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Old 04-23-2011, 10:06 AM   #1
RogerJ OP
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Joined: May 2005
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Thumb 2010 yamaha super tenere xt1200z long term report


Hello everyone. I have and regularly ride a Yamaha Super Tenere, as well as a BMW R1200 GS ADV, and an R1200 GS equipped for adventure touring. I have had all of these bikes since new. Now with over 9,000 kms of saddle time on the Super Tenere it is time to make some observations and comparisons.

Fit and Finish and Controls

Yamaha is more workmanlike in its controls, levers, switch gear. Metal clutch and brake reservoirs. Not as elegant design and execution as BMW but fit for the job and suitably strong.

Engine and Gearbox

The ST engine is smooth, with an agreeable exhaust note rumble like a V twin. Excellent torque in low and mid ranges. Thinner on top. Similar horsepower feel. Gearbox smooth with no false neutrals or missed shifts. Gets even smoother over time.

Shaft Drive

The ST’s drive is double sided and robust construction. Time will tell about durability but I am very optimistic looking at its construction and distribution of the forces involved. Fluid change is very easy.

No appreciable ST drive train lash as compared to my BM’s which are more pronounced.


Initially quite stiff but smooths out with use. Wet hydraulic clutch which is a plus when slipping the clutch off road viz. BM’s dry hydraulic unit.


The ST’s ABS brakes are the best I have ridden. I would say about 60% better than the BM’s. Particularly braking in gravel and rock on declines. They just work and stop the bike. See no need to turn them off. They work very well as is. They are linked brakes but activating the brake pedal first will give you rear brake only for short U turns etc or if you are partial to tail braking a bit in corners. Otherwise just work the brake lever and it stops you powerfully, smoothly and without drama. Even a recent complete panic stop/swerve/avoidance manoeuvre on pavement (cut off by a vehicle) recently didn’t upset the bike. I was impressed.

Traction Control

The ST’s system is very carefully thought out. The choice of degree of control is good and there is an “off” position. It is as brilliant as the brakes are. It begins to work immediately with no lag when needed. Also, it is not abrupt when it begins to operate, or, when it stops operating. It is seamless, unlike my experience with the BM which is slow to act, and is abrupt coming on and going off.

Choice of S or T Modes

T Mode is good for fuel economy or conditions where too much power to the wheel doesn’t help. S Mode is a treat and the bike really rocks on this setting. No complaints about power. All very usable.
Fueling has a glitch in the 3200 to 3500 range on acceleration that manifests as a vibration shudder. Hopefully a software upgrade from Yamaha will address this. It is a minor irritant. However the vibrations in the 4000 to 4800 rpm range are a real problem affecting enjoyment of the bike.

Fuel Range

Haven’t done a detailed study but is similar to what is reported by actual owners here. Plenty of range for adventure touring. Satisfied with the balance between fuel range and weight distribution of the bike.


The ST ergonomics feel comfortable at first blush. In my case I had hand and wrist numbness of the right hand which was addressed by adding risers and rotating the OEM bars forward slightly to get a more natural wrist position. Careful synching and changing handguards to TT’s which clamp to the bars before the hand grips seem to have helped this problem slightly.
However to date YAMAHA has been unable to resolve a problem of numbing vibrations in the 4000 to 4800 rpm range which is the usual rev range for highway riding.

OEM seat is comfortable for 800 km days without need to change it unlike my BM's.

Suspension and Handling

The ST’s suspension is very high specification. Its range of adjustability is excellent front and back and better than my BM’s OEM suspensions. The feel of the riding surface is excellent through the forks and bars something I can not say of my BM’s. The ST’s suspension is up to the task of two-up heavily laden adventure touring without an early suspension upgrade. This is unlike the BMs suspensions which always felt marginal at best even when new. With the ST I am very pleased to not see excessive fork dive in heavy braking or any “unplanted” feeling in winds or difficult conditions. Have not bottomed out the suspension on the ST which was a problem with the BM’s.

The ST handles very well. Turns slightly slower than the BM's. It is a heavy bike like the BM’s for off pavement use but it feels much lighter as it carries its weight low. The BM ADV with its large tank carries a lot of weight quite high and makes it much more of a handful heavily loaded off pavement. Clear preference for the ST as it inspires confidence readily and makes you forget you are thrashing a heavy bike.

Accessories and Equipment

The OEM accessories of Yamaha are not so well thought out. The skid plate is badly designed and not up to off road use. The OEM cases at 32liters each side are fine for light to regular use but not for extreme use. I early changed mine for TT Zega Pro cases with internal reinforcements inside the cases. Yamaha OEM headlight guard is ok but there are others out there too. Thank goodness the accessories team was different from the core design team.

