Update: November 9th, 2016
Yamaha has presented its much anticipated mid-size Ténéré concept at the EICMA 2016. For more information on this concept, please follow this link where we provide information from Yamaha’s press release on this bike and other information as well: Yamaha T7
For a history on this bike and on the original Ténéré, where information has been gathered for the last two years, including a follow up on April 2016, please continue reading below.
Update: April 13th, 2016
Has Yamaha finally heard its customers?
We originally put together this post about a possible XTZ 700 or XT700Z in 2014, when we realized what a gem of a motor the 700cc parallel twin motor is with its compact size and 270 degree cam, and how it could work for a mid-size adventure motorcycle. The XT660Z has been past its expiration date long time ago.
Maybe, just maybe, Yamaha has a response to this request from motorcyclists in search of that capable middle weight dual cylinder adventure bike – and it could be based on the 700cc parallel twin motor!
Since the speculations on Yamaha’s middle weight Ténéré started, Honda launched its Africa Twin. The original speculation about the new Africa Twin had it under 450lbs. Honda instead chose to go with a larger displacement motor, also a parallel twin, moving their adventure bike to the larger group of bikes with the Africa Twin tipping the scales at more than 500lbs.
BMW and Triumph maintain their 800cc adventure bikes at just below 500lbs (more than 500lbs depending on the option). These are all capable bikes, but they are heavy bikes.
Some of us tired of waiting for manufacturers to build a desirable middle weight machine, myself included, went their own route and built their own lighter, multi-cylinder adventure motorcycle.
There are rumors about KTM developing an 800cc parallel twin and you know KTM means business when it is about developing something with off-road vocation. If Yamaha will really develop its own true mid-size adventure motorcycle, together with the possible KTM mid-size bike, we have finally some hope for true mid-size, multi-cylinder, adventure bikes to be available in the future.
Where was Yamaha and their 700cc motors? They were expanding the line of bikes using this motor. The MT-07 (FZ-07) is a good motorcycle, however, it is just one more of the many street “transformer” bikes out there. It is time to move on. The XSR700cc was a move in the right direction.
For us, who like adventure motorcycles, we may have at some point in the future, the best version yet of a Yamaha bike to be built around the 700cc power plant. Yamaha may have just heard our collective request to develop an adventure motorcycle with that little motor. The size, 700cc, delivering about 75hp, seems to be just enough for lots of fun on off pavement situations, hopefully keeping the bike light, and ready for real action.
Here we go guys, this photo is just the beginning, now we can start speculating about other details about this bike. Upfront, we like the “rally” front end on this bike. We like the 21 inch front wheel, the rear could as well be an 18inch wheel, but a 17inch will do. The bash plate could be telling us it is meant for fun times on off pavement roads. Forks show that a good amount of suspension travel could be available. Handlebars are tall. It is all good.
However, that front end seems to be rigged, the rear body work is missing, this whole thing seems to be rigged, which is possible – either for the customary disguise during testing periods or because it is someone’s private attempt to make an adventure bike out of the 700cc parallel twin. We will hear more soon, we hope. Meanwhile, let’s hope for the best in the adventure front, with more variety of competent mid-size adventure motorcycles.
Note: This post has been very popular as we all seek for signs indicating Yamaha will develop a mid-size adventure motorcycle. We want you to know the original post, below, was written in 2014 when rumors about a mid-size adventure motorcycle from Yamaha started circulating in tandem with Honda’s Africa Twin rumors. Yamaha continues to develop products based on the MT/FZ 07 and 09 motors (and now there is even an MT-10). However, as of EICMA 2015 the much anticipated mid-size adventure, or Ténéré based on the MT-07 or MT-09 motors continues to only be speculation from us the public at large. We can still talk about it though, and this post reflects such a conversation. Please keep in mind this post was written in 2014 and lots have happened on the motorcycle adventure front since then – so keep in mind some information on this post is old news.
Original Post (written in 2014):
We are not surprised to see a drawing of a speculated XTZ 700 (or 750) Yamaha Ténéré surface on the internet. Motorrad sketched something that looks really interesting, with design cues from the XTZ 1,200 Super Ténéré and using a parallel twin motor, likely a variation of that motor from the Yamaha MT-07 (or FZ-07 for the American market). That’s not likely to be Yamaha’s own view for such a bike (if they have a view for such a bike in the first place), but certainly this drawing looks interesting and to a certain extent, makes sense as an evolution of the XTZ660 and XTZ1200 styles.
