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Yamaha Super Tenere
11:39am Wednesday 9th February 2011 in Motorcycle News
YAMAHA’S Super Tenere is bound to be compared to BMW’s R1200GS.
Trouble is, the BMW is rather a good bike and it sells like hot cakes. Any manufacturer entering this market might prefer the competition to be not quite so intense.
Can Yamaha really challenge the mighty Germans to produce a motorcycle that’s equally capable? It’s a tall order but on paper, things look promising – a 108bhp, 1199cc parallel twin against the German 110bhp, 1170cc flat twin. Both bikes have shaft drive, aluminium luggage and a riding stance designed for hours in the saddle.
A bike built to cross continents and deserts needs a big test ride, so Yamaha invited bike journalists from all over the world to ride the bike from Paris to Toulouse, then on to Madrid and Lisbon. I joined the final leg to Marrakesh – a proper desert adventure!
The first thing to strike me was how flat the Super Tenere’s engine felt. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, the torque curve is as steady as a surgeon’s hand and the power delivery is predictable and measured. Wind open the throttle and the bike picks up smoothly, which inexperienced riders will find totally unintimidating.
There are actually two engine mappings – Touring and Sport. Touring aims for smoothness, while Sport mode has more edge.
In twisty sections, there is enough poke in Sport to offer a lively ride and together with the easy handling, the Super Tenere can feel very rewarding. On motorways, take it easy, enjoy the comfort of the adjustable seat (from 845 mmto 870mm) and you can literally ride for days on end.
Of course, in deep desert sand, the Super Tenere is simply too heavy at 261kg to ride the crests of yellowbrown waves, but the GS would struggle in the Sahara too. And at least the Super T appears to be more ‘crashable’ than the shiny, but pricey-todrop Ducati Multistrada. Yamaha has added a linked braking system as well.
If you use just the front lever to scrub speed, the ST automatically adds some rear brake pressure and even adjusts that percentage according to how much weight you’re carrying.
It’s a totally unobtrusive system that works brilliantly, reducing front end dive and stabilising the bike under braking.
Attacking twisties is actually really good fun, not only because of the superb brakes, which allow you to grab a fistful at the last moment (within reason of course) but the bike also has effortless handling.
Once you’ve got your head around the dead 261kg weight and you’re up and running, slow speed manoeuvres are incredibly easy.
The 23-litre tank proved it has a range above 200 miles and I left the suspension as standard for the entire duration of the six-day trip simply because I had no call to change it, it works that well. You can adjust the rear spring preload manually for two up riding and it’s straightforward enough. Gear changes were smooth and the shaft drive just did its job.
So in all, the Super Tenere is fun, comfortable and easy to ride.