Southern African Adventure Motorcycling Routes - The Dualsport Travel Guide & Info Portal - Maps, GPS Data, GPS Tracks Bike Reviews and Product Rviews

The Yamaha XT660Z Tenere - we can celebrate the return of a legend.

"Practicality, comfort and phenomenal off road capability"
Unlike most Dual Sport motorcycles which are based on road bikes with off road ability -
Yamaha have created an off road long distance touring bike - with amazing on road ability.
Design & Appeal
Of all of the dual sport bikes around the globe, the Tenere XT660 has had the highest ratings for design and looks.
"it looks like a true Desert insect"
XT660Z Tenere front end
The Yamaha XT660Z Tenere has been a long time in the waiting in Southern Africa. Finally the first set of demos arrived and I got a chance to take her out for a weekend escapade.

Craig Marshall - Rider

Test Ride Location
Its 214km from Sir Lowries Pass to the southern most tip of Africa.
Cape Agulhas is an easy day ride and one can hit the dirt trails for 90% of the route from just after Garbouw.

The rolling green wheat fields and canola fields of Teslaarsdal and Solitaire provide a picturesque backdrop and the roads are very well maintained so its easy riding and a pleasure on most bikes.
Sandies Glen has a nice tight and steep section with soft sand and very loose gravel.

Of course there are more Ruggered locations to test the various bikes, but the logistics of getting the support vehicle and photographer or film crew to track the ride get more complicated as the terrain gets harder.

In addition to this we have to consider the choice of tyre fitted by the dealership demo models. mostly they are standard road bias tyres and would give and unfair judgment in really rough terrain.

XT660Z Tenere
XT660Z Tenere fuel tank
23 Liter Fuel Tank, Nice !
Its fuel carrying capacity and economy plays a big part in what makes it a phenomenal long distance tourer.

The Panniers, Crash Bars and Top Box are optional extras.
XT660Z Tenere dashboard
2012 Yamaha XT660Z Tenere - Specifications
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, 4-valve, forward inclined single cylinder, SOHC
Displacement 660 cc
Bore x stroke 100 x 84 mm
Performance 35.0 kW @ 6,000 rpm
Max. torque 58.0 Nm @ 5,500 rpm
Compression ratio 10.0 : 1
Starter/Battery Electric
Overall Height 1,500 mm
Fuel System Fuel Injection (type)
Timing System SOHC
Ignition TCI GT9B-4
Lubrication Dry sump
Primary drive Chain
Cooling Liquid-cooled
Clutch Wet, multiple-disc coil spring
Gearbox Constant mesh, 5 speed
Frame Steel tube diamond shaped
Front suspension Telescopic fork Ø 43 mm
Rear suspension Aluminium Cast Swing arm (Monocross type suspension)
Suspension travel front/rear Front 210 mm - Rear 200 mm
Front brake Double disc, Ø 298 mm
Rear brake Single disc, Ø 245 mm
Tyres, front/rear Front 90/90-21 M/C - Rear 130/80-18 M/C
Ground Clearence 260 mm
Steering head angle 28°
Trail 113 mm
Wheel base 1,500 mm
Seat height 895 mm
Tank capacity 23 L main (6.7 L) Reserve
Fuel Economy 21.8 Kilometers / per Liter
Top Speed 159km/h
Wet Weight 207kg ready to ride
XT660Z Tenere motorcycle review

For stand up riding one may find the standard foot pegs on the Tenere a little on the small side. A set of after market wide foot pegs will add to grip and comfort when standing up.
"The XT660Z Tenere is the reason why you wanna go the long way round."
XT660Z Tenere
At first glance the XT660Z Tenere looks like it has had a barrage of "Trans African Rally" modifications - but that's just one of the things Yamaha got right. Definitely the New Tenere will follow in its predecessors foot steps as a motorcycle legend.
XT660Z Tenere review
"You can take Tenere from the showroom floor into the African terrain without doing any modofications."
Definately the introduction of the 298mm double front disc with Brembo calipers is a vast improvement on the XT660R.
Although these Tenere's are not fitted with ABS, the stopping power of the front end is truly impressive.

Fuel Economy:
Well what can I say ?
One of the most important, if not THE most important aspect of any trip planning, is fuel economy and how many times you must stop. Your entire route planning is centered around where you have to fill up.
I can confidently say that the 23 liter tank on the Tenere 660 gives you an entirely different outlook to route planning, throttle play and just a nice gut feeling that you don't have to keep watching for the fuel light. Which is also a big plus having a digital fuel gauge on the dash.

