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2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700 MC Commute Review

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Motorcycle riders who desire a versatile and friendly midsize adventure bike will do well with the 2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700 ($9,999). With a rally-racing-type design based around Yamaha’s T7 prototype concept, the Ténéré 700 makes it easy to get out there and explore Mother Earth.

Related Content: 2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700 Second Ride Review

Yamaha makes a solid argument in the middleweight adventure-touring class with its versatile Ténéré 700. (Kevin Wing/)

Swing a leg over it and the tallish seat and handlebar make for a steed that feels similar to a dirt bike, well, sort of. The saddle still has a touring-friendly width and a nice dish that positions the rider down and inside of the bike. Yet, when standing at the controls, everything still feels right. Like a dirt bike, the sides are nice and flat so you can squeeze it with your legs when maneuvering treacherous terrain.


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The Ténéré 700’s ergonomics package performs well on, and off-road. It’s a well-engineered setup for almost any type of riding.

The Ténéré 700’s ergonomics package performs well on, and off-road. It’s a well-engineered setup for almost any type of riding. (Kevin Wing/)

On a related note, it rolls on a 21-inch front and 18-inch spoked wheel combo, with Pirelli’s fantastic Scorpion Rally STR 50/50 tire. Although slightly more biased for road use, the Italian rubber still performs well over rocks and SoCal hardpack. The setup is designed to run with tubes, for greater durability against punctures and hazards found off pavement.

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In a digital world, we appreciate the full-manual control (aside from on/off ABS) of Yamaha’s mid-sized ADV rig.

In a digital world, we appreciate the full-manual control (aside from on/off ABS) of Yamaha’s mid-sized ADV rig. (Kevin Wing/)

With its fixed windshield, the Ténéré 700 is perfectly happy cruising at freeways speeds. There is a hint of engine vibration from the CP2-generation 689cc parallel twin, but it isn’t off-putting and complements its peppy nature.

Quad LED headlights do a fantastic job of illuminating dark stretches of asphalt. However considering the high-level of chassis pitch, corner headlight function would be a welcome feature.

Quad LED headlights do a fantastic job of illuminating dark stretches of asphalt. However considering the high-level of chassis pitch, corner headlight function would be a welcome feature. (Kevin Wing/)

Despite being a couple of years old now in its current design, the CP2 engine delivers pleasing thrust right off the bottom. Rev it high or short-shift it low, the powerband is flexible and caters to virtually any type of riding style. The six-speed gearbox moves cleanly between each cog and benefits from gear ratios that are low enough for rock crawling and tall enough for freeway duty. There’s no traction control, nor adjustable throttle maps, however we didn’t miss these features. The engine’s friendly power pulses are a natural style of traction control.

Although tiny-looking, the front brakes offer exceptional feel at the lever. This allows Yamaha riders to actuate the front brakes with confidence.

Although tiny-looking, the front brakes offer exceptional feel at the lever. This allows Yamaha riders to actuate the front brakes with confidence. (Kevin Wing/)

A clean and functional LCD keeps tabs on everything. It certainly isn’t fancy, but it gets the job done. A horizontal crossbar is also standard, as is a 12-volt power port so you can add devices, like a GPS. Quad LED headlamps shine a bright swatch of light in a straight line, but could perform better through turns. It’s worth noting that the headlamp beam can be adjusted manually with easy-to-reach adjustment knobs.

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The Yamaha’s compact CP2-generation parallel-twin makes for a compact motorcycle.

The Yamaha’s compact CP2-generation parallel-twin makes for a compact motorcycle. (Kevin Wing/)

Weighing in at 452 pounds with a full 4.2 gallons of 91-octane, the Ténéré is balanced and feels lighter than its curb weight implies. The wide handlebar and compact engine aid with maneuverability. The suspension floats over the road and delivers fantastic ride quality. However, more aggressive riders will note a fair degree of chassis pitch when either brake is squeezed. Still, the suspension offers the right level of control as it goes deeper in its stroke.

Yamaha offers exceptional value in the middleweight adventure class with its $9,999 Ténéré 700.

Yamaha offers exceptional value in the middleweight adventure class with its $9,999 Ténéré 700. (Kevin Wing/)

The chassis is sensitive to brake input but its squishy initial compression can be offset by brake pressure input. ABS helps ensure you won’t lose control if you get too greedy at either lever. It can also be manually disabled for off-road use. Even though it employs an older style axial master cylinder, brake feel from the double-pot Brembos is excellent—a tremendous plus when riding over slick hard-packed terrain.

Although the rear brake has a pleasing degree of power, feel and the pedal could be improved.

Although the rear brake has a pleasing degree of power, feel and the pedal could be improved. (Kevin Wing/)

Conversely, the back brake offers less feel at the lever. Yet it still delivers a high level of power, especially considering it’s only a single-piston setup. Added modulation would be a welcome feature, especially when riding over technical terrain.

Yamaha engineers did a knockout job in the styling department with the Ténéré 700.

Yamaha engineers did a knockout job in the styling department with the Ténéré 700. (Kevin Wing/)

For most riders, the Yamaha Ténéré 700 will check most of the boxes. It’s capable on and off road and is an easy bike to live with everyday. It looks the part too, and is a heck of a value not only in the class, but in the world of motorcycling.

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Although the components are nothing special the Ténéré 700 front brakes are excellent, especially for off-road use.

Although the components are nothing special the Ténéré 700 front brakes are excellent, especially for off-road use. (Kevin Wing/)

The saddle on the Ténéré 700 is a good compromise between road and off-road duty.

The saddle on the Ténéré 700 is a good compromise between road and off-road duty. (Kevin Wing/)

Gearbox

Helmet: Shoei RF-SR

Jacket: Alpinestars Tailwind Air Waterproof

Gloves: Alpinestars Copper

Pant: Alpinestars Copper 2

Boots: Alpinestars Faster-3

2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700 Technical Specifications And Price

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PRICE $9,999
ENGINE 689cc, DOHC, liquid-cooled parallel twin; 8 valves
BORE x STROKE 80.0 x 68.6mm
FUEL DELIVERY Electronic fuel injection
CLUTCH Wet, multiple disc; cable actuation
TRANSMISSION/FINAL DRIVE 6-speed/chain
FRAME Double cradle steel-tube chassis
FRONT SUSPENSION 43mm Kayaba USD fork, fully adjustable; 8.3-in. travel
REAR SUSPENSION Kayaba shock, fully adjustable; 7.9-in. travel
FRONT BRAKES 4-piston caliper, dual 282mm discs w/ ABS and Off-road mode (disengaged)
REAR BRAKE 1-piston floating caliper, 245mm disc w/ ABS and Off-road mode (disengaged)
WHEELS, FRONT/REAR Spoked wheels w/ aluminum rims; 2.50 x 21 in. / 4.50 x 18 in.
TIRES, FRONT/REAR Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR; 90/90-21 / 150/70-18
RAKE/TRAIL 27.0°/4.1 in.
WHEELBASE 62.8 in.
SEAT HEIGHT 34.4 in.
FUEL CAPACITY 4.2 gal.
CLAIMED CURB WEIGHT 452 lb.
WARRANTY 1 year
AVAILABLE June 2020

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