2012 Yamaha Super Ténéré – First Ride

Story by Glenn Roberts and Uwe Wachtendorf//
October 21 2010
picture of the new Yamaha Super Tenere

As part of the recent Yamaha Stryker press launch, Motorcycle Mojo staffers Glenn Roberts and Uwe Wachtendorf had an opportunity to ride a pre-introduction 2012 Super Ténéré, Yamaha’s entry into the burgeoning big-displacement adventure-touring genre. Although the Super Ténéré isn’t scheduled to arrive in Canada until the summer of 2011, the European spec model the duo tested was an example of what would be appearing in your local Yamaha showroom. Along with its cost, Yamaha Canada are still mulling over the colours and graphics that will be used for the Canadian edition.

Glenn Roberts:

“Yamaha is no stranger to the adventure-touring market. During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s Yamaha sold the 750 Ténéré in North America, and while it wasn’t a big seller then, the new Super Ténéré should do much better – adventure-touring bikes are a hot segment in North American right now.

The Super Ténéré is powered by an all-new liquid-cooled, DOHC, 4-valve, parallel-twin that is claimed to produce 110 horsepower and 84 foot-pounds of torque. I found there was plenty of power to propel me down either blacktop or dirt roads. In conditions where its power was too much, the Super Ténéré’s three traction control modes (one of which is ‘off’) allowed the ECU to intervene when the rear wheel began to spin. It’s was a helpful aid in the wet and slippery conditions we encountered and when accelerating out of corners.

There were also two engine management modes at my fingertips. Touring mode made city riding, especially in stop and go traffic, more comfortable. Switching the system to sport mode delivered maximum power and really made a noticeable difference in the bike’s performance.


Ergonomic amenities included a two-position, height adjustable seat that could be quickly changed and provided a comfortable seating position. To make the bike more robust for off-road excursions, Yamaha have used a clever spoked T-shaped rim to allow the use of tubeless tires (great for on-the-road tire repairs) and a side-mounted radiator. By moving the radiator to the sides, Yamaha shortened the length of the bike and minimized the risk of damage from mud and rocks thrown from the front wheel.

A range of options will be available for the Super Ténéré, including large touring panniers and a top box.”

Uwe Wachtendorf:

“I was cursing inside my helmet. Goaded by another journalist, I had agreed to ride Yamaha’s new Super Ténéré off-road on its stock street tires and was regretting the decision.

It had been raining all morning and the muddy trail we were on was slicker than a three-inch coating of goose poop on ice. Even worse, I had to rely on my dodgy off-road riding experience to keep the 261 kg (574 lb.) motorcycle upright. My only solace in this dire situation was the steady stream of expletives coming from the journalist who had dragged me into this mess; if this experienced trail rider was also struggling, I could at least find satisfaction that we were actually pushing the limits of this motorcycle.

It wasn’t until we were close to the turn-around point of our deep woods excursion that I finally threw in the towel and swapped my Super Ténéré for the WR250F that our guide from Yamaha was riding. I had been certain that our folly would end in disaster – instead something unexpected happened: despite my meagre off-road skills, the big adventure-tourer with its adjustable traction control and electronically tameable power had managed to get the better of a bad situation. Its smooth power delivery combined with spin control allowed the mud-packed rear tire to find traction where it didn’t exist while its comfortable standing ergonomics and low centre of gravity helped me to keep its mass under control and out of the undergrowth.

It was obvious from our excursion that a Super Ténéré in the right hands would prove to be an effective tool if taken well off the beaten path. Once they’re in abundant supply and I can get one fitted with the proper tires, I wouldn’t mind taking another venture into the woods. Only next time I promise to leave the profanity at home.”


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