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Published on March 9th, 2016 | by Boris
2016 Yamaha Super Ténéré Review – THE SUPERTEN MEN
Did you know there’s a part of the Sahara that’s named after Yamaha’s Super Ténéré?
I certainly didn’t.
This Ténéré is 400,000 square kilometres of sand bounded by the Aïr Mountains in the west, The Hoggar Mountains in the north, the Tibesti Mountains in the east and the basin of Lake Chad in the south. If you punched 17°35′N and 10°55′E into your SatNav you could ride to the Erg du Bilma, which is pretty much the middle of the Ténéré.
The word Ténéré means “wasteland” and comes from the Tuaregs, the people who originally founded Yamaha after riding all the way east to Japan on their war-camels, or jammil alharbs, as they were known by the Arabs. Super War Camel would have been a cool name for a bike like the Super Ténéré . But one cannot call an expanse of sand ‘War Camel’ any more than one can name a motorcycle ‘fayiq jammil alharb’, can one?
No-one except me would buy it.
So Super Ténéré it is. Or Super Ten if the accents confuse you.
Sean and I were in no way confused as we set off one bright sunny day for the Warrumbungles astride a pair of Super Tens.
We were primed. We were going to ride for five hours to Daz’s property, then we would hunt, kill, shoot, drink, crash and dance around on dirt-bikes for two days, before firing 47 12-guage shotgun rounds into Boon’s camera drone which had wedged itself into a tree.
My Super Ten was a 60th Anniversary XT1200ZE (the E is for the electronic suspension) and painted in that amazing yellow-with-black-blocks race livery that Yamaha should offer on every one of its motorcycles.
Sean’s was a dour shade of grey-and-black. His was a XT1200Z, and looked meaner, but mine looked more like a racy grid-girl bikini party, and I was good with that. If the police came after us they would certainly go full Taser on the bastard with the mean-looking bike, not the one riding Daffodil Party Central.
But we would cross that bridge if we came to it.
The Super Tens, unchanged except for paint since 2014, were ideologically and practically the ideal motorcycles for such a journey. Happy to burble along at more or less the speed limit where the police were flea-thick (everywhere from Sydney to the other side of Mudgee), and just as happy to be given their heads on the private racetracks I know of on the other side of the Golden Highway. Racetracks with evocative names like Tambar Springs, Weetaliba, Coomoo Coomoo and Pandora’s Pass.
On bitumen its credentials are sound. The bike is agile, willing and the long-travel suspension doesn’t get upset by mid-corner bumps. It tracks true and my advice to you would be to put the balls of your feet onto the pegs in hard corners like a proper motorcyclist, lest you start to grind away the toes of your boot.
If you are so inclined, the suspension can be fined tuned 84 ways, on the fly, from a switch on the handlebar.
And yes, because I know this important, three-stage heated handlebars are standard on the E.
My Super Ten was dead stock apart from the massive and roomy black panniers. And I did very much love those sturdy hyper-plastic bastards that perched like tea-chests full of ammo on the flanks of a charging battle-hardened camel. Except they didn’t bounce up and down, which made the whiskey I was carrying very happy. I loved them because they were easy to use – turn the key to the left to open them, turn the key to the right to take them off. Panniers have, happily, been getting less complex and neurotic of late, and these Yamaha units are the simplest I have seen. Like I said, I loved them. And then I smashed my shin into them as I was getting off to open a gate on the property two days later.
My fault entirely because I was less graceful than I perhaps should have been. And it’s not like I didn’t know they were there. But, yes, I may have, momentarily forgotten. In that instant, as I crumpled to the ground holding my breath and letting the massive and lumpy haematoma form freely on my shin, I hated the panniers. And my hatred was very black. If I was able to move, I would have set them afire. But I wasn’t. So good result.
