energy to write a report but all I can say is that I am super happy that I bought the MT-09 Tracer. It is light nimble and quick. Comfortable to ride long distances due to the upright riding position. The only negative I can think of is excessive wind noise. Definitely need ear plugs when riding this bike.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  16. #16
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    Default 7 Month Update

    Ok, here’s my 7 month update.

    First of all, even after roughly 20000 km traveled, I’m extremely satisfied with having made this purchase. This is a brilliant bike with few faults. Some of which I’ll discuss later. For now though, this has probably been my single best motorcycle purchase in all of my decades of riding. It makes me smile every time I twist the throttle. To put this into perspective, with each and every previous bike purchase I had already started to look at potentials for replacement bikes by the time 6 months rolled around. In this case I’ve only spent my time looking for potential upgrades and add ons.

    Chassis and suspension
    The chassis is tight and flex free, making the bike very confident in the corners. It’s also light, or FEELS light and very flickable, so much so that I'd like to take it to the track some day. The rider position is high, but doesn’t make the bike feel top heavy. However, the difference in handling between a full tank and an empty tank is much more apparent than in other bikes I’ve ridden. The wheel base is short with agressive rake and trail, obviously contributing to the flickability, and smiles-per-km traveled.

    Two of the biggest rideability complaints about this bike involve the suspension. First of all, a lot of people online are complaining about the suspension being less than adequate. Only one of the front forks has preload and rebound damping settings, the other is little more than a hollow tube. It’s essentially just a single fork front end with a dummy shock on the other side. For me, though, this hasn't really been an issue. The second suspension issue is that the rear shock doesn't seem to have enough preload, and the only other setting you have is rebound. Before I set up my suspension properly for my traveling weight, I got some worrisome front end wobble at higher speeds due to the ultra agressive rake and trail numbers (24°/100mm). As a result, it’s super critical to get your rear suspension preload cranked up so when you bounce the bike, the rear is either more stiff or just as stiff as the front. This means that if you ride two up with luggage, you’ll probably have to spend money on rear suspension upgrades. As it is, I’ve eliminated my wobble, but with a passenger and some luggage, my preload is maxed. I’d like to have a little more wiggle room so a stiffer spring (at least) is probably in my future.

    Ergonomics and cockpit
    As I mentioned before, the seat is adjustable to two different ride heights. Honestly, I’ve never ridden the bike with the seat in the low position because it just felt too low just sitting on it. With the seat in the high position, I’m in a very comfortable riding position for long rides and I’ve done more than 12 hours in the saddle multiple times with very little fatigue despite a bad left knee. I am still going to invest in more firm foam because after a long day in the saddle, I'm sinking through to the seat pan.

    On the other hand, using the higher seating position means my head is placed exactly in the dirty air coming off the wind screen. If I stand up on the pegs a bit, the wind roar quiets down. Likewise if I duck down lower. While the screen is adjustable, I found that any setting other than the lowest makes the buffeting unbearable and fatiguing, especially at highway speeds.

    Lots of riders are recommending the Touratech windscreen spoiler, but I don’t want something interrupting my field of vision, and (despite very positive reviews) I don’t expect it to solve my issue. My solution here will be to cut down my windshield about 15 cm or so, reducing it to a little more than an instrument cowl.

    The bars are quite wide, which makes for really easy low speed maneuvering, but more difficult lane splitting. Still, it’s easier in some cases for me to split than on my old bikes. The possibility exists for simply removing the hand guards which would make the bars narrower by around 10 cm. I will probably remove them for the next Summer riding season.

    The instrument panel itself is quite utilitarian and took some getting used to. The information presented on the multifunction display is customizable. You have 3 screens you can toggle through, so there's plenty of room for you to change your desired settings. Another feature I really like about this multifunction display is that the entire display goes blank once you hit your fuel reserve, and a km since reserve odometer is displayed. It's a big change, so unlike a blinking fuel level indicator, I tend to notice it more quickly, and even if I don't the km since reserve odometer makes things much less of a guessing game. The multifunction display also includes a gear indicator which I didn't think I'd find as useful as I do. It's really handy on the expressway to glance down and make sure you're in 6th gear.

