FIRST RIDE: 2024 YAMAHA TENERE 700
BY: OLIVIER DE VAULX
Launched in 2019, the Yamaha Tenere 700 was a sensation that led to the rejuvenation of the mid-size adventure category. Four years later, the competition is fiercer than ever and Yamaha felt the need to answer with an updated Tenere. Alas, the mighty Tenere 700 Extreme is only available in Europe, with the US market only getting a slightly modified version of the original - but still relevant - Tenere 700.
While the Teneres sold in Europe are built in a French factory, the units available in the US are assembled in Japan. Is it enough to explain why we don’t get the Extreme version on this side of the Atlantic? Probably not, but we will probably never get to know the behind-the-scene politics that led to the decision to not allocate us the beefier version. Thus, entering a Yamaha dealership right now, you’ll only find a slightly modified version of the original Tenere 700, a bike that became famous thanks to its reliability, simplicity by lack of electronics, and great off-road capabilities. Yamaha went mostly with the traditional “if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it” approach and it’s probably a good thing.
The 2024 updated T7 still weighs 452 pounds wet, offers 8.3 inches of travel on its 43mm fork, is stopped by Brembo calipers, and delivers 72 horsepower. The only visible difference between a 2023 and a 2024 model is the updated screen and two physical commands, one on the dashboard and one beneath the kill switch. The new dash keeps the signature rally-like vertical orientation for its new non-touch color LCD screen. It displays all the same information as before in two different selectable layouts: Speed, RPM, odometer, trips 1 and 2, instant and average mileage, coolant temperature, and air temperature are displayed, but the battery voltage is still absent. The display is easy to read and gives a welcomed touch of modernity to the bike, in an age where screens are ominous. The updated electronics also let the more tech-savvy users connect their smartphones via the Y-connect app to record gas mileage, trip length, or top speed while getting phone notifications on the screen.
The updated interface can also display setting menus, that are selected via the rotating wheel selector next to the throttle. The idea seems good on paper, but our experience showed that switching to one of the three ABS modes, the second biggest innovation of the 2024 model, proves fastidious. Since 2019, the Tenere 700 owners have been bragging about the simplicity with which they could deactivate their ABS by simply pushing one button for 3 seconds. Riders of the new model will need more than 15 seconds to accomplish the same task, thanks to a sequential interface that cannot be shortcutted. A 3-second press now only brings the menu, which is by default set to display the settings icon first. After turning the selector to finally display the ABS icon, one click selects this menu, and turning once more the selector brings you to the desired ABS mode. It is still necessary to select the desired mode and to press the selector for three more seconds to validate it. This whole sequence has to be reinitiated each time the bike is shut off, which is a real bummer. Noticing that Yamaha added an “ABS on” shortcut button on the dashboard, one can only wonder why the ABS mode doesn’t stay as selected. To add a layer of frustration to this operation, the initial 3-second press to summon the menus can often lead to the unintentional and irreversible reset of the value selected on the main screen, like trip mileage or fuel consumption. Long story short, the ride modes available on almost every other adventure bike on the market are easier to use, and what the Tenere 700 lacks in features is no longer compensated in terms of simplicity.
Luckily for us motorcycle adventurers, the real qualities of the Yamaha Tenere 700 lie elsewhere. Pressing the red start button, the exhaust delivers a very satisfying growl and the engine warms up with no vibration or mechanical noise. The owners of some European bikes will be jealous. On pavement, the windshield offers a good enough protection and the rev-happy nature of the CP2 engine makes it a joy to use in the traffic. The gearing is a bit short in 6th gear, but on the highways, the 700cc motorcycle can pass any vehicle with a minimum twist of the throttle. Vibrations are well controlled, the optional rally seat is comfortable, and stacking miles to reach a worthy off-road destination is not a punishment. On a winding road, the lively nature of the engine and the light weight of the bike make it a fun toy to toss around the corners, the Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR offering great grip on the tarmac. The optional quick-shifter adds to the fun by allowing the rider to shift up without using the clutch, a comfort feature that will attract those who do a lot of urban driving or appreciate the MotoGP-like sound of quick electronic controlled shifts. Therefore, it’s easy to see why commuters opting for the Tenere will love it, and how the great gas mileage will contribute to their big smile.
Yet, a Tenere name calls for dust and open spaces, and it’s off-road that the bike truly shines. The stand-up position is perfect whatever the size of the rider, a fact that always made the Tenere feel like a big 450 more than a full-size adventure bike. The torquey engine can still be used at the very bottom of the rpm range, and exiting a slippery corner on eggshells while feathering the throttle is a no-brainer. When the need for power arises, the delivery is instantaneous but never brutal. Whoever designed this engine back in 2014 did an amazing job! The suspensions are on the soft side for the bigger folks but are doing a fine job for any rider weighing less than 190 pounds. On the hard-packed dirt of SoCal trails where we tested the 2024 model, bumps and rocks are absorbed with ease and perfect balance. Riding such a confidence-inspiring bike it’s easy to ride fast, and some pro riders in our group were literally flying above the obstacles or downright doing wheelies through them. It’s astonishing to see what this bike can do in stock form, and it’s somehow a good thing that the suspensions might bottom out in a bigger-than-expected dip. This is a reminder to stay calm and to ride safely, a wake-up call to warn the impetuous rider that an adv bike is not a rally bike. Going fast or not, there will be sooner or later the need for deceleration. If kept on, the ABS module can be intrusive at lower speeds, which can lead to stressful situations in technical sections. On gravel or graded dirt roads taken at higher speed, it can usually be kept on with no issue. It’s a matter of preference of course, and since it is now possible to opt for ABS on, ABS front only, or no ABS, everybody will be able to adjust the braking system to its style and needs.
Still the same ultra-reliable and super-fun adventure machine, the updated 2024 Yamaha Tenere 700 brings only minor changes to an almost perfect recipe. All the riding and mechanical qualities remain, and the bike is still capable of touring around the world without sweating it. With a $10,790 MSRP and a $550 destination charge, the T7 is not the cheapest option in the category anymore. It’s hard to know if this price raise will impact sales, but it can also be seen as Yamaha’s way to show its confidence in its best-seller reputation for adventure readiness…
Engine Type:689cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke; 8 valves
Bore x Stroke:80.0mm x 68.6mm
Fuel Delivery:Fuel Injection
Fuel Capacity:4.2 gal
Suspension/Front:43mm inverted fork, fully-adjustable; 8.3-in travel
Suspension/Rear:Single shock, adjustable, 7.9-in travel
Brakes/Front:Dual 282mm hydraulic disc; selectable ABS
Brakes/Rear:245mm hydraulic disc; selectable ABS
Tires/Front:90/90R21 Pirelli® Scorpion® Rally STR
Tires/Rear:150/70R18 Pirelli® Scorpion® Rally STR
LxWxH:93.3 in x 35.6 in x 57.3 in
Seat Height:34.4 in
Max. Ground Clearance:9.4 in
Wet Weight:452 lbs
Warranty:1 Year Limited Factory Warranty