Yamaha’s heated grips? Haven’t tried them yet. Ugly controller but much less so relocated from the bar to near the dash with Wasp’s mounting plate. BM’s product trumps here.

Yamaha OEM windshield falls short. I am 5’11” or so and the OEM screen gave me wind blast and bad helmet shake. So changed it to a California Scientific screen on the stock mountings and the problem went away. Adding the OEM winglets would probably improve things even farther.

I have now farkled the bike extensively but that is just personal taste.

Overall Riding Impression

The Super Tenere has much to recommend it assuming the vibrations problem is resolved. Its service intervals are very attractive as well as service costs so far. Lends itself to a lot of DIY servicing. My treatment by the local Yamaha dealer in my area in Mexico has been very good. He has a “can do” attitude which is very refreshing after a lot of exposure to BM’s variety in Mexico. BTW my last 8 bikes have been BM’s and I still have more BM’s than Yamahas.

I would buy the Super Tenere again and would clearly chose it above my ADV or my GS “normal” equipped for adventure touring. It is my ride-of-choice for what I use it for. I would not hesitate to take it far off the beaten path. The vast majority of Super Tenere units are smooth. Unfortunately mine is not. In short, Yamaha is the better option providing you have one without the vibrations.

Motorcycle preference is a very personal thing as is the intended use. All I am saying is this is what I have found. YRMV. In the end, buy whatever bike you like. Cheers!

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I was asked to provide further observations positive and negative over time so I am. Please bear in mind that the posts responding to my initial evaluation (pages 1 through 5) are to be read only in relation to the original evaluation report post.

However, with more experience, my view of the Super Tenere has changed only with respect to my unit and not to the model in general. If you get one without the vibrations it is an excellent motorcycle. If not, as in my case, here follows a cautionary note. YRMV.

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Long Term Evaluation Update May 7, 2012

While my evaluation of the Super Tenere has been positive in many respects my unit since the very beginning has had uncharacteristic vibrations in the 3000-3500 rpm range and in the 4000-5000 rpm range. This latter range has made it very difficult to enjoy this otherwise good motorcycle. The vibrations occur exactly in the normal cruising range of highway speeds. In my view this makes the motorcycle unfit for normal use.

Within 60-100 kms my hands become numb and if I continue my wrists and arms ache. I use very light handlebar pressure and have tried to mitigate these effects by adding Grip Puppies, KAOKO throttle lock, and 25 mm risers.

This problem was reported in writing to the dealer within a very few days of receiving my new unit. The dealer’s tech tried all the usual checks and adjustments to attempt to reduce these vibrations but to no positive effect. He reported my case to Yamaha’s regional representative but could get no constructive suggestions from them as to what to try.

I hoped that the bike would smooth out with some more kilometres but that has turned out not to be the case. The vibrations issue was complained of at the first, second, and third services, the latter at 9000 kms. After each attempt or adjustment, the bike was then tested on the same 220 km circuit to assess any positive improvement but there was none.

Since then, with no improvement in the vibrations and increasing discomfort I sought to have the bike replaced and on January 19
th wrote to the dealer and the Director of Yamaha Motor Mexico to that end. Yamaha Mexico then sent a tech from Mexico City who did all the usual adjustments in Chapter III of the Service Manual to attempt to resolve the vibrations. A further 220 km test of the same course showed no positive improvement.

After numerous attempts at the dealer level and assistance from a tech at the national level it became clear that there was nothing Yamaha had to offer to resolve these vibrations.

To be clear, the vibrations are so strong they vibrated two buttons off the face of my Garmin Zumo 550 mounted in Touratech’s most vibration resistant mounting and this was just from on pavement use. In my mirrors I cannot tell whether the object is a car or a truck. It vibrates so much that now I must wear supports made of neoprene and gel on my wrists and arms to try to reduce the vibrations from the handlebar. This is not the Yamaha quality that I was expecting.

I had heard that one or more Super Teneres were replaced in South Africa for vibrations issues. I checked this out speaking with the owner of one of the units that was replaced by Yamaha as well as with the dealer both of whom provided me with documentation. In that case after switching many parts from a unit that did not vibrate to the one that did the techs could not improve the vibrations on the customer’s unit. So, the decision was made to replace the unit and send the vibration troubled unit back to Japan for disassembly and study. The vibrations complained of are in the exact same revolution ranges and with the same numbing impact on the rider.

