TÉNÉRÉ 700 Phase Three Project Bike
Photos by Miguel Santana – Words by Chad de Alva
Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 is an incredible value of an Adventure Bike. With a base price of $10,500, you’re getting a ton of motorcycle for your money. Fire off a search on YouTube about the T7, and you’ll find riders like Pol Tarrés and Adam Riemann absolutely shredding on the bike and performing stunts that 99.99% of other riders wouldn’t attempt on any bike – so yeah, the T7 is the business. Upshift has been fortunate enough to have a T7 since the bike was launched, and in that time it’s gone through several build phases. For this third round of revisions, we pulled out all the stops and sent our credit card billing statements to an email we didn’t check, just to see what we could do to make a truly next level Ténéré 700.
In our infinite wisdom, we decided to take on this project when the world’s supply chain was busy turning into an absolute train wreck. Not only did it take a long time to get some of the parts that we were after, but some other parts werecompletely unavailable, so we had to go to plan B. This is why project builds are never truly done. There’s always something to continue to tweak on, revise, or alter in the pursuit of continuous improvement – but that’s exactly what makes projects like this so much fun. After eight months of waiting for packages to show up, and plenty of wrench-time in our shop, we borrowed a stock T7 from our friends at Seat Concepts to benchmark against, and set off for the deserts of Utah to see how we had done taking our T7 from 7 to 11.
One of the main areas of focus for this phase of the build was suspension. Stock Ténéré 700 suspension is limited – but that’s the trade-off for a bike at this price point. Factory valving is on the soft end of things, and while it does a decent job soaking up the small stuff and cruising on road, when you ride into a G-out, smack into a bar ditch, or hit any real trail obstacle with any kind of speed it isn’t hard to find the bump stops. There is only so much that can be done with the stock kit too, so rather than work within these constraints, we opted for a full suspension replacement.
The stock forks were replaced by a set of Andreani/Öhlins 48mm RTX forks with custom triple clamps and forks lugs. An Öhlins STX 46 rally shock provided a fully adjustable replacement for the stock shock. With this top shelf kit installed, suspension performance is simply no longer a factor. The bike can handle any sort of terrain or obstacle, and having fully adjustable suspension means that the chassis can quickly be adjusted for peak performance for different riders or carrying luggage.
We’re still fine tuning the shock setup, but we’re quite happy with the fork’s performance and giggling like little kids with how much more we can throw at the T7 without phasing its new boingers.
WHEELS AND TIRES
We traded out the stock wheels for a set of custom wheels built by Dubya USA. With Haan hubs, heavy duty spokes, and Excel rims, these wheels will hold up to all sorts of off-road abuse while staying straight and true. To give the bike better off-road performance, we chose a 1.85-inch wide front rim, and a 3.5-inch wide rear rim. These widths create a taller tire profile, which provides better traction, and helps the bike transition from side-to-side more quickly. The narrower rim widths are also less exposed to rock hits.
We mounted a Dunlop 606 in 90/90-21 on the front, and a 908RR in 150/70-18 on the rear of the bike with ultra-heavy-duty tubes so we could adjust tire pressures as needed to match off-road riding conditions. Braking performance was provided by Galfer, with wave rotors, sintered brake pads, and custom stainless brake lines to achieve great modulation and braking power.
Yamaha’s CP2 motor can be built to make most-impressive amounts of power, and top tier race teams are enjoying triple digit power numbers from these mills. Yet, we’re not racing, and reliability is a key factor for any bike that’s being ridden in the wild, so we targeted what we felt was a sweet spot between performance improvements and rock-solid reliability. A custom ECU tune and a full Yoshimura exhaust provided a noticeable increase in power, and the sound the bike makes is quite addictive. The CP2 isn’t the torquiest mill out there, but once it gets a little spin on, you better be ready because boy howdy does this motor take off as the revs build. To help the rider precisely modulate the T7’s power, we installed a Rekluse TorqDrive Clutch Pack.
Adventure bikes have this habit of taking unscheduled naps when they’re ridden off-road, and they also like to smack their bellies into rocks and other trail obstacles, so good bike protection is essential. We installed a set of Outback Motortek Crash Bars and their skid plate and linkage guard to protect the critical components of our T7. A week of hammering on the bike in Utah provided ample opportunity to put the skid plate and linkage guard to the test, and a few spontaneous dirt naps gave us a chance see the crash bars do their thing. As with every other Outback Motortek product we’ve used, the only thing we managed to do was scratch the powder coat finish a bit.
To protect the T7’s frame and provide a better gripping surface for the rider’s boots, we installed a set of Acerbis Frame Guards. Levers and rider’s hands are protected by a set of Cycra Pro Bend handguards.
There really is no such thing as too much light, so to give the T7 a boost in Lumens, we added a pair of Ruby Moto R4s to the bike’s crash bars. These lights pack a punch with four CREE LEDs packed into machined housings. Ruby’s lighting controller allows the user to adjust the output of the lights, so you can run them on a low setting for daytime running light use and crank them up to full power for nighttime riding. To make the back of the bike look as good as the rest of the bike, we added a Yoshimura fender delete kit, and their awesome LED turn signals. These little signals don’t get in the way, and look so much better than the massive OEM signals with incandescent bulbs.
