First Ride: The 2022 Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

Three years after the launch of the Yamaha Ténéré 700, the Japanese marque extends the range with a new version, called the Ténéré 700 World Raid. How much better is that one compared to the already mighty standard unit? Our man in Europe, Philipe Guillaume, travelled to Spain to find out.

The water is turquoise blue, the rocks are ochre, and the landscape has an infinite taste of emptiness. The wind and harsh sun are my only companions at the time. The deserts of Andalucia are not as big as the ones in Southern Africa, but I can still feel the true spirit of the Wide Wild West experience. (In fact, many Westerns have been shot here.)

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

Taking a break on top of a canyon, I truly enjoy the moment, engraving in my brain scenery shaped by a million years of geological history. I suddenly feel so humble—much like I would at the top of the Fish River Canyon.

I had to struggle a bit to get here—through stones, sand, and a few steep up and downhills. But it was definitely worth it. I’m grateful to the bike that brought me here, the new Yamaha Ténéré 700 World Raid, and I’m reminded why dual-sport machines are so special.

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

I step back to admire that piece of engineering, and salute her with a silent thank you. I’m sure she got the message.

Same but different

The World Raid sits at the top of the Ténéré 700 range. But before we go any further, let’s give kudos to Yamaha for reinventing the human-sized dual-sport machine.

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

I don’t know about you, but I think there’s something odd about taking 160 hp, R300,000 machines into hard terrain, with a risk of a great loss (although I do enjoy riding them). The Ténéré 700 is a much more reasonable prospect, and also more affordable and more capable. At 200 kilograms, a bit more than 70 hp and not many electronic thingies that can go wrong, it’s the perfect recipe for adventure.

It’s such a great recipe that Yamaha, at one stage, struggled to satisfy the demand. 30,000 units were sold in under three years in Europe, and the made-in-France Ténéré became the “600 to 900 cc” class leader. With the addition of the World Raid, Yamaha Europe expects to sell another 20,000 units this year.

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

At first sight, it’s not so easy to distinguish the World Raid from the standard Ténéré 700. Viewed from the front, the windscreen is 15 mm higher with added side deflectors, but the bigger fuel tank (23 litres instead of 16) is not that wide. Things look different from the side or back, since the twin fuel caps and new TFT colour instrument panel are specific to the World Raid model.

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

The two fuel tanks need to be filled up separately, with a solenoid valve that automatically balances the fuel level once the bike is moving. They are well designed, as my legs integrated perfectly into their shape—unlike the ‘legs wide open’ riding position on the 1980s Ténéré 600. The 890 mm seat height requires the rider to have long legs, but then the riding position is perfectly natural.

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

Once on board, I also enjoy the brand new colour TFT instrument panel, which offers three (very) different layouts—one of them dedicated to those adept at navigation, with an adjustable trip meter. Another function is the possibility of having total or partial ABS deactivation. I also enjoy the wider, grippier foot pegs as well as the relative narrowness at the seat and fuel tank junction, which allows a bit of freedom of movement once in action.

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

More versatile

The World Raid offers 20 mm of extra suspension travel at both ends. It now sports 230 mm at the front and 220 mm at the back, plus an extra 18-position Öhlins adjustable steering damper, which might be useful off-road. Extreme off-road riders will appreciate this revamped suspension setup, but the main thing is that the suspension is incredibly plush, no matter what surface you’re riding on. The extra comfort is immediately noticeable and long distance riders will definitely enjoy it.

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

During this launch in the South of Spain, we covered around 350 kilometres, half of them off-road, and the whole day of riding was an absolute pleasure in terms of comfort. Despite an extra 16 kilograms of weight, the revamped suspension copes with great ease, and I never found the limit of the 255 mm ground clearance—even on sections with serious bumps. On lower speed sections, the World Raid’s handling wasn’t affected much by the bigger fuel tank, thanks to the compliant CP2 engine and the precise and smooth controls.

Out on the road, the taller windscreen brought a little bit of wind turbulence on the top of my helmet’s visor, but nothing too serious. I also appreciated the seat; the World Raid is definitely a serious mile eater.

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

With the latest Euro 5 specs, though, the engine has lost a bit of its character. It still has great composure, able to cruise in sixth gear from 50 to 188 km/h on the speedo (at 8,500 rpm), but seems to rev a bit less happily than before.

Despite the longer suspension travel, the road-holding is seriously fun. Our Yamaha test ride guide could apply at KTM (that’s a compliment and says a lot about the rhythm we had on that launch, both on- and off-road) and the Ténéré 700 World Raid, as a proper and archetypal dual-sport machine, has some serious suspension travel movement on hard braking sections. Yet it’s incredibly efficient—intuitive, even.

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

The World Raid would cope with the same ease on everything from straight long-distance Karoo crossings to Mpumalanga twisties. Just follow this advice: take it easy, and the Ténéré World Raid is so efficient that it sometimes feels a tad underpowered. The Euro 5 might have smoothed out the CP2 engine a bit, but the sound note is still pleasant—even if it won’t upset the neighbours.

During the test ride, our fuel consumption was 5,6 l/100 km, a bit off the 500 km range claimed by Yamaha. But the official fuel range might be actually reachable, as we had a proper fast pace on the day.

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

To conclude

Is there anything the World Raid can do that will be out of reach for the standard T7? Well, despite the extra 100-plus kilometres of fuel range, the answer is not really.

The standard T7 is; simplistic, lightweight, and competitively priced which makes it our first choice as the preferred T7 to own, which is a good thing, as the Ténéré 700 World Raid won’t be coming to South Africa—at least not for now.

Photo credit: Yamaha EU

Yamaha Ténéré 700

For more information on the Yamaha Ténéré 700, click on the link below…

2021

Yamaha Ténéré 700

Pricing From R199,950 (RRP)


Brand: Yamaha
Frenchman Philippe Guillaume (locally known as “fearless Flippie” – a nickname given to him by oom Simon Fourie himself) has spent 8 years of his life living in Joburg. Phil is certainly the fastest geographer on earth: he holds a PhD in urban geography and a FIM Speed World record (5 135 km covered in 24 hours, at the Nardo oval track in Italy, on a Suzuki Hayabusa with the same set of Pirelli Angel ST tires).