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Yamaha XT1200Z Super Ténéré 2010 First Impressions


by Marc Cantin ,

Call them Adventure, Enduro or Dual-Purpose, bikes with long travel suspensions and big, torquey engines are popular these days. Yamaha, given an enormous and successful heritage in long distance off road events – think Paris-Dakar – had to come and join the gang of manufacturers that produce such machines, doing just that for 2010 with the Europe-only launch of the XT1200Z Super Ténéré. The Ténéré is an African desert where Yamaha bikes from twenty years ago established dominance in long distance off-road races.

According to our in-house slip-and-slide specialist, Luc Brière, a proper dirt bike must have the following characteristics: at least a 19in front rim (21in is better for serious back road riding), at least 200mm of suspension travel, a frame that can bend without breaking and can be straightened out easily after a crash, stand-up and sit-down riding ergos, and a narrow-but-comfortable saddle. And if you get on it and never want to get off, in dirt or on pavement, then you are on to something!

On a XT1200Z Super Ténéré, you can sense that you are indeed aboard quite something. This is a clean-slate bike, with all-new everything, and everything you need on it, as befits the latest addition to this rich market segment.

On the XT1200Z, the aforementioned “Everything” means:
  • An all new over-square 1199cc parallel twin with the usual twin cams, four valves per cylinder, and advanced ignition and injection electronics
  • A six-speed gearbox and shaft final drive, for smooth and effortless gear changes. The absence of free play in the drive train was another happy surprise
  • Throttle by wire, to smooth out the bumps and dips in torque delivery from the engine, as well as implement the power cuts commanded by the Traction Control System
  • Two engine modes: Touring and Sport. The rider can flip from one to the other while moving, to instantly cope with changing weather and riding surface
  • The “Unified Braking System” (UBS), a brake-by-wire system that lets small electric motors distribute front-to-rear braking effort according to instructions from the ECU, in either linked or independent front-rear mode.
  • An ABS that works as well on dry pavement as on slippery dirt
  • Traction control with three levels of intervention, from nil for real dirt riders to maximum for wet pavement
  • A 23L fuel tank
  • Preload-, compression- and rebound-adjustable fork, preload- and rebound-adjustable rear shock
  • Nice, wide and soft rider and passenger saddle
  • Manually adjustable windshield height, effective hand protectors and side fairings
  • Simple and right-sized side bags
  • Side and center stands
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