Yamaha started the whole dual-purpose scene with the XT500 thumper in the late seventies, winning the very first two Dakar Rallies. Then in the ‘90s Stéphane Peterhansel won no less than six Dakar races on the old 750 and 850 Super Ténéré’s. In June 2010, almost a decade after the moniker was last used the Super Ten is back in the form of the XT1200Z. Since its launch more than 430 units have been sold locally making South Africa the fourth largest market in the world.
Taking on the popular BMW GS1200, the Super Ténéré displaces 1 199 cc and develops a GS rivalling 81 kW of power and 114 Nm of torque (6 Nm down from the Beemer). Unlike the XT’s of old, this new XTZ has a wealth of electronic wizardry to keep you out of trouble. Throttle response is instantaneous thanks to drive-by-wire technology and digital electronic ignition. D-Mode fuel mapping has two stages, T- and S-mode, for Touring and Sport. You can feel the difference immediately and it’s easy to switch on the run. Then there is a three-way traction control system. TC-1 prohibits any wheel-spin or power wheelies and TC-2 allows some small tail slides. Hold the button in while standing still and the system switches off entirely to give you full control and full responsibility to stay the right way up. Braking is done via huge, double 310 mm petal discs either side of the spoked 19 inch front-end, with a single 282 mm disc at the rear. This is aided by a unified ABS system that sends some stopping power to the rear when the front lever is grabbed. This cannot be switched off like the BMW and KTM’s, but is supposed to work as well on gravel as on tar. Add fully adjustable suspension as standard and you’ve got a very advanced and super capable machine.
I rode the bike in the madness that is Gauteng for a couple of days and despite weighting 261 kg fully fuelled, this bike handled surprisingly well. Zipping through the fast-moving N1 traffic is no effort at all, just make sure you stop in such a way that you do not have to reverse out again. Making up for the bulk is a forgiving adjustable seat height of between 845 and 870 mm. I had it is S-mode most of the time and did some high-speed runs, briefly seeing 200 km/h on the large digital speedo, with the analogue tacho just past 6 000 r/min and it still returned a consumption figure of 16.9 km/l. With a 23 litre tank this equates to a realistic range of close to 400 km. The large windscreen means you can sit upright at any speed and the six speed gearbox sends power to the rear wheel via an enclosed drive shaft. The latter, together with tubeless tyres and the radiator and electronic plugs mounted high-up behind the left and right side covers respectively, inspires confidence to take it far from civilisation. At R129 999 it’s almost twenty grand less than the standard GS1200 and R35k less than the GS Adventure. Plus it’s a Super Ténéré.