James Oxley jumps back on the Ténéré 700 after riding an electric bike and finds himself viewing Yamaha’s adventure bike from a new perspective
If you’ve read the review of the Harley-Davidson Livewire in this issue of ABR (see page 104) you’ll know I recently spent a week riding the electric motorcycle. I commuted to work on it every day and took it for weekend rides, without touching a petrol bike during that time.
Initially, the near-silent running and lack of gears on the Livewire felt like an alien experience, but I was impressed at how quickly my mind adapted and, soon enough, riding it felt perfectly normal. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience while it lasted.
However, my week with the Livewire was soon over and it came time to jump back onto the Yamaha Ténéré 700 that was ready and waiting for me in the ABR long-termer garage. I hadn’t given any thought to what it would be like to return to a ‘normal’ bike after riding the electric Harley, but as I fired up the Ténéré after work one night, I embarrassingly jumped with surprise as the engine barked into life. Thankfully, no one was looking.
Pulling away, it felt as if I was viewing the Ténéré from a whole new perspective. This isn’t a bad thing because to be completely honest, Yamaha’s mid-size adventurer has never been a bike I’ve clicked with.
My first ride was a four-hour, 250-mile, motorway jaunt on a dark evening which involved severe back pain, two fuel stops, a lot of wind blast, and plenty of straining to see the road ahead beyond the weak headlight beam. It was a knackering experience that taught me the Ténéré isn’t the best adventure bike you can buy for mile-munching on fast roads.
However, as I rode home from work, I found myself getting all warm and fuzzy about the bike below me. I revelled in the rich, deep exhaust note and the satisfying vibration coming from the engine. I relaxed into the upright adventure-bike seating position which felt supremely comfortable after being bent forward on the sporty Livewire. And, I marvelled at how lightweight and agile the 205kg motorcycle felt after riding around on Harley’s 251kg machine.
I’ve ridden the Ténéré every day since and I’ve been liking it more every time I swing my leg over the saddle. True, it has its limitations as a long-distance tourer, a lack of wind protection and a paltry 16l fuel tank being two of them, but I haven’t been doing any long-distance touring lately.
Instead, I’ve been slicing my way through town centre traffic on the narrow and nimble Ténéré. I’ve also carved my away along country lanes, enjoying the bike’s agile handling, and I’ve made good use of Yamaha’s excellent metal panniers which I’ve filled to brim with shopping on trips to the supermarket.
These experiences may not mirror the desert-conquering adventure riding you’ll see in photos and video of the Ténéré on Yamaha’s website, but they have taught me that this is an easy and enjoyable motorcycle to live with on daily commutes and Sunday rides. And, of course, if you ever do end up crossing a desert, it’s very handy in the rough stuff to.