It’s been one year since I sold my trusty Tiger 800 and bought a very slightly used 2022 Yamaha Tenere 700. At the time, T7s were hard to come by. I was on a waiting list at my local dealer with no idea when a unit will show up. A lucky scan of Facebook Marketplace revealed a mostly unmolested blue example with only 500 miles on the clock.
Seeing that the bike was showroom perfect and with the market being what it was, I paid the owner the retail cost of $10,200. Avoiding dealer costs, ended up saving me enough dough to outfit the bike with off-road rubber, engine and chassis protection and luggage accessories. See below to see my choice of accessories.
So, why did I swap the excellent Tiger 800 XRx for the T7? In a word, off-road capability. My longtime riding buddy and track day partner, Tony Iannarelli bought his Tenere the season before and we ventured into places where the Tiger had no business being with its 19″ front wheel, soft street suspension and heavy weight. With plans for more adventures on the Northeast Backcountry Discovery Routes (NEBDR), a change was necessary.
Why the T7?
In about 2020, the moto-press chummed the waters with declarations of Yamaha’s Tenere 700 being the game-changer needed to advance the next generation of adventure bikes. As it turns out, they were mostly right. What makes the Tenere so special?
First, the T7 is a modern refinement of the KLR and DR650 dinosaurs and even attempts to bridge the divide between open class dirt bikes like the KTM 450/500 and the overweight, street-biased self-proclaimed Adventure bikes like the BMW GS, and Triumph Tiger.
Second, Yamaha engineered the Tenere to excel at tackling terrain where quarter-ton motorcycles have no business being. While the T7 is no lightweight at 450 pounds before accessories, the chassis makes up for its relative heft.
Third, the Tenere 700 is an really fun street bike. With the exception of the stock seat, I find the 700 more comfortable than my Tiger 800. The ergonomics and wind protection work great with my 5’9″, 150 pound human chassis. I wouldn’t hesitate to point the 21″ front wheel to explore distant horizons. Sure, it’s not my first choice as a highway hauler, but it’s surprisingly capable of freeway droning.
The T7 is powered by an existing motor sourced from the awesome middleweight FZ/MT-07. My wife owned an MT-07 and it was a hoot to ride, mostly due to the light weight and snappy engine. The MT-07 derived cross-plane motor is a joy.
While not as snappy as the MT-07 iteration (the MT weights a good 50 pounds less), the 689cc CP-2 engine tracts beautifully, especially after some ECU tuning.
Consistent with many previous Yamaha models I’ve ridden, the T7 suffers from jerky throttle response from closed-to-slightly-open throttle openings. This isn’t terribly noticeable when at normal street riding speeds, but becomes annoying at very slow speeds.
I especially notice this when descending rocky slopes that require the slightest bit of positive throttle to maintain balanced weight bias to keep the front wheel as light as possible to surmount obstacles. I ended up sending the ECU in to 2Wheeldynoworks for a re-flash to help smooth out this abruptness.
A Basic Bike
My 2022 T7 has no electronic rider modes or traction control and with a cable throttle, so no ride-by-wire here. All it has is ABS that can only be on or off. Compared with the Aprilia Tuareg, the T7 is completely analog. Sure, some rider aids would be nice, but I’m fine with relying on my own traction sense and throttle control to manage the bike.
Additionally, the Tenere has tube-type tires. Some argue that this is the better way to go for true off-road riding but I dread the time when I have to swap a tube in the field as opposed to plugging and going.
The bike comes stock with the impressive Pirelli Scorpion STR rubber. These tires are quite good on pavement and even in most of the rocky gravel conditions most people ride. But, the plan was to ride some rather difficult routes, I first mounted Mitas E-10s, which are great tires, but I ended up matching my friend’s choice and went full-on knobbie. The Tusk D-Sport rear and IRC TR8 front.