The launch of the MT-07, the speculation about Honda’s New Africa Twin, Yamaha’s own Dakar history, a perceived gap in the adventure market, and the age of the XTZ660 has led us to believe something could come up from Yamaha’s camp sooner or later in the midsize adventure market. This article from Motorrad suggests Yamaha may be finally taking action. The same article indicates Yamaha will have 15 new models to be revealed on the fall motorcycle shows. Something similar to the bike depicted in the drawing above could be one of these 15 new bikes. That would be quite a large market attack from Yamaha. Can we say blitzkrieg?
More details are yet to be provided so, as we have been doing with our Honda Africa Twin is Back post, we will update this Ténéré post as new information becomes available about this speculated motorcycle.
For now let’s talk about how this segment of the market is shaping up and the basis for this new speculated motorcycle by Yamaha.
The Perceived Gap
It just may be that finally we are experiencing saturation on the large adventure bikes’ market, the 1,200 cc segment of the adventure motorcycle market. It makes sense: you first take care of the most profitable segment, stake your claim there, then you go after the second best, the midsize market. And of course, the motorcycle industry has heard the cry of the adventure enthusiasts who have been asking for more multi-cylinder mid-size bikes on the adventure segment. And we should add there is that almost permanent quest from a minority of us for a more enduro or rally oriented motorcycle in the adventure market, I’m not sure this group has been heard really. Bottom line, as we’ve discussed on the New Honda Africa Twin post, there is a perceived gap in this market and it seems there finally is some action from the industry to provide bikes for that portion of the market.
On our interpretation of this market there are no multi-cylinder motorcycles that are dirt oriented in the segment from 700 to 1000 cc of displacement since KTM stopped producing the 990 Adventure. Some people consider the BMW F800GS and the Triumph Tiger 800XC to be “dirty enough” and to a certain extent, they are. But that’s it. And that’s where Honda seems to be targeting with at least one of the possible and speculated versions of the New Africa Twin. Or so some of us hope.
On the 1,200cc segment you have many options, but they are more touring-adventure types of motorcycles. It seems every motorcycle manufacturer has captured one slice of this profitable large bikes’ market in their quest to erode BMW’s R1200GS dominance of this segment. But the GS remains the best seller. And these large bikes have evolved along the years, perhaps even including the KTM 1190R, to become more street oriented. If not for anything else, it is for their larger weight and, of course, their price. Some of these bikes perform well enough on dirt (for their size), but very few owners take them off road. Yamaha recently let us know only 12% of the Super Ténéré owners take their bikes off-road. Where’s is the next Starbucks?
Of the two mid-size adventure bikes worth mentioning when we talk about dirt orientation, the F800GS is probably the measuring stick today. Although BMW was not the first motorcycle manufacturer to conceive, develop and successfully market a motorcycle for this mid-size portion of the motorcycle industry, it is the BMW F800GS, launched in 2008 in Europe (2009 in the US), the leader of this segment. It is the more dirt-oriented mid-size machine of this multi-cylinder segment.
Triumph successfully entered this market in 2011 with the Tiger 800XC, and I happen to have one of these machines and I do take it on off-pavement adventures on occasion, where it performs rather well, I would say. Like the BMW, the Triumph could be better, though. And this is where I would like to see new bikes being offered in the market deliver: a better dirt package, perhaps a more enduro or rally oriented suspension, and if possible, a lighter multi-cylinder motorcycle. And maybe that is not possible.
Back-tracking some more in the history timeline of adventure/enduro bikes, to before the time BMW, let’s say, re-discovered the 800cc market with the F800GS, this displacement size was the top size of the enduro market. It was the Paris-Dakar rally what brought the appeal for a motorcycle that would travel the world and would be capable of traversing any terrain. The BMW R80GS was the machine that turned this segment into reality. This is the origin of the multi-cylinder adventure bike which evolved into the very successful BMW R1200GS and this entire larger displacement segment. Some of this bike’s (and this segment’s) consolidation can be traced back to the adventures of Ewan McGregor’s and Charley Boorman’s Long Way Round and Long Way Down series and other individuals who have taken these bikes on round the world adventures.
Yamaha and Honda were also leaders of this 700-800cc segment of the market by also winning the Paris Dakar race several times and by also producing Dakar-based motorcycles under the Ténéré and Africa Twin brands respectively. But that was a relatively short lived period for these two manufacturers. They have invested on it, produced bikes that carry their name in the imagination of riders to today. But they lacked a commitment to further develop the bikes, and lacked presence across some markets in the world.
