The engine is lifted from the MT-07, though with variations in engine management software and a different airbox. That’s a good thing. The 689cc parallel twin is a gem. That the parallel twin has become the standard choice for midcapacity entertainment – there’s the excellent Kawasaki 650 and the KTM 790 too – says much for its versatility, dependability and cost effectiveness.
The comparatively high compression of the Yamaha (11.5:1) gives a decent amount of torque. Yamaha claim 50.2 lb.ft @ 6500rpm (with peak power of 72.4bhp @ 9000rpm) and it’s that which provides the engine’s perky feel and punchy mid-range. A 270° crankshaft helps provide engine character too. This is now the default arrangement for parallel twin cylinder engine crankshafts, used by everyone from BMW to Triumph, but it’s worth remembering it was Yamaha who first introduced it onto production bikes with their TRX850 in 1995.
Worth re-iterating the idea too; having pistons rising and falling 90° apart (so quarter of a revolution of the crankshaft) gives the engine an off-beat rhythm compared with the even pulses of the (previously) common 360° crankshaft. This provides more engine character and the uneven firing intervals make it easier to find grip on slimy surfaces, so good for adventure bikes with off-road aspirations. And it sounds great too, especially when fitted with the Akrapovic exhaust from Yamaha’s accessory catalogue.
On trail or road the 700 feels lively and, while it lacks the sheer grunt of a big capacity machine, it’ll drive from almost anywhere in the rev range. 6000rpm equates to an indicated 80mph, 8000rpm to 100mph, though speed testing revealed a modest top whack of 109.75mph. There are certainly better bikes on which to scorch down autoroutes, but for all except outright speed freaks the on the road performance is capable and engaging. A top gear roll on, from 40-80mph of 7.59 seconds is very respectable.
Of course, this engine layout and crank arrangement isn’t inherently smooth, requiring balancer shafts to counter vibrations. In consequence you can feel that the Ténéré engine is working, especially via tingles through the soles of lightweight boots, but it’s more of a character trait than any kind of irritation.
The fuelling isn’t perfect though. There is an off-idle hesitation noted by Llewellyn Pavey in his report on the launch of the bike ( Bike, August 2019) and apparent on every test bike we have ridden since. It’s a familiar trait of many lean running fuel injected bikes that is noticeable and irritating in low speed manoeuvres, but isn’t significant enough to be a major issue. Hopefully Yamaha are working on improved mapping for the fuel injection that can be retrospectively installed when the bikes are serviced.
The transmission is sweet, clutch action is smooth and light, and so is the gearshift, with a slick positive action that makes clutchless upshifts a cinch when the revs are dialled in. The internal gear ratios are lifted straight from the MT07, but a change in final drive ratios (different sprocket sizes) and an 18-inch wheel compared with the MT-07’S 17-inch rim have lowered overall gearing and top speed. First is low enough that you can trickle over awkward terrain without troubling the clutch. Or, you could if it wasn’t for that offidle hiccup.
‘The engine is lifted from the MT-07, though with variations in engine management. That’s a good thing. The 689cc parallel twin is a gem’