CycleOnline.com.au tests the 2020 Yamaha Tenere 700.
Words: Guy Streeter
Ever since the Yamaha T7 concept bike was revealed at EICMA in 2016, adventure riding enthusiasts have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the highly-anticipated mid-capacity machine. The Tenere has a rich history with adventure riding and racing, dating back to 1983, and over the years Yamaha has had great success with each and every incarnation of the Tenere. CycleOnline.com.au was fortunate enough sample the 2020 Yamaha Tenere 700 at the Australian media launch recently in New South Wales.
Where we rode:
Yamaha teamed up with RideADV, which put an adventure loop together, starting from Port Macquarie in New South Wales before heading north while stopping at Coffs Harbor, Glenn Innes, Tamworth, Gloucester and returning to Port Macquarie. We joined the tour on day three and experienced a huge variety of conditions from great winding country sealed roads and twisting dirt paths among some of the regions most picturesque farms and properties. We also got the test the Tenere in some single-trail, as well as town and highway riding.
Starting at the core of the new Tenere, the motor is a 689cc parallel-twin motor, which has been transferred directly from Yamaha’s ever-popular MT-07 nakedbike. The CP2 engine is extremely versatile and reliable, making it the ideal motor for the 2020 Tenere 700. Yamaha has adapted the engine for adventure riding by implementing a new airbox, updated fuel injection, greater performing cooling system for off-road use and a different exhaust system. The powerplant is surrounded by a lightweight double-cradle frame made from tubular steel, while the fuel tank has a capacity of 16 litres, offering riders a range of about 350 kilometres. The Tenere 700 is fitted with four powerful LED headlights that have plenty of power to light up the trail and road in darker conditions. The rally-style multi-function instruments also provide the rider with a wide range of information in an easy to read format while riding. The seat height sits at 880mm, making it easy for most riders to stand flat-footed whilst sitting on the bike and gives a low centre of gravity. The bodywork of the Tenere is compact and slim, with the fuel tank tapering to the seat, ensuring ease of movement in the cockpit. The Tenere 700 is fitted with adjustable USD 43mm flex resistant long-travel forks with 210mm of suspension travel, paired together with a rally-bred link-type rear suspension with 200mm of travel. The rear suspension features a remote adjuster which allows you to fine-tune the pre-load settings while you’re on the move. The Tenere 700 is equipped with ABS and a pair of Brembo 282mm wave front discs, plus a 245mm rear wave disc, which offers a significant amount of stopping power. ABS can be de-activated for off-road use and gives the rider full manual control over the brakes, which is of benefit for off-road riding. Dry, the Tenere 700 comes in at 184 kilograms, while wet with a full tank, the Tenere sits comfortably at 204 kilograms.
The Tenere has a 1590mm wheelbase, which is compact and really makes the handling of the bike very nimble, making it manoeuvrable from fast, sweeping corners into tight hairpins. The Tenere is very easy to look where you want to go, point it in that direction and it responds as desired. The cockpit is rally-inspired and the seated riding position is fairly well spot on – you sit behind the windshield and out of the wind – and in a comfortable position for the average-sized rider. I’m 180cm tall and found it very relaxed and comfortable sitting down. The same can be said for standing, since the riding position while standing up feels very natural and easy. The Tenere hasn’t got the enduro bike ‘slim’ feel, but it’s not too far off with a narrow knee area behind the tank and a slim rear-end making moving forwards and back with ease. Finishing off the cockpit is competition-style handlebars with plastic handguards for extra protection. The frame design is a steel frame and utilises the motor as a stressed member to reduce the weight and keep it as compact as possible. The steel frame is made from high tensile steel, accompanied by a steel sub-frame, which can handle a considerable amount of weight in luggage, as well as a pillion passenger. The front and rear KYB suspension work really well for this bike and its specific needs. Getting the bike has to work well on such a huge range of terrain and conditions is a tough ask from a manufacturer because ideally, the suspension needs to be suited for anything from road conditions all the way through to rocky, undulating terrain. The T7 felt right at home on the road and cornered well for me during the launch, but I was more surprised with how the