It would be easy to call the Yamaha Tenere 700 “venerable” even though it appeared in North America just a few short years ago after first debuting in Europe and Asia. The 2024 iteration for the American market is indeed largely the same as the 2023 model (and that’s a good thing), but with some key and wanted updates. But as popular, capable and affordable as the “T7” is, riding the latest iteration last week in Southern California has me wondering if Yamaha will need to rethink the North American version—and soon.

First off, here’s what carries over from 2023: the punchy 64-ish horsepower 689cc CP2 P-Twin with the 270-degree crank and 44 pound feet of torque, the slim steel frame, 21/18-inch wheel combo, triple disc Brembo brakes, quad-LED rally-style headlight array, and fully adjustable KYB suspension. Bodywork, colors (choose Yammie blue or gray/black) and so forth remains essentially the same as well. MSRP is $10,799 for 2024.

What’s New?

The Tenere’s off-road manners continue to inspire confidence. Photo: Yamaha

The new features largely don’t change what has been a winning recipe thus far, but are welcome nonetheless. The most noticeable new bits are the instrumentation and ABS controls. The vertical rally-style display remains, but it’s in color now instead of the black-on gray LCD screen seemingly sourced from a dusty box of gauges that had been sitting in a corner of a warehouse since sometime in the 1980s. The new display defaults to a layout called Explorer that is essentially the same as the old version but it’s now far sharper, more legible, in color and provides far more information.

The new display mode, Street (below right), switches things up considerably. Instead of the vertical tacho, a more traditional round clock sits above a rotating queue of data points, including speed, displayed in digits, along with simple fuel and temperature gauges. In between, riders can show trip meters, fuel consumption/MPG, air temperature and more. Additionally, the bike will now talk with Yamaha’s Y-Connect app on your smartyphone, and should you get a call while riding, a phone indicator appears in the display. If you get a text message or email, there’s a separate “chat” indicator for that. No, it won’t display the message. It will also show the phone’s battery level. For now, it does not appear the display will show GPS maps or direction prompts, so don’t sell that GPS just yet, and there is a mounting bar above the display for it and other gear. The app will record some ride data like speed and other metrics.

Explorer mode, left, and Street mode. Photo: William Roberson

The other big change is ABS control. Instead of on or just the rear turned off, the T7 can now run with full ABS, rear wheel off, or both wheels off. Having the ability to run with no ABS is becoming rare due to regulation; many bike makers won’t allow ABS to be completely turned off . Some will allow it to be turned down (Harley PanAm and others, for example), but not switched off. On the ’24 Tenere , you can slow and stop with your own well-honed braking skills if so desired.

ABS modes now include three options. If the ignition is turned off , it defaults to on. Photo: Yamaha

The display modes, ABS and display data points including trip meters and so forth are now controlled by a well-placed push-to-click thumb wheel on the right handlebar pod. You can change a few things while in motion (trip meters, MPG, time and such) but most major changes like display style and ABS modes have to be made while stationary. If you turn the bike off, ABS defaults back to ON when you start it back up. There are no ride modes or user mode memories.

All of the press bikes we rode were also fitted with the Tenere’s new speed shifter, a $199 option. It’s a plug-and-play bit that subs in where the stock shifter resides and then plugs directly into the wiring harness. However it only works on UP shifts, it will not speed-match revs for a downshift.

Speed shifter subs in where the analog spanner fits, and plugs into the wiring harness. Speed shifts are UP only. Photo: William Roberson

Then there are the new LED turn signals. The front signals stay on a marker lights, something I wish was almost mandatory to help drivers more easily identify motorcycles at night. As such, it seems there is only one LED in each signal instead of being cool “chaser” types that you can get in the aftermarket. Looks like it would be easy to upgrade, however.

The signals seem long for the simple (bright) dot of light they produce. But the fronts do stay on as a marker light. Photo: William Roberson

They also stick out a fair bit and seem vulnerable to snapping off in a tipover. Everyone on the press ride stayed upright so we were not able to test that theory.

On The Trail – And On The Road

Closer to the edge? Yes! Photo: Yamaha

Once we were familiar with operating the new dash, ABS and so forth, we headed east out of the city on a busy L.A. freeway (lane-splitting is fun!) and into the mountains for some quality time on long stretches of rocky, dusty jeep and service roads that were punctuated by water bars, G-outs, 180-degree switchbacks, steep descents and loose talus. In other words, the exact place the T7 is designed for, and the well-rounded Yamaha made it easy to cover ground at speed.

The typically wide lanes and cognizant drivers on California highways make lane splitting easy and fun – no joke. Photo: William Roberson

Yamaha ambassadors and former champion riders Ryan Villopto and Damon Bradshaw joined us for the ride, as did well-known long distance Iron Butt rider and MS research fundraiser Paul Pelland, better known as LongHaulPaul. Pelland is afflicted with Multiple Sclerosis but still rode his well-accessorized T7 from his New Hampshire home to Los Angeles in December – and then rode back home at the end of the event! And you think you ride a lot under all conditions (you can support LHP’s fundraising at the link). He’s trying to rack up a million miles of riding and he’s just about halfway there. Respect!

Mid-December? I must be in California. Photo: Yamaha

Villopoto and Bradshaw were kind enough to NOT set a fierce pace and it was both fun and instructive to watch them blast around during photo passes, catching big air and spraying gravel with the T7 in places some of us riders tip-toed through with gritted teeth. But their amazing skills did prod me to be more aggressive, and the T7 responded with composure and control as I experimented.