Sean’s brunette camel didn’t have panniers. But it did have some very nice extras, like an Aussie-made Barrett muffler, Teknik suspension, some wider and higher handlebars, an aluminium bash-plate, and Sean’s tres chic tote bag affixed to the rear seat. It also had more dirt-biased tyres than mine. When I rode his, I preferred the handlebar set-up, and it had a bit of an exhaust note, but my E was perfectly fine without them and happier on bitumen corners.
The saddle height is adjustable by almost three centimetres and the screen can also be caused to go up and down. There isn’t a button for it, but you don’t need tools. Raised to its full height, its effective until the hailstones get really big.
The seat is firm, and I initially thought it was maybe a little too firm, but after a few hours I changed my mind. It’s an all-dayer, no worries.
The Super Tens are not serious dirt bikes. Sure, they can be ridden fast by skilled men on firetrails and unsealed roads, but single-track Enduro stuff is not what they’re about. What they are is excellent shaft-driven touring and ‘Adventure’ bikes, capable of dealing with every surface and every road-condition a relatively normal rider might encounter, going to relatively normal places and doing relatively normal things.
The 1200cc upright-twin donk remains a delight. It makes 82kW and 117Nm, and thanks to Yamaha’s outstanding electronics, it makes all of that with happy and eager smile on its face. In the loose business, the 270-degree crank arrangement and the uneven pulses allow the rear tyre plenty of time to find grip. The ride-by-wire set-up works beautifully, and the Yamaha Chip Control (YCC-T) does 1000 little things per second according to where you have the throttle. You also have two engine modes to choose from, Touring and Sport, and the fun money keeps Sport on all the time. There’s more than enough power. I saw an indicated 216km/h on my dash with some more to spare if Sean felt he wanted to race. With 23-litres on board, it would have been a marathon.
So if you were to consider buying this particular camel in a Moroccan bazaar, what might sway you away from it?
Well, you can’t turn the ABS off, so there’s that. I’m indifferent to this issue, but if you’re gonna do a lot of dirt you might be concerned, or you might just buy a more focused dirt-type bike and quit your whining.
The dash is also starting to date some. It’s got all the info all the time, but it’s not as space-agey as some others. Still, it looks like you could fire bullets into it and it would survive.
Then there’s the price. The yellow one with the nice electronic suspension is $21,999; the dark-furred one without the extras, $19,990. Not a bargain, but then it’s made in Japan, not India, which is something to consider if you’re still four hours north of N’guigmi on the shores of Lake Chad and the bike starts making an unpleasant noise. Yamaha’s do not make those noises. It would be a matter of profound dishonour. I’m very much a fan of bikes that start and go first time every time. There’s no price you can put on peace of mind that comes with the confidence in a motorcycle’s reliability.
Sean makes noises, but. Especially when he crashes. Which he did while demonstrating his Super Ten’s drifting abilities on a closed flat-track circuit on Darren’s property. I did not essay this, because I felt we needed at least one un-damaged bike to photograph. Still, the only mark on the dark one after it lay down was a scuffed plastic crash-pad on the side of the tank. The rest of the bike was completely unmarked.
And they were actually. Anything involving firearms, feral animals, splendid isolation, and good company ticks my man-boxes every time.
In so many ways the Super Ten is the ideal stress-free, do-anything bike. It tours, it dirts, it scratches, and it can carry a tonne of gear. The headlights are fine, and there are heaps of accessories, including taller screens and lower seats. It’s not intimidatingly high, and while it could be lighter, it carries it’s 260kgs with grace and is possessed of a superb build-quality now expected of and delivered by Yamaha.
And I reckon it looks the business, doing away with the silly let’s pretend-I’m-a-dirt-bike front styling you see on other brands.
The Super Ten doesn’t pretend. It just delivers.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIEL EMERSON-WEBER
Helmet: Nolan N44 from HERE
Body armour: Held Kendo – read the review HERE
Gloves: Held Backflip from HERE
Boots: Falco – read the review HERE
Jeans: RHOK – read the review HERE