BMW G 650 GS and Yamaha XT 660 Z Tenere in the comparison test


BMW G 650 GS and Yamaha XT 660 Z Tenere in the comparison test

Comparison test of single-cylinder travel enduro bikes

BMW G 650 GS and Yamaha XT 660 Z Tenere

One cylinder, long suspension travel, 21-inch front wheels – becoming a globetrotter can be so easy. BMW thought that too and is now sending the G 650 GS as a "Sertão" into the desert. Exactly where the Yamaha Tenere has been for a long time.

For those who really want to go far, the thing is done before it really starts. 14 liters – globetrotters don’t even dare to get a roll. 14 liter tank volume: In view of this puddle, it does not matter whether the desert is Sahara, Tenere, Gobi or Sertão (semi-desert in the interior of Brazil). In any case, the F 650 GS will stop on the way to the next fuel drum. It is of little use to her that the small tank is conveniently located under the bench.

The Yamaha XT 660 Z is clearly better equipped for the big tour. Its conventional fuel drum holds 23 liters with its flanks pulled far down to the right and left of the barely visible single cylinder, allowing ranges of easily 550 kilometers, while the GS runs dry after 400 kilometers. It doesn’t matter that the Yamaha stew eats almost three quarters of a liter (4.2 to 3.5 liters when driving cautiously) more fuel.

S.oh far to wanderlust! But let’s assume you didn’t want to go to the desert or other exotic, deserted and hostile places. Rather, drive where there is always a gas station within a 50-kilometer radius. You are also a small person. Then the 40 millimeters lower seat height on the BMW might be just right for you, because you don’t always have to find a curb to stop. Tall people with and without wanderlust, on the other hand, are much more comfortable on the Tenere because of the more relaxed knee angle and the rear footrests. You won’t mind the mighty appearance and the weight of the Yamaha by 20 kilograms. By the way: This comparison is unfair insofar as almost half of the extra weight is due to the larger tank volume. It is easy to find out where the remaining pounds are. The long-legged XT with its sturdy aluminum cases, its massive 43 mm fork, its handlebar with additional cross brace that inspires confidence and the double disc brake at the front is not only more “adventurous”, but also much more solid than the BMW. Plastic suitcases, stiff 41 mm stanchions, a rather improvised lower triple clamp, the limp side stand, which is hardly suitable for off-road use, and the lonely disc in the front wheel – all of this has less of the globetrotter than of the established Luftikus.

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BMW G 650 GS and Yamaha XT 660 Z Tenere in the comparison test

Comparison test of single-cylinder travel enduro bikes
BMW G 650 GS and Yamaha XT 660 Z Tenere

Yamaha XT 660 Z Tenere and BMW G 650 GS Sertao.

The crux of the matter: That doesn’t help him with regard to the measured values, because both in terms of torque and acceleration, the GS of the XT sometimes drives away more, sometimes less. You don’t have to find that tragic with a type of motorcycle on which you are usually in no hurry. However, the fact that the XT motor initially unwillingly chops in the lower speed range while the GS single is already pushing smoothly is not a venial sin on alpine turns or even on unpaved terrain. In return, the Munich engine makes another, almost even more annoying faux pas, namely an untimely starting behavior. Especially when you are out and about in trail mode. This phenomenon occurred especially with a hot engine on the test motorcycle. After the GS had moved at walking pace through the track, it was the rule for minutes to go. Once the GS refused to work completely. Fortunately, fellow testers and a photographer were there to push the motorcycle back onto paved terrain.

In the middle of the Sertão, however, you couldn’t avoid calling the ADAC. And who knows how long that would take in Brazil? Joking aside – and back to gravel roads in the south of France. There, the off-road GS feels noticeably more comfortable than its civilian sister with its 21-inch front wheel, spoke instead of cast rims, the moderate tire format at the rear (130 instead of 140 tires) and the tighter adjustment of the suspension elements than its civil sister the experienced Tenere doesn’t just take the butter off the bread. Both are well equipped for moderate off-road excursions, no question about it. The fact that one trusts the Tenere more than the BMW is less due to the performance itself than to the more valuable appearance. Regardless of whether it is a massive aluminum swingarm instead of simple steel profiles or bellows instead of unprotected fork legs – it seems better equipped for weeks of two-person relationships in the outback. And that, although Yamaha trimmed the ABS version especially for road use. Instead of 210 and 200 millimeters, the Japanese shortened the spring travel to 160 and 150 millimeters at the front and rear in order to adequately counter the rustic ABS control intervals, while the BMW offers 210 millimeters each. The fact that the Bavarians can live well with the long suspension travel is due on the one hand to the finer control of the ABS, and on the other hand to the poorer braking performance of the single-disc system with a 300-millimeter disc and double-piston floating caliper. With the Yamaha, two double-piston calipers bite into 298-millimeter discs – and not only stop the load measurably earlier, but can also be dosed more sensitively. MOTORCYCLE measurements on a pass descent from 75 km / h showed: Solo the Yamaha was over a meter earlier, with a pillion passenger it was almost two meters.

What makes long spring travel and a bit of bodywork: the Sertão looks more enduring than its civilian GS sister.

These are not worlds either, but they are differences. Just like the more nimble handling of the F 650. Not quite as hyperactive as its civilian sister, but noticeably easier than the Tenere, the Sertão can be thrown from one corner to the other and then benefits from the high leadership qualities of the 21-inch model. The XT 660 Z doesn’t quite keep up with this, but immediately counteracts cornering stability (also because the Metzeler Tourance on the Yamaha can be turned more neutrally than the successor Tourance EXP on the BMW, which folds away from a certain lean angle). And while we’re already on the road: The Sertão’s freedom from leaning is limited to the left by the side stand dangling around without will, while with the Tenere nothing touches down so quickly. In addition, the Yamaha suspension elements provide fine feedback and on top of that keep the larger reserves ready for two-person operation. 

