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Yamaha Tracer 9 GT Gets Radar

A radar-invisible plastic nose panel can be seen below the headlight in this spy shot, though only if you know it’s there. The bike looks nearly identical to the standard Tracer.

A radar-invisible plastic nose panel can be seen below the headlight in this spy shot, though only if you know it’s there. The bike looks nearly identical to the standard Tracer. (S. Baldauf/SB-Medien/)

Radar-assisted adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation systems may still be novelties on motorcycles, but the adoption of just such equipment on an updated Yamaha Tracer 9 GT shows that mainstream machines are embracing the new technology at a breakneck pace.

The very first production bike to be launched with the option of radar-guided cruise control was the Multistrada V4 S, which hit the market just over a year ago. Since then, we’ve seen BMW add the tech to the R 1250 RT and R 18 Transcontinental, KTM give it to the 1290 Super Adventure S, and Kawasaki become the first Japanese company on the bandwagon with the latest Ninja H2 SX.

But all those bikes sit toward the more expensive end of the market. The appearance of a prototype Yamaha Tracer 9 GT fitted with a very production-ready radar setup suggests it will be the most affordable route yet into experiencing adaptive cruise control on two wheels.

The implementation of radar evidently means the standard Tracer’s double-TFT dash will be supplanted by a large single screen.

The implementation of radar evidently means the standard Tracer’s double-TFT dash will be supplanted by a large single screen. (S. Baldauf/SB-Medien/)

Current bikes with forward-facing radar use it to enable adaptive cruise control, which keeps a constant distance from the vehicle ahead by automatically modulating the throttle and even braking gently when needed. Thus far, they’ve all done it using Bosch equipment. Yamaha appears to be following suit; while the radar sensor itself is hidden on this prototype, it was spotted on test in Germany, where much of Bosch’s development takes place.

The fact that the radar is hidden is interesting in itself. The earliest adopters of front radars, those aforementioned models from Ducati, BMW, and KTM have the radar unit clearly on display. That means bodywork can’t interfere with the signals, but also condemns them to having the very visible wart of radar transmitter and receiver in the middle of their noses.

Kawasaki’s Ninja H2 SX, which came several months after the radar trailblazers, solved that problem by hiding the sensor behind a thin, smooth, radar-invisible plastic panel below the headlight. Yamaha has done the same, and thanks to the shape of the existing Tracer 9 GT, it means there’s almost no visible difference between the current model and the upcoming radar-equipped version.

The only real clue is a slight reshaping to the black-painted fairing panels below the lower headlights. These jut slightly farther forward than on the existing version, and between them, bracketed by the lights, a telltale smooth plastic surface filling the arch-shaped section that’s open on the current bike. Two wiring harnesses are just visible below that cover, leading to the radar sensor hiding behind it.

Since the system is almost certain to be the same Bosch setup already used by BMW, Ducati, Kawasaki, and KTM, we can be pretty certain it will have the same features, including collision warning via on-dash lights if you’re approaching an object too fast, and adaptive cruise control with a variety of settings for the distance kept between the bike and the vehicle ahead.

To accommodate those functions, the distinctive instruments of the current Tracer 9 GT, which has two separate color LCD screens mounted side by side, have gone. In their place there’s a single iPad-sized TFT dash. On the spied prototype, that dash is flanked by one of the few indicators that it’s anything other than a production-ready machine: a small electronic control box, wrapped in black insulating tape and attached to a makeshift bracket just above the right-hand turn signal. This is likely to be part of a datalogging set; a spiral-wrapped bundle of cables runs from it, and from pictures of the rear of the bike, a similar-looking set of wires runs into a nonstandard top box bolted to the rear carrier, which almost certainly contains computer equipment.

While some other radar-equipped bikes, notably the Ducati Multistrada V4 and Kawasaki Ninja H2 SX, also have rear-facing sensors to provide blind-spot monitoring, there’s no sign of those on the Yamaha. Rear radars are easier to hide, and in fact the one on the H2 SX is completely out of sight, but it’s likely Yamaha is keeping costs down by opting for front radar only.

It’s not yet clear if the front-facing radar will be standard equipment on future Tracer 9 GTs or part of a package of optional extras, but it does look like it will be ready for showrooms in time for the 2023 model.

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