Preparation to ride across the American West to COTA –
How well-rounded is Yamaha’s Tracer GT? That is the question I hope to answer over the next few months as the 900cc triple attempts to be that most elusive of all motorcycles: the Perfect Bike. Have you heard of that? A single bike that does it all—is that even possible?
Here’s the plan:
The Comfort Mods: Ride it all over the place as a sport-touring motorcycle in the manner the designers intended. I already rode it from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City to southern Colorado when we first met, and have modified it slightly as outlined in this article for this Inde/COTA adventure.
The Performance Mods: Do trackdays, run it down the dragstrip, even race it! My favorite trackday bike is my trusty and gently modified 2006 Yamaha FZ1. Comfy, stable, reliable, and a ton of fun. Can the Tracer GT measure up? It will be put to the ultimate test when Mark Schellinger enters it in the MRA’s streetbike class later this year, and we’ll get Mark’s input on how it works in competition. Americans love to drag race, so the Tracer will visit the Pueblo Motorsports Park strip for a few runs now and then. The GT will be lightly modified to help all-things go-fast. But that’s in the future.
The Comfort Mods And Three 800-Mile Days
I’ve been on the Tracer a few times here in southern Colorado but it was my initial ride through Nevada, Utah, and Colorado that formed my thoughts on future mods. Talking with Yamaha’s Marcus DeMichele helped form the idea for “comfort mods” prior to my trip from Colorado to southern Arizona and then to Austin, Texas, for the USGP.
Touring Screen: Marcus recommended the taller touring windscreen, and that jived well with my experience with the stock screen that was too short and narrow, something very noticeable in cold weather and at the speeds the Western states can offer. The stock screen couldn’t be raised enough to eliminate helmet buffeting and the touring screen made a lot of sense. It bolts on in the same manner and can be raised and lowered.
Yamaha Comfort Seat (Not Used): Marcus also recommended the optional heated comfort seat but it added almost an inch of seat height so I left it home for this trip as I’m already a little nervous about my skinny arms holding up a fully loaded Tracer GT. The stock seat treated me well in our initial foray last autumn, so I will report on the optional comfort seat sometime in the future.
Updated Tires: Keith Culver, the YCRS COO, rode the school’s Tracer on the stock tires and couldn’t find much positive to say. I never built much trust in them either, but my Tracer has been parked over the Colorado winter while Keith has been riding his all around Southern California. “Get rid of those stock tires,” he told me.
Taller Gearing: I felt that Yamaha missed the mark on the overall gearing as the bike spins 5,400 rpm at an indicated 80 mph with the stock 16/45 sprocket combination. Why gear this torquey triple so low? Perhaps it’s our love of acceleration that dictates gearing, but out on the open road I would like an engine that just loafs along sipping fuel at a less-busy point on the tach. How about five close-ratio speeds and a really tall overdrive sixth? How about seven speeds? Eight? Those choices were out of my hands so I called Driven and ordered up a 17-tooth front sprocket and a 43-tooth rear, choices that kept the stock chain length for convenience because I’ll swap back and forth depending upon the day’s activities. All the charts regarding gearing choices and chain lengths are on the Driven website and customer support was excellent. The gain was 10 mph at the same engine speed, so 5,400 was now 90 mph, with 80 mph happening at 4,800 rpm. Quieter, less hectic, better fuel mileage.
In part 2 we hit the road.