Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Ride Review: 2012 Yamaha Super Téneré


Ride Review: 2012 Yamaha Super Téneré

This is a review that I've hoped to have the chance to do, and this bike is definitely worth the test ride.

Several weeks ago, I had the opportunity to throw a leg over a 2012 Yamaha Super Téneré XT1200Z on a 20 minute test ride through some of the nicest roads in northern Ohio. I still can't stop thinking of this bike, especially because of its split personality - it's an adventure bike that offers not only a smooth ride down paved roads but also has the ability to take you down dirt paths effortlessly. Now, granted that I'll probably be doing most of my travel on the street/highway, this machine gives me even more confidence to explore the most random places off the beaten path.

When I got out on the main road, I was immediately surprised by the amount of low-end torque coming out of the machine. With a 1199cc parallel twin engine, it launched like a dirtbike and maintained its speed with super smooth travel and no vibration. The six gears were quite refreshing and took a lot less effort to maintain a top speed, considering that I've had a 5-speed with the FJR1300 for years. It's also shaft driven so I would still have a worry-free, low maintenance final drive. Win. Win. Win.

In another modern update, the bike's suspension and stability control can be placed in "Touring" and "Sport" mode. I had it in Touring mode for the paved travel during this test ride, which is the more docile setting of the two but I'd really like to see what Sport mode can do on and off-road. I think the allure of having what I call a "Jekyll and Hyde" button does add to its appeal. It also has linked brakes and ABS can be turned off for off-road action.

Also, for a bike that weighs as much as a Yamaha FJR1300, its weight is extremely well-balanced. In fact, it makes my Eleanor feel like a moose when taking the corners.

As much as I like the bike, here are some of the concerns I do have:
  • Despite putting a more comfortable Corbin seat (or something similar), it has to be slightly lowered to be tolerable in the long-term. With a 33" seat height stock, I can assume the one-legged, dirtbike position when I have to, but that's not something that I want to have to do every single time.
  • With stock Yamaha cases, I may lose ability to store helmets. GIVI does offer alternate aluminium pannier luggage in its Trekker series - with 46L sidecases and a 52L topcase, that problem should be solved.
  • The alternator is no bigger than that of my current FJR1300. You'd think Yamaha would learn a thing or two from all us crazy touring people and our electronic farkles and heated gear.
  • Its shorter windshield may be an issue in colder weather so I may have to look for slightly taller and wider options for it.
  • I have to visit more places to get more stickers for the aforementioned panniers. (Oh darn!)
In summary, this is a motorcycle that has earned a place on my personal short list of bikes that deserve to succeed Eleanor when she finally retires. I'm not in a hurry for her to go anywhere, but ongoing research isn't a bad thing. It's definitely a great alternative to the BMW R1200GS and one that still gives me the legendary reliability of a Yamaha without the hefty price tag on service. As much as I want to be a Beamer girl when I grow up, I doubt I'll ever be able to afford one.

Special thanks to the guys at State 8 Motorcycles in Peninsula, OH for the test ride opportunity and the sneak peek at some of the twisties of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

And now a clip of something I wish I could do with this bike...