STORY BY DAMIEN ASHENHURST
PICS BY iKapture/Yamaha
KIT BY LEATT MOTO 9.5 CARBON / DRIRIDER RX4
Yamaha initially released the Tenere 700 model during the sweltering hot Aussie summer of 2019.
As bushfires ravaged huge swathes of the country, little did we know that we would look back at this as a simpler time. A time before the fucking bat was bitten.
A lot has happened since we first met the Tenere 700. But not to the Tenere 700 itself.
The bike that Yamaha Australia launched in 2019 is essentially the same bike it sells in 2023. Meanwhile, the adventure motorcycle scene looks vastly different to how it did four years ago. KTM’s 790 became an 890, Aprilia and Ducati entered the conversation and the DR650 left us for good just as CFMOTO arrived and on it goes.
Yamaha has, in fact, updated the standard Tenere as well as produced variant models with the Rally Edition, Extreme Edition and Explore Edition, but we don’t get them here in Australia.
It doesn’t seem to matter though. The Tenere 700 sells like fresh cream lamingtons and why wouldn’t it? It’s reliable beyond reproach and attracts the many riders looking for a less tech-heavy offering that can take a beating in the bush.
There are very few downsides to owning a Tenere 700 as your primary exploratory vehicle. But, it’s not entirely without its niggles. The suspension is not where it needs to be for vigorous offroad riding and it seems from a casual observation that damn near every Tenere owner has had their suspension professionally tuned.
The fuel capacity is a lowish 16 litres but from that, you can run over 300 kilometres with no problem. Something like 330 kays on the dirt should be fine for most riders (expect at least 350 on the road), but KTM offers the 890 Adventure R with a 20-litre tank that can touch 400 kilometres.
And here we meet the Tenere’s nemesis.
With its drop-down tanks, the KTM has a range and perhaps more importantly, a weight distribution advantage over the top-heavy Tenere 700 that can’t be ignored.
And so, Yamaha didn’t ignore it. Nor did it turn a blind eye to the overly soft suspension. CAD machines were fired up, nerds were paid overtime and locked in the workshop until they could produce a niggle-free motorcycle.
And that is how we arrive at the Tenere 700 World Raid. A bike made less for the commuter and more for the dust chaser.
LET’S TALK TENERE TECH
The Tenere 700 World Raid is a very different animal from the standard Tenere.
Yamaha chose a dual tank solution to increase range and improve weight distribution. Through this, the fuel capacity rose from 16 litres to 23 litres.
The fuel weight now sits lower and on an underappreciated point, the whole tank sits lower. Take a look at a profile of the World Raid and the Standard and see how the distance between the top of the tank and the handlebar differs.
Given the bike runs dual individual tanks you need to refuel them separately via two filler caps which is a bit fiddlier than the traditional set-up if you have a tank bag, like a Giant Loop Fandango, which would need to be removed instead of just pulled back.
It’s not much easier on a Desert X with its offset cap or on a Husky 701 Enduro with its rear filler cap that hides underneath any rear luggage you’re carrying.
It’s hard to miss the steering damper that sits just forward of the filler caps. It’s an Ohlins unit with 18 clicks of adjustment and a nice bit of kit to have around when you hit sandy sections.
The seat/tank juncture enjoys far less of a steep angle thanks to the tank’s lower profile but on the sides, the easy knee grab of the standard model is lost to the rearward slope of the bigger tank. I found that in a neutral riding position, you grab the World Raid with your lower leg. If you’re leaning back then the seat comes into play as a grab point.
The World Raid enjoys increased fork travel with 230mm over the standard 210mm. The KYB fork is now Kashima coated to offer less internal friction and it’s fully adjustable with compression, rebound and preload.
The KYB shock also offers 230mm of travel and is fully adjustable.
Back in 2019, Yamaha stressed that the Tenere was largely tech-free because it presented fewer failure points, fostered a connection between rider and motorcycle and it also offered an almost unique proposition in a world of deep-thought motorcycles.