Photo: William Roberson

One thing that fortunately has not changed on the T7: That almost electric-like CP2 twin, which seems content to chug the T7 out of trouble at low revs without complaint if you miss a downshift, but also blast down the interstate at triple digits with nary a buzz through through the bars. Great motor. And it still got great gas mileage (usually 50 mpg or better) despite many trips to redline and the throttle stop.

Photo: Yamaha

Somehow, I stayed upright despite a quicker pace and more sliding of the back wheel. We were on the OEM stock Pirelli Scorpion Rally STR tires that are less aggressive than DOT-spec knobbies, but on balance, the STRs were unexpectedly effective off pavement and confidence-inspiring when we wicked up the pace heading back into LA on the twisting two-lane Ortega Highway.

As a heavier, 200-pound plus rider, I fiddled with preload a bit before we headed off pavement and despite some good smacks into water bar berms and big rocks—and even a bit of air off some of the larger water bars when I dared—I never felt the suspension bottom and I always felt in control, including as I pushed harder than (my) normal in some sections. Despite a number of years riding dual-sport and adventure bikes, I still have a lot to learn about off-pavement riding.

Photo: Yamaha

It’s difficult to unbind my street riding reflexes when off pavement, especially in a tense situation but I’m learning, slowly, and the T7 has been the bike that’s been most instructive, outside of my seemingly unbreakable DR650. If you’re looking for an ADV mount to learn on and grow into but not out of, it’s tough to find something better than the Tenere 700.


My chunky but lovable DR650 is coming up on 30 years old, and it still runs like a champ and fits me well. But lately I’ve been thinking seriously of upgrading (or adding to the fleet, if the wife will sign off on that). I’m not getting any younger, and whenever Yamaha has a T7 event, I’m keen to attend as the Tenere 700 just seems to have that magic mix of capability, comfort and controllability. It has just the right amount of power, and I say that having ridden a Husky Norden 901, Triumph 1200 Tiger Rally Pro, KTM 390, Toureg 660, 525 EXC, Honda XR650L and many other dual-sports and adventure rigs ranging from 250 cc on up.

Easy to ride slow or fast, the CP2 motor doesn’t mind being spun or lugged. Photo: Yamaha

But when I compare, I just keep coming back to the Tenere 700. In a world where we’ve been conditioned to think that more horsepower is always better, there is that Venn diagram of performance and usability, and once again, the 2024 Yamaha Tenere 700 sits in that sweet spot. Plus, there’s the adjustable suspension as stock, the simple operation, proven power plant and now the new ABS controls, speed shifter and display options. With these seemingly minor but highly useful upgrades, I’m seriously tempted to pull the trigger on a new Tenere 700.

Do I have complaints? Despite being an old-school analog rider, like many others I’ve been spoiled by “ride modes” on other bikes that instantly switch up performance and response parameters, and the T7 still has exactly one mode: Go Ride. Nothing wrong with that, but being able to thumb a quick switch from off-road to pavement (or rain) modes is… nice. A bit less weight would be nice as well, but that can be had with some titanium this and carbon fiber that if it’s a serious concern, and for me it’s really more of a wish or want than a deal breaker.

It doesn’t look any different than the 2023 model, but the small tweaks we definite positives. Photo: William Roberson

And I have to admit, two other bikes do have me holding back on a final decision. Following my trip to EICMA in November, I am very curious about the reborn Honda Transalp and the new Royal Enfield Himalayan 450. I’ve owned many Hondas (and still do) and the prospect of a bit more poke, some ride modes and maybe a smidge more comfort is appealing to me, as is the $9,999 price. I’ve ridden long-haul road bikes and sport bikes most of my 40-year riding career, and the Transalp seems like it might skew a bit more to highway mile eater as stock – but might also be a capable overlanding and off-road explorer with some specific upgrades. The flip side of the Transalp’s arrival and apparent early popularity is whether it will prompt Yamaha to either upgrade the North American market T7 bikes to better compete in 2025—or even bring in some of those six tasty Euro-spec variants we all lust after here in the States. If that happens, I’m in a tough (but welcome) spot!

Rolling into LA in that late-day California sunset light. Photo: William Roberson

Conversely, watching Itchy Boots pilot the new Royal Enfield 450 through its namesake Himalayans makes my old Boy Scout merit badges vibrate, and I wonder if maybe a light, six-speed, more off-road focused mountain goat of a bike that can still get down the highway in decent comfort is the better choice. But are either better overall than the seemingly pitch-perfect Tenere 700? As ADV riders, we are living in a golden age of great choices, and once I get some seat time on both of the those other options, I’ll have to make a difficult choice, barring a winning lottery ticket.

At least I know that if I do end up choosing the Tenere 700, I’ll be pretty happy riding it most anywhere.


Helmet: Shoei X2 Hornet Sovereign

Jacket: Tourmaster Mariner

Pants: Tourmaster Mariner

Boots: TCX Infiniti Mids

Gloves: Tour Master Synergy Pro-Plus and Adventure Spec Dirt Gloves

Googles: Rocky Mountain VSN 2.0

Comms: Sena 50C with 4K camera

Underlayers: SA1NT Engineer pants with CE 1 armor

Sunglasses: Tifosi





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