Dolomiti Ride: a walk with Yamaha Niken and Ténéré 700

We took part in one of the three events that Yamaha has reserved for the discovery of the 2019 range and we did not miss the opportunity to ride the new Ténéré 700 to enjoy the beautiful streets of the Val di Fassa, surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Dolomites. And then, what better excuse to abandon the almost 40°C of the sultry cities of Lombardy? When we arrived at Campitello di Fassa, the location chosen by Yamaha, the thermometer marked 23°!

After welcoming Yamaha, in the small village on the border between the provinces of Trento and Bolzano, we immediately jump on the saddle to discover the wonders of Trentino, also bordering on the Veneto. We are initially entrusted with a Niken, the three-wheeled creature from Iwata, equipped with the Leaning Multi Wheel system which, between the hairpin bends and the sudden changes of direction of the passes between Trentino and Veneto, really gives us the best of itself. Our caravan, made up of more than 130 motorcyclists, starts the 150 km tour; we decide to distance ourselves from the group, so as to put into practice a guide more… “We are happy to provide you with a more accurate review of the bikes under test.

Riding our Niken we immediately realize that the ABS system and traction control, both very permissive, allow us to have fun and not a little. The day soon turns into a up-and-down between the Fedaia and Giau Passes, with a small lunch break in Cortina, before heading towards the top of the Pordoi Pass. But we want to test the new Ténéré 700 on the road! So we book a test ride and start the tour again. The result? We discover a bike designed for off-road use which, between the hairpin bends, can give a hard time to anyone.

Yamaha Ténéré 700: How it is Made

We already know how Ténéré 700 is made, thanks to the first contact of our colleague Alberto Raverdino, but an address never hurts. The off-road qualities are accentuated by the Rally Style shapes, with vertical plexiglass to protect us from air and pebbles and four LED lights to form a square on the front. Behind the plexiglass, the space for the instrumentation, almost vertical and very legible, and handholds for roadbooks, smartphones or other useful tools for travelers. The 16-litre tank “loads” the bike forward, just like the fashion of the moment, but the all-new double-cradle steel frame helps to streamline the structure; essential for keeping the bike “between the legs” well.

To push the Ténéré 700 up towards the tops of the wheelbases, the twin-cylinder front end that already equips other models in the Yamaha range (MT-07, XSR 700 and Tracer 700): 689cc, 75 hp at 9,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 68 Nm at 6,500 rpm. The power output is full-bodied and the torque seems almost constant at all rpm, thanks to the irregular bursts of the Iwata engine. Few, very few interventions have been made: just a little retouching of the electronics to make the engine more suitable for off-road use.

The 43 mm front fork, with upside-down stems, guarantees a 210 mm travel and is adjustable both in compression and rebound, while at the rear there is a single shock absorber with adjustable preload and a travel of 200 mm. And then the rims: 21″ on the front, 18″ on the rear, classic off-road sizes that, combined with the 240 mm ground clearance, make this Ténéré 700 practically unstoppable. Needless to say, therefore, the height of the saddle is not the lowest: the 88 cm make it unsuitable for those under 1.75 m.

With two 285 mm discs at the front and a single 240 mm disc at the rear, this Ténéré allows you to almost detach from the motard, accentuating the pleasure of driving, even on asphalt. Of course, there is also ABS, which can be switched off at the touch of a button when the wheels are put off-road. For the rest, we can tell you that the bike is designed and built to deal with the most difficult terrain. Just go and see the details such as the anti-breakage joints of the gear levers and rear brake, the front mudguard that can be spaced from the wheel to avoid blockages due to mud, the removable passenger footrests and ergonomic grips at tail height, useful both for any passenger, and to move the bike in maneuvers from standstill in off-road.

Two optional packages are available. The first, the Explorer Pack, dedicated to those who love to travel long distances, includes the 72-litre side bags, the central stand, a protection plate for the extra-large engine, the protections for the crankcase and side panels and even a rear rack. The second, the Rally Pack, is aimed at those who want to use Ténéré purely off-road and includes: the Rally saddle even higher, the Akrapovic exhaust, chain guard and chain guide more suitable for use in off-road and a protective grille for the radiator.

