Test Yamaha XT660Z Tenere


Fashion victim !

The single-cylinder trail is out of fashion and that’s a shame. Because the Yamaha XTZ 660 Tenere remains the embodiment of the efficient and carefree traveler. The quintessence of the Motorcycle, somewhere…

Test Yamaha XT660Z Tenere: in front of the Casteldeltierra des Bardenas

The Yamaha Tenere has been in the catalog since 2008… or even since 1983, if we take into account the first "adventure" version based on the XT 600. For 33 years, therefore, the Tenere has evolved but sparingly and retaining its fundamentals. The study of its genealogy tells us that it made 43 horsepower at the beginning and that it makes 48 now, while the capacity of the tank has increased from 30 to 23 liters. Admittedly, the single-cylinder was equipped with an electric starter in 1986 (and the arrival of a double-barrel carburetor brings the power to 46 horsepower, while the tank is reduced to 23 liters), which it acquires. ‘a full fairing and two headlight optics in 1988, a 660 cc 5-valve and liquid-cooled engine in 1991 (48 horsepower and little evolution for years, despite a slight restyling in 1998). In fact, the latest generation of XT660Z Tenere does not betray the spirit of the line. Like its ancestors, it is high on legs, symbolizes escape, seems comfortable and its single cylinder has refused the race to overbid which characterizes the world of motorcycles in general and that of trails in particular..

The Yamaha XT660Z Tenere is the last survivor of a golden era when the four Japanese manufacturers believed in the big single-cylinder trail (they were then called the "gromonos"): Honda had its 600 XLR and XL LM Paris Dakar (then the Dominator), Suzuki its DR 600 then 650 Djebel and Kawasaki its KLR 600 and 650, then evolving in KLX. Well today, apart from this brave Tenere, it’s the desert (sophisticated humor, there!) And only Honda makes a noticeable return to the original trail spirit, on another scale however, with the new 1000 CRF Africa Twin.

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere test: in front of a boat in the Bardenas

All this is the double fault of the youngsters and the Suzuki Bandit. In the mid-1980s, the young biker overkid the gromono trail, which, for the equivalent of 30,000 francs at the time (or 4,500 euros), gave him access to a stylish and versatile machine, in line with the spirit of Paris. -Dakar which was then very publicized at the time and which was run on similar machines and not 450 factory prototypes. In short, the identification worked at full speed until Suzuki released the Bandit 400 at the turn of the 1990s, then 600 a little later, while at Yamaha the 600 Diversion appeared in 1992. And there, for a similar price, the young motorcyclist, decidedly frivolous, threw himself on the 4 cylinders in line and was able to taste clearly superior performances, forgetting the simplicity and the versatility which made the charm of these gromonos trails: the lure of the performance had killed the spirit of adventure. The young, it was better before.


She’s there. High, thin, narrow despite its large, overflowing handlebars. It has been part of the motorcycling landscape for almost a decade. And yet, we don’t see that much: the XT660Z Tenere retains this particular aura, a mixture of unusual proportions, a distinct aesthetic and the subliminal promise of distant horizons and moreover sunny..

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere test: three-quarter studio photo

Beautiful, not beautiful, that is not the question. The Tenere can afford a real luxury that has become rare in this world of appearance: it is, period. She knows what she’s worth. She doesn’t have to lie. Although built with few noble materials around a fairing and plastic protections, we still appreciate the solid aluminum swingarm, the LED taillights, the double exhaust, the saddle covered with suede, the engine guard and the two front brake discs.

The dashboard uses an analog tachometer located to the left of a digital keypad in which is a fuel gauge. The screen is not adjustable and given the vocation of the machine, we would not have seen a solid pair of hand guards in the standard equipment. The luggage rack, on the other hand, catches up a bit, as does the command for warnings on the commodo..

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere test: complete dashboard

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere test: studio profile

The engine is identical to that fitted to the Yamaha XT660R and XT660X, as well as the MT-03. Delivering 48 horsepower at 6000 rpm and 5.92 m / kg of torque at 5000 rpm, it actually displays values ​​that are perhaps no less dreamy nowadays when the least school motorcycle has 70 horsepower machines..