bike felt in rougher conditions such as the 4×4 tracks that we encountered. The only downfall in my experience was that the Tenere did bottom out a little too easily on some G-outs, small drops or jumps. It felt as if the suspension could have been stiffened up a little, especially if you are carrying luggage, however otherwise, the setting is extremely capable and forgiving, which is paramount to adventure riding. Unfortunately, I never got the opportunity to utilise the ABS, which is good and bad. I never had it activated on the off-road conditions and whilst it was engaged on the road riding we did, I never put it to use. However, the brakes feel strong and precise, which is exactly what you come to expect from a Brembo package. The suspension is plush and forgiving in most of the conditions. Depending on the type of riding you do will depend if a stiffer suspension setting or spring will be needed. The long-travel suspension did give the front-end a little vague feeling on flat dusty corners while seated, but standing up and pushing a little bit faster brought back the feeling once the suspension was being used. This isn’t much of a problem as you need that extra suspension for when the conditions require it – it comes back to that idea of having suspension that covers such a wide range of conditions, the suspension can’t be perfect for every situation. Finishing off the chassis are the lightweight spoked wheels, which can take an absolute beating! The 21-inch front wheel and 18-inch rear wheel are fitted with Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres, suiting a wide range of conditions to further compliment the bike.
The power delivery of the Tenere 700 is flawless – smooth and useable right off the bottom, with a throttle that seems to have no end and there’s plenty of torque in the mid-range of the powerband. Honestly, the free-revving engine really makes riding Yamaha’s latest adventure model a blast! The fuel-injected Tenere’s 72 horsepower is delivered in a very progressive way, which makes riding the bike a cinch in the dusty and slippery conditions that we encountered. Don’t sleep on the power though, because the more you twist the throttle, the more the CP2 engine gives in an impressive fashion considering its mid-size capacity. The 2020 Tenere doesn’t offer any traction control, which is fine for this platform as far as I’m concerned. The T7 really does put the rider in control in this regard, which is one less function to worry about and in such a mixture of dry terrain, I don’t feel that it’s a requirement. The six-speed gearbox is exceptionally smooth and riding a gear higher is not a problem either – the powerplant will pull you just fine, you use less energy and it makes for a relatively cruisy experience in the saddle over longer distances. And with a 16-litre fuel tank, it’s no doubt capable of going the distance with the spirit of adventure in mind.
Where to start? The 2020 Yamaha Tenere 700 is an absolute pleasure to ride. From the moment we fired up the engine there was nothing to be disappointed with. Truly! The ergonomics of the bike feel comfortable and very natural, while the cockpit instruments are on point and easy to use from the get-go – one little niggle was the constant need to re-engage the off-road mode after stopping the engine. However, the cockpit finish is great and there is plenty of room for aftermarket equipment like a GPS, smartphone and roadbook readers. Handling is quite precise and I’d say that the Tenere could be pointed in any direction fairly well and comfortably. In the tight confines of some of the 4×4 tracks and single-trail that we encountered, the 700 really didn’t feel out of its depth and handled the conditions with authority. The engine’s extremely enjoyable, free-revving and boasting plenty of power that just keeps on delivering. The CP2 engine has plenty of mid-range torque and pulls the bike out of tight corners and up some steady hills with relative ease. The clutch feel is incredibly light and easy to use, which was a slight surprise and made riding a gear taller easier to do so. Probably the nicest feeling about the Tenere 700 is being able to ride it in a ‘lazy’ manner or, alternatively, rev it hard and spin the rear wheel at any opportunity. At $17,149 ride-away, you will enjoy a lot of ‘bang for your buck’ with the 2020 Yamaha Tenere 700, currently being released locally in three different colourways being Ceramic Ice, Competition White and Power Black.
Engine type: Twin-cylinder, four-stroke, liquid-cooled, DOHC
Bore/stroke: 73.4mm x 59mm
Seat height: 880mm
Weight: 204kg (wet)
Fuel capacity: 16 litres
Colours: Ceramic Ice, Competition White and Power Black
Price: $17,149 ride-away
More information: www.yamaha-motor.com.au