The Yamaha Tracer is one of the best sport-touring motorcycles available.
It combines the performance of a sportbike and the ergonomics of a tourer, packing both worlds’ best together in style.
However, every motorcycle, regardless of how well-engineered, suffers some wear and tear. Whether you’re in the market for a Tracer or already have one, getting familiar with the troubleshooting other owners, have done not only saves you some time but lets you know if this is the bike you’re looking for.
In this article, we discuss the most common flaws in the Yamaha Tracer models.
Table of Contents
1. Poor Brake Performance
We don’t need to stress how important brakes are on a vehicle, but you can imagine their increased significance on a 2-wheeled vehicle packed for performance speed.
There have been a few incidents where Tracer owners reported that their bike brakes were performing less prototypical than expected.
If not properly maintained, brakes can become less responsive, and the rider will have to apply more force on them than normal to halt the motorcycle. This can lead to increased stopping time and, depending on the root of the problem, may damage the rotors.
The brake system on your Tracer has multiple parts, so let’s take a look at from where the issue may derive.
Here are some possibilities:
I. Use Braided Brake Lines:
Standard brake lines are made of rubber, which is susceptible to stretching and weakening over time.
If the lines deteriorate, brake performance reduces.
This could lead to a situation where the brakes feel soft and are less responsive.
Aftermarket braided brake lines are made of steel, which guarantees long-term durability.
Braided steel lines can withstand the pressure of the brake system and won’t weaken or stretch. This means they offer higher performance for longer compared to rubber lines.
More so, the brakes will feel more responsive and give you a sense of control but note that steel lines might tighten up in the cold more than rubber.
Regardless of the brake lines you use, things wear out, and brake lines should be inspected routinely so wearing lines can be identified and replaced before they get to the point of affecting your braking.
II. Clean Caliper Pistons:
Dirt, rust, and other sediments can accumulate on the surface of the caliper pistons.
Should this happen, the brakes will drag and feel “soft” when applied. Remove the pistons and check for any buildup of material on them.
If you see signs of sediments, spray the pistons down with some brake cleaner, and clean with a Scotch-Brite pad.
This should rid the surface of any debris and stop the brake drag.
III. Change Brake Fluid:
Brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts and traps moisture.
Moisture causes brake fluid to boil faster, leading to the creation of gaseous bubbles (which eventually become air).
Having air in your brake fluid is a recipe for disaster as it reduces braking power.
If you suspect air or water in your brake fluid, the best you can do is bleed the brake lines and replace them with new fluid.
If you don’t know how to bleed your brake lines, you can watch any online DIY videos dedicated to the activity.
If you don’t have the tools, the time, or the interest in wrenching, it’s a pretty basic performance you can get done at any Yamaha-literate mechanic.
2. Excessive Clutch Noise
Another issue reported by multiple riders is a rattling noise from the clutch.
The noise doesn’t hit until the bike warms up, and it becomes more dramatic when the bike reaches somewhere around 3500 RPM or higher.
Time after time, the diagnosis process led riders to discover that the culprit was the clutch basket. Instead of spring-dampers used in some clutch designs, the Tracer uses rubber dampers to hold the bolts in place inside the clutch basket.
The rubber absorbs vibration, but the material used doesn’t always hold up against the heat and oil it’s exposed to.
As the rubber wears out, the bolts’ snug space starts to open up, which causes the bolts to vibrate, especially once the clutch starts spinning at high RPMs, causing the Tracer’s clutch-rattle.
If your clutch cable is rattling, check the condition of the rubber dampers.
YOu’ll have to open up the clutch to do this, so if you don’t have the tools or know-how o do this, it might mean a trip back to that Yamaha mechanic we talked about earlier.
If the rubber dampers are NOT worn, check out the flywheel and the release bearing; faults with any of these components can also cause a rattle.
3. Motorcycle Clutch Slipping
This is a common complaint on Yamaha Tracers, often resulting from a lack of upkeep.
A clutch slip is the result of the lack of engagement with the clutch-plate with the fly-wheel. Disengaged, the flywheel and the friction plate spin at different rates.
It’s normal for the clutch to disengage when the clutch lever is pulled in. The clutch slips during shifting to prevent shocks to the motorcycle and transmission damage, but once the lever is released, the clutch should stop slipping.
Signs of a slipping clutch include:
- Delayed engagement: This refers to a situation where the engine’s RPMs go up, but the motorcycle’s speed does not. When you twist the throttle, the motorcycle should accelerate. With a slipping clutch, though, the acceleration lags.
- Stuck clutch lever: On some affected bikes, the clutch gets stuck, maybe while released, maybe pulled in. While this may signal a damaged clutch-cable, it could be a sign of a bad clutch.
- Burning oil: The oil on a bike with slipping clutch issues will give off a burned smell.
