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Yamaha Super Ténéré adventure bike

July 01, 2011

Crossing Borders

By Tumu Rock

Super TenereThe Yamaha Super Tenere was built from the ground up to devour whatever road surface you care to point it at. No, this is not an “off-road” bike (it weighs around 575 lbs.), but it is perfectly happy kicking up roost on those unpaved and unmaintained backroads.

The engine is deceptively smooth. The six-speed gearbox enables the bike to travel at speed without the slightest clue that the bike is working. That’s because the bike is working. All that technological wizardry uses acronyms such as YCCT, D-Mode, TC1, TC2, ABS and UBS to create a monster that hungers for miles.

The engine, a stressed member of the frame, allows for a lower center of gravity, which makes the weight of the bike barely noticeable—until you come upon a sandy switchback or find yourself in a ditch (uh, yeah, sliding 180s are possible on a bike with ABS and the traction control turned on). That being said, the performance of the stock tires—developed specifically for the Tenere—in the dirt is astounding considering their on-road prowess.

The Unified Braking System (UBS) distributes braking pressure between the front and rear when the front lever is squeezed first. (Use the rear brake first to override the system.) This linked braking system combined with the always-on ABS can really haul this bike down to a stop. Panic stops on a gravel-strewn dirt road didn’t reveal any negatives—unless you count stopping in a shorter distance than you intended as a negative.

Traction control typically engenders a love-hate relationship from riders. For those who aren’t fans in some situations—say on dirt or loose gravel—the Super Tenere offers the option to turn the system off. For other conditions, there are two options: TC1 and TC2.

In TC1 mode, it is almost impossible to lose traction. You can easily feel the TC1 cutting power when appropriate (such as long stretches of washboard bumps). TC2 allows a bit more wheelspin, but not enough to let you get in trouble.

All adventure riders know the seat is one of the most important, yet often overlooked, features of any long-haul machine. The seat on the Super Tenere is comfortable and easy to move around on. The ergonomics of the bike are adaptable. The windscreen, brake lever, seat height and shift lever are all adjustable.

The forks did a great job of hauling me through paved twisties, dirt and everything in between. The shock suffered on the rougher sections, kicking like an angry mule on square-edged bumps until I twisted a knob and increased the preload. (Try that with your mule.)

If you want to dress up your Super Tenere, Yamaha will oblige. Accessories include side cases and a top case with bag liners, engine guards, a skid plate, side wind deflectors, tall windscreen, heated grips, and a headlight protector.

The 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere is a hungry bike. Long distance touring? Eats it up. Throttling through the twisties? Eats it up. Back country camping with a heavy load (including someone to share your sleeping bag if you want)? Eats it up.

Yamaha, too, is hungry—hungry for a piece of the adventure bike pie. This motorcycle gives the company a serious shot at eating its fill.

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