2010 Yamaha Super Ténéré launch test review

Built to rival BMW’s über-selling GS, but missing the mark in many areas, not least price. Not Yamaha’s best Super Ten

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The temptation was obvious: sales of BMW’s GS and Adventure combined make it the best-selling motorcycle in Britain, and we don’t even like trail bikes. Ducati wanted some of that big sales action so they created a bike that overlapped the GS, then added the most advanced electronics in motorcycling and stuffed a mad superbike engine in it. A very Italian take, and by being the same but different, it captured imaginations – and sales figures – everywhere.

The Super Ténéré from Yamaha takes a different approach. As the GS sells so well, let’s make a GS, with a Yamaha badge. So it has an 1199cc twin, the same power output (if a bit less torque), shaft drive, it’s high and wide and off-roady and also comes with tin boxes instead of plastic panniers. The cylinders stick up rather than out, otherwise it’s much the same.

It works well enough too as the tourer these bikes really are. On our mostly gentle ride from Madrid to Lisbon, on motorways, up mountains and down sinuous country lanes, the big 23-litre tank demanded a refill only a little way short of 200 miles, though that does mean 42mpg where the GS would be getting 48mpg or so.

Comfort’s good (as it should be with the same GS riding position) as long as you can set the distant screen to the right height. This adjusts, but only with tools which need another tool from beneath the seat to get to, so you won’t be altering it at traffic lights. Set it too low and the turbulence is very noisy, even with earplugs, but taller riders won’t be able to raise it enough, though Yamaha does offer a higher accessory option.

Passengers, and these bikes often travel two-up, are well looked after aside from those boxes pushing their feet forward on the pegs. This’ll strain your thighs unless you have a backrest or are allowed to cuddle the rider, who’ll also be irritated by the luggage as you can’t leave it unlocked, meaning you have to take out the ignition key every time you want to open it. The locks are sticky and fiddly too, and the lid only hinges one way, unlike BMW’s clever ones that open from either end (how do they do that?).

Move on to the next page to read more and find out our verdict on the 2010 Yamaha Super Ténéré

Another ergonomic annoyance is having to stretch forward to the scroll button for the onboard computer, but that only offers ambient temperature and consumption in addition to the basics, so maybe this doesn’t matter. But why not a handlebar switch like BMW and Ducati (and more info too)?

Cornering’s competent, impressive even with better feedback than a BMW, especially from the front, and amazing grip from the Bridgestone Battle Wings, especially in the wet. It feels very natural and easy too, but not especially flickable. That’ll be the weight, and there’s lots of it, some 32kg more than a GS, which helps ride quality but dulls both handling and engine performance.

The motor is strong without being startling in the mid-range but lacks the oomph lower down of a GS and generally doesn’t sparkle like the BMW, or even sound as good. Let alone as good as a Ducati Multistrada. There’s a Touring mode which makes it feel flat – I used this for 15 minutes in 600 miles.

Nicely made and not a lot wrong with it then, but in similar specs – ABS, traction control, wire wheels, computer – the Yamaha is £2000 more, for no obvious gain and without bringing anything new or different to the class. On top of that, something like 90 per cent of GSs are ordered loaded with extras, from electronic suspension to heated seats, so clearly that’s what buyers in this class want, and with the Yamaha they can’t have it.

More weight, more money, less vivacious and without the options list. You’ve really got to not want the BMW.

Good points: Good fuel range, long distance comfort, very stable and secure handling

Bad points: Too expensive, lacks the GS’s long options list, engine lacks sparkle

Rating: 3/5


Price: £13,620
Top speed:
140mph (est) Engine: 1199cc liquid cooled parallel twin, 270 degree crank
Bore x stroke:
98 x 79.5mm Compression ratio: 11.0:1
108bhp @ 7250rpm Torque: 85lb.ft @ 6000rpm
Front suspension:
43mm telescopic forks, adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping
Rear suspension:
Rising rate linkage monoshock, adjustable preload, rebound and compression damping
Front brake:
twin 310mm discs, four-piston callipers
Rear brake:
single 282mm disc, 2-piston calliper
Wet weight:
261kg Seat height: 845mm/870mm adjustable Fuel capacity: 23 litres
Colour options:
blue, silver