First Ride on the 2016 Yamaha Super Tenere SE

I’m going to miss the old blue girl but with 94,000kms on the clock I was feeling it was time to get on a new Super Tenere.  You either love or hate the yellow and black Yamaha anniversary colours of the 2016 XT1200Z SE don’t you? I’ve been wanting one for a while and I’ve finally pulled the trigger. After riding it home on Tuesday and having it booked in for it’s first service tomorrow (Friday) it was time to get it close enough to 1000kms on the clock.  The obvious choice for that distance and to get a good feel for the bike was a lap around the Oxley Highway.  It was also good way to end a fantastic week that included riding another winding nirvana, the Omeo Highway in Victoria last Saturday on my Africa Twin!

I met a mate, Bill, at the Shell Servo at Hexham at 6.30am and with filled tanks we were on our way for a simple slab section to Port Macquarie. With the Super Tenere’s seat adjusted to the high position and the screen up as far as the manual adjustments would allow the ergs were as good as they’ll get for now. The screen is an improvement over the OEM on the pre 2014 Super Tenere and the seat feels more level and less inclined to roll your pelvis forward.  Less inclined but not perfect for someone 190cm+ who likes to sit towards the back of the seat.  On their way will be a new MadStad adjustable screen bracket and a set of 2″ ROX Risers, both of which I had on my old Super Tenere but will not transfer onto the newer model.  The Bark Busters also needed to be replaced. Thankfully the SW-Motech bash Plate from the 2010 model did fit and so will the Pivot Pegz which will go on later.

While we are at it, the old OEM Top Box also went straight on, the mount is already under the rear rack and so will the OEM Panniers. Now, there haven’t been many changes to this bike since it was revamped slightly in 2014 and reviews by people who know much more than me abound so I’ll try to keep things to my particular area of interest, long distance capability.

With that in mind the first thing I noticed is that the fuel economy is improved over the earlier model, even on a brand new bike.  I was expecting to average 5.1-5.2l/100km on cruising on the slab at 110kph by the GPS and it settled around 4.8.  The new instrumentation had a section that indicated “Range”.  Frankly trying to interpret it was a waste of time, it was all over the place and at one point where the tank was getting down to half it reported a range of over 500km.  I might read the documentation one day to see if it’s trying to tell me the range to empty or the expected range from the full tank but in either case it didn’t appear to tell a meaningful story.  So running off the average consumption and doing the head sums is still the go with the 2016 Super Tenere.

After Buledelah we took a left on to Wooton Way.  I had been there two weeks before on my KTM 1290 Super Adventure and while still in running-in mode on the Super Tenere was much more sedate than the KTM ride but I wasn’t unhappy with the level of fun to be had.  You’d expect that with the 50 or so less horsepower and more basic electronics/suspension that the Super Tenere has. However, it still brought a great pace to the corners, was probably much easier on the brakes and the Tenere just feels stable, planted and smooth carving through the corners. The OEM Battle Wings on the Tenere got sticky and performed nicely enough but it’ll be PR4’s or K60 Scouts for this bike when they gone.

In sport mode there was some jerkiness through the drive train when throttling on. It was a little disconcerting at first, particularly if I got a little heavy handed on the throttle. It was easy enough to resolve by being a little more gentle when rolling on rather than just pinning it in a nanosecond. The “jerk” was much less apparent in touring mode. After I got used to it and got the throttle hand under control it wasn’t really a problem for me.

Some more slab cruising north and after fuelling the bikes and the bellies at the Port Macquarie Donut we were on our way through Wauchope and into the fun.

It didn’t take any time to settle into the hard cornering heading up the mountain.  I found myself changing gears a little more than I might have riding the same road on the Super Adventure. I guess this was the main difference between the increased power, torque and rev range of the big KTM V-twin allowing you to roll longer within a single gear without losing any pace.  Even so, a mix of third and fourth gear (with the new motor status in the back of my mind) easily kept me running at the speed limit through the bends.  The smoothness of the transfer of throttle to back wheel through the Tenere’s shaft was a pleasure while you were steady with your wrist.  The Tenere was easy to tip in and felt stable on the edge of the tyres even when giving the footpegs a little “adjustment” on the road.

It was just plain fun heading up the hill to Gingers Creek where we stopped for a coffee and a chat to a couple of Sportsbike riders.

The next part of the Oxley opens up a little with lots of 55kph+ corners.  It’s an opportunity to get a bit cruisy without working too hard and just sit on the bike and enjoy the feel of it going around the bends.  I like to do this part at a legal pace but without using the brakes.  The predictability of the bike made it easy.  Through the end of the winding section the road opens out more through Yarrowitch Valley towards Wauchope so I took the opportunity to test the OEM cruise up and down hills and around bends. It was faultless.

