Yamaha Super Tenere – first impressions

Bondo gets a quick ride on Yamaha’s new Super Ténéré. Here’s a quick write up on what he found.

Words: Steve Bond. Pics: Yamaha, except title shot by Didier Constant.


We haven’t seen much new from the Tuning Fork Company in the last year or so but recently Yamaha Canada introduced a brand new 2011 model and one that’s labeled as an early release 2012.

My seat time on both of these motorcycles was disappointingly brief – just long enough for a taste of what they’re about, but here’s my initial thoughts on the new Super Ténéré (we’ll follow up with the Styker next week).

2012 Super Ténéré

Yamaha has been in and out of the adventure touring pool several times and is hoping to make a big splash with the 2012 XT1200Z Super Ténéré, which they launched in Europe earlier in the year.

Styled after Yamaha’s Paris-Dakar winning motorcycles, the Ténéré is all new. It’s powered by an 1199cc inline twin that pumps out 108 horsepower and over 80 ft lbs of torque, delivered to the rear wheel via a six speed box and a shaft drive. The Yamaha also boasts electronic aids including two power modes (Sport and Touring), traction control (can be switched off for the dirt) and unified ABS brakes, though oddly, not any electronic suspension control.


270 degree twin is an unusual configuration.

The new motor has a 270-degree firing order (“for superior traction and throttle control”) and twin balancer shafts. Another interesting feature is that it’s a dry sump system but the oil tank is located inside the main cases.

Controlled by a button on the right switchpod, the power modes are similar to those on the R1 in that the mapping isn’t affected, only the way the throttle opens.

When I first got underway on the Ténéré, it felt flat – like someone had left a sock stuffed in the airbox. I saw it was in “Touring” mode so I changed to “Sport” on the fly and the Ténéré suddenly accelerated like it had gained a cylinder (Touring mode is apparently much better on fuel economy).


Any self respecting adventure tourer needs aluminum bags!

The fly-by-wire throttle response was excellent and there were no flat spots or power pulses across the rev range. To be a good corporate “green” citizen, the Ténéré is equipped with a catalytic converter that meets tough Euro emissions standards.

Adventure touring bikes are usually extremely comfortable, and the Yamaha is no exception – at least for those over six feet tall. The first time I sat on it, the Ténéré just felt “right.” The bars are a nice reach, the seat is very comfortable (and adjustable from 835 – 860 mm) and the pegs are right where I’d put them.

I might hack an inch or so off the bars and go for the larger windscreen (the standard unit is not adjustable), but that’d be about it. Racking up a lot of miles on this motorcycle should be very easy.


Wheels are laced so as to allow for tubeless tires.

The Ténéré uses flanged spoked wheels, which allow tubeless radial tires to be mounted and, combined with a 19 inch front wheel, should help for getting around off asphalt. The 110/80-19 tire allows the Ténéré to turn in very easily and steering is surprisingly light, with a generous steering lock that made feet up U-turns for camera runs a snap.

Front forks are 43mm, fully adjustable male-slider (USD) units with 190mm (7.5 inches) of travel, while the single rear shock has the same amount of travel and is adjustable for preload and rebound damping only – and then manually at that.

Twin 310mm front discs and 4-piston calipers are up front while a single 282mm disc is on the rear. ABS is standard but cannot be deactivated for the dirt although Yamaha reckon that their all-new ABS system is intelligent enough to cope in off-road situations. The braking is also “unified” or linked unless the rider selects the rear brake first, in which case, each brake is on its own. I found initial bite quite good with above average feel and feedback.



The Super Ténéré also comes with a whole load of adventure accessories.

At 261kg (576lb) with a full tank, it’s a little porky side when compared against the GS’ 229kg (505lb) but significantly lighter than Honda’s 277 kg (611 lbs) Varadero. But, Yamaha has the weight situated so it sure doesn’t feel that heavy. I’m not sure I’d ever take a 550 lb motorcycle on dirt trails, but on hard pack or dirt roads, it’s fine.


Larger screen is an option.

There are some nice touches on the Ténéré – both clutch and brake levers are adjustable, it’s got projector type headlights, a 23 litre tank, a centerstand, handguards and the footpegs are steel but have rubber inserts that compress when the rider stands on the pegs, so the steel grips the boots. Ingenious.

Pricing is still being worked on but a Yamaha spokesperson says they’re “taking a long, hard look and should be competitive with the 1200GS”, the motorcycle square in their crosshairs. Pricing should be released before the Toronto Show in early December.


And so is the bashplate.

There’s also going to be a whole host of accessories available for the bike including a bashplate, engine guards, 35mm lower seat, fog lights, high screen, wind deflectors and aluminum bags.

However, they’re up against some stiff competition, including the new Triumph Tiger, with both Ducati’s Multistrada and BMW’s GS boasting electronic suspension adjustment
so the Yamaha’s manual set-up will be a factor when buyers’ compare

The Super Ténéré is a 2012 model and so won’t be in dealerships until next June or July. Personally, I can’t wait to get one for an extended tour as the short ride I had proved the Super Ténéré is right in my personal strike zone.


XT1200Z Super Ténéré
Engine type Forward-inclined parallel 2-cylinder, Twin spark engine, Fuel Injected, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 4-valve
Displacement 1,199cc
Bore x stroke 98 mm x 79.5 mm
Compression ratio 11 : 1
Maximum Power 108 HP @ 7.250 rpm
Maximum Torque 114,1 Nm @ 6.000 rpm
Lubrication system Oil tank in crankcase, Dry sump
Carburettor Fuel Injection
Clutch Type Wet, Multiple-disc diaphragm spring
Ignition system Twin spark
Starter system Electric
Transmission system Constant Mesh, 6-speed
Final transmission Shaft
Frame Steel tube backbone
Front suspension system Telescopic forks, Ø 43 mm tube, adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping
Front travel 190 mm
Caster Angle 26º
Trail 94 mm
Rear suspension system Monoshock, Adjustable preload and rebound damping
Rear Travel 190 mm
Front brake Hydraulic dual disc, Ø 310 mm wave discs
Rear brake Hydraulic single disc, Ø 282 mm wave disc
Front tire 110/80R19M/C 59V
Rear tire 150/70R17M/C 69V
Overall length 2,255 mm
Overall width 980 mm
Overall height 1,410 mm
Seat height adjustable 845-870 mm
Wheel base 1,540 mm
Minimum ground clearance 205 mm
Wet weight (including full oil and fuel tank) 261 kg
Fuel tank capacity 23 litres
Oil tank capacity 4.2 litres


And here’s a quick promo video on the Super Tenere:


  1. So, we can probably expect a Canadian MSRP of around 19,000 or so, then. Mark my words – the Japanese manufacturers and their Canadian distributors will continue to rape us on price. OTOH, look at the Ducati Multistrada or Triumph Tiger – much more comparable prices between Canada and the US, more accurately reflecting the currency values. Or maybe these Japanese bikes are too cheap in the US…?

    Ah, like I said, I’m too cheap anymore to lay out this kind of dough for what is basically a toy for me.

  2. If these guys think I’m going to spend BMW GS type money for a Yamaha with no proven track record, they’re dreaming in effing Technicolor. It’s a nice bike and I’d be willing to pay somewhat of a premium over what a new V-Strom would run me, for the extra displacement, ABS, and shaft drive, but not $20,000 type money. I’ll be watching to see what it sells for in the US, too – are they going to price a brand new model 40% higher in Canada than the US, despite our dollar being very close to par? Oh, screw it – I’ll probably just keep my current DL1000 and put up with its shortcomings.

Join the conversation!