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2022 YAMAHA TENERE 700 WORLD RAID – first ride

JB reports from the world launch of Yamaha's latest Tenere – the World Raid. Obvious question – is bigger better?

So, Yamaha has rolled the dice again. Having won with the 2019 Ténéré 700, and again in 2020 with the upgraded Rally Edition, now they are coming to the adventure table with a long range Ténéré option, the World Raid, replete with 23-litre fuel tank. Taller, heavier, significantly more expensive but no more powerful and still eschewing the industry penchant for electronic rider aids – we have to ask, will the market embrace or shun it?

RISING COSTS

Let’s just take a look at the price right now as it’s the first comment you hear from many a prospective buyer (“ooh, that’s a lot of money”)… The World Raid will sell in the UK for £11,800, while the Rally Edition retails at £11,200 and the standard Ténéré for a smidge under £10k at £9,900. All of these values a fair hike on the 2019 opening tender at £8,300 for the first T7. Everyone loved that first price but it was, in all fairness, a special deal obviously designed to help kickstart the model’s popularity. Since then the price of the Ténéré has jumped up a couple of times, probably on account of the rising cost of just about everything, not least the materials the bike is made from. Of course that doesn’t stop people crowing on social media that the World Raid has overstepped the mark: ‘too much!’ they cry.

One 2022 reality that we all have to get used to is that everything is costing more; post-Covid (well, almost ‘post’) and in a world where a seismic conflict is playing out, it’s just something we need to accept – energy and resources now cost more. So our bikes will become increasingly more expensive to purchase.

That reality check aside, we also need to understand that a long range tank, upgraded suspension, a few extra widgets (like the steering damper) and a little more IT (new ABS and TFT) cannot come cheap either. So at £1900 more than the base model, can we really complain?

The alternatives? Honda’s base Africa Twin retails for £13,049, while their big-tank Adventure Sports starts at £14,749 – only we’re talking 75kW and 1100cc there. KTM’s nearest comparable is the 890 Adventure R and for that we’re talking £12,499 and a fair 77kW from their 889cc motor. And most recently we can check out Aprilia’s all new Tuareg 660, which couldn’t be closer in concept to the T7 – currently listed at £10,600 – and which has an 18-litre tank, probably a closer match to the Rally Edition. 

No question Yamaha wouldn’t want to pitch the price any higher than they needed to, and we dare say we’ll see price adjustments on most manufacturers’ models in the coming months as ongoing production costs have to be factored in, but yes, the World Raid is the most expensive Ténéré yet, and yes, it gets close to the prices of some pretty keen ADV machinery.

WHAT YOU GET

In Yamaha’s own words, the World Raid is ‘a premium long distance motorcycle that offers excellent on/off road ability combined with outstanding versatility and an enjoyable riding character’.

What it is, in nuts and bolts terms, is the base Ténéré plus a two pannier-style fuel tanks with a combined capacity of 23 litres, plus a five-inch TFT instrument panel (that brings connectivity for your phone and screen options), three-mode ABS, 20mm taller suspension, Öhlins steering damper, larger footrests, a taller screen and of course changes to the bodywork and seat to accommodate that tank – oh yes, plus a new three-piece sump plate and a revised radiator grille.

So, no power upgrade and, as said, no new fancy electronics. We shouldn’t be surprised, as this anti-tech was the USP of the Ténéré, being at heart a sturdy simple device. Only clearly among some of the public there was an expectation, given the upscale on spec and price, that some extra performance or tech might have been included.

MEET THE BEAST

Before we met the production units at the launch we found – conveniently placed by the hotel lobby – the desert racers of Alex Botturi and Pol Tarres, fresh back from rally victory at the Tunisia Desert Challenge. These T7s are effectively the World Raid model modified for rally raid. They have the same pannier tanks, but recreated in ABS or similar (as befits proper racers), plus – as you can imagine – a whole host of changes, such as rally tower for navigation, race exhaust and single-disc front brake setup. They were kind of the ultimate expression of this machine if competition is your bag.

Next morning meeting the production unit there was no climb-down in excitement, the production unit looks every bit as substantial and impressive as the racers. Although the top of the pannier fuel tanks is lower than the standard model’s tank, the width of the tanks is considerable, and the frontal area of the fairing is also pretty expansive, then the seat height is 15mm higher. No question, it’s a big machine with plenty of presence – and all the requisite street cred (if that’s your thing).

The new TFT with multi-functionality of course requires a few more buttons on the handlebar clusters, but Yamaha has striven to minimise these, and TFT navigation is essentially controlled entirely from the one little thumb-operated knurled wheel on the right hand handlebar. It takes a deft touch to operate, which is to say it’s slightly sensitive and easy to overstep the function you were intending, but it gets there. The ICO function is cool, even cooler is the fact there’s a rocker switch on the left handlebar cluster so you can +/- the trip reading on the fly, just like a pro rally racer. There are three options on the TFT display, Street, Explorer and Raid, which we’d anticipate means you’ll adjust the display according to your environment (me, I just left it on Street!). Plus once you engage the knurled wheel a short menu pops up assisting with connectivity and ABS functionality, plus a few other housekeeping options.

After all of that, we’re back to the regular Ténéré experience. Put the key in the ignition, hit the button and go.