We wanted the T7 to have a classic Yamaha look, so we created custom graphics based off of their over six decades in racing. Two similar kits will be available on the Upshift store. Seat concepts created a custom, low, comfort seat off of the T7 graphics that provides all of the usual Seat Concepts seat benefits of additional comfort, additional grip, and ideal riding position.
The OEM bars were replaced with Cheetah Factory Racing Bars. Motion Pro grips were installed on these new bars and together they are a great combination, providing good comfort and control whether the rider is seated or standing.
The stock mirrors were replaced with Double Take Adventure mirrors, which is a standard practice on all of our bikes. These mirrors can be easily adjusted to almost any angle, folded out of the way or completely removed if needed.
An MSC MOTO RM3 steering stabilizer tucks neatly under the Cheetah bars and does an exceptional job of soaking up surprise hits to the bike’s front end. MSC’s active return to center feature is something we really appreciate, as the damper can also damp impacts when steering back to center.
Additional foot control over the bike is provided by IMS Core footpegs, which have all of the grip a rider could ask for, even when they’ve been packed full of mud. The pegs also don’t seem to care about rock strikes, or being buried in the ground when the bike is napping.
Above the bike’s instrument cluster, we mounted a Garmin Zumo XT. This is a fully featured connected GPS that can handle navigation, track recording, media, communications, inReach messaging and many other functions.
THE SUM OF THESE PARTS
All said and done, Phase Three of our Ténéré 700 build has been worth the wait. The bike now has the suspension to soak up everything in its path, whether that’s a series of whoops, or a perfect rise in the trail that just needs to be jumped – multiple times. There is still a bit of tuning that needs to happen to the shock, but as is, the bike is leaps and bounds better than stock in the suspension department. A proper off-road wheelset and tires provide a huge serving of additional confidence and capability, and all of our protection pieces are there to step in when the rider runs out of talent, or it’s time for a bike nap. All of our performance changes have made a bike that sounds so good, you can’t help but keep the revs up, and the bike’s exhaust creates an awesome soundtrack for bombing around Utah canyon country.
Numerous other parts and details address aesthetics and provide quality of life improvements; the net effect is a bike that rides well and looks and sounds amazing. Every time you walk up to the bike, you’re marveling at how it looks. Each time you twist the throttle to slide out of a corner and race off to the next horizon, you’re grinning like a kid thanks to the bike’s incredible sound and confidence inspiring riding performance. The Yamaha Ténéré 700 has proven to be a great platform on which to build. We’re quite pleased with where it is today, and excited to see what else can be done as we enjoy more miles on this bike.
For all Tenere 700 parts and accessories in the Upshift Store: CLICK HERE
For Phase 2 of our Tenere 700 Project Bike: CLICK HERE
Suspension: Öhlins/Andreani Group moto.andreanigroup.com
48mm Öhlins RTX Forks with Andreani Group triple clamps and fork lugs
Öhlins STX 46 Rally Shock
Wheels: Dubya USA www.dubyausa.com
Rear: Haan hub with 18” x 3.5” Excel rims
Front: Haan hub with 21” x 1.85” Excel rims
Tires: Dunlop www.dunlopmotorcycletires.com
Rear: 908RR 150/70-18 with Dunlop HD Tube
Front: 606 90/90-21 with Dunlop HD Tube
Skid Plate/Crash Bars: Outback Motortek www.outbackmotortek.com
Exhaust System: Yoshimura RS-12 Stainless Full System www.yoshimura-rd.com
Fender Delete Kit/LED Turn Signals: Yoshimura www.yoshimura-rd.com
Auxiliary Lights: Ruby Moto R4 www.rubymoto.com
Handlebars: Cheetah Factory Racing Enduro Bar www.cheetahfactoryracing.com
Steering Damper: MSC Moto RM3 www.mscmotoamericas.com
Grips: Motion Pro DirtControl™ V2 Lock-On www.motionpro.com
Brakes: Galfer Wave Rotors/Sintered Brake Pads www.galferusa.com
Brake Lines: Galfer Stainless Steel www.galferusa.com
Seat: Seat Concepts Comfort Low Seat www.seatconcepts.com
GPS/Navigation: Garmin ZUMO XT www.upshiftonline.com
Handguards: Cycra Pro Bend www.cycra.com
Battery: Firepower Featherweight www.firepowerparts.com
Frame Guards: Acerbis X-Grip www.acerbisusa.com
Front Fender: Acerbis www.acerbisusa.com
Clutch: Rekluse TorqDrive www.rekluse.com
Footpegs: IMS Core Enduro www.imsproducts.com
Mirrors: Doubletake Mirrors www.doubletakemirror.com
Lubricants: Motorex www.motorexusa.com
Titanium Bolt Kit: Pro Bolt www.probolt-usa.com
Graphics Kit: Upshift www.upshiftonline.com