The list of electronic aids the Tenere doesn’t have when compared to a kitted 890 Adventure R or a Tuareg is long, but the bike’s stellar sales prove that this is largely a non-issue.
Yamaha has moved on beyond the original Tenere’s electronics but not by much. The 5-inch vertically mounted display is now colour and easier to read. The mounting has been improved too so there is less shake and vibration (the same goes for the nav bar just above the display).
The display allows you to choose between three graphic themes from Explorer to Street or Raid. The first two are where most will find a happy place while Raid is designed for riders running a road book.
You can connect your phone and comms device to the World Raid using the Yamaha MyRide app and take or make phone calls.
The ABS function now has three options that include ABS ON at both wheels to REAR ABS OFF and FULL ABS OFF.
There is no traction control, no ride modes, cruise control or heated grips. Yamaha stayed true to its philosophy of less tech equals a more connected and fun ride.
Wrapping up some of the smaller details, the World Raid features a USB outlet up the front, new handlebar switchblocks, a 15mm taller windscreen and an improved crossbar for mounting your GPS or phone.
IS IT ANY BETTER TO RIDE?
We were lucky enough to get an invite to the two-day Australian launch of the World Raid which left the NSW Central Coast and headed the Hunter Valley following the lead of Greg Yeager from RideADV. The launch here comes a couple of months after it was launched in other parts of the world but hey, no point in rushing a good thing.
What struck me initially on the World Raid was the distance between the bars and the top of the tank. It’s such a compressed area on the standard model with its high tank that sticks up like Riahanna’s massive forehead. On the World Raid, the top of the tank sits much lower.
The new colour display isn’t an earth-shattering development but I dislike the standard no-colour unit so I was happy to take in that change.
And it is quite nice to climb onto a bike that doesn’t require a two-hour briefing on how to make it do everything short of signal life on another planet. On the Tenere, you only need to know how to turn ABS off and you’re good to go.
And to be honest that is a bit of a mission. It takes six clicks of the spinner wheel to turn ABS OFF, but it will reset back to ON as soon as the engine is cut – even with the ignition on. To circumvent this, you simply stall the bike when you need to stop the engine and the ABS stays ON.
Oddly, there is a single button next to the dash that allows one push to turn ABS OFF. Good idea, but backward logic to how the standard model operates its ABS. It has one push to turn ABS ON and that’s far more useful.
The exhaust note is quiet and let’s be honest here, most standard exhaust notes – regardless of the manufacturer – sound like the last fart of a dying goat nowadays. I expect nothing exciting and that is generally what you get in 2023.
The Tenere’s grumble is deep, but you can’t really hear it while you’re riding.
As we left the RideADV compound and headed into what would mostly be a dirt-based ride I found – with the exception of bars that felt narrow to me – the ergos were damn near perfect and the lever positions were fine right where they were.
The front end feels livelier than on the standard model. It’s not nervous with the Ohlins damper keeping it in check, but it has a looser, faster steering feel that you’d expect from a smaller bike.
The improvements to the dash mounting are obvious as the shake found on the standard model is gone. The now higher windscreen remains non-adjustable but sits at a good position that I didn’t feel was inadequate.
As always, there were no vibrations through the bars and very little via the excellent footpegs.
The CP2 parallel-twin engine is a versatile powerplant that’s found its way not only into the Tenere but the MT-07 and the YZF-R7.
In the Tenere, it’s proven reliable and easy to live with. Its power is interesting to play with given there is no traction control (TC) with its low rev output manageable to the point of feeling mellow but then transitions into a robust mid-range that comes on strong which is something you need to be aware of if you’re in low traction terrain.
Without TC you have to think like a dirtbike rider and predict any break in traction. The feel to the rear wheel is excellent so it’s not a hard task and the Tenere World Raid slides every bit as predictably and sweetly as its standard model cousin.
I’ve gotten used to running some small amount of traction control these days and I thought I’d be caught out, but the Tenere offers such great feedback to the rider that it just made everything more fun.
