Look at this magnificent bastard. Splashed with thrilling savagery, anointed with sublime capability, and fizzing adventure like a Berocca up a bear’s bum.
This is what “adventure” needs to look like in order to be called “adventure”. And this is the bike capable of adventuring you so utterly, the light of a billion gleaming stars you’re sleeping under will not approach your shine.
You may already may know this new Tenere incarnation is the most successful two-wheeled thing Yamaha has gifted the world with in recent times.
Bucking the trend which saw Adventure bikes grow ever more ponderous, powerful, and electronically sophisticated (read “complex”), the glorious blue samurai went: “Here, have a bike with no engine modes, suspension sorcery, or hyper-intelligent ECUs. There’s a button you can push when you need to turn the ABS off. Off you go, champion.”
And off you all went.
And rightly so. Simplicity, ruggedness, and reliability must be the foundation of all bikes painted with adventure stripes. Such a bike’s capability at dealing with the most evil single-track surprises – and surprises are the soul of adventuring – must be rock-solid.
When you’ve ridden into a swamp full of poisonous eels, you need to be able to ride out of it again. When you’ve thrown it off a waterfall, fished it out of the river, and dried it out, you want it to start so you can ride home. You need to be able to pick it up 100 times a day because the road you chose is way more evil than the bastard who suggested you should ride it.
You need to be able to rely on your bike to be easy to ride in and out of horrifying situations, because what’s the point if you can’t brag about them when you get to the pub?
When people behold you, filthy with joy, up on the pegs like the finest desert-racing champion, you want them to know you’re the kind of bloke who knows his shit.
You certainly don’t want them to think you’re some kind of over-monied bum-wanker (yes, I’m looking at you, Ewan and Charlies) who’s taken his over-panniered two-wheeled Range Rover where it and you should never have gone.
You want to stand on some remote geological prominence, bathed in the setting sun’s rays, your eyes clear, your mind pure, and look out upon the world you rule, and the bike you conquered it on.
Yes, that’s the one over there. The one that looks like a Dakar-busting, roost-chucking, dune-leaping sonofabitch. The one that’s gonna get you home, no question.
That’s what I see when I look at Tenere. And I am to hard-core adventure riding what a bear is to ballroom dancing. I am perfectly happy to zoom along easy fire trails, and while I have ridden more difficult stuff than I would have ever chosen to (thanks, Deano), I don’t possess the skill-level or the desire to do it a lot.
But I know what bike I’d like to do it on. Yes, that’d be this one. Every time. It’s easy to ride. It’s easy to ride well. And it’s easy to get out of trouble on it. It’s uncomplicated and uncompromised by weapons-grade technology, and it looks the damn business from every angle.
I would own a Tenere in a second. I would buy a second set of wheels for it and shove on some sticky road tyres, because even my limited mechanical ability permits removing and replacing wheels.
The engine is lively and willing, and you can sit on 140 all day if you’re doing boring bitumen transport sections. Then you can do 140 all day on fire trails. You want it darker? Those are serious dirt wheels and tyres. Off you go.
If you mainly commute, then take off the knobbies. Ground clearance and handling for days. And you can ride it up and down stairs if you’re making a getaway.
It’s not too tall, it’s not intimidatingly powerful, it’s comfortable – it’s all the things it needs to be no matter what your level of skill is.
I am not at all surprised the Tenere has been a runaway success for Yamaha. The concept is brilliant. Simple, able, easy, and reliable – and for under $20k.
Take a bow, Yamaha.
I did not filthy up this Tenere. Geez did that. I was at Phillip Island, and he needed a bike to contest some race near to where I live. Seeing as how he’s the marketing manager at Yamaha, I’m unlikely to refuse him when he needs the bike. He returned it bathed in magnificence.
“You want me to wash it?” he asked.
“Hell, no!” I cried. “Leave it as it is. I shall photograph it like that. Sure as shit I ain’t ever gonna get it that dirty.”
I went up and down the Putty on it a few times, and rode some easy dirt up near Mount Royal where I live. I tend to ride alone most of the time, and throwing myself down some unknown trail when I am alone is not something I’m good with.
Boris is a writer who has contributed to many magazines and websites over the years, edited a couple of those things as well, and written a few books. But his most important contribution is pissing people off. He feels this is his calling in life and something he takes seriously. He also enjoys whiskey, whisky and the way girls dance on tables. And riding motorcycles. He's pretty keen on that, too.