It feels like the Yamaha Ténéré has been around for ages in various guises, starting with the simple but effective single-cylinder Paris-Dakar inspired bikes of the 80s. The latest incarnation of the Ténéré wasn’t launched until 2019, after years of Yamaha teasing us with the T7 concept bike. At the time of its rebirth, the Ténéré was a slight anomaly in the world of adventure bikes, which seemed to get bigger and more laden with tech every year. Being a (fairly) simple and reasonably sized machine in the world of adventure Goliaths, the Ténéré offered a fresh alternative. Fast forward to today, and there’s a whole host of bikes in this ‘new’ section of the market, with the Honda Transalp and Suzuki V-Strom 800DE the latest ones to join the club.
In 2022, Yamaha added the World Raid to the Ténéré line-up, next to the standard and Rally models, and although it’s still not gigantic like some of the biggest adventure bikes, it’s definitely a step up from the standard bike in terms of its weight, height and level of spec. I was curious to ride it and see what it was like.
Sometimes you jump on a new motorcycle, and within the first few feet of riding it you just know you'll enjoy it. That’s exactly how I felt about the Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid. But was that feeling a surprise? Not really. I have ridden the standard Ténéré 700 enough to know I liked it, and when you’re faced with an improved version of something you already enjoy, it’s always likely to appeal. But I didn’t realise how much of a difference there would be.
On paper, it may sound like the World Raid has just been given added off-road ability with the 20mm taller suspension, bigger 23-litre tank, stronger bash plate, new radiator guard, extra ABS functions (ability to switch it off for offroading), bigger footpegs, and a 5” TFT dash. But you don’t have to venture off the Tarmac to appreciate many of these upgrades.
What made the biggest difference, for me, was the suspension. It feels like the Ténéré’s iron fist now wears a silk glove, and the result is a very smooth ride indeed. The suspension travel is longer (now 230mm front, 220mm rear), and carries you over bumps with no problem. As with many adventure bikes with tall suspension, you get a bit of fork dive when braking hard and, watching a colleague ride the bike, I could see it move up and down even when he shifted gears. The noticeable movement only takes the initial bit of travel out of the suspension though, and when you ask more of it, it is pleasantly firm and well damped, and going round corners is stable.
The World Raid is 16kg heavier than the standard Ténéré, but the centre of gravity is roughly the same, thanks to the fuel tank’s clever low positioning. On the move it doesn’t really feel noticeably heavier, although if you rode the two bikes back to back you might notice a difference. The World Raid does feel bigger though, with the massive 23-litre tank pushing your legs wider apart. The riding position is still comfortable, and there’s a bit of wind protection from the bodywork, but if you look down, that tank with its two filler caps looks rather sizeable.
The flat seat is high at 890mm, and although it is fairly slim, it feels high too. Most of the time this wasn’t an issue, but if you need to ‘reverse’ when seated on the bike by pushing with your feet, you soon feel like investing in some platform boots.
I only took the World Raid off road once for a short stretch of a very easy green lane, so I can’t really comment on how it handles on dirt, but the riding position is pleasant when you stand up, the pegs are nice and grippy, and the bars are high and wide. If it had knobblier rubber on (and if I wasn’t so worried about dropping it) I could see myself attempting much more challenging lanes. Even on my short dirt excursion, it was clear that the suspension was doing a top job making a big bike feel manageable on rough ground.
Powered by the same 689cc CP2 parallel-twin engine as the MT-07, XSR700, Tracer 7 and the standard Ténéré, the World Raid can’t compete with the bigger engines in the adventure game, and chasing the big boys would be tiring, but there’s more than enough power there with 72bhp at 9,000rpm and 68Nm of torque at 6,500rpm. I found the bike to be most enjoyable when you are not trying to ride as fast as you might on different machinery. Just knock your speed back a little, and enjoy the torque-rich power delivery. It’s not a bike for rushing around on. The only slight niggle was that the initial opening of the throttle is a tad abrupt. It’s nothing that you can’t ride around, but you just have to be mindful of it.
True to the ‘less is more’ philosophy of the Ténéré, the World Raid has a fairly limited box of toys. There’s switchable ABS, but that’s only really something you’ll use if you’re riding off-road. There are no ride modes or other rider aids to select, which is mainly a good thing, but the omission of cruise control seems a missed opportunity.
The TFT dash looks good and presents all the info you need clearly. It can even be linked to your phone via Yamaha’s app for calls and messages to be displayed on the dash, but it doesn’t feature navigation. There is a handy USB port at the front, so it’s easy enough to attach your phone to the bars with a mount such as Quad Lock, and keep it charged for the journey.
Pricewise, there’s a £1,800 premium for the World Raid over the basic Ténéré. At £11,910 it’s more expensive than the Honda Transalp (£9,499) and the Suzuki V-Strom 800DE (£10,499), but less than the Ducati Multistrada V2 (£12,995). Since we rode the World Raid, Yamaha has introduced the new £13k Ténéré 700 World Rally, which is now the top Ténéré with a special Dakar colour scheme and Akrapovic exhaust.
Having spent a few days with the bike, I found the World Raid pleasant to live with. It’s a bit on the large side to move around, but compared to a lot of ‘big’ adventure bikes it’s still very manageable. The split fuel tank is a unique feature, and although there is a connection between the tanks, I found that when filling up it was quicker to open both fuel caps and fill the tanks separately. It took slightly longer than opening just one cap, but not long enough for it to be a bother. I understand that Yamaha didn’t want to add a centre stand to the bike as it might compromise ground clearance offroad, but for home maintenance it would very much appreciated. Similarly, as I tend to ride almost exclusively on Tarmac, I would choose tubeless tyre over tubes to make it easier to deal with potential punctures.
Other than that, the bike was an absolute joy to live with. At the beginning I thought it would be just that little bit too big to be used as a day-to-day bike, but once you get used to it, it’s fine even just for popping to the shops for that pint of milk you forgot, or nipping down to your local bike night. And all the while, it keeps whispering in your ear about how it could take you all the way round the world just as easily, keeping the dreams alive. So far I have resisted the temptation, but if you don’t hear from me in a while, you’ll know the World Raid has won me over…
Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid specification
Engine: 689cc, parallel twin, l/c, 8-valve, dohc
Power: 72bhp (54Kw) @ 9000rpm
Torque: 68Nm (50lb/ft) @ 6500rpm
Frame: Steel-tubed double cradle, cast alloy swingarm
Front suspension: 43mm fully adjustable KYB inverted forks
Rear suspension: fully adjustable KYB rising-rate shock
Front brake: Twin 282mm discs, twin-piston ABS calipers
Rear brake: Single 245mm disc, single-piston ABS caliper
Front tyre: Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR, 90/90-21
Rear tyre: Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR, 150/70-18
Seat height: 890mm
Wet weight: 220kgs
Service intervals: 6,000 miles or annually
Warranty: 24months, unlimited mileage
Second opinion: Yamaha Tenere 700 World Raid launch video
Words: Mikko Nieminen
Photos: Yamaha, Mikko Nieminen