wobblycat

47 months ago

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A Wobbly Review of the 2021 Yamaha Tenere 700

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The 2021 Yamaha Tenere 700  is my first choice for RTW (‘Round The World) travel. It is a no-nonsense bike with an incredible motor and adjustable suspension that is as happy off road as it is on the tarmac.

This bike will take you places well off the beaten path!

This bike will take you places well off the beaten path!

No fancy features like cruise control, traction control, a full colour display, riding modes etc. But you do get what you need: an amazing motor, a bike that won’t break your back picking it up, easy on the pocketbook, ABS, and a worldwide support network for parts and service.

I’ve Ridden Almost 100,000 Km’s in the Last 3 Years

In the last 3 years, I’ve ridden from the Arctic Ocean in Tuktoyuktuk, NWT, Canada to Guatemala,and crossed Canada twice. I’ve stayed in luxury accommodations, camped in the woods and was woken up in the middle of the night from forest fire smoke in Pelly Crossing, Yukon, and near a jungle in Tikal, Guatemala. I’ve encountered many different terrains from smooth blacktop to gravel roads, to lonely forest service roads, to mucky dirt soup. While I haven’t nearly ridden around the world or even on most continents, I feel I have a good perspective on what would make a good RTW bike.

My 2019 travels by motorcycle

My 2019 travels by motorcycle

What Makes a Good RTW Motorcycle?

An RTW motorcycle is one that has to operate in a variety of environments and situations. A standard street bike is typically not up to this challenge as conditions can change quickly and become hostile.

  • Good suspension: It needs long travel to soak up the potholes and rocks.
  • Big front wheel: A 19” or 21” front wheel seems like a weird criterion, but these rim sizes handle the offroad better than the standard 17” front street wheel (points to my CB500X) and opens up many more options for dirt oriented tires.
  • Spoked wheels: Hitting a large rock can dent or even crack a cast rim. Ask me how I know. Yes this can happen on a spoked wheel also, but less likely.
  • Uses regular gas: Premium is harder to find in remote regions, plus adds 30% more to your fuel costs. And in some places, the premium may have been sitting a long time.
  • Small - Midsize: Gravity exists in all places around the world and you will eventually need to pick up your bike, possibly many times in a short span. Wouldn’t you rather pick up a lighter bike? Also, lighter means easier to move around by hand on uneven surfaces like a campground.
  • Reliable: Something that breaks down less is better.
  • Worldwide Parts Distribution: When you do eventually need service, you will appreciate not having to wait months for a part.
  • Simple. This is part of reliability. The more electronics, and complex systems you have, the more opportunity there is for failure.

The Yamaha Tenere hits all the marks above.

The Tenere 700 has a Dakar-inspired look

The Tenere 700 has a Dakar-inspired look

I Really Like the Dakar Inspired Appearance

With the forward facing body, minimalist windscreen, and modern LED headlights of the Yamaha Tenere 700 (aka T7), it’s a real head turner and lots of people approached to ask and compliment me on the bike. However, the body work is too plain for my liking — Yamaha could’ve done better with any kind of graphics package.

Camping with the Tenere 700 and a double rainbow!

Camping with the Tenere 700 and a double rainbow!

For someone coming from a Honda CB500X, the T7 felt almost impossibly tall. But after getting used to standing on my left foot with my right leg lifted up (imagine a male dog doing his business), it was quite manageable (see Jocelin Snow on her BMW R1250 GSA: ). I have since found out Yamaha offers 2 lowering options: a lowering link, and a low seat, available individually.

Pint-Sized Rider Jocelin Snow Taming a Big-Bore GS Is Proof Size Doesn't Matter

Above: Jocelin Snow at 5'1" shows how to rest on a tall BMW R1250 GSA

First Hand Experience

I wanted to try out the T7 in conditions I would use it. I did a 1.5 hour highway ride to Swift Rapids Road, a long section of crown land gravel road north of Orillia. On the highway, the windscreen was surprisingly effective, and the Crossplane Twin motor had great torque along its wide power band. It lacked cruise control though which would be appreciated on long hauls on the highway. The handling on the pavement was very predictable and it would lean as far as I was willing to go.

Yamaha's Crossplane Twin CP2 Motor has great torque along its wide power band

Yamaha's Crossplane Twin CP2 Motor has great torque along its wide power band

I wanted to try out the Yamaha Tenere 700 in conditions I would use it in

I wanted to try out the Yamaha Tenere 700 in conditions I would use it in

Unlike the Kawasaki Versys 1000 I took on Swift Rapids road the week prior, the Yamaha Tenere 700 handled it like it was nothing and inspired much confidence. On the hill I balked at previously, I just stood up on my pegs, smiled, and went for it without even stopping to survey it on foot. It was a total non-issue. The larger, narrower front wheel and long travel suspension were made for this. The only time I stopped was for photos.

