2012 Yamaha Super Tenere | Review

2012 Super Ténéré

Ultimate MotorCycling has gotten a first-ride on the 2012 (yes, 2012) Yamaha Super Ténéré, a motorcycle fresh from Europe and ready to take on the American backcountry. The most important thing to understand about this adventure motorcycle is where it falls on the open class adventure motorcycle spectrum.

At one end, you have the dirt-worthy BMW R 1200 GS Adventure and the KTM 990 Adventure. At the other, you have the more street-focused Moto Guzzi Stelvio, Ducati Multistrada, Triumph Tiger 1050, Suzuki V-Strom and the standard BMW R 1200 GS. Our ride on the Stelvio reveals that it fits in the middle of these two groups, sitting tightly between the two BMWs.

One feature of immediate interest is the Super Ténéré’s traction control, part of the Yamaha TCC-T fly-by-wire technology for the 1199cc, liquid-cooled, DOHC, parallel twin. It works by regulating ignition timing and fuel injection volume. The TC-2 position is designed for riding off-road and works well, while the TC-1 position is the default position for street riding.

It reduces wheelspin and wheels, as you would expect. There’s also an option to turn the system off completely, so you can back the Super Ténéré into corners or pull long wheelies, as desired. Power delivery is also adjustable, with a softer T-mode for "Touring" and a full-performance "S-mode". Along with a wide-ratio 6-speed transmission, it is possible to customize engine performance to an impressive degree.

On hardpack clay fire roads with embedded rocks, the shaft drive Super Ténéré proves its mettle. Maneuverability is outstanding, and it handles very easily for a machine that weighs a claimed 575 pounds wet (in standard trim, with a full six-gallon fuel tank). As things get tighter, the Super Ténéré has a turning radius that is quite narrow for its class.

The motor fires off a 270-degree crank, giving it a power delivery that is single-like, giving the rear tubeless Bridgestone Battlewing 17-inch tire a chance to find traction off-road (up front is a 19-incher). Also, thanks to a primary balancer, vibration is well controlled, and off-roaders will want to remove the rubber footpeg inserts for better feel.

Don’t get the idea that the Super Ténéré is some sort of off-road race bike, however. It still weighs quite a bit, and the steel frame and 7.5 inches of travel at both ends can only take on so much input from the terrain. Yamaha does allow for full adjustment of the 43mm forks, and the rear shock can be adjusted for rebound damping and spring preload. Also, the seat height has two height positions, one inch apart.

Slowing the Super Ténéré down has been simplified on-road by an effective triple-disc application of ABS. It works better than a KTM’s system and is on par with BMW. Yamaha inexplicably does not allow you to turn off the ABCS, something most off-roaders will want to do.

This is certainly an odd choice by Yamaha engineers. Also part of the package is UBS (Unified Braking System), which means the rear brake is applied when you pull the hand lever. Push the rear brake first and UBS is overridden.

Yamaha did not over-power the Super Ténéré, and the low-end torque feels softer than a GS. Inside the motor, everything is certainly fully modern–8 valve head with a magnesium valve cover, forged aluminum pistons, and carburized connecting rods. Feeding the motor is a downdraft twin-bore fuel injection system with 12-hole injectors for superior fuel atomization.

Keeping in line with adventure class tradition, the Yamaha Super Ténéré features brush guards and a center stand as standard equipment. Side bags and a top case are available as well-integrated accessories, though the units are not as impressive as the best from BMW.

The Yamaha Super Ténéré is nicely placed in a niche in the adventure world, setting it up to build the same sort of cults that surround bikes like the KTM 990 Adventure and BMW GS bikes. Riders desiring the 2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré will be asked to wait in line.

The motorcycle will be available through a Priority Delivery Program at Yamaha dealerships nationwide and require an advance deposit of $500, with deliveries beginning in May 2011.

2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré | Motorcycle Specs
Model…XTZ12
Engine Type…1199cc, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke 2-cylinder DOHC
Bore x Stroke…98.0 x 79.5mm
Compression Ratio…11.0:1
Fuel Delivery…Fuel Injection with YCC-T
Ignition…TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Transmission…Constant mesh, 6-speed
Final Drive…Shaft
Suspension/Front…Telescopic fork, 43mm tube, adjustable preload, compression and rebound damping, 7.48-in travel
Suspension/Rear…Monoshock, adjustable preload and rebound damping, 7.48-in of travel
Brakes/Front…Dual 310mm hydraulic disc, ABS/Unified Brake System
Brake/Rear…282mm single disc
Tire/Front…110/80R 19M/C
Tire/Rear…150/70R 17M/C
L x W x H…88.6 x 38.6 x 55.5 in
Seat Height…33.26 or 34.25 in
Wheelbase…60.6 in
Rake (Caster Angle)…28.0°
Trail…126 mm
Fuel Capacity…6.0 gal
Wet Weight…575 lb
Colors…Raven, Blue

Motorcycle Riding Apperal
Helmet: Icon Variant Speedmetal
Jacket: Cortech Accelerator Series 2
Gloves: Cortech Accelerator Series 2
Pants: Tour Master Venture
Boots: Sidi Adventure