2016 Yamaha Super Tenere ES Test Ride: The Ideal Ticket for Adventure


Motorcycling offers many venues for the ideal riding experience based on personal preferences and requirements. The Yamaha Super Ténéré ES was named as Cycle World’s “Best Adventure Bike” in that category’s first year. It was perceived to be a comfortable 1200 cc twin long distance cruiser that also delivered a commanding seating position for tooling around urban real estate and was suitable for off-road treks.


For the 2014 model year, Yamaha sought to improve the Super Ténéré ES’s appeal for on-road travel without sacrificing any of its off-road capability, with two examples available: a standard model bike offered in Team Yamaha Blue or Matte Gray/Matte Black and the ES version (Electronic Suspension) that came in only Matte Gray/Matte Black.

The standard model started at $15,090, while the ES began at $16,190, a premium of $1,100. The KYB suspension system was not an active system, but rather was adjustable electronically with three basic damper settings – hard, standard and soft, each of which came with seven levels of fine tuning that could be accomplished on the fly: along with four preload settings that could be dialed in with the bike parked. The basic damper settings include variations for solo, two-up and also take the amount of cargo in the luggage setting and the terrain into account. The ES model also came with ABS brakes and heated grips.


Progressing to model year 2016, there are virtually no changes in the Super Ténéré. Even the pricing structure remains the same. The ES model proves to be the superior bike over the standard bike for off-road riding, as the ability to firm up the suspension tends to eliminate corner wallow, while enabling the bike to soak up severe bumps without bottoming out.


Power is still delivered by an 1199cc DOHC, 8-valve, liquid-cooled, inline parallel-twin engine with YCC-T fuel injection and transistor-controlled ignition. Motive force reaches the rear wheel through a constant mesh, wide ratio six-speed transmission with a multi-plate wet clutch. The final drive is shaft.


Suspension components consist of front telescopic 43mm inverted forks; electronically adjustable compression and rebound damping with 7.5-inches of travel. In the rear is a monoshock with electronically adjustable preload and rebound damping, also with 7.5-inches of travel. The bike rolls on a Bridgestone Battlewing B/W 501- 110/80R19 – 59V tire up front and a Bridgestone Battlewing B/W 502 150/70R17- 69V in the rear, both mounted on laced wire spoke wheels.

Bringing the Super Ténéré ES to a halt are dual 310mm hydraulic discs up front, with a unified brake system and ABS and a 282mm single disc, unified brake system and ABS in the rear.

The bike’s wheelbase measures 60.6 inches and the overall length is 88.8 inches. Ground clearance is 6.5-inches. The dry weight tips the scales at 584 pounds. The seat height is 33.3 inches, adjustable to 34.3 inches. The Super T carries 6.1 gallons of fuel and delivers an estimated average of 43 mpg.

My test Yamaha Super Ténéré ES wore the standard Matte Gray/Matte Black finish and came with a base sticker set at $16,190, while the final tally came to $17,622.79 after factoring in the following accessories: skid plate; tall windshield; engine guards; side case mounting kit and side cases; and a top case. Dealer prep and handling are not included as they are variable.

The Yamaha Super Ténéré ES may not be the perfect bike for all riders, but it pretty much covers all the needs of the majority of riders who want a dual purpose adventure bike that is fully capable for both on and off-road riding scenarios.

Rider comfort and convenience are paramount. The ES includes cruise control, adjustable seat and windshield height, tunable front and rear suspension, both a side and center stand, a gear indicator, heated grips and a power outlet. Foot controls are mid-mounted for the rider, with a seat and folding pegs for a passenger.

Instrumentation includes a digital speedo and bar graph tach, fuel range and fuel level bar graph, a digital clock and trip odometer. Turn signals are unfortunately non-canceling and the side bags are somewhat difficult to clear when dismounting, and they also create added windage in high wind situations.

The infinite adjustability of the ride quality and the two-position “D-Mode” (drive mode) throttle response allows the rider to adjust mapping for conditions or preferences. The traction control regulates ignition timing, fuel injection and throttle valve opening based on wheel spin, allowing for a smooth response that is not abrupt. Three modes are available to match rider preference, including off.

Super Ténéré ES provides both an antilock braking system and unified braking system. With UBS, applying the front brake lever also provides some rear-wheel braking; pressing the rear brake first overrides UBS for traditional separate front and rear braking action.

The handlebars are fitted with wraparound grip brush guards and are comfortably positioned, but could be higher for off-road riding when standing.

Throttle response is immediate across a broad torque range and braking is positive. The Super Ténéré ES is suited to a variety of riding situations, and is well balanced and easily managed, except when backing on an incline, the short rake make directional stability a bit of a chore.

Bottom line, if you’re looking for adventure, The Yamaha Super Ténéré ES may well be just the right bike for you.

SPECIFICATIONS: 2016 Yamaha Super Ténéré ES

Base Price: $16,190.00
Price as Tested: $17,622.79
Engine: 1199cc DOHC; 8-valve, liquid-cooled inline 2-cylinder with YCC-T fuel injection and transistor-controlled ignition.
Transmission: Constant mesh six-speed, multi-plate wet clutch.
Drivetrain: Shaft drive
Suspension, front: Telescopic 43mm inverted forks; electronically adjustable compression and rebound damping with 7.5 inches of travel
Suspension, rear: Monoshock; electronically adjustable preload and rebound damping with 7.5 inches of travel.
Brakes, front: Dual 310mm hydraulic discs, Unified Brake System and ABS
Brake, rear: 282mm single disc, Unified Brake System and ABS.
Tires, front: Bridgestone Battlewing B/W 501- 110/80R19 – 59V
Tires, rear: Bridgestone Battlewing B/W 502 150/70R17- 69V rear
Wheels: Laced wire spoke
Wheelbase: 60.6 inches
Overall length: 88.8 inches
Curb weight: 584 lbs. (dry)
Ground clearance: 6.5 inches with skid plate
Fuel capacity: 6.1 gallons.
Fuel economy: 43 mpg estimated average.
Seat height: 33.3 inches or 34.3 inches

The 2016 Yamaha Super Tenere ES is a highly evolved adventure bike with infinite riding scenario adjustment capability. The large side and trunk boxes are not very attractive, and though practical for storage, make mounting and dismounting difficult. Once onboard, however, you’re ready for long range touring.

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