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First Trip: The New Yamaha Ténéré 700 Is a Spunky Off-Roader That’s Cozy Sufficient for the Freeway

First Trip: The New Yamaha Ténéré 700 Is a Spunky Off-Roader That’s Cozy Sufficient for the Freeway

Yamaha has been racing and selling its Ténéré model since the early 1980s, mostly in Europe and Japan. The Ténéré 700 was introduced to European markets in 2019 and North America in 2020, just as the adventure (ADV) segment became one of the most popular with motorcycle consumers the world over.

When it comes to ADV options, sub-500 cc dual-sport machines are not optimal for long-distance highway riding, but they’re smaller, lighter and more maneuverable off-road than the big-liter bikes typified by the iconic BMW GS. The Ténéré 700, or “T7” as it’s commonly known, quickly became the leader of the new exploration platforms that are equally capable on and off road, combining the agility of the smaller motorcycles with the comfort and carrying capacity of the larger heavyweights.

The 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700 adventure bike.

Joseph Agustin, courtesy of Yamaha

Featuring a bulletproof 689 cc parallel-twin motor, adjustable suspension, roomy ergonomics, and a dash of rally style, the Yamaha T7 became a best seller as the pandemic raged. It was well suited for the social distancing that adventure motorcyclists were more than happy to comply with while in the saddle. Four years later, the Ténéré 700 continues to be a favorite pick, and is available in six different variations in European markets, while North American riders are limited to a single model—but at least there are two color options. For 2024, the Ténéré 700 also receives some key changes, and Robb Report is in Southern California to put the updated bike to the test.

The $10,799 Ténéré 700 returns in basically the same form as the 2023 model, which is good news, as the proven T7 continues to be a versatile, popular platform, despite some new competition. Now, though, some of the advanced features that riders in Europe have been enjoying for a year or two have trickled over to the 2024 North American model. The most noticeable upgrade is to the instrument panel, which is now a vertical-format 5-inch color display rather than the previous iteration’s dated monotone LCD unit. The screen also offers two instrument layouts, Explorer and Street. The former delivers information more applicable during off-road use, while the latter closely mimics traditional motorcycle gauges. Smartphone connectivity to Yamaha’s Y-Connect app has also been introduced. 

Riding the 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700 adventure bike.

Riders can now customize or turn off the anti-lock braking system.

Joseph Agustin, courtesy of Yamaha

Another new feature for riders, especially those who point their T7s into the wilderness, is the ability to customize or turn off the anti-lock braking system (ABS). ABS can be a hindrance when riding on non-paved terrain, and the 2024 Ténéré 700 allows riders to keep ABS on, turn it off for just the back wheel, or shut it off altogether, an unusual option that has been requested by many riders who prefer to utilize their own skills when dealing with mud, sand, gravel, and dirt. A small click wheel on the right handlebar allows riders to toggle through ABS settings and display options while stopped. Two other debuts include new LED turn signals—with front marker lights—and an optional quickshifter for clutch-less upshifts (but not downshifts). 

Heading out of Los Angeles, we lane-split (legally) through slow traffic until we arrive at the foot of the Cleveland National Forest east of the city. On the freeway, the Ténéré 700 is lithe and agile, and the roughly 60 hp is more than ample. The protective windscreen, though small, allows for comfortable riding at freeway speeds without having to fight the oncoming airflow. And while I’m wearing proper gloves, hand guards offer additional shielding for the knuckles. 

The 689 cc parallel-twin motor on a 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700 adventure bike.

The model’s 689 cc parallel-twin motor makes in the neighborhood of 60 hp.

Joseph Agustin, courtesy of Yamaha

For many riders, the T7’s potent combination of power, agility, comfort, and controllability make it a top choice for both off-road excursions and long-distance highway riding. Paul Pelland, known in the motorcycle community as Long Haul Paul, is afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis but is halfway towards riding a million miles to raise money for MS research. His bike of choice? A well-equipped Ténéré 700. 

Pelland rode his T7 from his New Hampshire home to Los Angeles to join our ride, and will ride back home after—a testament to his faith in the bike. We are also joined on the ride by Yamaha ambassadors and former motocross and supercross champions Damon Bradshaw and Ryan Villopot. 

Arriving at the trailhead, we lower tire pressure, tweak the suspension (using the simple adjuster on the rear shock), and switch off ABS to the rear wheel, which allows riders to “steer with the rear,” a technique to turn and control the motorcycle in tight quarters by skidding the rear tire. The circuitous service road is an obstacle course of loose rocks, potholes, water bars, the occasional mud puddle, and challenging 180-degree switchbacks. Eventually we reach the top of Santiago Peak, thousands of feet above sprawling Orange County. 

The 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700's vertical-format 5-inch color display.

The most noticeable upgrade is to the instrument panel, which is now a vertical-format 5-inch color display.

Joseph Agustin, courtesy of Yamaha

Heading down towards Lake Elsinore, we bang through loose gravel, small boulders, and deep, dust-filled depressions known as “G-outs” that put the suspension to the test. But this kind of riding is what the Ténéré 700 is built for, and the KYB fork and rear shock allow us to make good time and even catch a bit of air off some of the larger water bars that cross the road. 

After a hearty lunch of street tacos, we reconnect with the pavement on the twisting two-lane Ortega Highway and head west into town, riding rhythmically through the broad sweeping turns as the setting sun beams that famous golden-hour light into our helmet visors. Back on Los Angeles freeways, we give the Ténéré 700 more throttle on our way to Yamaha’s sprawling facility in Cypress. 

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Off-road riding is a physically demanding activity, and being able to sit in comfort on the T7 as we cruise along the interstate gives us a chance to relax a bit. As rush-hour traffic bunches up, our lithe Ténéré 700 again slices through gridlock between lanes, showing the advantage of a slim, efficient motorcycle as urban transportation.

Riding the 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700 adventure bike.

The bike’s potent combination of power, agility, comfort, and controllability make it a top choice for both off-road excursions and long-distance highway riding.

Joseph Agustin, courtesy of Yamaha

The 2024 Ténéré 700 isn’t a radical rethink of the popular model but a definite improvement. New competition, though, especially from juggernaut Honda and its reborn Transalp 750 model, may mean more changes are on the way for the Ténéré. The Honda has markedly more power, an advanced tech suite with ride modes, and perhaps a smidge more comfort than the Ténéré. It also costs about $800 less for the base model. 

There are other competitors out there as well, including bikes from Husqvarna, KTM, and Suzuki. That’s typically good for pushing development of motorcycle models, so the ‘25 Yamaha Ténéré 700 may be a more complete revision than this year’s version. Balanced, engaging, and capable, the Ténéré 700 remains the Goldilocks choice of adventure bikes, just right in so many ways. Yet it seems that the ADV table is about to become a bit more crowded with equally alluring options. 

Click here for more photos of the 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700.

Riding the 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700 adventure bike.

Riding the 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700 adventure bike.

Joseph Agustin, courtesy of Yamaha

Source: Robb Report

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