Alternatives to the Yamaha Tenéré 700 you can buy now

Alternatives to the Yamaha Tenéré 700 you can buy now

With the Yamaha Tenéré 700 being released in late 2019 or mid 2010 depending on where you're from, a lot of people wonder what they can get right now that's equivalent to the Tenéré 700 in specs.

There are a LOT of options out there that are alternative middleweight advernture motorcycles. No two motorcycles are quite the same, but it's good to do a review of what's out there new right now. Or better yet... used!

Criteria for this comparison: All the motorcycles below are middleweights (under 800cc), more than one cylinder, and fully off-road ready.

"Off-road ready" means they come with wind-shield, spoked rims with a larger wheel up front (19 or 21 inch), hand guards, and an engine guard.

So this excludes

  • Big motorcycles like the Honda CRF1000L Africa Twin — great motorcycle, but really, in a class of its own
  • Thumpers like the Kawasaki KLR650, or an adventure-equipped Suzuki DR650
  • Scramblers like the Triumph Scrambler 900. (Read our full guide on those if you really want one!)

Overall recommendations: The KTM if money is no object!

Lukily, there are LOTS of alternatives to the Yamaha Tenéré that you can get right now.

  • If you want that off-road performance, and money is no object: Get the KTM 790 Adventure. It's much more powerful, better-equipped, just as light as the Yamaha Tenere, and guaranteed to make you laugh. I'm pretty sure it'll be easier to sell, too.
  • If you're on a budget and want on- and off-road perforamance, you probably need to get a KLR650. It's not in this comparison. They're single-cylinder, low-power, cantankerous and full of character. They're the motorcycle you want.
  • If you prioritise road performance, and are on a budget: Get the Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT. It's maybe 20% slower, but it's loved by so many people I dout you'd care. Or get a used one from a couple of years ago for even less!
  • If you prioritise road performance, and can pay, and want something that'll hold its value: Get the BMW F850GS or the Triumph Tiger 800 XC. You can also get these used. They're faster, but slightly heavier. But with either — especially the Triumph — expect to have to pay more for service.
  • If you're patient: Wait for the Yamaha Tenere!

The Baseline: Yamaha Tenéré 700

The Yamaha Tenéré 700. Photo: Yamaha

The Tenéré will be released in July 2019 in Europe (roughly at time of publication), in December 2019 in Austraila, and July 2020 in the USA.

Here are how the specs shake out. You can't ride a spec sheet, but for now, you also can't ride a Tenéré. So, enjoy!

  • Engine: 689cc 2-cylinder (270-degree crank)
  • Power: 54 kW (72 bhp) @ 9,000 rpm
  • Torque: 68 Nm (50 lb.ft) @ 6,500 rpm
  • Wet weight: 205 kg (452 lbs)
  • Front suspension travel: 210 mm (8.3 inches)
  • Electronics: ABS, with rear switchable. No traction control available.
  • Efficiency/range: 56 MPG (4.2 L/100k), 215 miles (346 km)
  • Pricing: US$10,999 (Cycle World's estimate), €9,299, £8,399, A$15,499

Reviews of the Yamaha Tenéré are ebullient. People can't wait to get their hands on them. And that's exactly why I'm writing this guide: because there are other alternatives to the Tenéré you can get your hands on right now.

The motor is the same one that's used in the MT-07 and the XSR-700. That means it's a lumpy parallel twin with a beautiful note and torque all through the rev range. People LOVE those motorcycles, and you can just look on YouTube to hear the sound (and see people wheelie-ing them).

To infinity...and beyond! from motorcycles

Yamaha claims its 689cc parallel twin is the most reliable motorcycle engine on the market. Bold claim, but if even directionally true, it's promising.

While us mere mortals wait for the Yamaha Tenéré to be released (and while I wait for the price to drop in a few years), let's see what else we can get.