ON THE ROAD

Do you notice the extra bulk (and the additional 16-kilos)? Of course you do, that’s a higher screen and the pannier tanks kind of cup your knees. There’s a lot more wind/weather protection, but the screen isn’t overly tall – in fact it seemed just the right height for minimising buffeting of the helmet without dominating your view forward. Dynamically the bike feels to ride the same, too – just about. Yamaha says the centre of gravity is about the same as the standard model, so it should roll side to side pretty much as before – albeit with a full fuel load you’d have to expect a little more inertia. But, no, it’s not hugely different.

That said, between the extra 16-kilos and the increased frontal area, it did feel like the WR’s engine had to work that bit harder than the standard model. I hopped back on my standard T7 for the ride home from the airport (after this test) and that felt just that bit perkier (albeit with 6000 miles on it, it’s also nicely run in). No question, on the road, the more powerful Africa Twins and 890s are going to out-accelerate the WR. Put a pillion and full luggage on the WR and it’ll be slower still. Having said that, since when was adventure about speed?

OFF ROAD

Ahh, it’s about speed when adventure morphs into rallying. But on the dirt – to the rescue of the WR – 72hp is plenty. While 100hp plus is arguably excessive. The good news is on the dirt is where the WR starts to make a lot of sense. The extra bulk seems to be ably supported by the new suspension and it was possible to push along at fair speeds without concern. On standard settings the suspension action felt a bit springy, but increased damping and more preload on the shock (for my near 100-kilo) got things going in the right direction.

As with the standard model, having ‘just’ 72hp the WR doesn’t really need electronic aids to modify the power. The CP2 motor is a recognised gem, and in the Ténéré guise it works wonders, being able to plod at single digit speeds or charge along with equal capability. The Ténéré has never been about blowing your doors off, it’s not a wow ride, but it does this thing of doing everything more than well enough so that you soon appreciate that less is often more. And no fuss means more time to appreciate the ride.

The new three-level ABS is a good addition. As before, you can have ABS on (for road legality), ABS off (for off-road) and now ABS front only. This new setting works well for off-road cruising, allowing you to relax and take in the scenery knowing the system will go a long way to saving you in a panic braking situation. However, pushing this setting into a tight downhill switchback situation the lock-release process had the bike running on a touch too much for comfort (with near overshoot) so I’d suggest full ABS off is still the go (on the WR) for serious and technical off-roading.

One more thing, if your off-roading is going to be confined to the UK – well, I think the standard or Rally edition is the better option of the three. One thing with big fairings and big tanks is you lose that immediate feel and sight of the front wheel. So guiding through ruts and over rugged rocky going isn’t so easy, as you’re effectively partially blindfolded. Here, the narrow screen on the standard machine really helps. But for a holiday adventure-cruise across Spain – much like this test – the WR comes into its own. That tank range (500km say Yamaha) is very useful when the petrol stations thin out.

RALLYING

From talking to the bod from the product development team, we understood that one of the primary influences in the WR’s design was rallying capability. Yamaha is backing this up with a customer-support programme (details to be announced) for those looking to take their WR into such competitions.

In this context, the standard engine tune and the absence of electronic aids make sense. Rally prep usually leans toward the Keep It Simple (Stupid) – KISS – principle. And by focusing on the key performance attributes and leaving off complicated technology, that could fail under stress, you can see Yamaha kept to their brief and the Ténéré’s ethos of solid, dependable engineering. Whether they should have conceded to a bolt-on sub-frame and a re-route of the exhaust is open to debate. Equally for rallying would a narrower 18” rear rim not have been better?

Notwithstanding, the WR will adapt well to the scenario, though (as Alex Botturi demonstrated). The new suspension can be upgraded, probably with a kit for the forks, maybe a whole new shock. The big tank gives the requisite autonomy for desert events. The motor punches well enough.

FOR THE 34%?

No question, as Yamaha highlighted, the Ténéré has done much to invigorate the sub-900cc adventure market. The bike has been a sales success and a hit with customers given its capability and reliability. The Rally Edition has even created a lust, for the retro-Dakar colours really bring the model alive.

This latest derivative is here, say Yamaha, for the 35% of Ténéré lovers that are seeking to add the long range and rally capabilities to the Ténéré experience. Yamaha is projecting to sell in the order of 20,000 Ténérés in 2022 with a split 40% Ténéré, 25% Rally Edition and 35% World Raid. It’ll be interesting to see if that holds true. But certainly the WR brings a worthwhile extension of the model’s capabilities. Judging by the response to our video from the launch, some have already made their choice – that big tank seals the deal.

I think Yamaha has got it right, for the Ténéré, if not for everyone. The Ténéré’s forte of simplicity is still there and now it has long range and rally capability brought to the fore. And if you’re thinking of it as an adventure tourer for two – well, go ahead, but it’s not an Africa Twin Adventure Sport, not a GS substitute for that matter. It is Yamaha has intended. They’ve stuck to their guns. That might cost them the odd sale. But probably only for now. After all, the rumours are rife that a new Super Tenere is coming soon. Based on the 900cc triple CP3 motor say the keen gamblers… 

Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid

Key Features

23 litre capacity dual side-mounted fuel tanks

Flat Rally inspired two-piece seat

5” colour TFT meter with mobile notification connectivity

USB type A

3-mode switchable ABS

High specification 43 mm KYB front forks, 230 mm travel

Öhlins adjustable steering damper Aluminium piggyback rear shock, 220 mm wheel travel

High windscreen, easy to remove side deflectors and LED flashers

Fully new cockpit area and new front cowling

New larger rider footrests with easy-to-remove rubber inserts

3-piece aluminium engine guard

New aluminium die-cast engine support

New radiator grille

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