The Yamaha Tenere line is not for the faint of heart. It is a dual sports bike, designed by Yamaha for outstanding performance on asphalt as well as off-road. It is named after a region of the Sahara desert that used to be a section of the Paris-Dakar rally. It has been a constant working evolution for Yamaha and a best-seller among big bikes for a long time. Our impressions on the bike plus some great accessories that came as a surprise are right ahead. Read on to find out everything you need to know about the Yamaha Tenere, the ultimate dual sport motorbike by Yamaha.
The first time that the world witnessed a Yamaha Tenere in action was more than 35 years ago, in 1983. Champion Cyril Neveu had just won the Paris Dakar in 1979 and 1980 with the Yamaha XT550. The first incarnation of the Tenere is deeply related to that bike and went straight to number one in France. The successes that Yamaha had with this bike in France helped push the brand forward, especially in Europe.
The Yamaha Tenere came in one colour and one size originally and has since been converted in a full line. Today, it is possible to find one of these Paris-Dakar champions that will suit every rider need. Yamaha´s hit was to be able to transform a 1200cc bike into smaller-engine models without compromising the bike´s spirit. The model´s flagship bike is still a benchmark for the over-1000 motorcycle industry.
The biggest of the Yamaha Tenere line is the Yamaha Super Tenere 1200. It is a dual sport bike, but it is not intended to be a rally-street motorcycle, but rather a tourer dual sport bike. For starters, you get that upright riding posture that is of critical help when in a long trip. Yamaha´s traditional bullet cowl is what sets this bike apart from all other touring-position bikes in the market. It might not be as comfortable as other touring bikes, but it is more so than any dirt bike you can come across.
The first thing that comes to mind when you see the Yamaha Super Tenere is that it can do it all. It is not what one would call an adventure bike, so it is not so off-road capable as some other in that category might be. But in that same comparison, this Yamaha Tenere is not as heavy or as big. If we were to put it into a category, it would be a new one called dual sport tourer.
That being said, once you put your leg above the seat and sit on it, you can feel the adventure bike suspension. Also, Yamaha Tenere´s brush guards on the handlebars and skid plate tell you that you are on something different than a street bike.
The one addition I love are underfoot cushy pegs. Especially if you are going to stand up to ride, they provide a little welcome extra. I´m a tall guy, and once I rolled the bike gently into the asphalt, I realised that the windshield was a little too low for me.
That wasn´t annoying, the fact that it isn´t automated is. I had to park, get down and do it myself with the provided tools. It is not the end of the world, but in a bike this league, it should have been automated. The good part is that the Yamaha Tenere´s seat is also adjustable and you have one inch to play with.
The bike I tested came with a cool accessory called SBM, which stands for Smart Brake Module. I was amazed by it, and a little scared at first, to be honest. What it does is to engage the bike´s brake light every time it senses that you are decreasing speed.
For example, I am one of those riders who like cruising and not touching on brakes too much. I am a 100% wrist guy. This could be dangerous when you have a lot of traffic around you. With this little gizmo, the situation changes drastically. I felt more secure throughout the entire test.
Back to the Yamaha Tenere, the torque in it is compelling and accelerating. There is an irregular pulse coming out of the 270-degree crank that will put a smile on your face. The torquey low-speed attitude makes up for the not-so-many horsepower. Being in the city with the bike is as if you were driving a tractor, it really pushes you forward. It is a little too much of a bike for that scenario, and it shines when you hit the open road.
The fun began as soon as I took the highway exit and turned the wrist to match car-speed. The bike felt like it could handle the mid-range just right and as soon as you engage the sixth gear, it becomes a tourer.
Yamaha Tenere´s traction control is convenient and works smoothly in every position. According to Yamaha, it regulates the timing in the throttle valve opening and fuel injection according to wheel spin. The Yamaha Super Tenere ES comes with an electronically adjusted suspension.
The four pre-loaded settings also give room for three damping presets and seven damping adjustments for fine-tuning. This provides the user with virtually limitless combinations and all of them can be done on the fly.
Since it is a dual-sport bike, I decided to test the off-road capabilities. Even without this feature to regulate suspension electronically, it was a fun ride. The Yamaha Tenere is balanced, stable and has an excellent grip. For experienced riders, it is a blast to push it a little and hear the engine roar.
