Yamaha are onto another winner with the MT-07 Tracer, now moving into the Sports Touring category with a LAMS offering. Here's our review. Test & Images: Kris Hodgson, Jeff Ware
Yamaha’s latest offering, the MT-07 Tracer, or Tracer 700, is the obvious next addition to the line-up, which now features the standard MT-07 LAMS, a high output version (HO), as well as the XSR700, which features the same LAMS compliant engine and is the cruiser form.
The MT-07 Tracer adds a sport touring offering, naturally LAMS legal, taking one of the most popular larger capacity LAMS engines and adding a capable touring package with plenty of nifty features. You’re looking at an adjustable screen, and panniers for starters, and there’s no electronics to worry about, just ABS.
Now I’ll preface this entire test by saying that while the Tracer is learner legal, for general riding that’s not something I really notice. There’s no obvious throttle stop restriction, you need to be misusing the gearbox to end up really waiting for power, and the bike retains its punchy power with two on board. If you’re really caning along you’ll eventually find the limits but it’s an exceptional powerplant.
So straight up, features. You’ve got the mentioned adjustable screen that doesn’t need tools, a set of panniers that lock onto the bike, allowing easy removal and fitment. There’s a generous one-piece seat and pillion grab rails. Pillion ‘pegs are rubber clad and the pillion has a generous seating position.
The front dash is easy to read, although the indicator lights are on the bottom. I prefer the top as it’s harder to miss them, especially as a new rider, but that’s really a niggling complaint. Reach to the ‘bars is easy and neutral, and I could easily take my weight through the footpegs.
I also found it easy to lock into the bike, which are the two things I look for. If I can’t lock into a bike comfortably, or take my weight through the ‘pegs, it can impact fun through the twisties for the former, and comfort over longer trips for the latter.
The seat is slightly taller than the MT-07, but I still found it very manageable and once on board I’ve got both feet easily flat to the ground. At 180cm tall and on the leggy side it’s stable at a standstill and sitting on the bike and poddling around is really easy. If you’re not confident pushing around a taller bike like this as a new rider you can pretty easily just sit on it and do the moving.
That’s one thing that is very noticeable however, the MT-07 Tracer may be taller and more touring orientated, but that weight is carried low, with no top heavy feel to the bike. That helps prevent the common problem as a new rider of dropping your bike after you let the weight get past that point of no return.
Naturally styling is subjective but I really like the Tracer, the satin black of the model we’ve got long term shows up really well, and especially in sunlight you actually get a real gradient effect across the larger painted areas, making the bike stand out. The front fairing is aggressive as well, with the angular air intakes, and the overall bike is nicely integrated, highlighting the engine, headers and exhaust.
The panniers are likewise sleek units and as they aren’t solid you have a little wiggle-room when stuffing your belongings in there. There are also loops for locking the bags closed on the zippers, for a little added security, with included combination locks in the panniers and waterproof covers.
Forks are simple 41mm non-adjustable items, offering a good compromise between sport and touring, which is matched by the rear shock with limited adjustability of preload only. For my weight of about 70-75kg in full gear it offers good all round performance. Rebound and compression is controlled and while some sections of road are rough, you’re totally aware that the suspension is not only doing a lot of work, but also providing good feedback.
Add a pillion on the back of a similar weight and I’d say that you lose a little of that sportiness with a lighter front end feel but gain from a touring perspective. The extra weight on the rear helps, keeping the bike planted over the rougher surfaces.
Brakes are Yamaha four-piston calipers on the front with 282mm wave rotors, while the rear is a Nissin caliper on a 245mm rotor. Feeling at the front brake is firm, without excessive bite but easy modulation. The front brakes are strong enough that I was getting a little bit of rear wheel lift on a few downhill sections when really hard on the brakes. The rear also has a strong braking action and the pedal position is ideal for easy modulation, even mid corner.
Both are backed up by ABS, with rear activation causing a quite noticeable kick-back at the foot lever but nevertheless helping bring you to a rapid halt. Front-end ABS activation is much smoother, and much less sensitive than the rear. That’ll be a benefit to new riders, as locking the rear, especially in slippery conditions, is always easy, and this will help them identify the limits of the rear brake in particular.
