Adventure bikes are the SUVs of the motorcycle world. They present the promise that you can go anywhere, anytime. Got a wild hair up your butt and the Arctic Circle is the only cure? No problem. Is the equator calling? Hop on and ride.
In reality, the closest most SUVs get to off-roading is when they pull off onto the gravel shoulder to buy a velvet painting. Adventure bikes spend the vast majority of their time on hard pavement, too -- but they're more likely to get into some dirt than the average SUV.
A good adventure bike has to possess a wide range of capability. It's got to be good on the road for long stretches, with excellent fuel economy, power, comfort and carrying capacity. It's got to be good in the twisties, with agility and cornering ability. It's got to be good when the pavement ends, with a supple suspension and good ground clearance.
The 2014 Yamaha Super Ténéré is good at all those things. It's not the best at any one -- but it's good at each one. And that is exactly what a dual sport adventure bike needs to be.
The Super Ténéré has undergone more of a massage than a full makeover for 2014, but the changes are significant and represent a suite of improvements over the outgoing model.
First of all, there are now two Super Ténéré variants: The Super Ténéré and the Super Ténéré ES. The "ES" stands for "Electronic Suspension," and besides standard heated grips, that's the difference between the variants. That, and $1,100.
The ST's (I'm tired of typing all of those accent marks, so it's the "ST" to me from now on) engine is the same liquid-cooled 1,199 cc parallel-twin four-stroke as before, but with a new head design, new pistons and new exhaust. Thanks to electronics, there are two selectable drive modes on the ST, "S" and "T" ("Sport" and "Touring"), changeable on the fly. This year, there's a bigger difference between the snappy throttle in "S" and the more relaxed response in "T." A new clutch damper has been added to the internal mechanism in order to smooth power delivery.
Yamaha spent some time considering airflow for the rider, and has come up with a few new solutions. The standard windscreen is now height-adjustable without tools, with a good range of adjustment. An additional lower mini-fairing has been added below the windscreen to direct flow and to reduce buffeting in the cockpit area. The handlebar clamp is now rubber-mounted to quell vibration, and the handlebars are closer to the rider for a more relaxed, slightly more upright riding position. Handguards are standard, and block the wind nicely.
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