For all their blustery big boy swagger, plus-sized adventure bikes can be a bit of a handful offroad. I should know. While the power and stateliness of the Harley-Davidson Pan America impressed me, the 559-lb sled also got away from me on a rock-strewn trail and landed me in the hospital with a concussion. Good times.

It’s been a minute since I ventured offroad, so when an invite to test the new 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700 landed in my inbox, I agreed with a tenuous mix of enthusiasm and caution. A bit of background: While I’ve enjoyed piloting all manner of road and sport bikes everywhere from canyons to world class racetracks, my experience offroad is a bit more limited.

Though I’ve spent time building skills with some of the best in the business like Jimmy Lewis and Rawhyde Adventures, I’ll be the first to admit that my offroad background doesn’t make me the wheelie-in-the-dirt badass I’d like to be. With that in mind, I geared up, visored down, and tackled a 175-mile off-road and on-road day aboard the 2024 Yamaha Tenere 700.

What’s New, Pussycat? 

2024 Yamaha Tenere 700 - Static - Paused

Playing little sibling to the $16,299 Super Ténéré ES means that the $10,799 Ténéré 700 lacks some of the heft and quite a bit of the tech of its 1,200cc big brother. At first glance, it also looks spindlier, with a narrow body and skinny 21” front and 18” rear Pirelli Scorpion Rally STRs. While the 452-lb wet weight doesn’t put it into featherweight territory, it’s not far off the Honda Transalp (459 lbs), Kawasaki KLR 650 S ABS (460 lbs), or the Suzuki V-Strom 650 (470 lbs).

Power comes from a 689cc liquid-cooled CP2 parallel twin, a proven powerplant that has seen duty in the MT-07 and XSR700. The 43mm inverted fork up front is compression and rebound adjustable and offers 8.3 inches of travel. The single rear shock enables 7.9 inches of movement and is rebound adjustable, with a remote adjuster for preload. Dual 282mm front and single 245mm rear brakes are ABS-enabled. Seat height measures 34.4 inches with a maximum ground clearance of 9.4 inches.

Upgrades for 2024 include a new 5-inch TFT display that brings color and sharpness to the previous black-and-white LCD unit. The screen can show data in two graphical themes, and links to the Yamaha Y-Connect app to display incoming or missed calls and SMS notifications (but not messages). The app also shares fuel consumption history, the last parking location, maintenance alerts, and a ride log. While the ’23 model was capable of disabling ABS, the ’24 offers three modes: ABS on, rear off, or full off. Also new is a big “ABS On” button to the left of the display that enables assisted stops for when trails become roads.

The digital menu access switch is now a ribbed dial on the right switchgear, and it requires one long press to access the main settings menu. All ’24 Ténéré 700s are pre-wired for a quick shifter for clutch-free upshifts, and the plug-and-play hardware can be had for an extra $200. Additional extras include a 1.6-inch-taller rally seat ($220), skid plate ($381), and lowering kit ($115), and radiator guard ($156).

Back in the Saddle

2024 Yamaha Tenere 700 - Riding 38

From the moment I swung a leg over the 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700, it felt that getting back offroad wouldn’t be as daunting as it could be— or at least, that was my thought before I faced gnarlier-than-expected sections of dirt, rocks, and sand. In a refreshing alternative to porky 1200s, this 700 feels small, simple, and manageable. Steering is light, and though the bike’s 34.4-inch saddle height feels somewhat tall, my 170 lbs of mass provided enough compression to enable standing on the balls of my feet at a standstill.

The clutch is a tad grabby, requiring smooth release when easing into first gear. While there’s a hint of snatchiness during roll-on throttle application, the powerplant is generally smooth and linear during revs, which cap out at 10,000 rpm. Getting the daunting offroad bits done first, I found the tubed Pirelli Scorpions to be grippier than expected.

Yes, I had a few slides and wobbles, but the rubber side managed to remain down despite a few low grip stretches. While I would have liked a bit more grip at the front wheel, I also suspect that playing with the suspension settings might have alleviated some of those doubts. On the positive side, the bike’s maneuverability made it easy to make mid-corner corrections, with the 21-inch front wheels rolling over irregularities with ease.

While the suspension and tires kept me out of trouble over dirty, sandy, and rocky patches, the real hero was the parallel twin engine. Though it lacks traction control, the even 270-degree firing order and generous low-end torque made it easy to lay down power. At times, the grunty mill felt like a thumper when I didn’t bother downshifting during a slowdown and it pulled me out of a corner with ease. While the optional quickshifter shifts smoothly under heavier throttle, it's a tad notchy during more leisurely shifts and requires using the clutch lever during downshifts. 

The Long Ride Home 

Gallery: 2024 Yamaha Ténéré 700 First Ride

After the relief of successfully negotiating around 30 miles of trail, an on-road photo session preceded a traffic-swarmed ride from Lake Elsinore to Pasadena. Thanks to the 4.2-gallon fuel tank that promises over 215 miles of range under more normal conditions, I needed just a quick topoff to ensure getting home without any drama.

The Ténéré’s knobbies don’t feel quite as natural as dedicated road tires might on LA freeways, but there’s still enough grip to encourage high-speed onramp cornering and quick braking when avoiding traffic slowdowns ahead. Maintaining around 6,000 rpm at 80 mph speeds in top gear, the Ténéré 700 feels solid enough to handle long highway slogs while offering good wind protection and comfortable ergonomics. The only things missing, to my eye, were cruise control and heated grips; two features that would go a long way towards elevating the bike’s long-distance viability.

Claiming a modest $300 increase in MSRP over last year’s model, the 2024 Yamaha Tenere 700’s improvements make it well-rounded and appropriately priced choice riders seeking a bike that take them to remote places while negotiating the roads it takes to get there. More crucially, the 700 offers a justifiable, right-sized alternative to riders who firmly believe that more is more.

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