dirt where there’s a chance of getting stuck, it’s better to
turn the feature off. And, it’s the same story if you want to
drift the rear end a little. Off is best. In fact, the only time
it makes sense to us is on the pavement. The irony is that
the Yamaha’s power delivery is so smooth and controllable that the throttle acts as kind of a manual traction
control. The Super Tenere is a very powerful motorcycle,
but it’s not explosive. The torque builds gradually, and the
270-degree crank feels like it has a lot of flywheel. The
traction that it finds naturally is pretty good. As the revs
increase, the power levels off, and by 8000 rpm, the show
is over. Move on to another gear in the six-speed gearbox.
Four years ago the Yamaha was the most powerful
bike in this category. Since then, BMW and KTM have
released new models that have surpassed it, and the
Suzuki V-Strom 1000 isn’t far off. At what point is enough
enough? We’re not sure, but if you walk away from the
Yamaha thinking you need more power, you have issues
you need to work out.
Not that there aren’t flaws to complain about, though.
Tops on the list of things we wish Yamaha would change
is the ABS system. It’s nice on the pavement but very
limiting in the dirt. You can’t use rear-brake lock-up as a
means of pointing the bike. On the Yamaha, the ABS can’t
be turned off for this, at least not easily. Yamaha veterans
point out that by putting the bike on the center stand and
running through the gears, you can freak the system out
and disable it. This isn’t particularly safe or convenient,
and we don’t recommend it. Other gripes: The seat is
a little hard but is adjustable. And, if you get Yamaha’s
optional side cases, you’ll love the way they fit, but you
won’t appreciate the flexy plastic latches.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
The Yamaha is just as incredible today as it was when it
was first introduced. But now there’s a backdrop of other
incredible bikes in this class. At $15,090, the Yamaha
is thousands less than a comparably equipped BMW,
although you certainly can’t say it’s a bargain—unless
you’re in a tax bracket that would make the rest of us mad.
The Yamaha remains the non-European alternative in a
world that once had a very strong German accent.
The Super Tenere really was designed with off-road riding in
mind; it isn’t a repurposed street bike.
Yamaha allows you to choose between three traction control
settings or to just turn it all altogether.