Battle of the Middleweights- 3): Yamaha Tenere 700

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We’ve pitched Aprilia’s Tuareg 650, Suzuki’s V-Strom 650 XT, Yamaha’s Tuareg 660 and Moto Morini’s X-Cape against each other. We’ve already covered two of these (have a look through the website for the others), now it’s Gary Hartshome’s turn to run the rule over the Yamaha…

Yamaha Tenere 700

Up until recent years the adventure bike market has mostly been all about the large-capacity offerings, such as the market-leading BMW R1250GS. And to a degree, it still is. But what if these don’t float your boat? Where do you go? What do you buy?

The middleweight section is growing fast, with some awesome machines on the market. One of the most interesting in this segment is the Yamaha Ténéré 700 – or the T7, as it’s often called. When we allocated the bikes for this test, I was given the T7 for a few weeks to find out what it was all about. I wasn’t complaining!

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Unique, simple design

Adventure bikes have to have a compromise somewhere, and the T7 is aimed firmly at its off-road foundations; the minute you climb on you know you’re astride an off-road-based bike. It feels like an off-road bike from the off: narrow seat, wide and high bars and, of course, the Dakar-esque fairing arrangement.

Yamaha Tenere 700

Inside the Dakar fairing is a set of very basic clocks that have graphics like a game of snake on your Nokia 3310. But that’s all it needs to be as the whole bike is very basic. No traction, wheelie or slide control. Just a very raw motorcycle, controlled entirely by the skillsets of the pilot – there’s something quite endearing about that. An IT degree isn’t required to get the best out of this bike!

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Comfort meets performance

Although the seat is narrow and MX-styled, it’s actually more comfortable than it looks. The fact there is plenty of space to manoeuvre around helps with the repositioning to stay numb-bum free, as the two-hour ride up the A1 to get to the Dales proved. Once off the motorway, the T7 turned from a comfortable tourer into a back lane superhero. It is light, precise and flickable, despite the 21in front wheel. I can only imagine how good it would be with some 17in Supermoto wheels.

It may not have the ponies stored inside that its rivals have, but there’s more than enough, and the torque range the 689cc twin offers is extremely linear, pulling from 2000 revs all the way up the range which, in turn, reduces the need to regularly flick up and down the gearbox; massively helpful when riding tricky off-road sections.

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Yamaha Tenere 700

Built for off-road

We tackled some tricky, rocky, off-road lanes where throttle, clutch and brake control were a must. There is quite a large reach to the clutch lever, which was just about okay for me, but would limit short-fingered types. It’s nothing some aftermarket levers with a shorter span and more adjustability wouldn’t sort, though. In terms of the throttle and brake, these worked in perfect harmony with no snatchy feeling from the throttle and no brake judder, which is a must for intricate off-road riding. Ground clearance was adequate for where we were riding, and the T7 covered the route with ease.

Suspension is fully adjustable and makes the bike ride nice and smooth on the road. It soaks up most of what an average rider could throw at it while off-the-beaten-track. With some aftermarket off-road suspenders in it, this would be a serious weapon and one which you could live with as a pure Adventure bike.

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Yamaha Tenere 700

Verdict

All in all, this is a brilliant piece if kit, and ideal for the more off-road orientated Adventurer who likes to cover miles both off- and on-road no matter how short or great the distance. I’m very tempted to buy one, but I’ll wait to ride the World Raid version first, as that looks perfect…

Yamaha Tenere 700

Tech spec

Yamaha Ténéré 700

Price: £9900

Engine: 689cc parallel twin, l/c, eight-valve, dohc

Power: 72bhp (54Kw) @ 9000rpm

Torque: 50lb-ft (68Nm) @ 6500rpm

Transmission: Six-speed, chain final drive

Frame: Steel-tubed double cradle, cast alloy swingarm

Suspension: (F) Fully adjustable forks, (R) Fully adjustable shock

Brakes: (F) Twin 282mm discs, twin-piston ABS callipers, (R) single 245mm disc, single-piston ABS calliper

Test tyres: Bridgestone AX41, (F) 90/90-21, (R) 150/70-18

Wheelbase: 1595mm

Seat height: 875mm

Fuel capacity: 16 litres

Wet weight: 204kg

Warranty: 24 months, unlimited mileage

Contact: www.yamaha-motor.eu

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