Despite the lack of traction control, I was hard pressed to unglue the rear wheel from the gravel even when hard on the throttle.

Positioning

The middleweight dual sport/adventure category is the sweet spot for going on the roads less travelled. The T7’s peers are:

Honda is conspicuously missing. In my opinion, this is the best category for riders who want to travel the world, and/or just like to have the option to go far on and off road.

Within Yamaha, the Tenere 700 is the little brother to the Yamaha Super Tenere which has all the bells and whistles but is more expensive and less off roadable.

Note: No Rally Edition is planned for Canada yet.

The 2021 Yamaha Tenere 700 will take you places physically and figuratively

The 2021 Yamaha Tenere 700 will take you places physically and figuratively

What I Liked

  • Midrange size: Smaller than the full-size bikes, they’re easier to handle and easier to pick up.
  • Narrow: I was able to get through some tight areas which would prove useful in many real world situations.
  • Low centre of gravity: Great for handling and moving around by hand.
  • Great engine: The torque is very manageable and never lacking. I can’t see myself needing more power unless I was fully loaded plus a passenger, going up a steep hill at high speed into a tornado.
Tenere 700 Dashboard

Tenere 700 Dashboard

What Could be Improved

  • Ugly display: Less is more, but ugly is just ugly. Yes the gear indicator, speed etc. are large and easy to read, but aesthetics are sorely lacking
  • Lacking graphics: Visually, it's very minimalist and industrial. Yamaha should’ve added some logos or graphics instead of leaving a large plain grey panel. Start collecting stickers!
  • Difficult to get off the sidestand: I often found myself taking several tries to rock the bike off the sidestand, especially if parked on an incline down to the left.
  • Windscreen not adjustable: People don’t come in just one size.
  • Hot engine in the city: Even with my Klim riding pants on, I felt my right leg getting hot in the stop-and-go traffic of Toronto.
Does anyone else see the similarities? (Digital Derby game by Tomy, circa 1978)

Does anyone else see the similarities? (Digital Derby game by Tomy, circa 1978)

What the T7 Isn’t

Don’t get the T7 If you want a high tech motorcycle with premium features like a beautiful colour display, electronic cruise control, traction control, fancy apps you can connect to your phone, an integrated GPS, etc. A Super Tenere would fit this bill better. The Tenere 700 is not a great daily commuter unless you don’t mind wearing a backpack for your laptop or shelling out to get the optional side cases. This bike is happiest taking you away from the city.

The Tenere 700 feels more at home at a campsite than in the city

The Tenere 700 feels more at home at a campsite than in the city

The Terminator

For short they call it the T7. To me, that sounds like a Terminator model. You know, the movie franchise with Arnold. In fact if I had one, I might just refer to it as the Terminator (pronounced “Tuhminatuh” in my worst Arnold Schwarzenegger accent ) because it would be the perfect machine in a dystopian world (hello 2020!). Also, just look at the model badge on the front side fairings.

The Terminator

The Terminator

Capable. Adaptable. Functional.

I would classify the T7 more dual sport than adventure bike which tend to be more street focused. Visually, it's very minimalist and industrial and could benefit from improved aesthetics.

The 2021 Yamaha Tenere 700 will inspire you to do more, to stretch you out of that comfort zone and grow

The 2021 Yamaha Tenere 700 will inspire you to do more, to stretch you out of that comfort zone and grow

They say you should surround yourself with people that inspire you to be a better person, to help you grow. Likewise, you should get a bike that inspires you to do more, to stretch you out of that comfort zone and grow. And to go more places. My CB500X certainly did that for me. And I could see myself stretching and going to even more places with the Tenere 700.

Overall, Yamaha hit a home run with the Tenere 700.

And if you want a taste of what the 2021 Tenere 700 can really do, watch what Pol Tarres does on it!

POL TARRÉS - THE SEEKER MOVIE

Specifications

Full Specifications can be found on the Yamaha website .

MSRP: $12,399 CAD

2021 Yamaha Tenere 700. Photo courtesy of Yamaha

2021 Yamaha Tenere 700. Photo courtesy of Yamaha

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Gsa76

42 months ago

Rding a gsa for the last 10 yrs.   When the rally is released in 🇨🇦 I'm switching up.