Yamaha are about to unleash an affordable and funky new MT-07 adventure bike. Yamaha showed the T7 concept at last year’s Milan Show in November, claiming it was imbued with ‘the Ténéré spirit’ – and these spy pictures suggest it’s not far away from hitting a showroom near you.
The TZ concept oozes rally attitude...
Yamaha have a strong off-road history with nine Dakar victories in the 1980s and 90s, so it was a sad day when the long-in-the-tooth XT660Z Ténéré was forced out of the range due to ever- tightening emissions regulations. The sadness could soon be over.
We are family
The 689cc twin engine in the MT-07 has propelled the bike to a lot of group test wins over the last couple of years, and in 2016 Yamaha transplanted that engine into the Tracer 700 to create an easy-going touring package. Now the engine has found its way into an adventure bike. The parallel-twin puts out an accessible 74bhp and the engine’s free-revving nature makes it a lot of fun – and it should work well in an adventure bike.
As well as the engine, the T7 has also borrowed the LCD dash from the MT-07, which is a good thing as the dash is clean, clear and simple to use. A colour, more rally-style stacked clock unit would have been lovely, but we expect this to be a cost-conscious offering.
Ready to flirt with dirt
Despite being disguised to look like a medieval jousting steed, it’s clear that this bike is almost ready for production. The exhaust, tail unit and suspension linkages all look to be production items, and bear none of the tell-tale signs of a rapidly bolted-together prototype.
It’s also clear from the design that the T7 has been built for genuine off-road use rather than this just being a cynical styling exercise. For starters, the bike appears to have a 21in front wheel matched to an 18in rear wheel – both of which are shod with Pirelli Scorpion MT90 tyres, which is an off- road focused dual-sport tyre. The big wheels, combined with the longer travel suspension, should give the T7 ample ground clearance for heading off the beaten track. Further off-road features include wide, upright handlebars and enduro footpegs boasting removable rubber inserts.
Amazingly, quite a few of the rally styling features from the T7 concept seem to have made their way onto the production bike. The most obvious classic rally feature is the stacked twin headlights, which will presumably nestle behind a large screen that continues up past the dash – as per the concept. The other big rally feature that we expect to be featured on the production bike is the large lower shroud and bash guard. The extra framework and mounting points are clearly visible – and not pre-existing on the MT-07. There’s also a large, finned radiator guard for extra protection.
While the engine and electronics are likely to be very similar between all the MT-07-powered models, the new Ténéré’s rolling chassis is notably different. The swingarm, while still cast, is now a straight dual-beam affair, supported by a monoshock on a conventional looking linkage. The main chassis looks largely similar, but has been complemented by a cradle- style set of down-tubes that wrap around the leading edge of the engine to provide more crash protection, and mounts for a bellypan and radiator shroud. Meanwhile, the conventional fork has been upgraded to an inverted unit that’s likely to boast some adjust- ability. The sidestand has a large foot for off-road security, but there’s no obvious provision for a centrestand.
It’s not all hardcore rally parts though, as the single-piece seat seen on the original T7 concept has given way to a two-piece seat complete with pillion perch. And the rider’s seat on the production bike also looks considerably lower, making it more user-friendly.
Title fight looming
For now its biggest rival is likely to be Triumph’s Tiger 800 XC, but this is go- ing to be a booming part of the market over the next 12 months. We’ve already seen pictures of KTM’s new 790 adventure in testing as well as BMW’s new F850GS. There have also been suggestion that the Royal Enfield Himalayan will be one of the first bikes to receive the firm’s new 750cc parallel-twin.
While Yamaha haven’t confirmed the bike’s price or availability, we expect it to be a wallet-friendly model like the MT-07 (£6199) and be unveiled officially in November.
Spied Yamaha in detail
1. Going the distance: It’s hard to be definitive, but the petrol tank beneath the jousting skirt appears to be quite large – we’d estimate 21 litres – which combined with the frugal engine could easily give the T7 a 250-mile range.
2. Room for two: The radical bodywork on the T7 concept was classic lean, mean Dakar racer, but the production bike has a more modest subframe design to allow for passengers. The pillion seat is clearly visible, while there are no pillion pegs on this test bike.
3. Other options: The two-piece seat is a departure from the concept’s pure off-road styling, but it’s possible Yamaha will offer a single piece seat and other accessories, or even offer two versions of the model – a road- focused one, and a more extreme rally-styled version.
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