BIKE (UK) - - The Big Test -


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’

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