The global power sports market may be in the dumper, but segments within the market are still hot. Take, for example, adventure bikes, which are the modern equivalent of the old “universal Japanese motorcycle” concept. You can tour on them, strafe canyons on them and even take them up the occasional fire road without unnecessary drama. Adventure bikes have become the Swiss Army knives of the motorcycle world, and many riders are using them to pare down the number of bikes they own.
For years, BMW has owned the market with their boxer-motored R1100/1150/1200 GS bikes, which really do work well in all environments. The Triumph Tiger was never a serious challenger, especially when the going got gritty. Ditto for the Suzuki Vstrom, which was fine on pavement but not well suited to off road work. On the other end of the spectrum was the KTM 950 and 990 Adventure series, which was probably better than the GS in the loose stuff, but nowhere near as good on pavement. If you wanted a bike that looked rugged, you had plenty of options. If you wanted a bike that actually worked in all kinds of conditions and for a variety of purposes, you bought the BMW GS.
Until now, that is, because Yamaha will be bringing their superb Super Ténéré to this side of the pond as a 2012 model. The bike has a huge following in Europe and has proven itself as capable both on road and off. The bike comes standard with ABS, twin map throttle for sport or touring modes, three mode traction control, shaft drive and fully adjustable front and rear suspension. The Super Ténéré is powered by a narrow-width parallel twin motor that runs through a wide ratio six speed transmission, geared for both dirt and pavement riding.
The Super Ténéré hits dealers next spring, and will sticker at $13,900. That’s about $1,500 less than the starting price for a BMW GS, but most GS’ on dealer lots are highly optioned and sticker for thousands more. Will the Yamaha be the first serious threat to BMW’s segment dominance? My money is on yes.