Designed for African tracks and trails, the Yamaha Super Ténéré is a member of the adventure motorcycle club…a big-framed beauty endowed with efficiency, versatility and comfort for wherever the ride takes you, on- or off-road. Inspired by the upstart success of the GS, this category brings forth many new models year by year, as evidenced by this new offering bearing the legendary Yamaha name.
For a brand with its finger on the motorcycle world’s pulse, it’s a return to basics, the very same Yamaha that gave birth 20 years ago to the 750 cc XTZ Super Ténéré. Except for the funny-sounding name and the rakish style, this newcomer has nothing in common with its older sibling. This 2012 Super Ténéré started with a blank page, fully designed from scratch, thanks to the know-how of Yamaha’s motorcycle engineers. And as off-road specialists, they stayed focused on the established art and style standards, as dictated in this category.
Expensive, but then again…
As for equipment, the list is long. The Yamaha Super Ténéré 2012
comes fresh from the factory floor with an all new 1199 cc parallel twin, 8-valve cylinder head with twin overhead camshafts, programmable fuel injection with an anti-skid device, electronic air induction, a 6-speed transmission and cardan joint power train.
When it comes to braking, the 2012 model gets a new Unified Braking System (UBS) which uses electronic controls to apply front braking as well as some rear wheel braking, either in unison or independently. And let’s not forget that big 23-litre fuel tank, a windscreen whose height can be adjusted manually, as well as a handguard and effective side fairing. Finally, there’s the convenient centre and side stands.
Agility and precision
|The Yamaha Super Ténéré 2012 comes fresh from the factory floor with an all new 1199 cc parallel twin. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
With a high stance, but with adjustable seat height, the Super Ténéré is impressive at first glance and shows its agility and stable handling once you’re in the saddle. Plenty of clearance ensures the smooth suspension makes for a comfortable ride on our bumpier roads. You even get the impression that maybe our government is "fair" after all…
However, the seat should offer better comfort and support. At first, its flexibility is agreeable, but after an hour on the highway it gets uncomfortable, especially if you lack a little padding in the rear (like me). Two other Super Ténéré owners I met by chance during the road test told me that seating specialists such as Corbin, offer seating for both rider and passenger, which greatly improve all-around comfort.
A gravel road specialist…
|The seat is flexibility and agreeable, but after an hour on the highway it gets uncomfortable. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
The Ténéré takes to gravel like a duck to water. The frame’s rigidity and front-end precision communicates road feel and grip accurately to the rider, who can have some fun without too much risk and also push the envelope on bends. When it’s time to slow down, the Super Ténéré provides highly effective combined front and rear braking (or only rear braking) using the right hand, for a controlled slide around bends.
The parallel twin powerplant proves to be more effective than showy, perhaps even a little mellow, especially when it comes to engine noise. Never mind, you can still appreciate its flexibility resulting in less gear changes, its well-calibrated engine brake and its general efficiency, perfectly adapted to off-road riding.
All-purpose road warrior
|The Ténéré takes to gravel like a duck to water. (Photo: Philippe Champoux)
The Ténéré’s versatility on the road is a real trump card, although off-road sorties are somewhat limited given the 275 kg weight of this hog. It gets a little bit claustrophobic on muddy, rutted, and narrow trails, especially with OE ill-fitted tires for the job. On the other hand, the big fella surpasses itself on an open track or on courses maintained by off-road biking federations.
Even if the idea of that last great road trip on asphalt continues to be the Super Ténéré’s prime source of inspiration, it still offers you so much more. Well-equipped, effective, user-friendly and safer than ever, thanks to the electronic ride control systems, this robust bike can take you to every corner of the country, in good weather or bad, whatever the road conditions.
Electronic riding aids
Combined UBS and ABS brakes
Cardan joint power train
Backbone rigidity and stability
Clutch lever hard to work
Fast-wearing seating material