Causes of Clutch-Slip
- Over-Saturation- The plates’ over-saturation by oil can cause them to slip. Be sure you’re using exactly the right amount of oil. If you’re changing your own oil, be sure you sit on the bike to keep it upright for 10 minutes, allowing the oil stick in the motor to drip out through the opened plug.
- Worn clutch plates: As with everything, the clutch plates on the Yamaha Tracer can’t last forever. At some point, they will wear out, and you’ll need to replace them.
Examine your clutch plates for any signs of wear. Replace them if worn.
Then, examine the condition of the clutch basket.
Typically, a damaged clutch basket will show signs of some pieces missing or broken off.
Should this be the case, you’d be better off having the clutch basket replaced by a technician. The replacement process is quite complex and requires some measure of technical expertise.
- Here are some other ways to prevent a slipping clutch:
- Use only manufacturer-recommended oil.
- Don’t overfill oil.
- Service and inspect the bike routinely, adhering to the schedule in the owner’s manual.
- Replace worn clutch (or any worn clutch component).
4. Bike Stutters Repeatedly
Stuttering refers to a situation where the engine on a bike feels like it’s about to but out. It’s generally caused by a lean or rich air: fuel ratio.
When stuttering, the bike will jerk and lurch badly and won’t accelerate properly. Stuttering problems can make riding frustrating and difficult.
Stuttering isn’t just annoying; it can delay or interfere with your bike’s acceleration.
More than a handful of Yamaha Tracer owners have complained that their bikes stutter while riding.
Some riders have stated it occurs at low-speeds; others have claimed that the stutter showed up at cruising speeds and worsened with time.
Per the diagnostic reports of riders we’ve encountered who’ve had this problem, the problem is caused by interference with Acceleration Position Sensor (APS) and Throttle Position Sensor (TPS).
The faulty APS and TPS send false readings to the throttle actuator. This causes the oxygen sensor to malfunction, affecting the Electronic Computer Unit (ECU).
Eventually, the bike’s air-fuel ratio will become imbalanced (because of the malfunctioning ECU), leading to the bike losing power and stuttering while riding.
In this case, the advisable thing to do is to clean the electrical connectors for the APS and TPS. That is not always possible though, as they are typically sealed units.
You will need to take the bike to a mechanic and have it looked at.
General Pros and Cons of the Yamaha Tracer
The following are some of the Yamaha Tracer’s best qualities and shortcomings:
Pros of Yamaha Tracer
Here are some selling points of the Yamaha Tracer motorcycles:
Yamaha understands that owners of the Tracer would want to go on long-distance rides.
As such, the bike is designed with a focus on rider comfort and overall ride quality. The Tracer comes with a narrow handlebar design, which allows riders to grip the bars more easily.
It also has rider footpegs and comfortable seats. You can even adjust the riding position for increased comfort!
Despite its affordable price tag, the Tracer comes standard with a slew of impressive technologies.
It features stylish LED lights that provide superior visibility and further complement the bike’s unique look.
Besides, a multi-function LCD instrument panel gives riders information such as fuel consumption and gear position.
An Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS) comes standard.
Innovative Traction Control:
The Yamaha Tracer has a Traction Control System (TCS) that offers riders control and stability on all road conditions.
It does this by controlling aspects of the bike’s performance, such as throttle opening, ignition timing, and fuel volume.
The TCS has three settings designed to handle different road conditions, and you can disable these settings.
Yamaha Tracer owners will be glad the models come with a set of powerful brakes.
This is important, especially for individuals going on long-distance rides.
Partly responsible for the good braking performance is the radial mounting of the brake calipers. This delivers an improved feel and makes the brakes more responsive.
Furthermore, the models come standard with ABS to help prevent wheel lock under hard braking.
Cons of Yamaha Tracer
Here are some of the Tracer’s shortcomings:
- Average Brake Performance
- Excessive Clutch Noise
- Motorcycle Clutch Slipping
- Bike Stutters Repeatedly
What Do the Reviews Say?
“The Tracer 900 GT makes its argument in many ways, but above all, I’d be remiss to ignore the price. With a stellar engine, superb handling, a competent electronics suite, baggage, and user-friendliness as an inherent design feature, the Tracer 900 GT has plenty of goodies at an appealing price.”
“The Tracer 900 offers nothing but the finest sport touring performance, versatility, and value – perfect for everyday commuting, casual riders, and fun weekend getaways. Adaptable performance, good value, and a long list of sport touring features that make the new Tracer 900 the perfect ride partner.”
What’s The Resale Value On the Tracer?
ⓘ The information in this article is based on data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recall reports, consumer complaints submitted to the NHTSA, reliability ratings from J.D. Power, auto review and rating sites such as Edmunds, specialist forums, etc. We analyzed this data to provide insights into the best and worst years for these vehicle models.