The Yamaha Tenere 700 is one of the most eagerly anticipated of the new bikes for 2019 and the build-up of excitement has been worked to the maximum by Yamaha since the first spy shots of the bike appeared in 2016.
Owners are now getting hold of their bikes following the global press launch and Insidebikes was able to get hold of a bike to find out how it fares on the UK’s roads.
The bike is a new entry in the seemingly never-ending adventure bike sales growth which has now splintered into various niches within the original adventure bike class. It’s getting to the point where there’s an adventure bike for almost every taste.
The new Tenere 700 sits in the mid-range both in terms of engine capacity, list price and what it’s aimed at doing, which is to take a simpler, less technologically-laden stance on offering a bike that can mix-up road with some off-road riding.
At the heart of the Tenere 700 is the endlessly praised parallel-twin 689cc motor that first appeared in the Yamaha MT-07 of 2014. This is a reliable, frugal and fun engine that has the 270° firing order giving the engine more character and makes it sound livelier.
The specs of the Tenere 700 engine are almost identical to the MT-07 model with only a differently-shaped airbox and exhaust, created as a result of the new frame, along with some modifications to the fuel-injection mapping.
While there are lots of adventure bikes offering more technology, greater touring capability, more focus on off-road riding, more power, a larger array of rider safety aids, they all cost considerably more than the Tenere 700 which starts at £8,399.
The new KTM 790 Adventure is one of the key rivals to the Tenere 700, but not only does it have an extra 20bhp over the Tenere 700, with 94bhp, it also costs a lot more. The same can be said for the Triumph Tiger 800, BMW F850GS and Honda CRF1000 Africa Twin which all have extra power and cost a lot more money.
Yamaha does offer the option to add a significant number of official accessories in the form of off-road protection for the engine, luggage, different seats, a low seat option, lowered suspension and many other items like auxiliary lights, you can have a standard Tenere 700 for not a huge amount of money.
What’s the Yamaha Tenere 700 like to ride?
Those riders of shorter leg are going to notice the seat height of 875mm but the actual riding position isn’t as intimidating as that might sound. This is primarily because the bike is very slim and you don’t have to deal with a wide seat.
Yamaha offer lower seats and a lowering kit that whittles 35mm off the seat height and will allow shorter riders to feel more comfortable. There is also handlebar riser kit available for taller riders who might need to make themselves more comfortable; particularly when riding over distance off road.
The offbeat thrum of the parallel-twin motor has a nicely energetic feel to it but it remains completely civilised at lower speeds when you are riding the bike on the road – and let’s face it, that’s where the majority of riding will be taking place for most Tenere riders.
While 74bhp is way under the power figures of many other adventure bike rivals – which can stretch all the way up to 170bhp with some of the more bonkers offerings from other manufacturers, the way the power is delivered thanks to that 270° firing order keeps the ride interesting.
The Tenere 700 rides on Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tyres which, while based on the construction of a road-going radial tyre, are capable of heading off road with a decent level of confidence. They aren’t going to cope with deep mud as they lack the side bite of more off-road focussed rubber though.
On the road, the tyres give good feedback and you can ride the bike pretty hard into corners with some surprising confidence when you look at the fairly chunky, knobbly tread pattern. The handling is light and reassuring, the twin disc front brakes are more than up to the job of stopping the 205kg kerbweight of the Tenere 700 when it has a full tank of fuel and it feels like a lot of fun to ride. The ABS is switchable for off-road easily with one button on the dashboard so you can turn it off completely.
The handling is far better than the long-travel, fully-adjustable KYB front and rear suspension leads you to believe. Of course there are some elements missing on the Tenere 700 because it has been built to a price and that has inevitably means there have been some compromises made.
There are some annoyances of course. The horizontally-mounted digital dashboard vibrates and does cause a level of irritation as it happens all the time over certain road speeds.
The standard seat is pretty firm and does get uncomfortable after more than about 40-odd miles of road riding but this is certainly something that’s an individual discovery.
Wind protection from the standard screen is pretty good for the rider of average height but washing the Tenere 700 for pictures did reveal water and muck is going to get trapped behind the two side screen panels and will be very tough to clean.
The omission of traction control is something that some riders might feel uneasy about; when some scooters have basic traction control systems fitted these days, it does seem a little strange when it’s so commonplace.
Could the Yamaha Tenere 700 be the UK’s best-value motorcycle?
The BMW R1200GS (or R1250GS as it is now) and the larger R1200GS Adventure have been sitting at the top of the sales charts in the adventure bike class for most of the last decade.
Prices have never been low for the GS but with a basic R1250GS now starting at £13,550, the gulf between the Tenere 700 is enormous.
Yamaha is already offering PCP finance deals where a Tenere 700 could be yours for around £100 per month depending on the deposit you have available.
Fuel economy is another winning attribute of the Tenere 700’s pitch to be a great-value bike with the motor sipping fuel in a very frugal manner. With just a 16-litre fuel tank as standard it’s easy to think the range will be low but our test experience on the road over a mixture of different roads saw mid to high 50mpg which easily translates to far more than 200 miles of range.
When you look at the rivals in the class – and that includes those that are a lot more expensive but which offer far more in terms of performance, technology, rider aids and running costs and others that are much nearer the price of the Tenere 700, the Yamaha looks like it makes far more sense.
It has almost all of the performance and touring capability you might need as well as being pretty decent off road. All you would need is a change to more off-road focussed tyres if you were going to be tackling more extreme terrain and mud.
Overall, the Tenere 700 is a massively tempting prospect and the lightness of the bike will appeal to a lot of riders who might otherwise struggle with the bigger, heavier bikes.