When I told my dealer about this he asked Mexico headquarters to check with Japan to see if this South African case could shed any light on my situation and further a resolution. Mexico City reported that Yamaha Japan had never heard of a vibration issue with the Super Tenere, nor of any unit(s) sent back to Japan for study from South Africa. Yamaha Motor at Mexico headquarters repeated the same line as Japan that they had never heard of a vibration issue with the Super Tenere despite my having reported this in writing for a very long time. This seemed disingenuous to say the least. Especially in light of the conversations with the Super Tenere owner and the owner of the dealership in South Africa and the documentation they supplied to me.

In the circumstances it seemed that I needed to get Mexico headquarters involvement as well as Japan headquarters. So I wrote to Yoshiteru Takahashi who is Managing Executive Officer and Director, Chief General Manager of Motorcycle Business Operations and General Manager of Overseas Market Development Operation Business Unit of Yamaha Motor Japan. I also wrote to Mr. Yoshihiko Takahashi President and Director General Yamaha Motor Mexico. That was on February 3, 2012. I asked both these men for their intervention in resolving the vibrations issue with my unit, or, failing that, to replace the unit. I sent both men a 7 page packet of information about the South African case and its similarity to my own reiterating my willingness to find a rapid and positive resolution.

When I received no reply I wrote the head of Yamaha Mexico again on February 9
th trying to fix a date and time to speak on the telephone to advance a resolution. I received no reply to that email.

On February 17
th I wrote again to the head of Yamaha Motor Japan again asking for his help in finding a resolution. I reminded him of the first managing principle of “Kando” on which the Yamaha Motor is based. This is in essence “Creating value that surpasses customer’s expectations. We must remain keenly aware of customers’ evolving needs, in order to provide them with quality products and services of exceptional value that surpass their expectations. We can and will earn a fair profit by making all-out efforts to satisfy our customers.” (Yamaha Motor Fact Book 2011).

In my letter I lamented the fact that my unit was not the Yamaha quality I was expecting and the slowness in reaching a definitive resolution. Again I asked for his intervention in finding a resolution. A copy of this letter was also sent to the head of Yamaha Mexico.

Again receiving no reply, on March 5
th I left voice mail for the head of Yamaha Mexico and wrote him referencing my previous letters all of which were without response. I asked him for Yamaha’s decision regarding resolving my Super Tenere vibrations problem and changing my unit by end of day on March 7th, 2012. Read that date in light of my request for same as of January 19, 2012. No reply was forthcoming.

Interesting to note is that in the South African case the owner complained of the vibrations on delivery. When he send a complaint letter to Yamaha within a week the dealer dug right in and started swapping components from the non vibrating demonstrator model trying to resolve the vibrations. They swapped over about everything stopping short of full disassembly of the motor itself. No positive result. So Yamaha gave the owner a new unit (at almost 7000 kms) and he is very happy with it. This response and resolution was quick and took place over a few weeks at most.

Contrast that with my case where I have documented the problem from the beginning and calmly and persistently tried to get a resolution to the vibration issue with my unit at every major service and in between them. With no improvement I wrote directly to Yamaha Mexico on January 19, 2012 asking them to resolve the vibrations or exchange the bike.

Throughout this process I have reported in writing to all concerned on the success, or lack of, with each attempt.

I can only conclude that Yamaha Motor’s commitment to customer satisfaction is less than genuine, and that their ability to communicate in a normal and professional way is flawed. To not respond to requests for assistance from a customer with a serious issue is not acceptable. It reminds me of the customer service approach of another motorcycle company that I will not name.

I gave Yamaha Mexico 259,000 pesos (about 21,500 USD) for my Super Tenere equipped. A considerable sum for a motorcycle which will not operate properly under normal conditions and without causing me physicial damage. This is Yamaha’s problem to resolve. Not mine.

Accordingly I would say “buyer beware” when purchasing a Super Tenere. If you get one of the ones that doesn’t vibrate then all is good. However, if you do get one with uncharacteristic vibrations then good luck seeking satisfaction with Yamaha Motor of Japan and/or Yamaha Motor of Mexico. That is the situation in Mexico based on my personal experience.

The cases I know from USA such as Japalko and Scottie Boy show some similarity in response to their vibration issues. In brief these have been that “we never heard of that before”. Or, “they all do that sir”.

In contrast, in South Africa, Yamaha Motor did the right thing and did it promptly when the owner asked for them to make it right.

Yamaha needs to take responsibility for the Super Teneres they produce when they do not turn out right and not put it all on the back of the customer. In the end it is the client/customer that is the source of added value to the company. That is something that should not be forgotten.
XT1200Z; F700GS; F650

RogerJ screwed with this post 03-07-2012 at 05:15 PM Reason: Updated Information
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