Available since July, the Yamaha Ténéré 700 is available at a price of 9,790 euros, in the colours Ceramic Ice, Competition White and Power Black.

Yamaha Ténéré 700: How it Goes

Once you’re in the saddle, you’ll immediately notice how high the seat is, and the feeling of absolute control of the situation is pleasant. On the road it is easy to see any imperfection of the road surface and the wide handlebar allows you to leverage when you need to raise the bike to avoid an obstacle or in changes of direction facing a “s”. The plastics are pleasant to the touch and transmit a sensation of quality, and the finishes are also excellent. Put into motion we appreciate the sound of the twin cylinder, made more bad by the exhaust system Akrapovic of the bike under test, nice to see, useful, because it helps to lower the weight of the Ténéré already contained (just 187 kg dry) and pleasant to hear, especially when “crackle” in release!

Our test took place exclusively on asphalt; we were told, in fact, that the off-road in the Dolomites is not well seen. We didn’t breathe, the intention was precisely to test a bike equipped with a 21″ front rim among the winding roads of Trentino. And so we did! Feeling already transmitted from the first meters, a sign that Yamaha has done a great job on this bike. At the first curve we have to decide whether to use Ténéré in road or enduro “mode” and, at the second, we have already decided: erect torso, bike bent inside and gas to get out even crosswise. The original equipment tyres, despite the block, have the right grip on the asphalt, allowing us to dare.

The high travel of the fork is never a problem, never a lunge too much and the two discs in front do their job very well. In curves we are able to keep the trajectory perfectly and at the exit the twin cylinder is always ready to restart, even if it can give the maximum after 4,000 rpm and up to 8,000. Power enough to have fun (we didn’t feel the need to have more horsepower) and a very enjoyable range of use. The surprise comes in the changes of direction: we expected a more springy bike, easy boarding, and instead, when the pace increases, she does not pull back.

Between one hairpin bend and the next, we wanted (immediately suppressed) to cut the curve and come out on the opposite side, because the Ténéré 700 project was born from the T7 prototype, presented during EICMA 2016, a bike dedicated to raw enduro, with a rally spirit, that encourages you to look for the most challenging way to reach your goal and that certainly does not stop in front of obstacles. That’s definitely the habitat of this endurona, but using it on asphalt roads did not displease us at all.

With a very successful project, a well made, well-kept bike with fascinating lines and a price that stops below 10,000 euros, we are sure that Yamaha Ténéré 700 will have the right success. It’s not the latest technology, it’s not equipped with cutting-edge equipment in the sector, but that chassis, that driving approach, that engine that allows you to have fun on the road and overcome any obstacle in off-road… That’s what we want!

Dolomiti Ride: Not Just Two Wheels

At the Dolomiti Ride with Yamaha, we not only rode motorcycles all over the mountains, but also enjoyed the company of big names from the world of competitions of all kinds and the animation of Dj Ringo, all accompanied by the excellent music of Virgin Radio and the activities proposed by Yamaha for young and old. The tour was attended by the legendary Alessandro Botturi, winner of the last edition of the Africa Eco Race, Giorgio Rocca, former Italian alpine skier special slalom specialist, winner of a World Cup specialties and three medals, Giambattista Venditti, rugby player of the Italian national team, and Alessandro Marcianò, the only Italian surfer to have surfed a wave of 18 meters.

We had the pleasure to meet and chat with the “digital” champion of eSport MotoGP, the first world championship on video game organized by Dorna, Lorenzo Daretti, a.k.a “Trastevere73”. And then, on the main stage, Team GRT Yamaha, made up of Marco Melandri and Sandro Cortese who, with Team Principal, gave an account of the 2019 Superbike season.

The event ended with a very pleasant Social Ride Dinner. An opportunity to taste the traditional foods of the area with our companions during the Dolomiti Ride.

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