I rode from Somerset West to Gansbaai and on to Cape Agulhas, a total distance of 214km and the electronic fuel level indicator still had two blocks remaining. If you look at the spec of 21.8km/L - one should be able to do well over 500km - but in the real world and with the way we ride on the weekends, its likely to be around 19km per liter.
Still - this is the standard tank - no need for expensive after market fuel tanks.

Seat Comfort:
The seat on the Tenere is a bone of contention - many say its not to their liking because you only have one position due to the recessed section you sit in.
I personally found it very comfortable and if you need to change positions you can easily sit slightly up on the Pillion hump for a few minutes. Needless to say it is a superbly comfortable bike.

Dry weight of 183kg and about 207kg all fueled up, it still handles exceptionally well on tarmac and in the dirt. I did find with the Panniers and top box loaded as well, plus my weight of 98kg - she was really on the heavy side for this review - but that's exactly what one intends to do with an adventure it not?
Even with the massive load I assigned to the Tenere 660, she still responded as if there was nothing on the bike but the rider. the only time the bike was unstable was in very soft sand patches - but this is mostly attributed to the road bias tyres fitted. If I was going to namibia and beyond, I would have a set of MITAS EO 7's fitted and the Tenere will eat up the desert.

Wind Protection:
The standard faring is a bit too small. Add on aprox 10cm and you wont feel any helmet buffeting, depending on your seated height of course.
An additional bonus is the shape of the fuel tank - providing reasonably good wind protection to your knees and legs.

I was expecting the usual dose of vibration that is delivered by a single cylinder motorcycle - Surprisingly the Yamaha Tenere is exceptionally smooth. Mostly with 600cc single cylinders the vibrations starts around 120km / hour. With this bike I was able to cruise at 145km / hour and still not much noticeable vibrations. Beyond this one can expect it.

Power to Weight:
A wet weight of 207kg and a max output of 35kw would seem to indicate that the Tenere XT660Z is underpowered as it has been suggested. However, it is ever so slightly underpowered - but certainly nothing to complain about.
We know its not a 990 or 1200 so don't expect it to perform like one, the gear ratio is definitely more touring and cruising orientated than what you would find on an enduro bike - but that is why the Tenere is such a phenomenal long distance tourer. It will wheelie in first and second, but will struggle in third if the 23 liter tank is full.

Off Road Handling:
This is where Yamaha has succeeded in creating one of the worlds best adventure motorcycles of the modern age. Unlike most Dual Sport motorcycles which are based on road bikes with off road ability -
Yamaha have created an off road long distance touring bike - with amazing on road ability.
The front suspension has 210mm of travel and I loaded the bike up pretty heavy for the 2 days trip. The fork has Moto-X like absorption of medium to large size potholes, ditches, cattle grids and just about any thing you throw at it. Its truly what makes riding the Tenere a smooth affair.

On Road Handling:
Most riders dread the tar sections of their dualsport escapades, unless they on a huge 1200 - but then they only to happy to be on the tar again. For really long tarmac stretches, the 660 can be a little tiring - the Big Super Tenere 1200 would be the better option if you plan to do some serious mileage on tarmac.

In tight chicanes the bike can be thrown from side to side and even with a heavy load. At times I was concerned the panniers were about to touch the tar ! - the suspension is a bit soft for aggressive track or tar maneuvers, but its not what it was designed for is it?

XT660Z Tenere test ride The Comparison Between the XT660Z Tenere and XT660R (Download Specs Comparison)

Overall the Yamaha XT660Z Tenere is causing waves in the dualsport market around the globe. We in South Africa did wait too long for its arrival, but the wait was worth while.
It has become the bike of choice for many English and European riders to make the Trans-African journey. With sales outstripping demand currently in South Africa, we will most likely find many locals making the Tenere the bike of choice for crossings to the UK and Europe.

Go now and test ride the Yamaha Tenere at your nearest dealer - you wont be sorry.

...................................XT660Z Tenere Rentals in South Africa

Yamaha Tenere 660 - Adventure Motorcycles KTM
All text, logos, pictures, Maps and designs on this website are subject to copyright law. Duplication by any means is strictly prohibited.
This site is best viewed at 1024 X 768 pixels

Web Design by Craig Marshall