THE Sahara desert is a harsh place and one of the most harshest and featureless part of it is in the south central called the Tenere, literally meaning “desert” in the Touareg language of the Berber tribe that inhabit it. Yamaha named it’s adventure touring models, the XT series, after this portion of the Sahara (incidentally, also literally meaning “desert” in Arabic) to portray the nature of adventure of the XTs.
The 2015 model tested here belongs to Hong Leong Yamaha Malaysia and is just one of the many units brought in to display in its Sungai Buloh showroom. So far, as we know, there are no plans to assemble and sell this model in Malaysia although there are many other importers who have this model for sale.
The Super Tenere is a particularly “big” adventure bike. Compared with other large dual-purpose bikes from other manufacturers, the “Super Ten”, as it’s affectionately known, still appears to tower over the others. This may be a deliberate ploy by Yamaha to “intimidate” other dual-purpose bikes, but it also means that many a rider will shy away from the Super Ten. The actual size is not just visual, but the girth of the Super Ten also translates to its wet weight, an amazing 265kg.
The seat, adjustable from 845mm to 870mm is actually more comfortable at its highest setting. But, this means those shorter of inseam will find the going (or rather, the stopping) difficult. But, the great height means excellent visibility and safety. Luckily, the windshield will also adjust to suit whatever height of seat (or rider). The ergonomics in the highest seat position gives the most legroom and puts the handlebars in a more comfortable position for me (about 175cm tall). Standing room is excellent, with a neutral, slightly forward bias for those high speed desert raids (more like a run to the local Starbucks).
Suspension is top notch and well damped. Should you feel the need to fiddle, the front 43mm upside-down forks are adjustable for damping and preload. The rear Monoshock also has adjustable rebound and preload. On the ES model, electronically-adjusted suspension makes finding the right setting as easy as pushing a button. Four pre-load settings, three damping adjustments, and an additional seven damping fine-tuning adjustments are available on the fly. The dual 310mm wave discs and 282mm rear disc are equipped with switchable ABS but also has Yamaha’s “Unified Braking” system. The front brakes also activates the rear, but if you step on the rear first, this overrides the system and you can just brake with the front, if necessary. The system is unobtrusive and I never felt the need to override it.
The power unit may be all new, but it harks back to the first 750cc Super Tens of the 1990s. The mill is a 1199cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline twin with a 270 degree crankshaft producing 110hp at 7,250rpm and 117Nm at 6,000rpm. Gone are the five valves of the old Genesis Super Ten replaced with just four valves. Gearbox is a six-speed with shaft final drive. Fuel is metered by YCC-T, a fly by wire injection system that monitors a 3-stage traction control and 2-stage mapping, called D-Mode. The two presets for mapping is the smoother “Town” mode or the self-explanatory “Sport” mode.
The big Super Ten may look heavy but the tall sidestand makes it easy to lift. Once balanced, the only indication that 265kg is on its wheels is a heavy handlebar at a standstill. Once the clutch is out, the avoirdupois all but disappears. It is possible to flick the Super Tenere into corners but a healthy respect for the laws of physics is advisable. The Bridgestone BattleWing tyres are more road-oriented than other dual-purpose tyres, but allow quite ridiculous lean angles. However, they aren’t up to much off-road.
The engine response in the “Town” mode is fairly sedate, with a muted pick-up in the lower rpm ranges, waking up the engine requires a little more throttle input than usual. The “Sport” mode allows a better, faster and more natural response but “T” mode is easily smoother and was more likely chosen. After 3,000rpm, the Super Ten picks up its skirts and starts rushing for the horizon with a little more haste. Vibrations are well controlled and never intrusive. The seat is also wide and flat with a firm feel.
The rear rack and brackets are easily outfitted with a top box (fitted here) and also Yamaha’s aluminium side boxes. Yamaha’s extensive accessories for the Super Tenere include a textile tank bag, which will equip the Super Ten with the capacity to be a proper long-distance touring machine. The cruise control and 23-litre fuel tank will take you to the real Tenere desert in about 50 tankfuls (just kidding).
Even though the Super Tenere is the heaviest motorcycle in the dual-purpose category, it still manages to impress with its agility and overall easy handling. It has the comfort and the range to make touring a breeze. While others may have better and more extensive spec sheets and more electronic gizmos, the Super Tenere concentrates on the real needs of a dual-purpose rider and is none the worse for it.