As an avid overlander and motorcycle enthusiast, finding the perfect ride is essential for long-distance adventures. After riding a Yamaha Tenere XT660ZA for three years and covering 75,000km across Europe, I decided it was time to upgrade and opted for the Yamaha Tenere 700. But is the Tenere 700 better than XT660ZA?
Power and Performance
The XT660ZA is powered by a 660cc single-cylinder engine,
while the Tenere 700 has a more powerful 689cc twin-cylinder engine.
This difference in power is noticeable on the road, with the Tenere 700 delivering significantly more torque and acceleration. The Tenere 700 is a real beast on the road and can take on any terrain with ease.
Weight and Agility
The wet weight (which includes all standard equipment, required fluids, and a full tank of fuel) of the XT660Z Tenere is approximately 208 kg (458 lbs), while Tenere 700 wet weight for the Tenere 700 is around 204 kg (450 lbs).
Not a big difference to be honest. Both motorbikes have a quite high center of weight, but Tenere 700 is built completely differently. Read more about compression squats and how Yamaha designers made the very unique changes. The Tenere 700 also has a fully adjustable suspension, allowing for a more personalized riding experience. It’s a real joy to ride and takes the corners like a champ.
Design and Aesthetics
Both models boast Yamaha’s signature design quality, but the Tenere 700 features a more modern and aggressive look, appealing to riders seeking a contemporary aesthetic. I think Tenre 700 is the best-looking ADV bike in the market ever made.
Tenere 700 has ABS controlled by default, which is an advantage, but personally, I made a switch on the handlebar anyway. You can read about the details in my Tenre 700 review. Both motorcycles boast straightforward designs devoid of complex electronics, a factor I consider a significant plus, especially for reducing concerns during remote travels.
Worth the Extra Cost
The Tenere 700 has a base price of around $12,000, compared to the XT660ZA’s $8,000 price tag. While the added cost may be high for some, the improved performance and handling of the Tenere 700 make it worth it for serious travelers. It’s a premium vehicle that delivers top performance every time. Personally, after 3 years in the old Tenere, I felt that it would be worth replacing the shock absorbers, but such an event would cost several thousand $ and the performance would not be comparable to the Tenere 700 straight from the showroom. In my case, transferring was simply the best option.
Smooth and Comfortable Ride
One major con of the XT660ZA is its high vibrations, especially at higher speeds. This can be especially annoying during long rides, as it can cause helmet turbulence and lead to discomfort for the rider. In contrast, the Tenere 700 is much smoother and produces far fewer vibrations, making for a more comfortable ride. It’s a smooth operator that can handle long rides with ease.
Riding with a passenger
Driving two people on the XT660ZA may seem like quite a challenge, especially on longer trips. The vibrations and engine power will definitely be felt, the one-piece seat is not large but quite comfortable. Would you say it’s a two-seater motorcycle? Definitely yes. By replacing the springs with slightly harder ones, we will increase the comfort and operation of the suspension at a relatively low cost.
When it comes to the Tenere 700, riding with another person is a completely different matter. While driving comfort is only slightly worse for the driver, it is a real torture for the passenger. The sofa in the Tenere 700 is as hard as a breadboard, and at the same time, it is half the size of the board. A weekend ride is the absolute maximum for two people on this motorcycle. Let’s face it, the Tenere 700 was not designed for two people to ride, it’s just a nice addition for owners of this model. There are some accessory sofas on the market, but I haven’t had any experience with them yet.
Manageable Fuel Tank and Improved Handling
XT660ZA has a large 23L fuel tank. While this may be useful for those who travel long distances between gas stations, in Europe, where gas stations are readily available, it’s not necessary. In fact, the large fuel tank can add extra weight to the motorcycle, making it less agile and harder to handle.
The Tenere 700 has a more manageable 14L fuel tank, which is more than sufficient for most overlanding trips in Europe. In addition to its improved handling, the Tenere 700 has also helped me improve my riding skills. I feel much more confident on the 700, and it has unlocked a new level of riding for me. It’s a real confidence booster that can handle any situation with ease.
Maintenance and Reliability
Discussing the longevity and upkeep of both models is crucial. The XT660ZA has proven to be a reliable companion, but the Tenere 700’s newer technology might offer enhanced longevity and easier access to parts and service. With XT660ZA I had some difficulties during the maintenance. For example, the battery is under the tank so it’s not as accessible as in Tenere 700.
Update: There is one topic that strongly disadvantages the Tenere 700. Namely, replacing the spark plug. While replacing the spark plug in the XT660ZA is child’s play, in the case of the T7, to get to the spark plug, you have to disassemble almost half of the motorcycle. I haven’t had the opportunity to replace the spark plugs yet, but considering the level of complexity and work, I will probably try to always replace them during major service inspections.
Yamaha Tenere – The Perfect Motorcycle for Overlanding
Overall, while the Yamaha Tenere XT660ZA is a reliable and capable motorcycle, the Tenere 700 offers several improvements and upgrades that make it a better choice for overlanding. Its improved power, handling, and electronics make it the perfect motorcycle for long-distance adventures, and its popularity means that service and parts are readily available and often cheaper. The extra cost may be steep, but for serious overlanders, the improved performance and handling make it worth it. The Tenere 700 is a real game-changer that took me further than the old Tenere could.
I had a great time riding XT600ZA, and it’s a great choice if you’re looking to buy one for yourself and it’s way cheaper than Tenere 700. If you can afford to pay Tenere 700, do it, you won’t regret it. Both bikes are outstanding in every condition. There are the ultimate overlanding bikes.
The Tenere 700’s design focuses on balancing performance, durability, and weight for optimal off-road capability and on-road handling.
I’m not a professional off-road rider but when I’m riding dirt roads I feel more comfortable on T7 than on any other bike I was testing. Also jumping from the old XT660ZA to the new T7 was a huge leap in riding possibilities. I ride more confidently and I’m able to ride in tougher terrains than ever before.
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