    Two up
    My passenger likes to be comfortable. She won't ride if it's too cold (less than 20 degrees), she won't ride if it's too hot (more than 27 degrees), she won't ride if it's raining, she won't ride if it's too far, she won't ride if it's night etc. That said, she does find the passenger seat to be adequate if not comfortable, although I would eventually like to install a passenger back rest to make her feel more secure on the bike. Her biggest complaint (the same on my old CB) is that her knees start to get painful after a long stretch in the saddle. She also mentioned that the ride is much more stiff and harsh than the CB. Most certainly, if she had a choice she'd prefer the CB.

    Engine and drivetrain
    I really can't say enough about how good this engine is. It's a strong motor that gives me endless smiles. With its noisy clutch basket and cam chain tensioner, it even has some character that a lot of modern bikes lack. And it really comes alive in the upper rev range. Disable the traction control, and this bike can really hoon. The throttle is touchy though, and especially in A mode (track mode) the jump from closed throttle to open throttle is jarring and unsettling so it's best to avoid doing so in the middle of a corner. An ECU flash is another upgrade I need to budget for.

    The transmission seems weak. While it has given me zero issues, it often lands between gears on downshifts, especially between 2nd and 3rd. It pops right into place once you release the clutch, so it's not like a false neutral though. Upshifting into some gears also lacks confidence and I occasionally feel like I didn't get a complete engagement.

    I also have an issue where the bike doesn't want to restart if I've shut it off for a short time like for a fuel stop. I'm going to have the shop look at that one to see if there's a solution.

    Economy
    Despite the fact that this bike begs me to wring its neck, and I thoroughly enjoy doing so, I get very good fuel efficiency for the size of motor. On tour with luggage, I get over 20 km/l. In town while commuting, I get around 18, and with its 18 liter tank, the range is close to or over 300 km.

    Other maintenance costs so far have been very minimal. Other than the first oil change, the manual calls for oil changes every 10000 km, but I've been letting it go for about 8000 before changing, so I'm only just reaching the end of my second full oil change on the bike.

    I burned through the rear stock Dunlop D222 after something like 15000 km, including lots of really rough, dicey pavement as well as some serious gravel in the Kii peninsula. They were not bad tires, and if they were available when I needed replacement, I would have purchased a single rear, since the front was still in good shape. Instead, I decided to replace both the front and rear with the new (Japan only) Dunlop Sportsmax Roadsmard III. This seems to have been a really good decision because I'm hitting the corners harder, but scraping the pegs less.

    The only thing I'm really out of pocket for so far has been after market addons. Since the bike has zero on bike storage capacity, I needed to purchase some stays for my H&B C-Bow side bags. I also installed a Yamaha branded SW Motech tank bag which I'm not very happy with. The release mechanism for the tank bag is clumsy and difficult to access because my GPS cradle is in the way. I may end up going with the Givi tanklock I was using on my CB1300, since the release is on the side of the bag instead of in the front, but that means I'll have to order the adapter ring.

    I think that's about all. Happy to answer any questions.
    Last edited by dmizer; 22-09-15 at 02:46 PM.

  17. #17
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    Checking back: Did you end up keeping the bike for long after this update? Did you resolve any of the engine and drivetrain issues? Make any suspension changes?

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    Default Three year update

    Quote Originally Posted by NorthbyNW View Post
    Checking back: Did you end up keeping the bike for long after this update? Did you resolve any of the engine and drivetrain issues? Make any suspension changes?
    Wow, I figured this would end up in the discarded annals of the internet. Thanks for digging it up again, and happy to share further.

