Monday, September 18, 2017


First Impressions of the Yamaha Super Tenere

My foray into cruiser motorcycling is over.  The Triumph Thunderbird is gone, not so much because she wasn’t a relatively competent and very cool looking machine – although there were some bugs in her that shouldn’t have been – but because I guess I’m a fickle rider.  While I generally keep a machine for six to eight years, the T-bird lasted less than two.  It seems my experiment on a heavyweight bike with loads of chrome and torque gave way to a longing for crisp handling, long distance capability, lighter weight to push around in the garage, a collective record of dependability, a comprehensive dealer network, and a shaft drive system.

After conducting some on-line research and chatting with guys on the road who loved this particular mount, the Yamaha Super Tenere rose to the top as the chosen successor.  It has become the first non-BMW, non-Moto Guzzi, non-Triumph, non-European primary motorcycle I’ve owned since I was about 24.  Forty years past that age, I suspect I found that, for me, cachet has succumbed to something else.

900 miles in, this scoot appears to have that something.

The Yamaha Super T recalls my BMW R1200GSA with its tall seat, commanding view, rugged go-almost-anywhere suspension and ability to strap on a week’s worth of gear before heading out.  With a smaller fuel tank, however, ready-to-roll it is lighter and easier to pad around in the garage much like the Guzzi Breva or the Kawasaki KLR.

Enrico Caruso, tenor 1873-1921

 At idle, the exhaust doesn’t burble like the T-bird, rather it sings a smooth tenor note similar to the Breva or maybe more similar to Enrico Caruso.   

Sitting on the Tenere, rather than in it, at speed, the miniscule windscreen deflects the blast from my chest, but even when adjusted to the high position, blows a good torrent of whistling air past my helmet.  Plenty of aftermarket windscreens are out there.  I’ll do a bit of research with an eye toward upgrading that.

And only that. 

Everything else on this machine feels as if it were engineered specifically for me.  The seat is high, wide and comfortable making a ninety-minute or even two-hour runs quite reasonable.  The switchgear seems standardized – that’s good – but I have yet to take the five minutes it’ll take to figure out resetting the trip meters. 

The fuel tank packs premium and gets me a couple of hundred miles down the road and I now get better mileage on a bike than my brother-in-law gets in his Prius.  Noted is that the range function is pretty optimistic until it isn’t optimistic any longer.  I was cruising along with 60 miles listed when all at once it hopped down to 32, then 21 then zero, when it mysteriously began counting single miles up, one… two… three… and me still about sixteen miles short of the next Chevron.  When I, with a sigh of relief, filled Enrico up, he only took about 4.6 gallons in his 6.1-gallon tank.

Something a little more saddle time will help me to understand.

The Super Tenere handles 65 to 75 mile-per-hour jaunts on the freeway portion of US 101 with ease, although the windblast makes slower speeds winding through the redwoods more enjoyable.

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns...
Not as classically good looking as the T-bird or, say, Ingrid Bergman, it does garner comments, one from a Harley rider who’d accompanied a pal on a GS, saying, “It’s sort of a shame to see a Triumph Tiger with no dirt on it, ain’t it?”  To which the GS rider (a former Tiger owner, it turns out) responded: “That’s not a Tiger.  It’s a Yamaha that’s like a Tiger only with a dealer network.”

Enrico was, indeed, rather clean that day.  He only had 456 miles on him at the time.  And my intention is to use the bike as a paved road tourer recalling the sinking feeling I got trying to singlehandedly pry my GS upright from laying on her side in the gravel on many a remote forest service road.  Don’t want to do that anymore.

The break-in trip midway up the Oregon Coast (recounted here: proved to be a delightful introduction to the possibilities the Super Tenere holds for me.

I hope Enrico and I will enjoy a long, steadfast and, perhaps musical relationship.

© 2017
Church of the Open Road Press

1 comment:

  1. "Like a Tiger but with a dealer network", no truer words have been spoken..... I am glad you are enjoying your new ride.