Tyres are Michelin Pilot Road 4s and are a really good tyre for standard fitment. There was no cost cutting in the department, with Yamaha ensuring the Tracer has rubber that will provide ideal sports touring performance. Particularly in the wet the Road 4s offer really consistent grip and confidence, and handle stuff like road snakes with ease. There’s no horrible weaving or sudden shifts in traction over these overly common road issues. The Road 4s also seemed to warm quickly in the cool wet weather, although naturally I take it easy for the first few minutes in these conditions.
Naturally dry weather performance is exemplary, with the Road 4s allowing for sporty riding when the situation arises. It’s the best of both worlds and ideal for an everyday rider who’s out in all conditions, or as intended touring the countryside and getting the full spectrum of weather. We all know planning a longer ride attracts rain clouds afterall – something most new riders quickly discover.
MT-07 Tracer – The Ride
When it comes to actually riding the MT-07 Tracer you’re in for a treat. Gearing is tall enough that you don’t feel the need to be constantly upshifting, with a meaty mid-range that develops into a strong but linear top end.
The low range is gentle, with a soft throttle opening and relatively light clutch action. This makes for easy low speed manoeuvring, with U-turns or trundling around a carpark or similar very easy. You’re on a taller machine than the sports or naked LAMS options but I never found myself struggling with the bike’s weight. Granted I’ve got many years of riding experience under my belt now, but I’m normally pretty sensitive to top heavy machines, being relatively light and not overly tall.
The clutch can end up a bit taxing if you’re in really heavy traffic, despite being light, but that’s probably an observation based on the fact I live on a road where it has on occasion taken 40-mins to travel three kilometres. Yep, the Tracer was tested on one of those days and kept at a reasonable running temperature for the entire period. The Tracer having a taller front end can also weave a little from front end input when you’re doing around 5km/h, but that’s still controllable.
The gearbox was one of the few areas that didn’t feel as refined as the rest of the Tracer. Pulling in the clutch in fully and changing gears offered solid gear changes, but they were not exactly smooth, especially between first and second gears, and second and third. That’s not at extreme rpm either, just normal low to mid-range rpm. Once you’re moving a little clutch pressure and gear lever pressure makes for much smoother shifts. Downshifting likewise can be a little rough even making special effort for rev matching. This Tracer still has relatively low km however, so it’s definitely not fully run in.
As mentioned power is really strong and the few times I’ve actually had to wait for power was on the freeway in sixth gear, which is basically an overdrive, and on a steep uphill section where I was a few gears too high. In those situations you can snap the throttle wide open and the Tracer will take a moment to start accelerating with its normal snappiness.
Taking a more active approach to the gearbox you can either ride that more forgiving low range through the gearbox if you’re just cruising, or dip into that mid-range with plenty of kick, ideal for sportier riding. Keep winding the throttle on and there’s plenty of power up top, with the engine continuing to pull well past legal speeds.
Compared to an unrestricted sportsbike the top end may feel a little flat (an unfair comparison I know), but with that said it’s still heaps of fun and just keeps the bike feeling controllable. That’s particularly impressive when you consider the fact that the suspension is pretty basic and there’s lots of far more expensive machines which feel far less controlled and provide far less confidence. Oh and we’re talking speeds that you should be at the track to enjoy.
With a smidge over 52hp and an increase in weight over the standard MT-07 the Tracer is still one of the strongest performers in the LAMS class, with 42ft-lbs of torque on hand. It’s a level of power and torque which lets you have plenty of fun and can certainly get you in trouble, but your control of how much trouble you get into is definitely in your hands.
The Tracer, like the standard MT-07 and indeed the XSR700, is just incredibly easy to ride and for the speeds of which it is capable, puts many machines to shame. It’s fun, confidence inspiring, balanced and relatively comfortable. The one area that becomes noticeable after about an hour is the seat, which is hard if you’re sitting normally.
Taking your weight through the ‘pegs somewhat offsets this, but I can see a gel seat or WildAss being a good investment for longer trips. Yamaha have a comfort seat option available as well as a heated seat (and grips) if you’re looking for the real luxuries.