    First of all, I do indeed still have the bike, and we've covered well over 60000 km together. In fact, last year I met King Kenny Roberts and he signed my bike:

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    A bit difficult to get rid of a bike with that kind of endorsement. Even without that, I'm still really pleased with this bike and I'm going in for my first shaken next month, so I'll probably have it for at least two more years and potentially longer. It's been an incredible bike that I feel very comfortable with it in all kinds of road conditions. I think I'll try to hold out on replacing this bike until electric bikes become more mainstream and affordable.

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    I'd also like to say that this bike has been fairly maintenance free. With the exception of consumables like brake pads, tires, and chain and sprockets, the only major things I've had to replace was the front steering stem bearings and rear suspension, which I'm going to talk about in more detail below.

    I'm going to touch on each of my complaints listed above and discuss them.

    As to the suspension, my obsessive motorcycle habit finally killed the OEM rear shock a few months ago, and I was forced to replace the rear suspension. I did so with a custom (and very expensive) Nitron racing shock configured with a suitable weight spring and remote adjustment. I can't say that it's significantly more confident in the corners yet, but it is noticeably better. The real difference came in the ride quality. I no longer feel like I'm riding an empty dump truck. Unfortunately, I also can't say anything to how much better the bike is with a passenger yet because my passenger is on winter hiatus, but I expect the real eye popping difference to happen there, since the bike was so undersprung before. This was the biggest single ticket item I've had to replace on the bike. Next step will be to get some new fork internals, but that's a long way off. Perhaps when/if I blow out the front suspension or if/when my bank account can support it.

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    I still have yet to do anything about the windshield, I've just been putting it off in favor of other necessities. I haven't replaced my seat either and that'll probably come before the windshield. However, in a desperate effort to keep my partner in the saddle, I shelled out for a replacement passenger seat. It's still on the stock pan, but lots more (and more firm) foam. She's way more comfortable now. It also turns out that she was having some health issues that were contributing to the complaints as well. Since we've addressed those problems, we finally got to do some longer tours together. Also of note in the ergonomics and cockpit section are the hand guards. After dropping the bike a couple times (on both sides), I saw the merit in the OEM hand guards and have never removed them.

    The transmission still feels weak and, more worryingly, it's somewhat notchy with upshifts sometimes clicking twice before feeling solidly in place, but I rarely have it slip into a false neutral like it did so frequently when I first got it. I'm still running with a restricted ECU as well, but honestly this thing is a beast even with the restricted ECU and I've totally gotten used to the touchy throttle, and it's actually been very good for my throttle control.

    The issue with intermittent hard starting remains, but I know the source now and know how to address it. Early on in an effort to solve this issue, Yamaha replaced my entire throttle body assembly under warranty. This solved the problem, but again only temporarily. When the problem started showing up again, the techs went through everything by small steps to try to solve it. The solution was spraying carb cleaner down the throttle bodies. Apparently this bike is exceptionally sensitive to small intake restrictions from slightly clogged air filter to light varnish build up on the throttle valves. Now, every time I have the tank cowling off for any maintenance, I just have them shoot some carb cleaner down in there and I'm good to go for a few more months. This also has an influence on the fuel economy.

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    I did end up switching to the Givi tanklock bag for a short time, but had to ditch it when the zipper gave out for the second time. Still stuck using the OEM SW-Motech tank bag, and still equally unhappy with it, but Givi is an expensive upgrade and new suspension was the next critical item on my list.

    It'll be three years in February, and I'm still thrilled with this bike. One of my better purchases all around.

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  19. #19
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    Thank you for the update on your bike. I've learned a lot from it to think over as I mull my next bike purchase.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthbyNW View Post
    Thank you for the update on your bike. I've learned a lot from it to think over as I mull my next bike purchase.
    If the XSR900 had been out when I was looking for a bike, I would have gotten it instead. The seat is way more comfortable, and it has some really nice addons like quick shifter and slipper clutch. Plus, it looks awesome. If you're purchasing one of these, or the Tracer, I'd recommend negotiating for an upgraded rear suspension.

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