OPINION | Will Yamaha be back at the big-adventure table?
The Super Ten is getting older. Even three years ago when trying it, it felt out of fashion: too heavy, not enough poke from the engine, it’s clear that it can’t keep up with its fierce rivals in the segment: BMW R1200GS, KTM Adventure or Triumph Tiger Explorer.
Yamaha Super-Tenere was first launched in 1989 and had twin front discs, a massive 26-liter fuel tank, and the Race 750/850 versions went on to win Paris Dakar a total of six times. The model was discontinued in 1996.
Then, it was time for a new Super Ten – based on the same principle – parallel-twin engine and long-way travel capabilities. This time, the engine displacement got larger – 1,200 cc – and the XTZ 1200 was built to fight the R1200GS. But it didn’t have enough time to impress: BMW was already developing the water-cooled R1200GS – probably the most successful GS so far, and KTM was working on a 1200 cc V-Twin ready to set a new benchmark in term of engine power. So the Super Tenere was somehow late for the party.
However, it’s been eight years since it was unveiled and the Super Tenere is basically the same bike. Yamaha just revealed the “Raid” edition, but it comes with the same 112 hp and 265 kg and some extra-stickers on it. Still, Yamaha is working on the Tenere project – based on the MT-07 engine – and we should probably see the final result this autumn. But no words on the Super Tenere.
So, what's the thing? Does Yamaha still want to fight in the big-adventure market? If they do, they should spend a lot of money on R&D, considering the fact they don’t have an engine to fit the big travel motorcycles market – the MT-09 inline-three just doesn’t match there. They should consider building a completely new parallel-twin engine, with more than 130 horsepower to equip a motorcycle packing a lot of electronics and less than 240 kg, to be competitive. It’s not impossible, but it would be very costly and there are other options.
Let’s take Honda’s strategy, for example. Africa Twin is somewhere between the segments – it combines the performance of a middleweight – same power as the F850GS and the Tiger 800 – with the comfort of the big bikes – large fairings, good weather protection. It was a smart move, so the Africa Twin is the second best-selling motorcycle in the segment after the R1200GS.
The Triumph is on the touring side, KTM is on the aggressive side, Ducati Multistrada Enduro looks cool – everyone has it's selling proposal and unique character. Where should Yamaha fit in?
So, what will Yamaha do? Will they develop a completely new motorcycle to fight the upcoming R1250GS and KTM 1290 Adventure? Will they update the XTZ 1200 Super Tenere to comply with the Euro 5 regulations? Will they discontinue the project?
By looking at Yamaha’s latest development strategy, focused on the small-displacement and middleweight segments plus the 1,000 cc R1 and MT-10, we’re not sure. There’s nothing to explore anymore in the 700 cc – 1000 cc area, maybe a Tracer 1000, but that doesn’t mean Yamaha is hurrying to launch a new Super Tenere. The Nikken three-wheel project confirms it.