On April 24, 2023, KTM resurrected the entire “Supermoto touring segment” with its 2023 890 SMT. Never one for convention, the Austrian brand applied all its supermoto know-how to a category historically known for pragmatism. KTM hopes that distinct blend of performance and practicality suits a previously untapped subset of the sport-touring community.

Yamaha’s venerable Tracer 9 GT+ takes an entirely different approach. While the 890 SMT courts adrenaline-seeking travelers with lightweight minimalism, Iwata’s seminal sport-tourer believes it's best to have and not need than to need and not have. Case in point: the 2023 model’s radar-assisted adaptive cruise control. Yamaha only supplements that cutting-edge tech with the comfort and convenience of electronically adjustable suspension, a tall windscreen, and side cases.

The bLU cRU and Team Orange certainly skin their cats in different ways, but only one can emerge victorious from a Spec Showdown. Will the 890 SMT’s “Ready to Race” attitude prevail? Can the sensible Tracer 9 GT+ truly “Rev Your Heart”? For answers to those age-old questions, we turn to the spec sheets.


2023 KTM 890 SMT - Corner Exit
2023 Yamaha Tracer 9GT+ - Open Road
  2023 KTM 890 SMT 2023 Yamaha Tracer 9GT+ 
Engine: Liquid-cooled, DOHC 889cc Parallel Twin Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 890cc Inline Triple
Bore and Stroke: 90.7mm x 68.8mm 78mm x 62.1 mm
Transmission: 6-speed 6-speed
Performance: 105 hp / 73.7 lb-ft 117 hp / 68.6 lb-ft
Weight: 454 pounds (wet) 485 pounds (wet)
Price: €14,700 €16,499

Get Your Motor Running

By now, you’re probably familiar with KTM’s 889cc LC8c parallel twin and Yamaha’s 890cc CP3 inline triple. The former headlines the Austrian OEM’s 890 Duke (R), 890 Adventure (R), and even its RC 8C track-only sportbike. Iwata is guilty of the same repurposing habits, wedging its celebrated CP3 into the MT-09 (SP) and XSR900. It’s no wonder the wundermills face off yet again in the sport-touring category, and it’s a knock-down, drag-out brawl, as always.

In the orange corner, KTM’s two-pot marvel features a 90.7-millimeter bore and a 68.8-mm stroke. Yamaha’s punchy CP3 rushes out of the blue corner with a slime 1cc advantage, thanks to each of its three cylinders boasting a 78mm bore and 62.1mm stroke. Due to the LC8c’s extra oversquare configuration, some may expect the twin to whip up extra ponies. However, the SMT’s 105 peak horsepower can’t outrun Tracer’s 117 horses. The lithe contender counters, though, with 73.7 pound-feet of torque outslugging the triple cylinder’s 68.6 pound-feet.

2023 KTM 890 SMT - Lean

That extra pull should translate to the hooligan-style riding KTM promotes, with SMT blasting out of corner exits or lofting the front wheel with ease. On the contrary, the GT+’s CP3 specializes in open-road gallops while remaining playful on a twisty stretch of tarmac. Because the 890 and Tracer trade blows in the power and torque departments, we have to declare this round a draw. After all, both engines are held in the highest esteem. Ultimately, the customer’s riding style and preference will determine which powerplant suits them best.

Head Out on the Highway

Travel readiness is a far less subjective matter, on the other hand. Catering to the sport-touring crowd, it's safe to assume that the 890 SMT and Tracer 9GT+ will head out on the highway throughout their lifespans. The Yamaha comes equipped for the long haul with 30 liters of storage capacity, heated grips, an 18.7-liter (4.9-gallon) gas tank, an adjustable windscreen, a center stand, and a broad comfort seat.

In stock form, the KTM prefers to go fast, not far, thanks to its fixed wind deflector, a 15.8-liter (4.2-gallon) fuel cell, a dirt bike-style seat, and no luggage accommodations. Of course, Team Orange offers add-on panniers and top cases, but customers should expect to shell out extra coin for the extra carrying capacity. The Tracer’s advantage doesn’t just come down to hardware either.

Simplified for 2023, the GT+’s seven-inch TFT display puts ride modes (Sport, Street, and Rain), traction control, wheelie control, slide control, and Yamaha MyRide app connectivity at the user’s fingertips. As if that weren’t enough, the bLU cRU adds adaptive cruise control to the lot in 2023. In addition to the new-fangled gizmo, the Tracer prioritizes safety with cornering lights while Yamaha’s third-generation quick-shifter maximizes fun.

2023 Yamaha Tracer 9GT+ - Radar
2023 Yamaha Tracer 9GT+ - Dash

KTM isn’t a slouch in this category, as the 890 SMT features three ride modes (Street, Sport, and Rain) and Cornering Motorcycle Traction Control (MTC) out of the box. Unfortunately, the optional Track ride mode, Motor Slip Regulation (MSR), Quickshifter+, heated grips, and cruise control put both basic and premium features behind another paywall. As a result, the Tracer 9 GT+ notches a decisive win in the second round.

Looking For Adventure

It isn’t over yet though. As ever, KTM arms its models with knockout power, and the 890 SMT takes it to the competition in the twisties. A CroMoly steel frame mated to a fully adjustable, 43mm APEX fork and a rebound- and preload-adjustable WP APEX shock sets the stage for the sport-touring super scalpel. Team Orange takes full advantage of that setup with a 24.7-degree rake and a 17-inch wheelset shod in Michelin PowerGP tires. To pull the SMT back to the apex, dual four-piston binders bite 330mm discs up front, and a dual-pot caliper mates to a 260mm rotor out back.

2023 KTM 890 SMT - Twisties

As usual, Yamaha takes a different approach. The KYB semi-active front end and shock not only suspend the firm’s lightweight Deltabox aluminum frame but also instantly adapt to road conditions with IMU and ECU input. The Tracer 9’s 25-degree rake concedes a marginal victory to the SMT while the model’s Bridgestone Battlax BT32s constitutes a dedicated sport-touring tire. Yamaha’s unified braking system also skews toward safety (as opposed to performance), but that system still governs a four-piston calipers and 298mm discs fore and a two-piston clamper and 267mm rotor aft. Though the Yamaha can muster a spirited pace, the SMT manages to win this battle.

Whatever Comes Your Way

Sport-Tourers need to toe the line between agility and stability, between the long-haul and hauling butt. As such, some models rush to one end of the spectrum while others stick to the middle of the road. It goes without saying, customers will gravitate toward the sport-tourer that fits their personality. For our purposes, though, we have to proclaim a winner. Yes, the KTM triumphed in the latest round, but Yamaha scored a knockdown in the travel category. As a result, the Tracer 9GT+ fends off the upstart and retains its crown.

2023 KTM 890 SMT - Front, Left
2023 Yamaha Tracer 9GT+ - Front, Left

With the results determined, we must acknowledge the price difference between our two contenders. We don’t anticipate either sport-tourer landing on U.S. shores until 2024, so we deferred to European MSRPs. In Italy, KTM offers the 890 SMT for €14,700 (~$16,195 USD) and Yamaha tacks a €16,499 (~$18,175 USD) price tag onto the Tracer 9 GT+. That’s a difference of €1,799 (~$1,980 USD).

Given the Tracer’s adaptive cruise control, semi-active suspension, luggage, and comfort accommodations, the price difference only reinforces Yamaha’s victory. Now, if you’re looking to infuse some hair-raising excitement into your road trip, it’s hard to steer you away from the SMT. However, many sport-touring riders will still default to the Tracer 9GT+.

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