September 5, 2021

9 Months with a Yamaha Tenere 700

9 Months with a Yamaha Tenere 700

It’s been 9 months since I bought my dream bike, the 2020 Yamaha Tenere 700, so the question is, is the love affair still alive? Or has the lust subsided?

I spend a lot of time on a motorcycle, so I need something I like, something that’s comfortable, capable, reliable and low maintenance.
I’m sure by now, you’ll know I'm a daily rider, 30km each way, 5 days a week in all weather. Then quite often on the weekends I’m off up SH1 or over the Rimutakas on SH2. I’ve covered around 15000km at this point on the T7, ridden quite a number of serious and well known adventure trails around the country. And the bike has not let me down once.

The Tenere 700 is a solid performer. And with some minor modifications, I have got it to a point where I’m happy with it as a daily rider, and happy to tackle most adventures New Zealand has to offer.

The bike came on a set of OEM Pirelli STR Rally tyres, which I have to say, I’m quite impressed with. They have lasted well over 10,000km of tarmac and gravel abuse. They're quite a good tyre on the black top… for an ADV tyre. Though I didn't really like the loose feeling of the front on the gravel.
Swapping out to a set of Mitas E07+ tyres shortly before the Triumph Tiger Adventure Ride, I found way more grip off road, but a little less confidence on the tarmac. Since getting a puncture in the rear Mitas, I’ve gone back to the Pirelli on the back, and kept the Mitas on the front, which for the occasional gravel and more tarmac riding (winter months), I am really liking the feeling of the bike.

The list of modifications is as follows,
Note: all prices are approx.

  • Outback Motortek crash bars and skid plate. $1200
  • Scottoiler X-System 2.0 - $400
  • Quadlock phone mount - $60
  • Ventura Evo rack - $300
  • Kriega OS-Base and 2x 12L panniers - 550
  • Mitas E07+ Tyres - $500

Total - $2910

Plus the cost of the bike at circa 17k, and you’re away adventure riding for less than NZD$20,000 (Please don't let my wife see this)

For a bike with these minor modifications to be able to do everything I want it to do, I think is pretty amazing. We’re talking about building an almost perfect all rounder for under 20K - bike included.

But this is a 9 month review, so there must be something I’m not happy with right?

By now I should have ridden the bike and found at least a couple of things I’m not stoked about…

The good, the bad and the ugly

Let’s start with the good, journos the world over have waxed lyrical about how the CP2 engine is snappy, responsive, great for overtaking on the open road, has brilliant low down torque, and is able to hold its own when compared to other bikes in its class. Simply put, its a fun engine.

The Ergonomics of the Tenere 700 are brilliant, I’m 5’10”, and although when stationary, the bike is slightly too high for me (the main reason I installed crash bars), under motion, it's outstanding. It’s balanced, nimble and makes me look like a better rider than I actually am. Short of minor suspension tweaks, and a replacement set of tyres, I’ve not had to actually do much to the bike. The levers were all pretty much in the right place when I got it, I’ve rolled the bars back a little for commuting and that's about it.

Maintenance is easy, parts are everywhere, the aftermarket scene is massive.

I added the Scott oiler because #CommuterLife, the crash bars and skid plate were just smart when you're taking 17K of motorcycle to rough terrain, the Quadlock is something I would put on any bike, same with luggage. So in the way of modifications, It’s not like I had to add things to make the bike liveable. These are things you would do to almost any adventure bike.

  1. The Bad and once you read this, you’ll realise just how picky I have to be to find something bad. Firstly, I hate the fuel gauge. This is the single worst thing about the bike. Fill up the bike (16L) and maths says you have about 350km in the tank. Awesome, but the annoying thing is the fuel light will start flashing at you at around the 200-250km mark, when you know you have at the very least 50km left in the tank, and possibly as much as 130km. The range anxiety this causes is real and you find yourself freaking out for no reason.
  2. It’s disappointing Yamaha chose to put the toggle switch for the ODO, trip, fuel consumption readout on the right hand switch gear. It makes it ever so slightly more difficult to use, and the buttons on the instrumentation tower are just a little too far away to be easily accessible. Yes this is a small thing, but if they had chosen to put the switch on the left, then it would be much more accessible.

And the ugly? the muffler and hanger. You see, the hanger is welded to the rear frame. It’s not a bolt on or replaceable part. Meaning when you drop your bike on the right hand side, you’ll bend your muffler in, possibly gouging into the swingarm. This hanger should have been replaceable, a sacrificial part. On my first outing I managed to bend it in toward the swing arm a little. I dropped the T7 on its right hand side at the bottom of a steep and loose hillclimb on the 42nd Traverse.

But there you go, there are 3 things wrong with the bike. It really speaks to how good the bike is, right?

I was asked to describe what the Tenere 700 is like to ride. And that's a difficult one, how do you describe to a blind person what the colour red is? But if i had to come up with something, I would say, it’s like taking the ergonomics of a great dirt bike, refining them, and coupling them with the engine of a torquey, snappy road bike.

Think of the mutant love child of an MT07 and a DR650.

Boom - T7

I’m not saying the Tenere 700 is the best bike in the world. When you have a young family, you don't always have the opportunity to own more than 1 motorbike, so as a compromise the T7 does everything well. But don't get me wrong, I do occationally look at hard core road bikes and get a bit envious.

So is the love affair still alive? If I had my time over again, would I still buy the Yamaha Tenere 700?

100%, yes I would.