Initial Observations On Yamaha’s Mid-Size ADV
After riding through miles of back country roads south of my home, I pulled aside onto an unfamiliar dirt and gravel path that meandered off into God-knows-where. I thought out loud, “Okay, now’s my chance to dirt ride this bike. I’ve had it for a few weeks with few dirt miles yet. Time to test the bike and my skills.”
I’ve not ridden much dirt since my childhood, and only recently did some extensive off-pavement time during the Scull Shoals ADV/Dual Sport Rally on a much smaller Honda CRF300L, which had bolstered my confidence. Now it was time to roll some dirt with this much-larger 2022 Ténéré 700 on loan from Yamaha. So I switched the ABS into “Off-Road” mode, took a deep breath, and throttled forward down the unpaved hard pack deeper into “the sticks”.
First introduced in 2019, Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 has been a runaway hit for the “tuning fork” moto brand, despite the pandemic difficulties it debuted under. It’s midsize displacement, narrow body and tank, flat seating and neutral riding position, as well as a reasonable price tag, have all given it a wide appeal in the ADV motorcycle segment. Yamaha offered us an opportunity to sample one for a couple of months, and we were more than a bit enthusiastic.
So here I was, throttling down some unknown Georgia sand and gravel road, standing up on the pegs, trying to get comfortable letting this tall (for me) suspension bike bounce and move beneath me. It’s as if the bike was talking to me, coaxing me onward, whispering, “You can waltz with a tall girl. Let’s dance together. I’m working with you. We are one, man and machine.”
The deeper into the unknown we traversed, the more comfortable I felt, as the suspension travel absorbed pits and divots, bumps and humps with ease. Shifting up and down in mainly 1st through 3rd gears, I was breathing easier, feeling the bike speak to me through the throttle, brakes and suspension, and starting to really enjoy something I never thought I’d want to return to- dirt road riding.
The Ténéré 700 twin cylinder 689cc powerplant is the same that Yamaha utilizes in their MT-07 and new R7 motorbikes, with each tuned slightly different for it’s specific application. I love how each of the six gears in this iteration has a nice spread of power, and shifting is effortless. The Ténéré 700 doesn’t have a quickshifter nor a slipper clutch, but shifting is smooth, easy and solid. The Ténéré 700 is also not equipped with traction control, a variety of ride modes, cruise, or even a center stand. And the screen is no customizable, multi-function color TFT. But none of that matters. What you get is a strong-performing, reliable, no-frills motorcycle that will carry you across a wide variety of surfaces. You can adjust the suspension fore and aft, I must point out.
My one hang up at the beginning of this long-term review has been the ride height of 34.4 inches. I’ve never felt completely comfortable stopping and launching on tall ADV bikes, and this Ténéré 700 is no exception. I’m too short in the inseam, I suppose. I’m up on my toes at stops with it. Anyone over 5’9” however should feel more planted while at a standstill with the bike. The more I ride it, the more informed I’m getting with where and how I should be positioned when rolling to a stop then throttling off, due to my shorter stature (5’8”). Once in motion, I’m perfectly fine. Phil and others taller than me love the ride height and bar reach. I like the rider triangle as well- very upright, neutral and in-control.
The name of Yamaha’s mid-size ADV comes from a Bedouin Tuareg word meaning “desert”, and specifically after a section of the old Dakar course that ran through a so-named desert region in Niger and Chad. Fitting. The motorbike Yamaha offered us is kitted out with Yamaha accessory hard panniers, rear luggage rack, engine guards and a heavy duty full skid plate, all from their OEM catalog. What I love about these, as opposed to the aftermarket ones that can be had out there, is they are purpose-built for this specific bike, and the locking key for the bags is the ignition key, not another one you’d have to keep up with. “One key to rule them all…” Cheesy, my apologies.
So far, we are really enjoying this Yamaha Ténéré 700. Road and dirt, the bike rides and handles fantastically. I’ve been the primary wrist so far, but Phil has thrown a leg over a couple of times, and is already considering buying one for himself, to ride with a couple of old high school chums who recently bought adventure/dual sport bikes to “play in the dirt again.” Being an old MX rider, he’s looking forward to more seat time in June with it.
More to come, so stay tuned!