The Tenere is a section of desert in the Sahara on the African continent. You’d know that if you have been there. I have. But to a motorcycle rider a Tenere is a Yamaha Dakar bike. And that morphed from the XT line to adventuring machines that were never introduced stateside. But times are changing and adventure touring is on the rise. Yamaha is responding to the growth in the US.So what is Dirt Rider doing testing a street bike? Well, this adventure aspect on the bikes job description includes stints off pavement. And that is just what we did with it to give you the full and well-rounded impression of this massive machine.
1200cc and 100-horsepower shelled out through a parallel twin motor is enough to get anyone’s adrenalin running and anyone who says’s they are better than that is kidding you. Especially in the dirt. But the one thing we know from our limited street experience is that this Yamaha is one fine road bike. Smooth, powerful, well suspended for both sport and long rides, this Tenere is one comfortable machine. It is full featured and competitive with any of the adventure bikes on the market, though we see a very strong resemblance to the German one, called BMW GS. ABS, shaft drive, traction control, adjustable suspension, big fuel capacity, wind protection and the list goes on. About the only thing missing from this bike’s standard features is a set of heated grips, but that is an option. And the GTYR options list will run long as well, our test bike was fitted with optional crash bars, panniers and a beefy skid plate to protect the engine cases. You’d think Yamaha was ready for Dirt Rider before we got there, Huh? No they weren’t totally ready since the bike did not have knobbies on it, but they wanted to show us what that machine was capable of with its slick tires, even off-road.We spent 500-miles and two days riding four of the new bikes on everything from So-Cal Freeways to mountain roads to desert dirt roads to, yes, even a sand wash or two, just to prove a point. The point was that the bike’s traction control and ABS do work wonders for most of the disadvantages round tires have in sand and slippery mud conditions. But as soon as we get one here for some time, we’ll mount up some Continental TKC80s and see how much off-road is allowed in your Tenere adventures.
In the dirt the bike masks its weight as well as any big machine, it feels light when moving, but has plenty of weight in the bars to make the bike stable. The suspension has great control and bottoms as expected to warn you that you are going too fast, a safety feature most ignore. And it feels solid. We ran ours up to 130 MPH on the pavement and struck 113 on the dirt. The aerodynamic resistance could not be overcome by the traction of the smooth tire, the speedometer indicated over 130 when hitting that speed in the dirt. The traction control works and in mode number 2 you can slide like a pro, no throttle control necessary. The system is said to be derived from the Moto GP bike, now I think less of the marvelous turn exits of Valentino Rossi, it might have been the machine!The strong points of the bike are the solid feeling build, the all-day comfort and wonderful seat, he proper wind protection without being too restrictive and most of all the low seat height and narrow area at the seat to allow your feet to hit the ground without a big bulge artificially inflating the seat height. (That last point was for the general public, I never ride with my feet on the ground and I can always plant one even on the tallest machines. If you have to do the “Harley Waddle” then you need to learn to balance better and take a riding lesson before you adventure.) And the power of the motor, butter smooth when cruising and the thrill of a lively engine (including a nice sound) when you yank the throttle is just a bonus.I’m one day of riding with a set of real tires on this machine away from giving it two thumbs up, but I’m really confident it will pull it off. The bike is available on a pre-order only program so you’d better act faster rather than slower if you want to be one of the few that will get to own a Super Tenere. It is $13,900 and right in line with most of its competition, it is another alternative to one of the most versatile forms of motorcycle riding on can do.Have any specific questions for us about the Tenere? Post them in the comments and we’ll answer them as best we can.