Long-Term Tracer GT Performance, Part 2

Let’s go roadracing!

One significant reason I love roadracing: It provides measurement. A stopwatch and finishing positions determine value, as opposed to a dyno chart, parts budget, or who can flap their lips the loudest.

The measurement brings us to one of my favorite sayings: “Blah, blah, blah… Let’s go racing.”

Mark Schellinger
Mark Schellinger launches the Tracer GT to start his first roadrace in 15 years, and the Tracer’s first roadrace ever! Perhaps the first Tracer that has even been roadraced?Luke Hummel

And that’s what we did for this final installment of the Yamaha Tracer 900 GT Cycle World long-term bike. Mark Schellinger made his roadracing comeback after 15 years of retirement from a career that features two Motorcycle Roadracing Association (MRA) number one plates and Daytona CCS podiums. During his 15 years unracing, he ran the MRA’s new-rider program and taught with me at Freddie Spencer’s school and now at the Champ school. When he’s not on bikes, he’s flying around the world teaching anti-terrorist driving to elite military personnel. Mark is 59 years old. He has a mini dirt track in his backyard. He’s our kind of guy.

The Tracer 900 GT ends its stay in Colorado with 7,254 miles on the clock. My initial question was, “Can this Tracer GT be a do-it-all motorcycle on the level of my impressive 2006 Yamaha FZ1?” The bike has answered that question across the sandstorms of western Texas, in the canyons of the Rocky Mountains, down the dragstrip, and now on the road course of Pueblo Motorsports Park. “Yes.” It does it all very well if you are looking for a sport-touring machine with an emphasis on sport.

Dunlop Q4 race tires
Let’s go roadracing! I rode the Tracer GT to the Pueblo Motorsports Park MRA race with a set of Dunlop Q4 race tires to end Mark Schellinger’s 15-year retirement from racing. Louden David, the MRA Dunlop rep, flipped them on for us, replacing the Roadsmarts.Nick Ienatsch Collection
Ryan Burke
Mark Schellinger: This YCRS instructor is the crew chief for MRA number one plate holder (current and five consecutive) Ryan Burke. No one on the MRA SuperStreet grid was older.Nick Ienatsch
Setting up a pass on an MT-10
I never had a chance to lap on the CW long-term Tracer GT but have greatly enjoyed the standard Tracer at the Champ school (far left in photo, setting up a pass on an MT-10). On the second day we run a long lapping session after lunch; it’s a chance for everyone involved to find a rhythm, including the instructors. The only flaw I’ve found in the Tracer at the track, other than the centerstand touching down, is that the (stock) shock doesn’t absorb midcorner bumps on the throttle as well as it could.4theriders.com
YCRS’s Tracer
As Mark would find, the Tracer is a very rideable platform at the track (YCRS’s Tracer seen here). Front-end feel and performance are outstanding, with brakes to match. The parachute of TC and ABS is always welcome; we run our Tracer entirely stock with the exception of Dunlop Q3+ tires at Champ school. It’s not a “fast bike” in comparison to the supersport class of bikes, but it gets off the corner with the best of them and keeps even the power-addled instructors entertained…and comfortable.4theriders.com
Ryan Burke
Ryan allowed us to pit with him and even allowed mechanic Rob Walker to help us prep the Tracer. Here Ryan is checking the throttle-position sensor on the MoTeC data system for which Ryan himself built the wiring harness; more on that in a future column. Burke went undefeated this weekend and Mark came close.Nick Ienatsch
Coolant change
MRA’s SuperStreet class is designed to introduce roadracing to curious riders without an expensive or time-consuming commitment. The only safety requirement is to change the coolant for water, and I did that prior to the weekend, adding WaterWetter to guard against corrosion and lubricate the water pump. Because the Tracer doesn’t wear full bodywork, this work is very easy and quick.Nick Ienatsch
Mark stripping the luggage, mirrors, windscreen, hand guards, passenger pegs
At the track, Mark and I stripped the luggage, mirrors, windscreen, hand guards, passenger pegs (which fouled Mark’s heels when hanging off like a 59-year-old Grand Prix star), centerstand, footpeg feelers, radar detector which fits neatly on the windscreen adjuster, and luggage. See the video for a more scientific view of our prep.Nick Ienatsch
Oil change safety wire
Before handing Mark the Tracer, I added a Cox radiator (see last week’s article) and did an oil change that included safety-wiring the oil filter and drain bolt. Friends don’t let friends ride unwired.Nick Ienatsch
Rob Walker
Rob Walker couldn’t let the Tracer roll without some peace of mind in the form of safety wire on the front end. He checked the bike from stem to stern several times because he knew Mark would push it hard.Nick Ienatsch
2014 Buell 1190RX
Mark did push hard, getting beaten only by this 2014 Buell 1190RX ridden well by Josh Goebel (above, with MRA tech inspector Brett Leveque). Here is Josh’s input on his first foray into roadracing during the MRA’s SuperStreet class: “I've been riding since I was 16 on the street and took my first trackday last year at 27, and have done around six trackdays at PMP (Pueblo Motorsports Park) and HPR (High Plains Raceway, east of Denver). The day before SuperStreet was my first trackday since returning from Afghanistan and was a good way to knock the rust off. I really enjoyed the SuperStreet experience and got some really good pointers from the MRA pro that helped my body position a lot. I plan on racing next season and this was a good feeler to see how racing would be.” The Army staff sergeant is a Buell devotee, finally getting his dream EBR 1190RX after moving through an XB9 Lightning and two 1125s (R and CR).Nick Ienatsch
Coop DeVille
Coop DeVille (seen here installing a camera on the Tracer) is an MRA roadracer and runs a team called Legion of Speed in Colorado. The former Army Infantry Ranger is a stonemason from nine-to-five but we love what he does from behind the camera and in the editing bay. Thanks Coop. Coop says, “Please excuse parts of the video, we got pretty technical”.Nick Ienatsch

