It’s been several years coming, but at long last, Yamaha’s much-anticipated Ténéré 700 will hit the showrooms in June 2020.
While we’ve all been waiting for this bike, it’s competitors –mainly BMW and KTM–have taken up the middleweight ADV space, too, with incredible motorcycles of their own.
Of course, we’re talking about the F 850 GS Adventure and the 790 Adventure R, respectively. Has Yamaha’s hype machine shot itself in the foot by taking too long to come to market? That’s the topic of this post, as we take a closer look at the Yamaha Ténéré 700.
Yamaha Ténéré 700 History
We can’t talk about the Ténéré 700 without talking about Yamaha’s history with the Tenere name, and that dates back to the early 1980s and the XT series of dirtbikes.
These became heavily modified to compete in rally races of the day, especially the Paris-Dakar rally, and the XT600 Ténéré became the first model to wear the name.
The name Ténéré itself means solitude, desert, and wilderness–all things a competitor will experience in rally racing.
Even though the original Ténérés were meant to be dedicated rally racers, the new 700 takes much of its inspiration from its ancestors. Despite the fact it is also road-legal.
Power for the Ténéré 700 comes from the same 689cc parallel-twin Yamaha uses in both the MT-07 and XSR700. That means it’s a proven engine, and if you’ve ever ridden either the MT or XSR, you’ll know how fun and potent the engine can be.
Put into a dirt-focused motorcycle, the two-cylinder should be equally as fun. Yamaha hasn’t changed the insides of the engine, but the ECU programming is a little different. So you can expect a healthy low-end and mid-range punch. Not that this engine was lacking either before.
For an off-road bike, a healthy amount of torque is what you want any way to help you up challenging terrain. Yamaha’s so confident in how smooth and predictable the power is delivered that traction control isn’t included.
In fact, the only rider aid the 700 gets is ABS–and that can be turned off. If you have memories of riding the original Ténéré, then this new one should be every bit the modern-day successor.
Just from looking at the Ténéré 700 in these photos, you can tell it’s a slim motorcycle. The narrow body, despite the 4.2-gallon fuel tank, and flat seat lets the rider move around and position the bike how they want, whether you’re sitting or standing.
The windscreen is surprisingly effective at diverting the wind away from the rider, and while flat, the seat has a decent amount of cushioning to it if you’re planning on long-ish days in the saddle.
We’ve read some reports about the tank making it hard to place weight forward on the 700 when standing, though side-to-side movement seems spacious. Awkward placements of some protective covers might make foot placement a little tricky also, depending on your foot size, but Yamaha gets a thumbs up for simply taking into account the protection of some critical components of the motorcycle.
Sometimes you need to look towards the aftermarket for protection.
We said earlier the engine is shared with the MT-07 and XSR700. That’s a good thing. The other good thing is that the Ténéré 700 does NOT share a frame or chassis with those two models.
Yamaha designed an all-new tubular steel frame for the Ténéré to take into account the off-road intentions of the bike. A short 62.6-inch wheelbase gives you impressive agility, and you get a healthy 9.5 inches of ground clearance.
The long-travel suspension is a no-brainer, and Yamaha’s using inverted KYB 43mm forks on the Ténéré. With it, you get 8.3 inches of travel and full adjustability.
The rear gets you a KYB shock, connected via linkage, with preload and rebound adjustability (no compression), and 7.9 inches of travel. Thankfully, preload can be adjusted with a knob.
You get spoked wheels with the Ténéré 700, measuring 21-inches in the front and 18-inches in the rear. They require tubes, but the common sizing should give riders plenty of tire options depending on the kind of riding they plan on doing.
As mentioned before, ABS is the only electronic safety feature you get with the Ténéré 700, and you can turn it off. Braking power is via two wave-style discs measuring 282mm, with Brembo calipers doing the squeezing. The rear gets one 245mm wave rotor and single-piston caliper.
Yamaha Ténéré 700 Features
Moving past the nuts and bolts of the 700, let’s look at some of the features that point towards its rally inspiration. Starting with the lights.
The headlight nacelle uses not one, but four LEDs, stacked vertically, for a very distinct look. A side benefit, for true off-road types, is the shock resistance of LEDs compared to traditional incandescent lights.
Speaking of the off-road types out there, there are accommodations above the gauge cluster to mount a GPS or even a rally roadbook. A 12v charge port is also nearby to keep electronics topped off. And if you top off the 4.2-gallon tank, Yamaha says you can ride 215 miles before needing to fill up again.
On paper, the Yamaha Ténéré 700 looks like a very capable player in the middleweight adventure bike category.
And you have to love its price, too: $9,999 USD. A price that low undercuts the competition by a significant amount, but you have to wonder if, as the saying goes, you get what you pay for. All we have left to do now is ride it to find out.