I was lucky enough to ride the Yamaha Tenere both on and off road on the weekend. And spoiler alert, I’m impressed. Yes, I have been riding a KLX250 and KLR650 for the past year, not exactly the latest and greatest, but boy this is a good bike.
This particular Tenere 700 was a mate’s bike with roughly 2300 miles (3700kms) on the clock and besides some bar risers and different brake/clutch levers, its stock. To give you an idea of where I rode the bike, it was mostly off-road with a mixture of dirt, gravel forestry roads and tarmac (Hosier National Forest). So, pretty much exactly what the bike has been invented for.
I have to say, I think Yamaha have done a great job with the design of the Tenere 700. It’s like it came straight from Dakar. The bike is slim, I dig the headlights and it’s just well thought out.
Firing up the bike, it sounds fantastic. Remember when all parallel twins sounded like a POS lawn mower? Well not any more. The Tenere’s 270 degree crank sounds brilliant, even with the stock exhaust. Think v-twin, not parallel twin.
Speaking of the engine, it’s a gem. It is PLENTY fast for the dirt and I had a blast throwing gravel and getting sideways out of corners. Traction control? Yeah, no thanks! I found the engine has a ton of character but still feels electric. Yamaha have done a great job with this motor, it certainly feels like it has more than 73hp, proof that specs don’t always mean everything.
The motor is just so linear and grunty. I found myself leaving the bike in third gear and just winding it on out of corners. The bike pulled from low revs with no issues and I didn’t notice and vibrations on the street. I did find the throttle initial on/off part to be a little snatchy. I wouldn’t definitely look into trying to fix this, maybe a pipe and tune would help. Initially the throttle felt a little disconnected but I got used to that over time. No doubt me riding old school carburetted bikes for the past couple of years exacerbated this feeling.
The gear box was smooth and the clutch light, no issues here.
When I first got on the bike, the bars were a little bit narrower than I was used to. Over time they felt more and more natural, but I’d considering getting a set of wider bars. The seat is soft and I had no issues touching the ground. I found the bike to be a bit cramped in the seat to peg area. I think a taller seat would make this just about perfect for me.
I noticed the bike definitely wants to be ridden standing up. Sitting down in gravel and dirt sections just didn’t feel natural on this bike. As soon as I sat up, everything fell into place. On the street, sitting down was great and the bike has nice road manners.
The suspension really impressed me. Having recently owned a heavily modified KLR650, the Tenere 700’s suspension is way better. It provides a smooth ride and absorbs the bumps nicely. And the bike provides brilliant drive. The owner stated this is because of the way Yamaha have designed the countershaft position, and it works. Several of the times I did wheel stands, the bike really wanted to shoot forward and get on with things.
The suspension will find its limits in fast off road scenarios and when pushing in technical terrain. I found the front end would dive on corner entry when you got off the throttle. Now I’m not sure if this was the suspension settings (it isn’t my bike and I didn’t want change anything) or just how the bike handles. I’d look at stiffening up the front so it wouldn’t dive as much. Overall though, I found the handling and suspension to be great for the style of riding we were doing.
The brakes are a bit of a mixed bag for me. The front is perfectly fine and does a good job; a little bit more bite wouldn’t hurt though. The rear? Yeah, not great. It is under powered and needs to be pressed all the way down to get any results. For sliding into corners or using the rear brake in slippery turns, it’s pretty well useless. The clutch side of the engine also sticks slightly too far out and gets in the way. I would either need to widen the rear brake lever or put wider pegs on, a shame because the pegs are good.
I found the lack of electronics…great! The bike has ABS, but turning it off a simple case of holding down the ABS button for about 5 seconds. And just a heads up, you NEED to disable it if you plan on riding this off road. There’s nothing worse than coming into a corner, braking and… going straight through the corner. The only thing I’d like to be able to spec is a quick shifter, that’d be good fun.
Overall, I loved riding this bike. The engine is brilliant off road and it’s got enough power that you won’t have any issues on the street. Sure there were a couple of minor niggles I didn’t like, but I was able to look past them when the overall package is so good. You could ride this bike in so many different types of terrain. It would only be in really technical riding where it’d be a handful, and that’s not what this bike is designed for. Now, how much is a nicely set up second hand model…