DOUBLE THE FUN?
So yes, for 2014 Yamaha have allowed us two versions of the Super Ténéré. There’s a base ‘Z’ model, much like the 2013 model only a little more powerful (that 2hp) and gently updated and now 4kg lighter. Then there’s an all whistles and bells ‘ZE’ with the same updates as the Z only with added electronically adjustable suspension and heated grips! Check out the panels for the full run-down of updates and spec.
One thing is for certain, Yamaha have certainly taken the sensible route. The motor’s been retuned for extra civility as well as for added character. The riding package has been optimised to give the most accommodating, comfortable adventure package possible. And the electronically adjustable suspension brings hassle- and tool-free flexibility in set-up, thereby bringing the Super Ténéré that much closer to the GS in terms of spec. Not that the Yamaha is lacking for rider aids, with TCS traction control, ABS and D-mode engine mapping options it is a sophisticated player.
AND IT GETS BETTER
It gets better, but first a tech ‘blip’ to alert you to – riding the revised Super Ténéré the very first sensation was, sadly, that of disappointment. That’s on account Yamaha, in looking to take the edge off the power delivery for riding in tricky urban environments, have gone a little too far in ‘refining’ their ‘town’ engine mapping (within D-mode). The intrusion of various electronic overrides now makes for a very unsatisfying mushy response to the throttle – even the throttle action itself feels strangely disconnected. Fortunately – although there’s no fix as such for that – you can side-step the matter by putting the D-mode into ‘sport’. Conventional throttle and engine response is resumed. And yes while the response in this mode is keen it doesn’t make for a lurchy ride, it’s fine. So before you test ride the Super Ténéré make sure it’s in sport mode.
Anomaly dealt with, let’s continue – and the feedback keeps improving. Yamaha have taken their own route on the electronically controlled suspension and by explicitly separating the preload and damping adjustments and then sub-dividing the three main damping settings of soft, standard and hard a further seven times, they’ve given the rider in total 48 possible settings. The differences in comfort and handling in three main divisions are easily detected and even in the course of this short test we were able to use all three to good effect, using soft on the potholed town roads, standard on most of the rest of the roads and when off-road, and hard when pushing-on over the smoothly surfaced coast roads. The further incremental adjustments of +/–3 (the seventh option there being 0) will need a longer assessment to get the hang of.
The new screen works well too. Admittedly we did no motorway work and it was left in the lowest of settings, but the speeds did get up and there was no detectable detriment to the wind flow. Of course, the best compliment you can pay any screen is that you didn’t notice it. The fact that the screen now adjusts quickly and without tools is a significant user benefit.The seat’s quickly adjustable to two set heights and while many of the riders were very happy with the lower position (845mm), the higher setting (870mm) better suited this rider (6’0” tall). The seat’s nicely level too, not sloping like some.
Initial off-road riding impressions are dominated by the feel of the Super Ténéré being a little too wide through the mid section, which means it’s not so easy to grip the frame with your knees. And this is compounded by the exhaust interfering with your left calf when leaning back. But ignore it, after a little familiarisation this is soon forgotten and the over-riding impression is the big Yamaha feels easily manageable, in fact it’s a big ball of fun. It’s nicely balanced and can be trials ridden to a standstill, feet-up full-lock turns are easy with no jolts or snatches coming from the transmission (which now has two additional dampers for extra smooth delivery). The motor plods nicely. But alternatively you can feed in a handful of throttle for a burst of acceleration which the TCS traction control will suitably moderate for you, allowing nice bite size chunks of wheelspin. It does dirt hooligan, and while we can’t say this test properly explored the Super Ténéré’s off-road capabilities, it feels dirt ready, there’s no sense of top-heaviness and the responses are correct for those that know dirt bikes. Experienced riders will no doubt sport evil grins within minutes of riding one.
The ABS can’t be switched off – an omission really – but it still worked well enough off-road in the admittedly limited testing we did. It’ll probably be best to get to know its limitations thoroughly before you barrel down a slippery hillside. There’s also this trick, which we didn’t have the time to familiarise ourselves with during the test, where if you use the rear brake first it acts independent of the ABS – meaning you can lock it if you so wish. Use the front brake first and you have full ABS. In practice, and we’ve heard this from those who ride them, this means you can ride with the safety net of ABS full-time only to, in an instant, over-ride it and get back to non-ABS responses. Neat!
Back on the tarmac, again flicking through some real tight and twisty roads, the Super Ténéré feels commendably light on its feet. It’s well-planted but equally it can really carve the corners. Checking the tyres (Bridgestone Battlewings) we noticed the rear is a 150-section – quite a deal slimmer that the current 1200GS’s 170-section – and we’re pretty sure that goes a long way to speeding up the Yamaha’s turn rate. A narrower section tyre can often be a lot more positive off-road too. Again, Yamaha has admirably resisted the desire to over-spec the bike and stuck with what works.