What I didn´t like so much about it was that I couldn´t turn off the ABS for extra fun. It makes the bike more secure, but it does take away some of the fun if you are an experienced rider like me.
Yamaha´s big hit at the end of the 70s was the XT-500, a two-time Dakar winning motorcycle. By the 1990s, an XTZ750 granted Stéphane Peterhansel six wins in a row in the same event. These events opened the European market for the brand. With the same principle, they developed the entire Yamaha Tenere line.
New for 2019 is the Yamaha Tenere 700 and is quite a hype because it is an under 1000cc bike that can do much for the rider. The engine, according to Yamaha is taken directly from their best-seller MT-07.
They took that design and turned it into an off-road ready machine. It can reach the same final speed and maximum torque, but with enhanced transmission ratios. These newly-calculated ratios turn the Yamaha Tenere in a true dual-sport bike. The bike doesn´t have a “true nature” and an “added approach”, but is equally capable in both terrains.
Yamaha announced that the Yamaha Tenere 700 would be available in the US in 2021, arriving at 2020´s second semester. It is quite a lot of time to be spreading prototypes for testing. But on the other hand, it is great that they take time to assimilate feedback and come up with the ultimate product.
According to Yamaha, a team with top-end riders including Dakar winner Peterhansel tried the bike to its limits. They set out to do a world tour with part of the current Yamaha Rally Team and tested it in the most challenging terrains. From Australia to South America, they covered all the possibilities and took the feedback.
The first thing that hits you on the negative side about the Yamaha Tenere 700 is that they removed vital elements. For example, the rider modes and traction control which are so useful in the bigger Yamaha Tenere 1200.
Despite this, according to legendary rider Nick Sanders, who tried the prototype, it is a wonderful bike. He stated that it is lighter than most of the bikes in its segment and also that the agility of the weight and size matches the power and also make it very economical.
The Yamaha Tenere 700 will be available from the first semester of 2021. However, two years go by really fast, and we will be waiting for this bike with our eyes open as it promises to be a hit.
Yamaha Tenere 660 is, by all means, the entry to the Yamaha Tenere line. It is not only the smallest bike of the line but also the simplest. The 660 model can be an excellent acquisition for those who want to enter the wonderful world of touring. It can also make an experienced rider have a blast.
The first thing I noticed about the Yamaha Tenere 660 was how short the gears are. It can be a tricky thing to get used to, it took me a while. Once you do get used to it, though, it enhances the transition between gears enormously. It also helps entry-level riders making their first adventure on a big bike because it is easier to get more pull out of it.
You don´t have to be too picky with the exact moment you change gears and still have lots of fun. The mixed panel control of analogue + digital makes it great to see everything at once. You get the exact idea of how fast you´re going and when it´s time to get to the next gear.
On the downside, it really is a loud bike. This is not an issue when you are riding off-road trails, but it can be so when you are in the city.
My testing bike came with a cool accessory that goes under the name of STS – Smart Turn System. This little add-on did a fantastic job, especially in heavy-traffic situations. It automatically disengaged the turning lights (much like a car would) after it sensed you´ve completed the turn. I thought it was brilliant and won´t be surprised if it turned into a factory standard in the near future.
You should check if it is compatible with your motorcycle, and furthermore, I highly recommend this add-on. You can simply submit your motorcycle details in the form below and the team will respond very quickly. At least they did in my case after I checked compatibility for my fleet of motorcycles.
For riders who feel that the 1200 Yamaha Super Tenere is too big for them, this accessory is crucial. According to Yamaha, the replacement can be done quickly without effort.
The addition of side cases is excellent for any touring bike. These feature 32L and a top lock that makes them not only usable but also very durable and secure.
The tank bag is the most useful accessory for any highway travel, especially if you have tolls. Having your wallet right in front of you and not having to take it out your coat is very comfortable.
The Yamaha Tenere line is the best dual-sport bike of the brand so far. In spite of some minor tweaks that the brand needs to round off, the excellent reputation of Yamaha is to grow with this line. The Yamaha Tenere line is a solid, dual-sport line that takes the heritage of Dakar winners into the 21st century.