The Yamaha Tenere 700 really feels like a rally-bred long-distance adventure bike. Almost the Defender of adventure. Designed to be bare bones. The less tech, the less that can go wrong kind of vibe. It’s raw and rugged and won’t be doing all the thinking for you but that’s what I love about it.
After seven days and 1,300 km travelling along the roads, mule tracks and most spectacular routes that Sardinia has to offer I feel comfortable saying the Yamaha Tenere does exactly what is says on the tin. For the money it is incredible value and gives you everything you need for a rugged go anywhere adventure.
The key that stands out for me is that the Tenere, instead of following in the footsteps of the majority of rival manufacturers in the adventure bike class, Yahama have done their own thing. Rivals seem to just be getting bigger – larger engine sizes, more weight and heck loads more electronics. But the Tenere comes at things from a refreshingly different angle.
They’ve looked at rally-adventure riding and asked the question – what do you NEED? They’ve taken that list and made the Tenere. No frills, no fancy stuff. A bike build to the tough. Suspension, power and traction, and riding position nailed. With a dry weight of 187kg (205kg wet) and a high torque 689cc parallel twin you have 74bhp. So a great power to weight ration but with no electronic aids apart from ABS which can be switched off for off-road use.
This is often the first people ask when a 169cm chick rides it. Is it manageable? Yes. With a seat hight of 880cm it’s completely manageable. Many miss the stand over height as that’s almost as important as the seat height. I’d describe it as medium narrow so as a 169cm rider I could comfortably touch the ground on both side – but not flat footed.
Both the Rally edition does have a different, I believe, slightly higher seat. There are also lower and slim seat options.
The KYB 43mm upside down forks give 210mm of travel and have compression and rebound damping. At the rear there is a Sachs shock with 200mm travel. I found it really smooth on the road, a little rugged but more in a feeling the road kind of way – not uncomfortable. Off road it was in it’s element, sucking up the rocks and bumps, and for a 205kg it felt lush.
Brembo Brakes offer good power while retaining excellent feel. I liked how the brakes gave soft braking power in the initial squeeze, something so often missing on these larger bikes. The soft initiation is ideal and shows the off-road focus of the Tenere where fine control is needed for loose, slippery, dusty, low grip trails. The excellent rubber with the Scorpion Rally STR definitely helped the braking traction. I never once felt the bike waver in braking power, always biting and braking smooth and straight.
Brake levers were as expected. Adjustment on the brake lever was ideal for my smaller hands [shame the clutch lever didn’t have adjustment]. The rear is the same giving good levels of control with large protective Dainese adv boots.
The 689cc parallel twin motor comes from the acclaimed Yamaha MT-07 which was introduced back in 2014. So a good rep. It may only have 74bhp but it delivers everything is has in a fun, easy and engaging way. Plenty on the road but not too much for off. I found it was the ideal balance. Remember this is a lightweight bike for it’s category too, adding to the feeling of power when compared to rivals.
Being honest, until we went off road, I thought that maybe it was a little lacking in power BUT as soon as we hit some technical stuff I realised that it’s all about the right balance. To do the tough off road you really don’t want something mental fiery. I did find I had it pinned wide open on some of the sport road riding, but that was almost part of the fun! I didn’t feel underpowered. The Tenere seems to have the perfect balance.
Loved it. For a light weight low frills adventure bike you can’t expect the full road plushness of a bigger rival but it was certainly comfortable. The small rally fairing gave a nice balance of volume to wind buffering. I felt no vibration through the handlebars and the range of power and torque is impressive, pulling cleanly and smoothly.
The top end is impressive too, and without uncomfortable vibration or buffering. I of course didn’t go this fast… but I can confirm 197 kph on the motorway with a 20kg bag on the bag plus rapid fun through twisty mountain roads at race pace was totally within it’s capability.
Everything about the power delivery just feels right. The combination with the chassis and suspension means the bike generates an impressive amount of mechanical grip and in turn gives the rider confidence as to what the rear wheel is doing.
I rode with the Pirelli Scorpion Rally Street and I’ve never experienced such an incredible tyre. Never once did I feel an ounce of distrust. They were always there gripping and firm. Road performance for acceleration, braking grip, high speed cornering traction, and off-road feel and authority. In every moment, dry, wet, muddy, sandy, tarmac, they held strong. The confidence this gave me to really throttle on was incredible. It’s impressive to have a tyre that really can do it all.
With the established MT-07 the engine is proven and reliable technology. The Tenere has high quality suspension and industry leading Brembo brakes. You can expect the Japanese build quality and reliability Yamaha is known for.
A key bit to mention here is they have been designed for a rugged environment. A few drops and no damage. They’re made for the adventure. I had zero qualms about quality.
Priced from £8.1k it’s extremely competitively priced in the adventure bike class. The price difference is clear when you look at the spec and equipment, but it does offer fantastic value for money and really does stand its ground. For me I’d pick the rugged over the teched out too.
Would I pick a GS or Tenere is the common question. Tenere for sure if I was planning to get any mud on it. It is just so darn capable and fun. You don’t need all the fancy tech!
This really is the no frills adventure bike. You need to ride it and feel the terrain, and that’s not a bad thing! Unlike it’s rivals, it’s not crammed with high tech programmes and software. The hardware is high quality, and designed for the job, but it’s not going to do things for you –no different maps, quick shifter, traction control or auto blipper. Without these you can expect the basic dash, not the easiest to read in mucky conditions but fits the tech it houses. I like to consider this the Defender of adventure biking.
The T7 Tenere 700 is an incredible adventure bike, after 1300km I would have one. It’s low tech, pure rugged go anywhere thrills. It proves that with the riding skill you don’t need all the fancy technology and brings huge smiles along the way.
|Mpg, costs & insurance|
|Engine type||Liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 4V, parallel twin|
|Frame type||Steel backbone, double cradle|
|Fuel capacity||16 litres|
|Front suspension||KYB 43mm upside down, 210mm travel|
|Rear suspension||Sachs rear monoshock, 200mm travel|
|Front brake||282mm twin-disc|
|Rear brake||Single 245mm disc|
|Front tyre size||90/90 x 21|
|Rear tyre size||150/70 x 18|
|Average fuel consumption||Est. 54 mpg terrain depending|
|Annual road tax||£93|
|Insurance group||10 of 17|
How much to insure?
|Top speed & performance|
|Max power||72 bhp|
|Max torque||50 ft-lb|
Test ride conducted during Master experience with Dainese – https://www.dainese.com/gb/en/dainese/dainese-experience.html
If you’re new to my page – it’s more than just dirt bike riding and racing, I’m on a mission to prove that nothing is impossible if you want it bad enough. See more about my story plus read about my life changing accident, which started it all.