2017 Yamaha MT-07 Tracer – Mile-munching LAMS sports tourer
By Boris Mihailovic, Images by Greg Smith
It’s very good of Yamaha to solve a problem so many L-platers seem to have. And that problem is they won’t leave the city and go ‘touring’, as it were. Which is a shame, because it’s only when you load up your bike and spend a few days on the road that you come to understand what a rich and fulfilling thing this motorcycle caper actually is.
Of course, there could be a few semi-valid reasons for why L-platers don’t do go touring.
Reason 1: Riding from Sydney to Darwin on most LAMs bikes will render the rider insane, he will kill himself with a rock and be eaten by buzzards even before he makes it to Broken Hill.
Reason 2: It’s not easy to carry gear on a LAMs bike, and this may prove discouraging to L-platers. Mastering the art of the Ocky Strap is not for everyone.
Reason 3: No-one under the age of 20 believes there is WiFi and Internet once you leave a major capital city.
So L-platers tend to hang around the city. If they venture out of the CBD, then it’s just to ride the heavily-policed and traffic-rich popular bike roads, like the Old Pacific Highway, or the Black Spur, and that then becomes the sum-total of their motorcycling life.
How sad. Australia is a big country. There are lots of roads to ride and things to see. And while I would never encourage anyone to speed, it pays to understand there are a finite number of Highway Patrol cars, and as I said, Australia is a big country. (Trev did a 16,000km lap in 15 days if you want to follow an around Australia trek.)
But with the advent of Yamaha’s new Tracer 700, L-platers now have a viable touring bike. Here is the very popular and able LAMs MT-07, but re-jigged for its new touring purpose with a bigger 17-litre tank (that’s three more than before), an adjustable screen, semi-soft panniers, hand-guards, re-worked suspension settings, different handlebars and risers, and a 50mm-longer swingarm.
So it’s longer and thus more stable at speed, has a higher seat height (835mm from 805mm) and longer-travel suspension (142mm from 130mm). And it’s about 14kg heavier.
Yamaha also provided an up-spec “Australian” version of the Tracer for us to try on the press launch. This came with dual-purpose tyres, a bigger screen, crash-bars, driving lights and beaut-sounding Akro pipe. And that’s just a few of the factory accessories Yamaha has made available for the model.
So it’s taking this LAMs touring thing seriously. A fuel-range of more than 300km to the tank shows just how seriously. So does it tick the touring boxes it has to tick? Pretty much.
The ergos are spot-on. You’re canted slightly forward, but still upright enough for all-day banging. I would have liked a more comfortable seat for big miles, but then I don’t have 20-year-old buttocks anymore.
The motor is a delight. Smooth and torquey and true to the MT credo of bathing you in useable power. And while it’s a LAMs bike, it’s still good for about 170km/h. Trust me on this.
But all day, every day, it will sing its song at normal touring speeds. Sure, you’ll find yourself downchanging to get around a semi doing 110km/h, but so what? Downchange. Make that 51 horsepower (at 8000rpm) and 57.2Nm (at 4000rpm) work for you. It’s keen to please.
The bike is light and a lot of fun to hurl into corners – even if you’re not very good at that in your early years. Understand it is precisely bikes like this, bikes that have excellent chassis integrity and are designed to handle without surprises, are precisely the kind of bikes that will, eventually, make you better at corners. And then you can go and buy an R1.
But until that happens, the Tracer 700 is a great way to make your bones. It’s a proper motorcycle and it behaves like a proper motorcycle. And to be perfectly honest, once again, Yamaha is offering a lot of motorcycle for not a lot of money, and this new Tracer comes standard with stuff you just won’t find on any other LAMs bike.
And it’s pure Yamaha. You’re not going to have any issues getting it off the line – it’s fully sorted in that regard. And yes, you can learn how to do wheelies on it. The clutch is light, the throttle response is spot-on, and the fueling…well, it’s a Yamaha, isn’t it? All its stuff works like it’s supposed to.
This is a hugely comforting thing for L-platers. Setting off on a long ride and wondering if your bike is going to make it, or whether some banjo-player is going to wife you up in Nymboida, can be off-putting.
So while I do recommend the school of Hard Knocks and will entreat L-platers to buy an Ironhead Sportser to tour on, I understand modern young people see the world through a different and altogether more benevolent prism.
Cast-iron reliability is not to be sneezed at. So I don’t. The press launch itself, was a mixed bag of happiness. Our route was the Putty Road to the Hunter Valley, whereupon we would hand over the bikes to journos from Melbourne and New Zealand, who would ride the bikes back to Sydney.
All equal and all happy – apart from the fact that the trip from Sydney to the Hunter Valley for the Sydney contingent involved riding through a Biblical downpour for most of the Putty. Which was fine, because I got to try the bike out in the pouring rain – which is always a great way to find out just how user-friendly the package is.
Do you know what? Not one bad moment. It did not put a Michelin Pilot Road tyre wrong. If I stayed smooth, it stayed smooth. We were smooth together. Once again, L-platers will be rewarded with a confidence-inspiring motorcycle, even if Global Warming dictates we are to grow gills at some stage.
So yeah. A viable and competent touring bike for L-platers. There is now no excuse you can make for not doing the miles and seeing the sights.
You can carry stuff, you can bolt your Smartphone to the handlebars via that clever little piece of drilled metal across the front, you have brakes that work, a gearbox that forgives you, and a genuine grown-up motorcycle that will only add to the credibility you must achieve if you’re ever going to drink beer and exchange stories of daring and devilry with leathery, tattooed men who will not think twice about filling your girlfriend with overproof rum and watching her dance on tables.
Just kidding, kids. Honest. Good job, you big blue Yamaha bastards. Now I will never be able to escape the L-platers.
2017 Yamaha MT-07 Tracer specifications (Tracer 700)
- Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC, eight-valve parallel-twin
- Capacity: 655cc
- Bore x stroke: 78.0mm x 66mm
- Compression ratio: 11.0:1
- Fuel system: Electronic fuel injection
- Claimed maximum power: 52.1hp (38.3kW) at 8000rpm
- Claimed maximum torque: 57.5Nm at 4000rpm
- Type: Six-speed
- Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
- Final drive: Chain
- Frame: Diamond, engine as a stressed member
- Front suspension: Telescopic fork, non-adjustable
- Rear suspension: Monoshock, adjustable for preload
- Front brakes: Dual 282mm discs with four-piston calipers
- Rear brake: Single 245mm disc with twin-piston caliper
- Tyres: Michelin Pilot Road – 120/70 R17 front, 180/55 R17 rear
- Claimed wet weight: 196kg
- Seat height: 835mm
- Wheelbase: 1450mm
- Fuel capacity: 17 litres
- Price: $12,299 (plus on-roads)
- Colours: Radical Red, Tech Black or Yamaha Blue
- Warranty: Two-year unlimited kilometres