In a global economic meltdown that has seen the motorcycle market suffer its worst decline in decades, there are a couple of categories that have demonstrated a bit more immunity to the calamitous drop in numbers that have plagued the rest of the industry. One of them is the adventure-tour category; bikes patterned after the popular Paris-Dakar off-road rally have suddenly become the hot ticket in Europe, and the category has actually shown some potential in the United States. According to Yamaha, the "651cc and larger dual purpose" category has grown by more than 750 percent since 1997, and was the segment least affected by the economy overall.
This is why bikes such as the Suzuki V-Strom 650 continue to sell, and why Ducati has staked a good part of its future on the new Multistrada 1200S. Honda's latest concept bike is aimed at the adventure-tour market, and rumored to be the precursor to a 2012 production model. These larger-displacement sporting street bikes with moderate off-road aspirations have become an increasingly important segment to the manufacturers.
Yamaha has seen the writing on the wall, and is now bringing its long-running Super Ténéré adventure-tour bike to the U.S.
Latest In A Long Lineage
The Yamaha Super Ténéré lineage actually extends back 28 years, to the original '83 XT600 Ténéré. That single-cylinder machine was ironically more of a dirt bike than a street bike, but the emphasis switched with the introduction of the first Super Ténéré in 1989, a parallel-twin 750 that eventually became the basis for a rally racing effort that racked up six Paris-Dakar race wins.
As the prestige of the Paris-Dakar rally increased during the '90s, so did the displacements of the racing machines. And once BMW had cemented its place in rally racing lore with its R1200GS boxer twin, Yamaha knew it had to step up the Super Ténéré's performance to keep pace. This latest version of the Super Ténéré actually debuted in Europe last year, and is now being brought to the U.S. as an early-release 2012 model.
In boosting the Super Ténéré's engine displacement Yamaha engineers started over from a clean design sheet. The 1199cc parallel twin gets its displacement via a bore/stroke of 98 x 79.5mm, with the forged aluminum pistons driving an 11.0:1 compression ratio using two spark plugs per cylinder in the revamped four-valve combustion chamber. Taking a page from the crossplane crank R1, the crankshaft uses an uneven 270-degree firing order (although this configuration actually made its debut with the '96 TDM850 Mk II), with the crankshaft also driving two secondary counterbalancers and the twin-rotor oil pump of the dry-sump oiling system that features an internal oil tank within the crankcase.
The Mikuni EFI with 46mm throttle bodies is controlled by Yamaha's YCC-T ride-by-wire throttle system. This also allows the integration of both a two-position Drive Mode system (Sport and Touring) that alters throttle response and a three-position traction control system (TCS1 is the full traction control, TCS2 is the reduced TC effect, and Off). Both systems are switchable on the fly.
Taking a page from the crossplane...
Taking a page from the crossplane crank R1, the Super Ténéré's crankshaft uses an uneven 270-degree firing order to smooth power pulses for enhanced traction and feel.
In order to smooth out the...
In order to smooth out the vibration caused by the uneven firing order, twin counterbalancers are utilized in the Super Ténéré's engine. The forward-mounted unit drives both the water pump and the twin-rotor oil pump for the dry-sump lubrication system.
In keeping with its more serious...
In keeping with its more serious off-road adventure intentions, maintenance-free shaft drive is incorporated into the cast aluminum swingarm. Tubeless spoked wheels offer the light weight and flexibility needed for off-road use.
The wheel speed sensors for the traction control also permit the fitment of Yamaha's all-new ABS with Unified Braking System. Similar to linked braking systems such as Honda's LBS, the Yamaha system applies the rear brake in addition to the front brake when just the front brake lever is used; however, unlike the LBS, when the rear brake pedal is used by itself, only the rear brake is applied. Also, the unified braking force to the rear brake varies according to speed and front brake pressure, with the system's pressure pump actually increasing rear brake pressure with higher front brake input pressure as long as rear grip (for example, with a passenger or cargo) is present. The monoblock four-piston calipers up front clamp on 310mm wave-type rotors, while the rear single-piston caliper works a single 282mm rotor.
The high-tensile steel tube frame hangs the engine as a stressed member well forward at a 26-degree angle (made possible by the side-mount radiators), with an aluminum subframe and cast aluminum swingarm cutting weight wherever possible. The six-speed transmission transfers power through a maintenance-free shaft drive integrated within the left portion of the swingarm. The hypoid gear design of the shaft's pinion and ring gears allows for a 10-percent-smaller ring gear, as well as cutting gear whine and permitting an offset pinion/ring setup in the rear that neutralizes shaft effect.
A 43mm fully adjustable inverted fork up front boasts 7.5 inches of travel to handle most off-road functions, with the rear suspension also offering 7.5 inches of travel through its linkage-equipped rear shock featuring remote hydraulic spring preload and rebound damping adjustability. The off-road intentions of the Super Ténéré are also reflected in its spoked/tubeless tire wheels, with the 17-inch-diameter rear paired with a 19-inch front for better handling over rough terrain; our bike was equipped with Bridgestone Battle Wing "trailie" tires, in 110/80R-19 front and 150/70R-17 rear sizes.