Fuel economy through up the Oxley was also surprisingly good despite riding a little harder in lower gears up the mountain.  It didn’t get over 5l/100km and back in the 110 zone quickly dropped back down to 4.8.  I’m very happy about that, 400km range in decent conditions, while not matching the KTM’s 500+, or the GSA or even the venerable ST1300 if you can still get one, is long enough between stops for everything other than a hard core, time critical Iron Butt Rides. Having said that, I sort of wish the tank was a few litres bigger.  I’ll be interested to see what happens to the economy in the Northern Territory at 130kph, it was a killer for the 2010 Tenere.

I stopped for a quick pic at Apsley Falls before topping up the tank at Wauchope. We didn’t need fuel but topping up there supports the locals and we then had enough in the tanks to get home.

We turned down Thunderbolts Way, with Bill in the lead for a cruisy ride.  Expecting some bumps I decided to check out the “Soft” suspension setting.  You can change between suspension settings and ride mode (Touring and Sport) while you are riding which is nice.  However you can only tweak the settings in each suspension mode when you are stopped.  A good thing I reckon, keeps your eyes on the road.

You could feel the bike soften up immediately.  I left it there until we reached Carsons Lookout.  The generally green valley below was brown and black as a result of recent bushfires that could still be seen burning in inaccessible areas in the distant mountains.

Heading down the bumpy, winding hill from the lookout gave me plenty of reason to change the suspension back to Standard.  I guess the soft setting is for offroad, it doesn’t feel so great corner carving on bad roads downhill, quite unsettling by comparison. I’ve yet to bother with the Hard setting though.

Heading towards Barrington the road quality varies significantly in quality as it loops around and over hills, through valleys and takes you over narrow bridges across rivers. The Super Tenere is in it’s element on this type of road.  The long travel suspension laps up the bumps, it doesn’t tend to jump and jitter too much when you get into potholes on bends and this means you can relax a little and take in the view. You can even stop to take a pic in a camping area by the river, just because!

We made it to Roadies Cafe at Gloucester just in time for lunch, by that time the temperatures were up in the mid 30’s. It’s no secret that the Bucketts Way between Gloucester and the Pacific Hwy isn’t one of my favourite bits of tar, but at least the potholes were much less noticeable on the Tenere’s updated suspension.

It is worth noting that for it’s size the Super Tenere is easier to ride through the 50kph and 60kph zones and around town than the KTM.  The motor doesn’t care what gear you are in it just lumbers along and never complains.  Get the revs too low on the KTM and you soon know. This is a good thing for Ironbutt Rides, because you can flick on the cruise in town and stand up to rest the derriere without having to change throttle and gears to keep it going.  I should mention however that the stock standing position on the Super Tenere isn’t quite as good as the KTM or the Africa Twin or that matter.  The risers will sort some of that out.

So that’s the ride, about 780kms with everything from slab to dodgy potholed corners. No dirt yet, but I’ve seen enough to know it’s going to be better than the 2010 model off road thanks to the electronic suspension.  If I’m wrong I’ll let you know.

The big surprise, while putting the bike back in the garage the average fuel economy was only 4.6l/100kms. I can’t wait to get the service out of the way tomorrow and start planning its first Ironbutt  ride!


  • Improved fuel economy over the 2010
  • The electronic suspension is really quite nice
  • The factory cruise is awesome and holds it’s speed really well
  • It’s a lot of bike for the money
  • Improved ergs almost there


  • The OEM screen with it’s adjustments still doesn’t come close to the OEM KTM 1290SA or BMW GSA Screens for clean air
  • The instrumentation could do with some work. Who knows what the range really is? And it would be nice to have feedback on what speed the cruise was set at separately than just seeing the odo and guessing when making adjustments.
  • The blinker lights in the dash look like an afterthought, I guess I’ll get used to that.
  • There’s three rocker switches in the left cluster, High/Low beam, the Menu changer and the cruise. OK in the daytime but in the dark none of them are lit so I’ll be fumbling around putting the high beam on when I’m trying to speed up the cruise for a while until I get used to that too. (Update – I’, nearly used to them now)

I reckon the gripes directly relate to budget for build and feature useability and not to do with the riding.  Sure the Super Tenere could do with a bit more punch for on-road stuff, but it’s got enough for me for long distance touring and pretty much what all the offroad modes in other large bore adventure bikes bring to the table so it doesn’t miss out there.

Long term I’m really going to enjoy this bike.  A mate asked me if I would miss the KTM Super Adventure…. not really. I’ve got no complaints about fun factor on this bike riding in nirvana, around town or on the slab. And I’m sure it’ll make me smile off-road as much as it’s 2010 predecessor.