For a LAMS legal sports tourer the Tracer certainly combines the best aspects of the MT-07 with plenty of touring features, in a competitively priced package. The taller front end is marginally noticeable if you’re out for a sporty fang, but the Tracer is more sports than touring in the handling department and it was incredibly competent when it came to chasing the new Multistrada 950 through some nicer sections of hills and twisties on the outskirts of Sydney. That’s a high accolade indeed, all things considered.
MT-07 Tracer Conclusion
So where does the MT-07 Tracer fit? It’s the obvious sports touring option. You’re trading off a little of the standard MT-07’s sportiness for touring capability and the creature comforts. We took it onto unsealed roads and the bike remained an easy and confidence inspiring ride, so there’s no fear of getting caught out in this department. 130mm of suspension travel front and rear offers the perfect blend of sport and comfort, yes there’s a trade-off but for the price points it’s impressive.
The exposed tubular diamond frame looks great and a shapely aluminium swingarm combined with lightweight cast aluminium 10-spoke wheels keep the Tracer looking like it belongs in a more premium category.
For those who like to maximise performance on paper the 52hp for a LAMS machine is impressive and backed up by road manners, standard features are extensive, ABS is standard and looks are pretty cool. There’s also huge range of accessories also available, as the Tracer has been available overseas before now, including some great exhaust options from Yamaha. You can check out the full range on the Yamaha website.
For an RRP of $12,299 plus on road costs the Tracer does sit even further towards the premium end of the LAMS market than the standard MT-07 and XSR700, but you’re getting a fair bit more for your money. When you consider how well the original 2015 MT-07s have held their resale value it seems likely the Tracer will follow suit.
Plus for those who are looking to start on a sports touring or touring machine, the Tracer is perfect. Not only that, but if you’re looking to get your partner onto their own motorcycle so touring doesn’t need to be two-up, the Tracer offers a great entry point or option, whether they’ve ridden before or not.
Granted the MT-07 Tracer isn’t going to be as easy to start on as an R15, MT-03 or many of the other options – if you’re truly inexperienced, however it’ll be a hugely rewarding machine in all other regards.
We’ll be adding Yamaha and aftermarket accessories to our Long Term MT-07 Tracer, including some great Australian made Oggy Knobbs, with Axle Oggys, Oggy Knobbs and a Promoto/Oggy Knobbs Fender Eliminator, so stay tuned for further information.
2017 Yamaha MT-07 Tracer (Tracer 700) LAMS Specifications
PRICE: $12,299 + ORC
WARRANTY: Two year/unlimited kilometre
COLOURS: Yamaha Blue, Radical Red, Tech Black
CLAIMED POWER: 38.3Kw[52.1hp]@8000rpm
CLAIMED TORQUE: 57.5Nm[42.5ft-lbs]@4000rpm
CLAIMED WEIGHT: 196kg wet
FUEL CAPACITY: 17L
ENGINE: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, inline-twin, four-stroke, four-valve, 78 x 68.6mm bore x stroke, 655cc, 11.0:1 compression, lightweight one-piece two-into-one exhaust
GEARBOX: Six speed
CLUTCH: Wet, multiple disc
CHASSIS: Tubular steel diamond frame, asymmetrical aluminium swingarm
SUSPENSION: 41mm front forks, 130mm travel, link-type Monocross rear shock
BRAKES: Dual 282mm front wave rotors, four-piston calipers, single 245mm rear wave rotor, single-piston Nissin caliper
WHEELS & TYRES: Lightweight cast aluminium 10-spoke, Michelin Pilot Road 4, 120/70-ZR17, 180/55-ZR17
DIMENSIONS: Seat height: 835mm, Overall height: 1270mm, Overall length: 2138mm Wheelbase: 1450mm
INSTRUMENTS: LED display, gear indicator
2017 Yamaha MT-07 Tracer (Tracer 700) LAMS Gallery
The Verdict | Review: 2017 Yamaha MT-07 Tracer LAMS
Yamaha’s MT-07 Tracer offers a new entry point to motorcycling for the sports touring inclined, with great features and performance in a LAMS package.