The bike has an angry side, but it telegraphs when it’s coming on so you can maintain control with your right wrist and no electronic brain intervention needed.
It did not take long to appreciate the difference in weight distribution gifted by the dual drop-down tanks. Along with the suspension changes this is one of the two main points that need to be highlighted when talking about the World Raid.
The new tank design allows a lower lateral pivot point which makes it much easier to work the bike side-to-side and firmly plants the front end which gives you greater traction which was something I appreciated in some slippery off-camber pea gravel that often stresses the sphincter.
It’s less fatiguing to ride thanks to the weight sitting lower which requires less of your upper body strength to manipulate. The tank does flair more than the standard Tenere’s so you’re grip point will be around the ankles and calves, but that’s not a complaint, just an observation.
With a greater fuel load being concentrated up the front, the fork on the World Raid has more to contend with than the standard model and it handles it well without sacrificing early stroke comfort.
Overall, the suspension on the World Raid is superior in its balance and its ability to handle hard hits. Where the standard model pogos and often gets caught mid-stroke, the World Raid holds up and resists but without becoming overly stiff and uncomfortable on more sedate terrains.
No doubt it would perform better than the somewhat sensitive standard model with a luggage load on as well.
I didn’t make any changes to the fork, but I did wind on 5 clicks of preload at the shock (pretty normal for me) and was more than happy at that point. I’d love to tune it in more succinctly, but I just didn’t feel I needed to on the launch.
On the final day, we rode some genuinely rough trails at a decent pace and the step up from the standard model was obvious. There’ll be no need for a large percentage of riders to head straight to a suspension tuner on the World Raid. Of course, they can improve what’s there, I just don’t think a lot of riders will need it. I’m not sure I would.
And that’s important because the standard model is $20 grand while the World Raid is $25,000. Once you factor in suspension tuning on the standard as well as perhaps a Camel tank to increase the fuel range then you’re knocking on the door of the World Raid’s price anyway.
SOME LITTLE THINGS
The brakes on the Tenere are decent but the ABS kicks in just a fraction too aggressively at the front (can be switched off), while the rear lacks any sort of feel.
The switchblocks are clutter-free and easy to use, although a little clunky when you get to the main click wheel and given its small size, I’m not sure how easy it would be to use with winter gloves on. The value of that simple wheel though is that it’s hidden away and shouldn’t be damaged in a simple crash.
The clutch has a great feel and is light at the lever. Honestly, I do love a good cable clutch and this is a cracker. I also love Yamaha’s stock levers, although the handgrips are a bit too hard for me.
The sitting ergos are excellent with a very comfortable seat and knee bend and although the screen isn’t full coverage and you do feel the wind at angles, the World Raid will overall be a very comfortable bike over long days.
The air filter is accessed under the seat and couldn’t be simpler. The RideADV guys recommend running Aussie-made Funnel Web filters.
The bike is missing cruise control and that is a tough one for me. Yamaha’s philosophy on tech is clear, but the price point puts it at and above many models with a lot of tech from an 800MT to an Africa Twin and just shy of the fully kitted out Norden Expedition.
I can move past most everything from heated grips to traction control, quickshifter or a blind spot radar but the distances we travel in Australia can be made much easier on the body with cruise control. It’s not a deal breaker, but it’s also not insignificant.
YAMAHA RAIDS THE ADV WORLD
I’m sure there is a substantial percentage of readers who skip straight to the conclusion of any bike test and I’m going to make this easy on you guys that took the shortcut.
I would buy this bike in a heartbeat.
I would buy it because it’s better than the standard in the most important areas. It’s sweetly balanced and so very capable offroad in stock trim. With the larger tank, it’s never going to give me petrol paranoia and the reliability of the CP2 engine is absolutely beyond reproach.
It will be an easy bike to live with and an easy bike to play on. And it’s the fun factor that I really came to appreciate when we hit the more technical stuff on the launch ride.
Yamaha improved the formula that has worked so well for it over the last four years and where the standard model left me at times a bit uninspired, the World Raid has me dreaming of destinations.