Mark Schellinger On Roadracing The Tracer GT

Mark racing
This ride was awesome. I want to thank everyone involved in my racing return after 15 years away from competition: Nick for having the fun idea, MRA New-Rider Coach Jeff Brown for giving a darn about each participant, Coop DeVille for recording everything, and Ryan Burke and his crew for putting up with our “focused program,” especially the invaluable help from Rob Walters. And, finally, thanks to my wife Tamara for understanding my need for some speed.Luke Hummel
Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown, left, leading the SuperStreet riders’ meeting.Nick Ienatsch

Bottom line: The Tracer GT doesn’t do anything weird. It brakes well, accelerates with verve, and corners fine. It won’t wheelie like our school Tracers do at sea level (could be the 122 extra teeth Nick added…), but it was a joy to ride, I really enjoyed it.

SuperStreet class starting line
After a practice session, the MRA’s SuperStreet class gets to practice a few starts, then they line up to race. The entire process is carefully overseen by Jeff Brown and other MRA officials. Note the mix of streetbikes and racebikes; the racebikes are owned by MRA racers who allow non-racing friends to ride their bikes in SuperStreet. You know, spread the addiction.Nick Ienatsch
SuperStreet participants
Each SuperStreet participant gets a private coach from the MRA Expert ranks; Mark’s coach was the effervescent Cindy Wulf. The entire SuperStreet program fits into Saturday afternoon.Nick Ienatsch

It launched well despite the Bonneville gearing. I revved it to 5,000 rpm and fed the lever out pretty quickly. You’ll see from the video it wasn’t the quickest drag racer in the field, but we worked our way forward from there.

The Pueblo track offers a good balance of handling and horsepower, and this Tracer does too. Kudos to Ivan’s for the ECU tuning; initial throttle is significantly smoother and it comes off the corner strong.

Tracer
The Tracer was outgunned on the long run into turn 1, but Mark fought back from seventh to second.Luke Hummel

This bike takes inputs from the rider and gives proper feedback, and that’s the best situation. It has a sporty feel but adds the ability to go for miles. Win-win!