I get asked a lot about how the bike handles with these tires and I answer, great…for a knobbie. I’m able to ride twisty pavement at full pace in the dry and even in wet conditions. The bike is less stable than with the other tires, but not bad. And they wear quickly. I got about 3500 miles from the rear and about that much from the front.
And as you’d expect, they are loud at speed on pavement. The rear gets louder as it wears, enough that earplugs are necessary.
These inconveniences payoff with the dirtbike-like off-road traction. But, realistically, I could have gotten away with either the Pirellis or the Mitas 95% of the time. It’s just that last 5% can get pretty hairy without those knobs.
The Tenere comes with some decent stock forks and shock. Compression and rebound adjustments work pretty well. And the spring rates are just fine for my 150 pound physique. When ridden hard, the bike can wallow and chatter, but that usually only happens when I’m pushing it. I also notice some deflection over rough terrain that I bet can be eliminated with upgrades, but I’m sticking with the stock suspension for now.
The rear brake is a weak link with the T7. Brake power got bad enough over the summer that it took all I had to get it to skid. I use the rear brake a lot, so it’s no surprise the pads were worn. New Galfer Semi-metallic pads improved the brake power significantly.
One of the first things new owners upgrade is the Camel rear brake pedal and brake pads. I haven’t done the pedal upgrade yet, but plan to.
One thing Yamaha did was design the chassis to locate the swingarm pivot point in such a way as to create anti-squat under acceleration. This presses the rear tire into the ground for more traction. But, it also makes it somewhat harder to do simple wheelies to loft over obstacles.
It’s Not Really a Dirtbike
With that said, the T7 is not a dirtbike! The problem is that it feels like one…a really heavy one. More than once, I rode the bike into some situations where I was taxed in managing the weight. These big ADV bikes tractor up rocky hills quite well, but all that mass needs to be controlled when descending.
Yamaha did a great job making the package feel light and balanced. However, as many KTM owners will quickly point out, the T7 carries its weight up quite high making it feel like it can topple at any time. But, stand up and keep your momentum and it loses that feeling pretty quickly.
Also, when big ADV bikes start to go over, there’s no stopping them…just step off if you can. I had a nasty fall on a rather simple road when my front tire tried climbing out of a rut at 25mph. Not sure why it happened but distraction on my part played a role. The result was two broken ribs. Another thing about the top heavy T7 is that it is a bear to lift. It took Tony and me (with broken ribs) all we had to get it upright so I could ride it home.
At 5’8″ and an inseam of 32″, I’m able to barely flat foot with both feet on level ground with the stock seat. But as soon as there is a slope, I really don’t have a foothold. It is just fine for all but the tough, rocky sections what require sub-5mph speeds and excellent balance…or paddle-walking. I tend to stand even through tough stuff, but I’m learning that there are times when sitting and using my legs and feet as outriggers isn’t a bad strategy. That’s when the eat height is too high.
Seat Concepts makes a low seat, which shaves 7/8″ off the height but sacrifices comfort. However, the SC seat is flatter and a bit wider which is usually a more comfortable shape. I don’t yet know if I will stick with the stock seat or not.
Upgrades and Accessories
- Crash Bars – SW-Motech
- Handguards- Barkbusters
- Engine case covers- R&G Racing
- Skid Plate- Moose/AXP plastic skid plate
- Sidecase racks- SW-Motech quick release
- Tankbag- Bags Connection/SW-Motech quick release tank ring
- Rear Rack- SW-Motech
- Crash bar bags- what I had around to carry tools, tubes, first aid, etc.
- Tool Tube- Twisted Throttle
- Rear Knobbie- Tusk DSport
- Front Knobbie- IRC TR8
- Rear and Front 30/70- Mitas E-10
- Stock Tires- Pirelli Scorpion STR
- Heated Grips- R&G Racing
- Windshield Adjuster- Generic from previous owner
- Throttle Lock- Kaoko
- Phone Mount- RAM X-Grip