Consider that before the KTM era (total dominance since 2001), from 1979 to 2000, Yamaha and Honda were rather successful:
- Yamaha – 9 wins
- BMW – 6 wins
- Honda – 5 wins
- Cagiva – 2 wins
Yamaha was the brand with the most Dakar wins until KTM entered this circuit. Like BMW, Honda and Yamaha before them, KTM themselves have developed a series of motorcycles based on the prestige of the Dakar bikes. Differently than BMW, Honda and Yamaha, though, until recently KTM did not seem to propose to lead the market in sales volume, but in developing motorcycles that have better enduro or off road aptitude than the offerings from other manufacturers.
All other mid-size multi-cylinder adventure-styled motorcycles currently available are just it, more emphasis on the style and not the capability for off-road adventures.
In honoring the Dakar race history, it seems only four manufacturers are actually expected to produce machines that could offer the general public some level of the sensation of what it could be like to ride a Dakar capable machine (even though Dakar is now limited to 450cc machines, we are talking here about multi-cylinder machines). Yamaha, BMW, Honda and KTM are it. And then, on the outside of this circle, but looking into it, we have Triumph with the Tiger 800XC.
Rumors feed our dreams for what these manufacturers could bring to the market should they perceive a gap exists as well. And it seems they finally agree with us. I guess we are all looking for something new and exciting on this perceived gap of the market.
The Orange camp seems to be an obvious candidate, they are the ones that have been building the more enduro type of bikes of all of them. We have heard from forum participants the desire of seeing a 750 V-Twin with more rally-like specs than the 990 Super-Enduro. We’ve heard some faint rumors that it could be a reality, especially since KTM stopped producing the 990 Adventure.
The red camp talks about the revival of the Africa Twin, and these rumors seem to be the most realistic ones of all speculated stories on this front.
BMW already has the F800GS, but it eventually will need a revamp, something more radical than color, subtle styling changes and the addition of electronic packages of recent. The only changes to the 2015 F800GS are color changes, for example. Well, they built the Adventure version (I wish they had only expanded the tank with one extra gallon, by the way). But then again, the F800GS remains the benchmark on this size.
Triumph, who knows, they may surprise us again. Although I seem to think their way up will likely be with evolutionary changes on things they lag behind on the Tiger 800XC, such as an electronics package, the need to move the dash information control from buttons on the dash itself to controls on the handlebars, and a subframe (or making passenger pegs an added/removable part from the frame).
Other manufacturers may join this market, the same way they crowded the 1,200 segment. Although the midsize segment is not a hot market as the 1,200 cc market is, there is room for growth, and there is plenty of room for building exciting machines.
But we have hope that, akin to what happened in years past with the 1,200 market that, we may see fireworks on this segment of the market in the next couple of years.
Under the skin of a speculated new Yamaha Ténéré
With respect to this midsize development, Yamaha has been the silent one. But we haven’t forgotten that Yamaha is a member of this exclusive group of manufacturers with history and an interest in this market. Maybe they are still feeling the sting of the low sales volume they experienced with their Super Ténéré, an excellent motorcycle but which never generated much excitement in the market, except for the bike’s launch itself. Although very solid and proven to be reliable, this bike actually seemed to be somewhat obsolete by the time of its launch. I remember comments from journalists and riders at that time, that were actually wanting Yamaha to develop an evolution of the XTZ750 and not a 1,200cc bike. The 2014 XTZ 1,200 has shown a few improvements from previous years, a small diet, and the addition of an electronic suspension package. Progress, but still a soft selling machine.
What really triggered our interest in Yamaha’s camp, with the possibility of finally bringing a mid-size machine as a continuation of the actual Dakar-based Ténéré line, was the development of two new and exciting powerplants and the recent launch of two naked motorcycles based on these two powerplants. As soon as these bikes and motors came out adventure enthusiasts started to speculate whether these motors would work on a mid-size adventure motorcycle.
First was the beautiful new three cylinder motor that powers the Yamaha MT-09.
The MT-09 came to the market with appropriate fanfare. It is an exciting package with performance and a reasonable price. For some reason, three cylinder motors have a following, or a new found following in the market. There is something about flat, linear torque curves and smooth acceleration.
I know about this based on the 3-Cylinder 800XC. The Tiger 800XC performs really well on dirt roads, but in my case, I bough this bike thinking mostly about riding it on the road. This is where the power plant seems to better deliver its power and torque curve.