What does all this have to do with the great adventure, you ask? Nothing, but the assumption that any Sertão or Tenere prospects are at heart more dignified motorcycle hikers than daring world travelers, is obvious. Both candidates are equally suitable for this purpose, but set different accents. One – the BMW – tries to transport a little technical perfection into the imperfect single-cylinder world, the bottom line is the better engine and garnishes the whole thing with a little adventure touch. The other – the Yamaha – successfully preserves the rustic single charm of bygone years and combines it with the rally reputation from that time. The bottom line, on points, is that the Yamaha just won this comparison, but deservedly. Because it doesn’t really matter whether you need 0.3 seconds less for the sprint from zero to 100 km / h. But how you experience it.

MOTORCYCLE points evaluation / conclusion

The rally spirit, here it can be felt: high, steep windshield, cockpit with a roadbook look, analog rev counter and fuel gauge.

Even if it doesn’t feel like it: The BMW is ahead in all performance chapters. Accelerates better, drives faster, even pulls through better. Nevertheless, a tie with regard to the engine characteristics is appropriate, because the Yamaha single has the stronger middle. It also has a better gearbox, because it is smoother. And it starts better.
Winner engine: BMW

landing gear
The main differences are not great, but they are noticeable. The decisive factor: the BMW is more manageable, the Yamaha is more stable. The rest are nuances, although the successful suspension setup of the Tenere is noticeable. In return, the GS shines with a hydraulically pre-tensionable spring strut.
Chassis winner: Yamaha

everyday life
Sitting position, wind protection, range: If you want to travel far, you can’t get past the Yamaha. Practical on the long tour: a fuel gauge instead of a bland indicator light and an immobilizer. The Yamaha has both, the BMW does not. Since it also has a far greater range, it is clearly ahead in this chapter. Even if it means “everyday life” and not “adventure”.
Winner everyday: Yamaha

If nothing else is noticeable, the brakes are decisive here. In this regard, there is no herb against the Yamaha double disc system. The more precisely regulating ABS does not help the BMW.
Safety winner: Yamaha

A traditional BMW chapter because the Munich-based company has consumption under control. 3.5 liters are a word!
Winner costs: BMW

Around 300 euros difference in the price of the test motorcycles, five points difference in the rating – that means a draw.
Price-performance winner: BMW / Yamaha

Max points  BMW  Yamaha
Overall rating  1000  580  585 placement  2.  1. Price-performance note  1.0  2.1  2.1

Test result

1. Yamaha XT 660 Z Tenere
Who would have thought that? The Yamaha convinces with a good chassis and solid appearance as well as an engine that is not a top performer, but has character. Like the whole motorcycle.

2. BMW G 650 GS Sertão
For GS riders who are just looking for a little adventure, the Sertão is the right choice. For everyone else, it’s a different GS and a good country road motorcycle, but certainly not the gateway to the big, wide world.

Technical specifications

Yamaha XT 660 Z Tenere and BMW G 650 GS Sertao.

BMW Yamaha engine
design type Single cylinder four-stroke engine Single cylinder four-stroke engine
injection Ø 43 mm Ø 50 mm
coupling Multi-disc oil bath clutch Multi-disc oil bath clutch
Bore x stroke 100.0 x 83.0 mm 100.0 x 84.0 mm
Displacement 652 cm3 660 cm3
compression 11.5: 1 10.0: 1
power 35.0 kW (48 hp) at 6500 rpm 35.3 kW (48 hp) at 6000 rpm
Torque 60 Nm at 5000 rpm 58 Nm at 5500 rpm
landing gear
frame Bridge frame made of steel Single-loop frame made of steel
fork Telescopic fork, Ø 41 mm Telescopic fork, Ø 43 mm
Brakes v / h Ø 300/240 mm Ø 298/245 mm
Assistance systems ABS (404 euros) SECTION
bikes 1.60 x 21; 3.00 x 17 1.85 x 21; 2.75 x 17
tires 90/90 R 21; 130/80 R 17 90/90 R 21; 130/80 R 17
Tires Metzeler Tourance EXP Metzeler Tourance
Dimensions + weights
wheelbase 1484 mm  1504 mm 
Steering head angle 61.9 degrees 62.0 degrees
trailing 123 mm 113 mm
Suspension travel v / h 210/210 mm 160/150 mm 
Seat height ** 860 mm 870 mm
Weight with full tank1 ** 198 kg 218 kg
Weight case ** 10.4 kg 9.4 kg
Payload ** 182 kg 178 kg
Tank capacity / reserve 14.0 / 4.0 liters 23.0 / 6.7 liters
Service intervals  10,000 km 10,000 km
price 7650 euros 8195 euros
Price test motorcycle 8856 euros *** 9141 euros 3
Additional costs 264 euros 160 euros
 MOTORCYCLE readings
Top speed * 170 km / h 160 km / h
0-100 km / h 5.3 sec 5.7 sec
0-140 km / h 11.6 sec 12.2 sec
60-100 km / h 5.8 sec 6.2 sec
100-140 km / h 8.0 sec 8.5 sec
Consumption highway 3.5 liters / normal 4.2 liters / normal
Reach country road 400 km 548 km

* Manufacturer information; ** MOTORCYCLE measurements; 2 ABS / hazard warning lights (404 euros), heated grips (197 euros), on-board socket (20 euros) and case system (585 euros); *** including case system (946 euros)

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