Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere



Life is an Adventure, right? Right! And as far as I'm concerned, there is no better way to explore life than on a motorcycle, and now that I've discovered the Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere, I wanna hit the path to Nirvana...

Okay, we know the adventure is different for each rider, but the dream machine is always one that allows you to go beyond anything you've experienced before. Enter the Yamaha 1200 Super Tenere and right off the mark it seems the Tenere had been designed to take me (and you) beyond the next level... to take the adventure beyond just paved roads, to take the path less used.

It's obvious from the outset, that the Yamaha designer's brief was to compete head-on against the legendary BMW GS machine, and that they certainly have achieved.

with panniers


In my personal opinion the Super Tenere is better than the 1200 GS... and that is really saying something, as the BMW 1200 GS has just been voted our Redline Bike Of The Year for 2009. The Yamaha looks better, goes better and is a lot cheaper than the big GS. In the looks department the BMW GS has never been a good looker, what with it's ugly duck-bill front mudguard, Telelever suspension, big, wide, air-cooled mill, mundane-looking brake-discs and calipers and the in-your-face header pipes that tarnish after only a few hundred kilometres. OK, OK, OK, I know that came out all wrong, 'cos I really love the big Beemer and I think it's still a truly great machine that will forever be an icon motorcycle, but having said that, right now, if it were my money, I'd go for the Super Tenere. Because its much cheaper, it looks better, with the neat-looking front mudguard, up-side down forks, narrow, liquid-cooled apparel-twin, wave discs with gold-anodized calipers and a neat pair of header-pipes, tucked in close to the motor.


Although this was not intended to be a comparative test, I could not help but compare the two great bikes.

The 1200 BMW has an air-cooled mill of 1170cc, while the 1200 Yami has a water-cooled motor of 1199cc.

So while the Beemer is 29cc smaller in engine size, both claim an output of 110bhp and 115Nm of torque.

Both bikes have adjustable seat heights - the BM's 850 and 870mm, while the Yami's is 845 and 870mm.

Claimed dry weight of the 1200GS is claimed at 203kg and on the 1200 Tenere it's 223kg.

Fuel capacity for the BMW is 20 litres, while in the Yamaha it's 23 litres.

Both bikes have ABS, both have shaft-drives, both have adjustable suspension, both have big enough fuel tanks and both are very capable machines, but the Yamaha is cheaper (not in build quality, just in price) and the Tenere also boasts Traction-control, which of course you can switch off.

So while you may sit a tad lower (5mm) on the Tenere, you probably will be slightly faster (5kph) on the lighter, air-cooled GS

and conversely, while most of your buddies might be riding on the GS Challenge, you might be discovering new horizons on the gorgeous Yamaha Super Tenere.


Yamaha's top adventure bike

life's an adventure...

It's amazing how similar the two bikes look from behind the tank backwards, both have extra-large exhaust cans (both on the same side of the bike), both have large comfortable, stepped seats, both have large racks to accommodate top boxes and panniers, both have shaft drives, although the Yami's swing-arm, shaft-drive setup looks great, plus the Tenere doesn't have that ugly rear mud-flap thingy that the BM has, so now maybe you understand why I was so smitten by the XT1200Z.


in the wild...

Maybe I've been a bit harsh here, as I've ridden the big GS on many, many occasions (and loved every second of them), whereas I only had the Yamaha for a few hours - only time will tell.


with traction-control turned off

at home in the veld

The short while we had the Super Tenere we rode it on tar and off, and it just felt good, stable and predicable, plus we felt good on it. It's not a proper MX bike, but then you can ride this thing all day long, on any kind of road and really enjoy the ride, and that's what it's all about... for me... and Dylan... and most people I know, so I think Yamaha have a winner with their 1200 Super Tenere.


nice rear-end

saw 210kph on the clock

Nice... very, very nice!

Like I said previously, if it were my money, I'd take the Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere (not that there is anything wrong with the BMW R1200GS).


Words by Kenn Slater - Photos by Dylan Slater


rear wheel

adjustable rear shock

piston configeration

front wheel

access to the battery and electrics

shaft drive


Yamaha XT1200Z Super Tenere Specifications:

Engine type: Liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC, Parallel Twin

Displacement: 1199cc

Bore x stroke: 98 x 79.5 mm

Compression ratio: 11.0:1

Maximum power: 109 HP @7250 rpm (claimed)

Lubrication system: Dry sump, oil tank in crankcase

Transmission system: Constant mesh, 6-speed

Final drive: Shaft

Fuel tank capacity: 23 liters

Chassis: Steel tube backbone

Front suspension: Adjustable preload, compression, rebound;  190mm

Rear suspension: Adjustable preload, rebound; 190mm

Front brake: Dual 310mm wave discs

Rear brake: Single 282mm wave disc

Front tire: 10/80-19

Rear tire: 150/70-17

Length: 2,250mm

Width: 980mm

Height: 1410mm

Seat height: Adjustable 845 - 870mm

Wheelbase: 1540mm

Ground clearance: 205mm

Service Weight: (full oil tank & fuel tank) 261kg



Thanks to Graeme Van Bergen and Ian Killburn of Johannesburg Yamaha for the ride

As soon as I've scraped enough bucks together I'm gonna get me a 1200 Super Tenere!