Hot on the heels of the commercial success that was the Tracer 900 last year, Yamaha Motor Europe is replicating the same tactic in a smaller capacity class. Based on the popular twin-cylinder MT-07, the new Adventure Sports Tourer enters a fiercely-contested market segment.
Adventure motorcycles are a hot commodity these days all over the world. Be it because they faithfully serve the "size matters" dogma acting as the motorcycle equivalent of the SUV, or maybe due to their sensible practicality and upright riding position, the undeniable fact is that this part of the two-wheeled market enjoys phenomenal success.
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The latest trend sees manufacturers looking to mimic the success of their big adventurers with smaller-capacity models, thus widening their potential customer base to more income classes, as well as looking towards the Asian markets.
Just like the Tracer 900 was based on the MT-09, the 700 is essentially an MT-07 (or FZ-07 in several markets) with some key changes to cater for its new purpose. The inline twin-cylinder engine, brakes and wheels are identical to those of the roadster MT. Yamaha made some light modifications to the frame, raising the seat height at 845 mm (33.3 in) – some 40 mm (1.6 in) higher. The swingarm is also longer, resulting in a wheelbase that adds 50 mm (1.9 in) to the MT's 1,400 (55.1 in).
There is a downside to these changes, as the Tracer tips the scales at 196 kg (432 lb) in ready-to-ride mode; that'd be 14 kg (30.8 lb) more than the MT.
Both front and rear suspensions are the same units as the roadster, with the same travel (130 mm/5.1 in) and revised settings. The bike has become taller as far as the riding position is concerned, but in terms of ground clearance (140 mm/5.5 in) nothing has changed during the transformation from MT to Tracer. The new model is clearly designed for paved roads, as suggested by the use of 17-inch rubber on both ends.
Its equipment has been selected with touring aspirations in mind, including a manually-adjustable wind screen, hand guards, dual seat and a 17-liter tank for adequate range – three more liters of gasoline that the MT. In terms of electronics Yamaha opted to keep it simple, with just the compulsory ABS system. Probably this has a lot to do with pricing, since the MT-07 built its huge success (at least in Europe) on its very affordable price, a value that Yamaha wouldn't really tamper with.
Available in three colors – black, blue and red – the Tracer 700 will enter the European markets in early July. At the time there is no information on whether or when it will also reach other markets. Priced around the €8,000 (US$9,000) mark in most EU countries, it will probably do its best to heat up the competition. With its feisty 689 cc twin engine that outputs 75 hp and 68 Nm, at this price tag it should make for a particularly strong adversary for motorcycles like the BMW F700/800GS or the Triumph Tiger 800, and holds a serious advantage in power over more affordable models like Honda's NC750X.
For those that would prefer to see a more off-road capable motorcycle, Yamaha is also said to be in the process of developing a Ténéré 700 to be unveiled later this year, possibly at the next Milan EICMA show.
Until then, take a first look of the Tracer 700 in the official promo video that Yamaha just released.