2020 Yamaha Ténéré 700 review: we tested the Euro-Spec adventure motorcycle
Three years after we first salivated over spy photos of the darkened T7 prototype, we rode the new 2020 Yamaha Ténéré 700, the first Japanese manufacturer to join the fray of middleweight adventure bikes. For the past few years, options for purchasing a modern mid-size adventure motorcycle were somewhat limited to the Triumph Tiger 800 XCa and BMW F 850 GS, recently augmented by the KTM 790 Adventure and Adventure R.
The battle for supremacy in the midsize adventure motorcycle segment is heating up, and for good reason. Middleweight sport bikes are proving to be the preferred choice for riders who want to tackle challenging off-road conditions and still have the ability to burn through asphalt.
However, there is a caveat: we tested the Ténéré 700 with European specs. The American rider will have to wait patiently for another year, as the American version will debut in the second half of next year as a ’21. model.
After more than 300 miles of dusty gravel roads, two-track forest trails and windy mountain passes in the Catalan countryside of Spain, we have created the 31 important facts you need to know about the all-new European spec version of the 2020 Yamaha Ténéré 700.
1. The 2020 Yamaha 700 Ténéré is not a downsized Super Ténéré, but an all-new mid-size adventure rig designed for off-road capability. Yamaha cleaned the slate and drew heavily on its rally racing experience to develop a slender 39-pound high-strength steel frame that balances stiffness and flexibility.
2. Yamaha in Europe does not characterize the Ténéré 700 as an adventure bike. Instead, it uses the term “Rally-bred Dual Sport” to define the Ténéré 700 and overstates the focus on purity, toughness and essentials. However, Yamaha’s American division places the 2021 Ténéré 700 in the Adventure Touring category on its website.
3. Yamaha used their design team in Italy to build the Ténéré 700, incorporating feedback from rally raid racers.. The European specification motorcycle is manufactured in France, while the North American model will be manufactured in Japan. This Eurocentric design approach and split manufacturing may explain the one-year delay between the debut of the European version and the North American edition.
4. The aesthetics and style of the rally-inspired design leave no room for doubt as to its intended purpose. With four piercing LED headlights, a minimalist fly screen at the front, and a low-slung scratchy exhaust system, the Ténéré 700 is a striking departure from the adventurous flair of its rivals.
5. Back to the Future: Yamaha takes a “no-gimmick” approach to electronic driver aids. The 2020 Yamaha Ténéré 700 sets itself apart from its rivals in space by eschewing drive modes, traction control and even cruise control, in favor of simplicity and ease of maintenance to go anywhere. However, it has ABS.
6. Vertically mounted LCD instrument cluster allows the driver to scan information at a glance without looking down. The dashboard is not TFT, although it does measure all the essentials, including trip information and current and average fuel consumption. Just as cool is the accessory bar above the LCD panel designed to mount a smartphone, GPS, or rally roadbook. A standard 12V outlet is conveniently located to power everything; you will need an adapter if your component uses USB.
7. The 689cc Crossplane Twin (CP2) is an absolute pleasure. On paper, 72 horsepower at 9000 rpm and 50 ft.-lbs. Of torque at 6500 rpm aren’t necessarily mind-blowing. However, in the saddle, the CP2 motor is a true smile maker. With plenty of power to lift the wheels from first to third, plus a robust linear pull with exceptional overthrow, the CP2 engine is a standout feature on the 2020 Yamaha Ténéré 700.
8. The CP2 engine of the Yamaha MT-07 and the Ténéré 700 are identical. Yamaha Ténéré engineers created different fuel injection, intake, exhaust, cooling systems and final drive ratio mappings to optimize torque and throttle response for off-road use. Mechanically, the engine and transmission are interchangeable.
9. Yamaha claims that the CP2 engine is the …