An Old-School Motorcycle for the Long Haul

Just two years ago, in June 2020, the Ténéré 700 (or T7 for short) made its way to American shores. In that short span, it has staked a claim as one of the best value bikes on the market by breaking all the rules. Instead of following rivals and investing in bigger engines and more electronics, Yamaha has done the exact opposite. The T7 is simple, reliable, and built to last — everything you need and nothing you don’t.

Yamaha designed the Ténéré with one question: what do you really need on an ADV bike? They removed almost everything else, saving weight, decluttering the cockpit, and cutting costs. The Ténéré is what many riders–myself included– thought the Africa Twin to be. A big dirt bike with a torquey engine, smooth suspension, and great power-to-weight ratio. Fast enough on the highway, without sacrificing much off-road. The T7 is built for people who ride hard and ride far.

At 452 pounds, the Ténéré 700 is easier to maneuver than most of its peers, with a seat position and bars designed for riding dirt, standing up, and, heaven forbid, getting a little air. Experienced dual-sport riders will rejoice because the T7 feels more like a dirt bike than anything else. It’s snappier than the specs suggest, with the power, travel, and torque to keep up on the tarmac and super fun to ride off-road.

Alessio Barbanti

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the engine?

The genius of the T7 is a six-speed, 692cc parallel-twin engine that was first launched in 2014. With 72 horsepower and a stock gearing ratio of 46/15, it is snappy and great in low gears.

What’s unique about the T7?

The less-is-more design. The Ténéré only comes with a manual transmission and has no electronic aids for traction control, no electronic rider modes or lean angle sensors. You can fully turn off the ABS, unlike most ADVs. Even the LCD is simple. Bike control comes from the throttle, clutch, and feel only.

What is the Ténéré 700 best for?

The T7 is burly and reliable, making it great for long adventures. Emphasis on long.

yamaha tenere 700 parked on a dirt camera road

Alessio Barbanti

What’s Good About the Ténéré 700?

There’s lots to love about the T7. The engine offers a linear, smooth 72 horses that can power through just about everything. The dash is simple and uncluttered. The gearing and cockpit design are great for riding slowly in 1st and 2nd. The suspension has 8 inches of travel and is fully adjustable from the factory.

Sure, it’s not a fire-breathing 100-horse spaceship loaded with supercomputers, but that’s a good thing. It forces you to learn wrist control and off-road skills rather than relying on sensors and luxury modes. And there’s no need to mess with rider modes, excessive controls, and layers of menus.

What’s Not Ideal About the Ténéré 700?

Ok, fine, it’s not perfect. There are downsides to Yamaha’s stripped-down approach. The handguards are plastic and won’t protect you much if you lie the bike down. There’s no center stand for the base model of the bike, which is excellent for trail repairs. The downside of the otherwise great anti-squat technology is the increased swingarm angle creates a stiff feel as the rear tire rolls over rocks. Last, there is no cruise control for long highway stretches, which is hard to give up when you’re accustomed.

gauge display on a yamaha tenere 700 motorcycle

Alessio Barbanti

What are some good alternatives to the Ténéré 700?

The Ténéré 700 sits comfortably between two clusters of competitive bikes. With a base MSRP under $10,000, it’s less expensive, lighter, and more capable offroad than other bikes in its class like the BMW F 850 GS ($12,595), KTM 790 Adventure ($12,699), Triumph 800 XCx ($14,600), and Honda Africa Twin 1100 ($14,499). The downside is that it’s also less powerful and cannot match the tech of all four.

On the other hand, it’s more powerful than the Honda CB500X ($7,199) and Suzuki 650XT ($10,499), which would struggle to keep up in the long haul. However, they are all notably cheaper than the T7.

Where can I buy the Ténéré 700?

The T7 is available in two colorways at dozens of dealerships around the country. You can find the one closest to you simply by entering your zip code on the Yamaha website.

2022 Yamaha Ténéré 700: The Verdict

Yamaha decided to play by its own rules when it announced the Ténéré 700 four years ago. Instead of competing by being the fastest, most advanced bike-turned-spaceship on the road, it invented a new subclass of ADVs. The T7 is just a big, reliable, fun dirt bike with an ergonomic design for long-distance riding and a price point that makes it one of the best value motorcycles on the market.

yamaha tenere 700 driving on dirt road through a canyon

Alessio Barbanti

2022 Yamaha Ténéré 700

Engine: 689cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke

Horsepower: 74

Torque: 50 lb-ft

Transmission: 6-speed

Wet Weight: 452 lbs


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