| It's time I came clean about getting dirty. When it comes to the rough stuff I'm hopeless. End of story. So, when I was handed the keys to Yamaha's new Super Tenere it wasn't going to get a thorough Dakar-style workout.
Perhaps this 'soft road' test is more in keeping with what the average Super Tenere will come up against on a day-to-day basis, although I did my best to get the SuperTen stuck on as many different surfaces as possible!
The competition in this class is already well established. With BMW's GS taking a large majority of the sales, and with the Yamaha costing more than a fully loaded GS Adventure, it has plenty to prove. Ducati's all-singing, all-dancing Multistrada is only £700 more expensive.
On paper the Super Tenere can put up a fight. It comes equipped with a traction-control system that can be turned off if you venture offroad. ABS and a smart linked braking system, together with powerful calipers, make stopping easier than ever. There is also an anti-wheelie system that works in parallel with the traction control. Fast starts away from the traffic lights are now idiot proof with no danger of looping over backwards.
With 109bhp at your disposal this was never going to be too much of a problem. The motor delivers the power in a very linear, surprise-free fashion. Big fat waves of torque are never far away, good news if you intend on scaling mountains with your Tenere.
This doesn't mean the Yamaha will run out of puff at high speeds, either. If you need to get a move on, it will happily sit at three-figure speeds, dispatching continents with ease. It'll even hold its own on fast open corners where traditionally this type of machine would suffer.
At 261kg the Yamaha is no lightweight. Once on the move the weight is all but forgotten. Even at low speeds the low centre of gravity makes tight manoeuvres even easier. The Tenere is the easiest bike I've ever attempted to do a U-turn on, thanks to the generous amount of steering lock.
On a bike with touring aspirations and the ability to ride for over 200 miles between fill-ups, rider comfort is crucial. Once again the Yamaha delivers. The seat may not be the softest, but the overall riding position makes massive mile-munching effortless. The screen did a fantastic job of keeping the wind blast over the top of my poor choice of helmet, with virtually no buffeting.
With a digital readout giving MPG figures whilst on the move, it's tempting to sit back, put the Tenere into touring mode, and see how far you can go on a tank. It's just as tempting, however, to flick the switch from Touring to Sport and see how low you can get the MPG figure to go! The Yamaha is equally capable of doing both.
The same can't be said for offroad duties. I got the Super Tenere stuck on more than a few occasions whilst pretending to be Ewan Mcboorman on the soft stuff. The majority of the blame can be pointed squarely at the dual sport tyres that the Yamaha comes fitted with. They are road focused first and foremost. Understandable.
Even with limited riding capabilities it's possible to find the limits of these tyres quickly when the going gets rough.
Sand, pebbles or mud will have the Super Tenere struggling for grip. You really don't want to be wrestling with a quarter of a ton of Japanese metal while dabbing along through deep sand. Attempts at riding along pebble beaches will also end in a similar conclusion, although once fitted with more aggressive tyres I'm sure it will deal with slippery surfaces with aplomb.
If you're looking for a capable continent crusher but can't bear to be seen riding a BMW GS, then the Yamaha is a fresh alternative that matches the competition blow for blow.
WORDS SHAUN POPE PHOTOGRAPHY MOJOFFOTO
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