Because of an adjustment of the bikes in our shed (a Ducati showed up) I was reluctant but did make the Tiger into a more dirt-oriented machine. And I have been positively surprised by how well this bike behaves on fast dirt roads, with all original equipment, except for the Shinko 705 tires. Check this video (link below) where you can see how well this bike can do on dirt roads.
There are a few things one would prefer on an off road bike though, such as a better low to middle RPM 1st gear action for technical and high incline climbs, more engine braking, and a more lively throttle response, which are things you normally get from a twin-cylinder motor. Add a small weight reduction to better face technical terrain. And on more of a preference issue, the bark of a twin-cylinder when off road just sounds more fitting.
And that’s where a new Africa Twin and a possible mid-size Ténéré based on a twin-cylinder package sounds appealing. So it was as if on cue that soon after the story about the MT-09 came out and people started talking about a Yamaha adventure bike based on this new triple motor, I’ve heard of the MT-07 and another new motor, a compact parallel twin package.
And the bike that came with it.
So I’m glad the Motorrad drawings depict this speculated new Ténéré with a parallel twin motor. This motor offers the hope for a lighter bike in an adventure package. And on top of that, this motor has a 270 degrees crank, meaning it will provide rideability and hopefully sound and feel similar to that of a V-twin, but on a compact package.
Specifications for these two bikes:
|Cylinders||Parallel Twin, 270 degree crank||Three in line|
|Torque||50 lb/ft||64.5 lb/ft|
|Tank size||3.7 gallons||3.7 gallons|
|Calculated Range (mpg x tank size)||214.6 miles||162.8 miles|
The 1991 Paris Dakar winner Yamaha YZE750T had these figures:
● Engine type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, 5-valve, in-line 2-cylinder, 802.5cm3
● Transmission: 5-speed
● Maximum power output: 74HP
● Weight: 194kg / 427lbs
The new parallel twin motor, if it is the one applied into an enduro package (adventure), would probably replicate very closely, the specs of the winning motorcycle, matching the exact 74hp of that bike, and perhaps the same weight, about 430lbs.
The new parallel twin’s 74hp is plenty good power in our opinion. It was plenty good for the race bike to win the Paris-Dakar race in 1991. The challenge is to keep the whole package light and make it fit into the gradient of bikes available as a lighter bike. Or that’s what we would like to see on a new bike.
Therefore, if Yamaha decides to build such a bike, and it is based on the FZ-07 motor (or a variation on the theme), it gives us hope this is going to be a light bike, perhaps in the 430-450lbs level. It could also be that Yamaha could make a dirt version with the parallel twin motor and a more touring version, 19 inch front wheel, with the triple motor. These two versions would make everyone happy, open up the options for the market, and for some, make it a difficult choice between two dreamed about mid-size adventure bikes.
We will keep an eye on information about this possible bike and this segment of the market, where we predict a few new exciting motorcycles will become available in the next couple of years. We will update this post (or create new posts) as more information becomes available.
Update: September 1, 2014
It seems someone has leaked a photoshop illustration of a sport/touring motorcycle based on Yamaha’s three cylinder motor. Drawn around the MT-09 (FZ-09) triple motor and frame, the concept illustration presented yesterday at CycleWorld (borrowed from Young Magazine in Japan) denotes a definite street orientation.
Certainly this concept, as depicted above, is not worthy of a Ténéré denomination. CycleWorld seems to think such a bike could slot in the Ténéré line up as a smaller option to the 1200 Super Ténéré. We instead believe the real mid-size Ténéré, if it will be built, will have a 21 inch front spoked wheel.
However, such a concept fits our earlier prediction that Yamaha would bring to the market two adventure styled motorcycles, where a street oriented version would be based on the triple motor and a dirt-oriented version would be based on the parallel twin motor.
However, we were expecting the street version to come fitted with a 19 inch wheel. Instead, this drawing shows it as a more popular and accessible version of the Multistrada and the speculated touring styled version of the BMW S1000R. That is, street bikes that can be used for touring, sport touring as many say. This is a growing market, it seems.
Anyway, such a sport/touring motorcycle, similar to what is shown on the illustration, could be one of the 15 motorcycles Yamaha is supposed to launch at Intermot or EICMA this year. We still believe Yamaha will bring to the market a mid-size Ténéré version based on the MT-07/FZ-07 platform.
Stay tuned for new updates.