Yamaha XT660Z Tenere
- we can celebrate the return of a legend.
comfort and phenomenal off road capability"
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.
Of all of the dual sport bikes around the globe,
the Tenere XT660 has had the highest ratings for design
"it looks like a true Desert insect"
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
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.
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
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 - Specifications
4-stroke, 4-valve, forward inclined single cylinder,
x 84 mm
kW @ 6,000 rpm
Nm @ 5,500 rpm
multiple-disc coil spring
mesh, 5 speed
tube diamond shaped
fork Ø 43 mm
Cast Swing arm (Monocross type suspension)
210 mm - Rear 200 mm
disc, Ø 298 mm
disc, Ø 245 mm
90/90-21 M/C - Rear 130/80-18 M/C
L main (6.7 L) Reserve
Kilometers / per Liter
207kg ready to ride
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.
XT660Z Tenere is the reason why you wanna go the
long way round."
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
"You can take Tenere from the showroom floor
into the African terrain without doing any modofications."
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
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
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
Still - this is the standard tank - no need for expensive
after market fuel tanks.
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 bike...is it
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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?
Comparison Between the XT660Z
Tenere and XT660R
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.
Tenere Rentals in South Africa