Another photo of the Yamaha Tenéré 700. Photo: Yamaha

Tenéré Alternatieve #1: The KTM 790 Adventure

The KTM 790 Adventure in its natural habitat. Photo: KTM

The KTM 790 Adventure is another new motorcycle model for 2019. And it's already out, all over the world!

  • Engine: 799cc parallel twin, 75 degree separation (similar to KTM's v-twin engines)
  • Power: 70kW (95 bhp) — 30% more than the Tenere
  • Torque: 88 Nm (66 lb.ft) @ 6,500 rpm
  • Wet weight: 204 kg (pretty much on par with the 205kg of the Yamaha)
  • Front suspension travel: 7.9 inch (fine)
  • Electronics: Cornering ABS and full traction control with ride modes — way more advanced than the Yamaha
  • Efficiency/range: 52 mpg, 280 mile range
  • Pricing: US$12,499, €12,699, £11,099, A$21,195 (prices ~25% higher).

The KTM 790 Adventure (base model, not the higher model "R" spec) is more expensive than the Tenéré is likely to be. Everywhere but the US, the KTM model is about 25% more expensive, so we'd expect the same in the US.

That said... you get more than 25% more power, plus much better electronics (ride modes), and the same weight. So a lot of people will just say it's worth it.

There aren't really any unhappy owners of KTM 790 Adventures out there. Just people happy riding!

Even though the parallel twin is a first from KTM, they're no newbies to adventure motorcycle building. To make sure that the new motor would stand up to endurance sports, they ran a whole bank of engines for a collective 320,000 miles during R&D, just to make sure they were reliable enough, and to anticipate what would fail.

The KTM 790 Adventure. Stock photo from KTM

Tenéré Alternative #2: The BMW F850GS Adventure

The BMW F850GS Adventure in the wild

First, the specs, so you can ride that spec sheet:

  • Engine: 853cc parallel twin, 270-degree crank
  • Power: 70 kW (90 bhp) @ 8,250 rpm (about 20% more)
  • Torque: 92 Nm (63 ft-lbs) @ 6,250 rpm)
  • Wet weight: 228 kg (504 lbs)
  • Front suspension travel: 203mm (8 inch)
  • Electronics: Cornering ABS, traction control, ride modes
  • Efficiency/range: 57 MPG, 228 miles (very similar)
  • Pricing: US$14,295 (Cycle World's estimate), €11,700, £10,600, A$15,499

BMW are the grandfathers of adventure motorcycling (well, Honda kind of got things started with the Dakar, but BMW is the one that made the meal out of it).

The R1200GS is one of the most well-renowned touring adventure motorcycles of all time. It's beautiful, big, comfortable and capable of going anywhere... if you know how to move its heavy weight.

The F850GS (and the earlier F800GS) are the middleweight alternatives to bigger adventure motorcycles. They're very capable, with huge 200mm of travel on the suspension, a huge amount of rider aids and electronics, and anythign else you'll need for very long rides.

The worst thing I've ever heard about the BMW adventure motorcycles is that they make adventure "boring". They can do anything. Rain, mud, potholes... they just cut through it all like butter. This is a weird criticism, though. If you want to make it harder, go touring on a Honda Grom!

The main downsides to the BMW are:

  • It's expensive. Even in base form it's about 25% more expensive than the Tenéré is expected to be. And you'll probably pile on the accessories...
  • Maintenance is expensive, too. You can take a BMW to a dealer, but people buying them second hand generally want to see that you serviced your BMW at an official dealer.

The upside is that you can buy a used F800GS from even a decade ago, and get a great bargain. You'll easily find a well-maintained motorcycle with a ton of options like ABS, heated grips, and luggage, and pay maybe US$5-7K for it. They hold their value, but that's still less than half the price of a new one with the same options.

And yes, if you buy yours new, it'll hold its value reasonably well, too.

The BMW 850GS Adventure. BMW knows how to make a good looking motorcycle!

