I recently said farewell to my Triumph Tiger Explorer, because of engine issues that simply wouldn't stop haunting it. It's not always easy to move on to the next chapter in my motorcycle history but sometimes you just have to press on.
This time while searching for a new adventure bike I spent countless hours perusing forums, searching for any issues that could bring me back to that nightmarish fun house I'd recently emerged from. My original list soon found an elimination mark as some lacked features, such as cruise control. I've had a bad shoulder from an injury I sustained a while ago and on long highway runs It's nice to engage a "break period". Throttle locks are an OK substitute, but I really like an integrated cruise so it was high on my priority list. Some bikes had major component failures and subsequent recalls. Others were simply not that good.
After driving everyone around me crazy I was left with one bike that met my criteria for reliability and had a sufficient amount of features: the 2014 Yamaha Tenere ES. Updated with electronic suspension, a new refreshed display, windscreen, seat, and better overall performance, as well as detail touches like daylight running L.E.D.s the ES is packed to the gills with comfort features. It also comes standard with cruise control, heated grips, dual-riding modes and traction control. Best of all is the lack of recalls and major issues expressed by the community who are out currently enjoying them.
My initial impression of the Ténéré ES was very positive. Granted, every bike starts off with a grace period of loving it because it's new. So far I am a few weeks in at this point and am a very happy customer. It feels like a well trained dog that has been my companion since I was a kid. It does only what's asked of it and does it exactly how I want it. This applies to every aspect of the bike and as a side bonus it gets about 6 MPG better than my outgoing Explorer.
2014 Yamaha Ténéré ES
The Tenere has a listed wet weight of 586 pounds. and while I'll weigh it myself soon, at this point it feels like it weighs in around the low 500 pound range. Yamaha have disguised the weight very well and carries it very low. The Triumph Explorer I just spent time with, which is listed at a similar weight, is by far a heavier feeling motorcycle.
This past weekend I was able to compare the Ténéré to the Moto Guzzi Stelvio (thanks to a local friend). The Ténéré is much easier to balance, move around, with lighter steering that offers a tighter turning radius than either the Explorer or Guzzi. It really feels like a small dirt bike in comparison. That little extra comparison to another ADV bike made me feel that much better about my choice.
There is a lot more technology packed into the new Ténéré ES. Customizable display, dual-ride modes, standard heated grips, and of course, the electronic suspension adjustments. Adjustments for preload, rebound and compression damping with up to 84 combinations. The damping is adjustable while riding, the preload can only be changed when stopped and in neutral. Every function on the Ténéré is done from the left switch housing, except start, stop, and ride modes. This leaves your right hand to modulate the throttle and apply the brake. More manufacturers should do this as it makes the setup more intuitive and allows for better control. The Explorer's cruise control was much more difficult to engage and control. The buttons were difficult to reach when trying to maintain a constant speed, made even harder when wearing thick gloves.
Another new feature for 2014 is the YCC-T throttle. Yamaha's version of ride-by-wire is smooth to operate. Most systems run the control wire right from the throttle to the ECU or servos. The Ténéré still has two traditional cables coming from the throttle tube that are then routed to a servo where the electronics take over. Visually it looks like last years model, functionally it's completely different.
The Yamaha is much smoother on and off the throttle and although sensitive it's not touchy. Riding over the same roads with the cruise control activated I was able to keep a hand on the throttle grip and not accidentally turn off cruise with larger bumps. With the Explorer you either had to be very careful or not have your hand near the throttle grip to keep from accidentally disengaging the cruise.
One of my favorite items on the bike are the factory installed heated grips. I had not had these before on the Explorer and ended up adding them with an aftermarket kit. Never thought much about them until I was riding in the cold and for the first time my hands weren't blocks of ice when I got off the bike. I realized I liked that feeling and decided I should make sure I had it again. The Ténéré's heated grips are accessed via the left grip and display menu. They're very easy to use and have ten different programmable levels of heat. You can program three into a memory slot for quicker accessibility and when stopped you can change those presets to any of the ten levels. The level of menu and feature customization is deep and intuitive. Three buttons on the left handle are all that's needed for any adjustment.
TCS or traction control is set on the display itself. There's a button on the left to select the level. ABS, however, cannot be turned off.
One of my favorite details so far is the stop/start switch. Yamaha have integrated the start button into the traditional stop switch so you can never forget to put the bike in run mode. It also helps to remove a button from the switch gear minimizing clutter.
The bike is black/gray with a matte finish. Not my favorite color scheme, but the ES only comes in this color. It does seem durable but only time will tell how easily it does or does not scratch.
Upcoming modifications: Crash protection, side racks, top rack, and an all new waterproof soft luggage solution with some very unique features.
I also want to thank Glen Burnie Motorsports for setting me up with a good deal on the motorcycle.