2014 Yamaha Super Tenere ES Review

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2014 Yamaha Super Tenere ES Review

Yamaha positions its updated 2014 Super Tenere ES as a transcontinental adventure bike with an emphasis on touring and long-distance comfort.

Off-road capability is included, and the bike certainly looks the part. Bikes in this category necessarily skew on one side or the other of roadworthiness to off- road ability, depending upon the intended rider. Yamaha has a tremendous history on both road and dirt, and the Super Ténéré ES fits right in with that heritage.

For 2014, Yamaha has added electronically adjustable suspension to the Super Ténéré. From the menu switches on the left handlebar control cluster, you select between four levels of pre-load and three levels of damping, each level of damping having seven degrees of fine-tuning.

The Ténéré’s new, tighter riding position remains adventure-upright, and the tapered aluminum bars, which are now 10mm closer and taller than before, provide ample leverage. Seat height is adjustable — 33.3 or 34.3 inches—and the new textured seat is comfortable on- or off-road.

As a touring bike, the Super Ténéré has features you would expect. Cruise control is standard and the ES model comes with heated grips, which are controllable from the left handlebar.

The new windscreen has more protection than the earlier Ténéré and is adjustable for height, but it is small and far away from the rider. A larger windscreen and air directing baffles are available as accessories, along with hard luggage to give the Ténéré true long-dis- tance appeal. Still, the Ténéré is a credible open-highway machine.

Pulling off the freeway onto a dirt road, I pause for a moment to access Yamaha’s three-level Traction Control System (TCS). It controls ignition timing, throttle position, and fuel volume to mitigate wheelspin.

TC1 permits the least amount of speed differential between front and rear wheels. It is great for wet roads, where you do not want any slippage. TC2 allows for some variation, which is ideal for the dirt where you can hang the rear end out to guide you through loose turns. This mode makes the Ténéré feel lighter and aids in maneuverability, while still giving you a good feel for the terrain.

The third mode is Off, which is useful for aggressive off-roading where you need to carry the front wheel over obstacles like ruts or rocks. With TCS off, you have to work harder to keep the bike under control while it allows you to extract maximum performance from the motor. For most dirt-road riding, I prefer TC2. Opening the throttle and releasing the clutch produces a steady pull forward, transitioning from the pavement onto the dirt. It’s time for some fun.

Nudging the throttle, I react to the low-end hit of torque by sliding forward in the saddle to place more weight on the front end as I approach a sharp right turn. The oversquare 1199cc, eight-valve parallel twin can easily overpower the rear wheel, and I want to see just how well the traction control works.

Increasing pressure on the inside peg, I twist the throttle hard. The engine responds with a deeply satisfying throaty roar that feels as good as it sounds. Twin axis balancers for the 270-degree crank reduce the primary and secondary vibrations inherent in the uneven firing inter- val that gives the bike its distinctive thumper feel.

As the Bridgestone Battle Wing rear tire breaks free and the rear drifts to the left, the traction control calms the engine’s open aggression allowing the Ténéré to track through the turn, despite my exaggerated attempt to cause the opposite result. Convinced of the effectiveness of Yamaha’s traction control, I can negotiate any network of fire roads that come my way.

When patches of snow linger in the shadows on the edge of the rutted trail, I put the 7.5 inches of tunable suspension to good use. Tubeless spoke wheels— 19-inch front and 17-inch rear—give the Super Ténéré an air of off-roading gravitas that would be missing with alloy wheels, though they are not up to the standard of a 21/18 combination.

Linked anti-lock brakes enhance control further by integrating the braking force of the front and rear wheels. Pulling on the hand lever actuates all three discs, while pushing on the foot pedal temporarily overrides ABS and allows you to brake each wheel separately. ABS is subtle but effective, with a quick ratcheting down of speed in a steady and controlled manner.

Engine output is tunable on the fly through Yamaha’s two-position Drive Mode, or D-mode, which now has a more noticeable difference. “T” mode decreases torque output in the mid-range to give the bike a comfortable steady pull up through the gears and a mild demeanor when haul- ing a passenger and luggage.

“S” mode increases torque at the bottom end with a steeper curve through mid-range, giving the bike greater acceleration off the line and out of corners.

The Ténéré has a wide ratio six-speed tranny that sends power to the rear wheel via shaft drive. Incorporated into the cast aluminum swing arm, the system is compact and exhibits little shaft jacking, despite the lack of linkage.

Shifting is crisp and positive with a versatile range. With the engine’s wide torque curve, first and second gears are all I needed on twisting roads—dirt or tarmac; third through sixth are perfect for everything else.

When I reach pavement, I press the button to change the suspension setting from Soft to Hard to make the Ténéré feel more like a sporting road bike. The change has a significant effect on the handling of the bike. Damping is adjustable on the fly, and works well in conjunction with D-mode and TCS to tune the bike for changing conditions, although preload is adjustable only when the bike is stopped.

On technical paved roads, the Ténéré responds quickly to my input and has a light feel, considering its claimed 584-pound wet weight. With traction control off, the sportier power delivery and firmer suspension work to make the Super Ténéré ES a credible canyon bike.

Cornering clearance is plentiful and the Bridgestones are oriented toward aggressive street riding—at least, by adventure bike standards. The upright seating position gives me a good view of the road, which improves confidence to push the bike a bit harder.

Yamaha has clearly used its experience in street and off-road motorcycling to best effect when designing the 2014 Super Ténéré ES, bringing the two disciplines together in a highly capable machine. Admiring the mud streaked adventure bike after a post-storm ride, I can’t help but be inspired to expand the horizons of my two-wheeled explorations.

Riding Style:

  • Helmet: AGV AX-8 Dual evo
  • Eyewear: Banana Republic Layton
  • Jacket: REV’IT Outback Jacket
  • Gloves: REV’IT Fly
  • Pants: REV’IT Enterprise
  • Boots: REV’IT Apache

Story from Ultimate MotorCycling magazine; for subscription services, click here.

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