We did have to remove the centerstand and the footpegs are too low for the track. But that’s it for the complaint department. I had a gas and encourage anyone, on any streetbike, to explore the MRA SuperStreet class if you are race-curious.

—Mark Schellinger

magnesium toe draggers
Alpinestars makes magnesium toe draggers for those of us who track bikes with low footpegs. Long-haul comfort comes at a price: mag toe sliders.Nick Ienatsch

Tracer 900 GT’s Heroics And Hassles

Some quick notes after one year on the Yamaha.

Heroics

  • Revvy, great-sounding engine that ran uncorrected 11.8s at 112 mph at 4,900 feet of elevation with the taller gearing installed, and touring windscreen. (That’s 11.5s at 115 with taller gearing but no windscreen, uncorrected.) See last week’s Ienatsch Tuesday for more info.
  • Gets down a twisty road very well. Champ school’s Keith Culver also has a Tracer 900 GT and it does anything and everything he wants in the canyons. “Amazing bike,” KC says. It is a platform that allows an enormously entertaining pace on the street.
  • Gets around a racetrack surprisingly well.
  • Awesome quickshifter for on-throttle upshifts.
  • Stable but eager to steer.
  • Easy to move around the garage. CW readers have a new term for bikes like the Tracer GT: “Light Touring.”
  • Mileage eater.
  • Heated grips.
  • Cool onboard data.
Tracer GT dash
Sometimes the Tracer GT dash provides a bit too much information. Does knowing it’s 26 degrees make you colder? The three yellow bars on the lower right mean the heated grips are full on!Nick Ienatsch
  • Headlight adjusters are handy and accessible even while riding.
  • Oil changes are easy.
  • Remote rear spring adjuster is smart and should be mandatory!
  • Fully adjustable front suspension.
  • Chain drive allows for easy gearing changes.
  • Saddlebags lock on and off, open and closed with the ignition key…solid and secure system.
  • Great legroom, comfortable seating position.
  • Good Yamaha support in the form of extra windscreens, seats, tank bags, luggage racks, etc.
Givi trunk
This large Givi trunk on Keith Culver’s Tracer GT attaches to a trick aluminum luggage rack, both available from Yamaha. Two full-face helmets fit (but not with the Chatterbox radios mounted).Nick Ienatsch
  • Centerstand is awesome.
  • 12-volt auxiliary plug at windscreen’s base.
  • Adjustable windscreen.

Hassles

  • Would love more fuel onboard.
  • Stock gearing too low for my wide-open-American-west circumstances.
  • Chain drive needs relatively constant maintenance in comparison to shaft.
  • Ignition key is hard to reach.
  • Underseat helmet lock is a hassle—I extended it with a small cable lock.
  • Not an easy wash due to semi-naked design—but learned to use spray cleaner for the fiddly bits.
Bike wash
Getting it really clean takes more hand work with the washrag because the mechanical parts are out in the open, but it’s easier when you sucker pal Chris Carr into the work!Nick Ienatsch
  • Saddlebags need the key to open or close
  • Saddlebags could be larger for my tastes—but word has it that FJR1300 saddlebag lids fit to extend storage.
  • Centerstand and footpegs drag at the racetrack.
  • Sidestand is slightly too short.
  • Check engine light has come on twice.
  • Quickshifter quit working between fifth and sixth gear (warranty fix certainly, but haven’t had it back to Fremont Motorsports yet).
Derek Schnagle
Derek Schnagle, lead tech at Fremont Motorsports in Florence, Colorado, extinguished the check engine light after finding a few sensors tripped; reset work was covered under warranty.Nick Ienatsch
Tracer 900 GT
A crew chief, a racer, and three racebikes. More details in Coop DeVille’s video. It’s been a terrific year with the Tracer GT, culminating in a second-place run at Pueblo Motorsports Park. The 7,200 miles on the odometer are filled with memories recorded on the back of a bike that defines sport-touring and surprised us with its back-road prowess and racetrack manners. If, God forbid, a person had to have only one bike, this Tracer 900 GT fills that bill amazingly well.Luke Hummel

More next week!