Honestly, how long could Yamaha hold out on us? For years, we’ve seen cool motorcycles that the tuning-fork company releases Over There, but these machines never seem to come stateside. Finally, Yamaha has seen the light, and we get the Super Ténéré adventure-tourer, plus the FZ8 naked bike. ‘Bout time! And if these Euro-flavor offerings don’t tempt your two-wheel palate, consider the American-style midsized cruiser, the Star Stryker.
After a difficult 2010, Yamaha feels that the market is improving: “Our dealers still have a few previous-model-year units,” said Yamaha communications G.M. Bob Starr. “But, as of right now, our inventory is pretty clean. I think that, overall, we are in a pretty good position. I’m quite confident that the worst is behind us. So, that is very encouraging.”
European-based bike makers have demonstrated that they can roll out exciting, innovative product with startling regularity. Which is why Yamaha has for years leaned heavily on its overseas subsidiaries for product planning. Typically, however, these machines are Euro-market-only, leaving us to drool over bikes we can’t have.
Thankfully, that appears to be a thing of the past. Enthusiasts in the U.S. barked loudly enough to be clearly heard, says Starr, who feels that a new era of collaboration with its other divisions is a key to future success. “I hope that the FZ8 and Super Ténéré are just the beginning,” he said. “I think that, given today’s motorcycle economy, it almost necessitates it. There are bikes in other parts of the world for which there appears to be U.S. consumer demand. I think these two bikes will prove that to be true.”
Back in July, we reported that “Yamaha’s latest Open-class adventure bike is unlikely to come to the U.S. anytime soon.” We are now glad to be eating those words. Yamaha announced that the Super Ténéré is an early-release 2012 model, with first deliveries scheduled for May, 2011. The bike will only be available through Yamaha’s preorder program, which debuted with the FJR1300 and was used most recently for the VMax.”We want to maintain the bike’s value in the marketplace,” said Starr. “If you build to consumer demand, then you are theoretically building the right amount of units.”
At the heart of the Super Ténéré is a liquid-cooled, 1199cc parallel-Twin with dohc and four valves per cylinder. Twin counterbalancers quell vibes, while the 270-degree crankshaft provides uneven firing intervals for improved traction should your adventures become slippery. Bore and stroke measure 98.0 x 79.5mm with an 11.0:1 compression ratio.
Fueling is handled by a twin-bore-throttle-body fuel-injection system controlled by Yamaha’s YCC-T ride-by-wire throttle. D-Mode lets riders select from two power-delivery/throttle-response curves—Sport or Touring. A three-position traction-control system and linked (front to rear) ABS-equipped brakes make the most of available traction.
Power is delivered to the rear wheel through a wide-ratio six-speed transmission and shaft final drive housed in an aluminum swingarm. Spiral-bevel gears keep the unit compact and lightweight.
A steel-tube main frame is mated to an aluminum subframe. The fully adjustable 43mm fork and hydraulic-preload- and rebound-adjustable shock provide 7.5 inches of travel at each end.
Handguards, as well as an adjustable touring windshield and seat, are standard on this $13,900 machine. An extensive list of accessories, including hard bags, top case and a multitude of adventure-touring goodies, will be available through the GYTR accessory line. The Super Ténéré will be available in Impact Blue or Raven Black.
Finding the middle of the road is a re-occurring theme in this issue (Ducati 848 EVO, KTM 350 SX-F). Not to be left out, the FZ8 slots between Yamaha’s liter-class FZ1 and 600cc FZ6R. Engine architecture is similar to that of the pre-crossplane-crank YZF-R1 and, in fact, uses that bike’s engine cases. To achieve its 779cc displacement, a new crankshaft, fracture-split connecting rods and 68mm pistons work in a 53.6mm stroke.
A cast aluminum frame and Control Fill Die Cast aluminum swingarm are mated to a 43mm inverted fork and preload-adjustable shock, while four-piston monoblock calipers pinching 310mm discs handle braking duties.
Yamaha claims that the FZ8 combines quick, nimble handling and torquey power delivery with a comfortably upright riding position. This sleek, naked package will go on sale in December for $8490. Hope you like Raven Black, because that is your only color choice.
Unlike Yamaha’s other brand-new models, the Star Stryker is clearly a product of the U.S. division. Designed to offer cruiser buyers a smaller-displacement option with the same silhouette as its Raider brethren, the Stryker also hits squarely back at Honda’s similarly sized Fury.
Yamaha packed all of its sportbike know-how into this liquid-cooled, 60-degree, 1304cc V-Twin. Four-valve heads with single overhead cams and a closed-loop fuel-injection system that features dual 40mm throttle bodies and 12-hole injectors promises to provide excellent power and response. A 34-degree steering-head angle and 6-degree-offset triple-clamps yield the desired 40-degree rake.
Available in September, the Star Stryker starts at $10,990 for Raven Black; add $250 for Impact Blue or Reddish Copper.