Yamaha Tenéré Alternative #3: The Triumph 800 XCx

The Triumph Tiger 800 XCx is the latest incarnation of the Tiger middleweight Adventure series. And it's the best!

First, the specs...

  • Engine: 800cc inline triple
  • Power: 70 kW (94 bhp) @ 9,250 rpm (about 20% more)
  • Torque: 79 Nm (58 ft-lbs) @ 7,850 rpm)
  • Wet weight: 220kg wet (approx.)
  • Front suspension travel: 220mm (8.7 in) travel
  • Electronics: ABS, traction control, ride modes in XCx model
  • Efficiency/range: 50 MPG, 250 miles (huge increase)
  • Pricing: US$14,600, €15,900, £9,200, A$22,500

The Triumph Tiger has been made for a long time, but it used to be more road-oriented, like an early Ducati Multistrada. Later models, like the XCx, have all the things you need for going off-road: engine protection, hand guards, and big, wire-spoked wheels.

The result is that a Tiger is a great compromise between both worlds. You can load it up with luggage and go riding with another person on the back, or you can use it to just pop down to the shops and get groceries.

Like the BMW, they can come with every option in the menu if you want them: cruise control, heated grips, and a comfort seat. If you buy them second hand, you can effectively get a discount on a lot of these things.

But one of my favourite features of Triumph Triples is dat engine sound. Oh my. It is LOUD. It howls. With a good set of pipes on it (always used! I find it so hard to drop $1K+ on new exhaust systems) the Tiger Triple sounds as good as a Speed Triple.

Yes, off-road it's still a pretty big machine and will require heft to get it to do what you want.

Like with the BMW, the major downsides of owning a Triumph are factory service, and the expectation by future buyers that you'll have done factory service. Dismantling an adventure motorcycle even to do things like change an air filter is a huge pain in the ass (and one of the reasons I prefer naked motorcycles, generally).

For this reason, I'd suggest you buy a used one, so someone else has done all the service for you.

Yamaha Tenéré Alterative #4: The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT

The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT. Photo: Suzuki

First, the specs, so you can compare them with the Yamaha Tenéré:

  • Engine: 645cc 90-degree V-twin
  • Power: 49 kW (67 hp) @ 8,800 rpm — 10% down on power
  • Torque: 60 Nm (44 lb-t) @ 6,400 rpm
  • Wet weight: 216kg — about 10kgs heavier
  • Front suspension travel: 150mm (5.9 in) (not very long)
  • Electronics: ABS, Traction control, Low RPM assist, built-in ride modes (much better equipped!
  • Efficiency/range: 20 L (5.2 gal) tahnk, 270 mile range
  • Pricing: US$9,299, €9,600, AU$12,490 (much cheaper)

The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT, or the "Wee-Strom" as it's affectionately known by its rabidly loyal community, is a smaller V-Strom with minimum adventuer gear fitted: a tall front screen, an engine guard, and hand shields.

But that's not all. The V-Strom is fitted with many things larger motorcycles only have as options. It comes standard with ABS, rider modes and traction control.

The Wee-Strom is known as being one of the most comfortable motorcycles to ride long range. And since they go over 430 kms (268 miles) on one tank, they are real favourites for the "Iron Butt Challenge" of going 1000 miles in one day.

On top of that, the V-Strom is affordable. It's easily the cheapest of the adventuer motorcycles, coming in at US$9,299, 20% cheaper than the anticipated price of the Tenere 700.

The downsides are that the suspension travel isn't as long, the engine is 10% down on power, and it's 5% heavier. So it's a more muted experience than the Tenere 700 promises to be.

But there's another upside: the V-Strom has been around for a very long time. You can definitely pick one up used for just a few thousand dollars, or less for one with many miles on it. I've seen them go for $2K from dealers — with 50+K miles.

Still, this is the budget entry into middleweight adventuring, and it's the ultimate motorcycle for a LOT of people.

The Suzuki V-Strom 650 XT. Second stock photo