2020 Yamaha Tenere 700 Review


Our Report

  • Overall
  • Desirability
  • Practicality
  • Performance
  • Value for Money


  • Genuine off-road potential
  • Hardcore styling
  • Great engine


  • Tall seat as standard
  • Few rider aids

Yamaha goes hardcore with its new middleweight off-roader

There are a few names which have carved out a proper niche in the bike world. Kawasaki’s Ninja, Honda’s Fireblade, BMW’s GS – they’ve all become legendary marques, standing for top performance in their respective areas.

Yamaha’s Tenere is another one of these renowned monikers.

Yamaha Tenere 700 2020 stood off-road

Tenere , from the desert...

Named after the Ténéré’ region of the Sahara desert, it’s been the name on the side of a series of capable off-roaders since the mid 1980s, first on an XT600 single, then the V-twin Super Tenere and onto the current 1200 twin and outgoing 660 single. They’re Yamaha’s full-beans road-legal off-road machines, with stacks of capability, and can deal with all sorts of adventures.

And now we have the very latest Tenere on test – the parallel twin 700 version. It uses the excellent, compact 270° twin engine from the Tracer 700 and MT-07, in an all-new dirt-focussed chassis with aggressive styling and a super-tall stance.

That stance was a worry for me at first – I’m sort-of average height at 5’8”, but have slightly stumpy legs, and my 29” inside leg isn’t really designed for massive offroaders… The Tenere’s seat is fairly narrow, though, which helps a lot, and once on board, I can just get a toe down to lift the side stand, and we’re off!!

Yamaha Tenere 700 2020 riding off-road

It has personality

That height is a boon through the Woking traffic outside Yamaha HQ – you get a great view over the cars, and are on level with the bus and lorry drivers as you trickle through the jams (which have arrived surprisingly quickly after the Covid-19 lockdown…)

The engine is a corker. We loved it in the MT-07, and for the capacity, it’s a lively, fun little powerplant. There are no rider power modes, wheelie control, traction settings or anything else here – just a simple direct link from your right wrist to a grunty torque-delivery system, that makes a properly sweet sound as it fires you out of a bend.

The suspension is surprising too. With the obvious off-road bent, I assumed a soft, boingy fork and slightly wallowy back end. But not at all – on stock settings, it’s quite firm and keeps everything taut through bends. It’s also fully-adjustable kit front and rear, so you’ll be able to dial in a setting more suited to what you’re looking for – on or off-road.

The tyres, too, look like they could be a dirty compromise too far on the asphalt. But the blocky tread of the Pirelli Scorpion Rally hoops gives solid grip on the warm dry roads we tested on.

Up close Yamaha Tenere 700 2020 features

In a nutshell:

So – the Tenere 700 is a strong performer on the road, and has much more capability off-road than I’d need. And my city-based riding life would no doubt be better served by the Tracer 700 with its more road-biased chassis.

But if you’re the sort of person who needs – or wants – the great dirt-riding capabilities which the name ‘Tenere' stands for, then it’s definitely worth a look.

Yamaha Tenere 700 2020 cornering


Price: starts at £9,147

Engine: 8v parallel twin, DOHC, liquid cooled, 689cc

Bore x stroke: 80x68.6mm

Compression ratio: 11.5:1

Max power (claimed) 73bhp@9,000rpm

Max torque (claimed) 50ft lb@6,500rpm

Transmission: six speed gearbox, wet clutch, chain drive

Frame: steel tube backbone

Front suspension: 43mm fully adjustable upside-down fork

Rear suspension: aluminium box-section swingarm, fully-adjustable monoshock

Brakes: dual 282mm discs, twin-piston sliding calipers (front), 245mm disc, single-piston caliper (rear), switchable ABS.

Wheels/tyres: wire spoked/Pirelli Scorpion Rally, 90/90 21 front, 150/70 18 rear

Rake/trail: 27°/105 mm

Wheelbase: 1,590mm

Kerb weight: 205kg

Fuel capacity: 16 litres

Rider Aids: switchable ABS.



Same brilliant 689cc parallel twin as on the MT-07 and Tracer with minimal changes – just altered gearing and some fuelling tweaks. Nothing to moan about there – it’s a great little motor.


Basic, strong, cheap steel tubing takes a lot of punishment, and is a better bet for a hardcore off-road bike than aluminium castings.


Impressive spec for the pricing – tough USD 43mm front forks and rear monoshock, with plenty of adjustment all round. Not fancy enough? Yamaha will sell you an official Öhlins rear shock upgrade for £1,160…


You get dual, twin-piston sliding Brembo calipers up front and they work well – but these are off-road-biased brakes so a little less sharp than the usual silver-spot four-piston units used on Yamaha’s road bikes. There’s a button on the dash to turn the ABS off completely for proper dirt action.


The small screen doesn’t have any adjustment, and there’s a 12v power socket mounted in the cockpit next to the smart vertical monochrome LCD dashboard.