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere test: engine

Today, the Tenere is only available in an ABS version (appeared in 2013 on this model, first as an option) at a price of € 7,990, in two colors, Race Blu (satin silver gray with blue threads) or Matt Gray (satin matt gray with ocher threads). On occasion, in addition to the traditional Yamaha colors (white / red or blue / yellow), there are 660 Tenere in black or sand beige, without ABS..

In the saddle

Climbing in the saddle is easy on one condition: having long legs. Because the XT660Z practices a kind of natural selection by placing its saddle at 895 mm high. Fortunately, the thinness of the tank at the crotch still allows you to touch the ground easily, if you are at least 1.75 m. The gromono then starts by pressing the starter (the kick is long gone) and holds its jerky idle with a muffled noise.

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere test: the poor lonesome cowboy's bike

The passenger or passenger who sits behind must also deal with this impressive saddle height and must go high up a passenger footrest to take support. The controls are to Japanese standards, so no surprise, with the exception of the selector which sometimes gives the impression of having a little cartilage between the forks and the axes. It lacks a bit of feeling, but it’s okay. Ditto for the clutch lever.

In the city

Good news: the first vintages of the 660 injected engine (from the 2004 XT660R) suffered for a long time from injection jerks which generated untimely stalls and which made driving in town extremely unpleasant: it is fortunately settled. for a long time and the Tenere has become more flexible, remarkably flexible even for a machine driven by a single piston of 100 mm in diameter. In fact, you can wind at 2,000-2,500 rpm in third on a stream of gas without the single cylinder bumping too much and from 3000 rpm in fourth. With a little practice, we can take a clutch finger to accompany a revival at very low speed.

Despite its weight and seat height, the XT660Z Tenere is surprisingly agile, in addition to being very stable at low speeds. Its elevated driving position provides great ease in traffic and the handlebars pass over the mirrors of the cars when you practice the interface. If they do not have a bite of madness, the brakes are still effective and their dosage progressive, while the ABS provides additional security in the event of a bad surprise. Another good point: the coded key.

Motorways and expressways

At 130 km / h on the clock, the gromono purrs at 5000 rpm on the last report, which seems to constitute a reasonable cruising speed for this type of engine. With its modest power, the XT660Z Tenere is not intended for go-fast nor for the express crossing of Germany, even if it can take around 180 km / h on the odometer. She is still able to take long relationships, without flinching.

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere test: at ease on a rolling track

Under these circumstances, the XT660Z Tenere can put its qualities: a very correct comfort of suspensions, vibrations contained for this type of mechanics as well as a consequent autonomy. The protection generated by the bubble is quite good, although pilots between 1.85 and 1.90 m tall may complain of air flow reaching directly at eye level. With an upright and relaxed position, the ergonomics are good for the pilot as for the passenger. However, the very hollow shape of the rider’s saddle does not really allow the rider to move to change position a little during long journeys. Some may find it a bit crippling.

In strong winds or with load (passenger, side cases, luggage, etc.), the upright driving position and the large suspension deflections can generate a slight fluctuation in the course, without consequences … Over the years, we have forgotten that the gromono trail is alive…


It is, one suspects, the environment of predilection of the XT660Z Tenere. If his gromono displays relatively modest performance values, the torque of almost 6 m / kg is generously available, in a very linear fashion, from 2,500 to 5,500 rpm. As part of a smooth but efficient driving, there is little point in getting the power at the top of the tachometer and the Tenere will be more efficiently led smoothly, in the fat of its torque curve..

This philosophy also sticks perfectly well with the chassis, which flourishes more within the framework of a flexible and coiled conduct than when one leaves the big attack where the whole begins to dissolve. And for all those who have forgotten how efficient a single-cylinder trail can be, small winding roads where you rarely exceed 130 km / h will demonstrate that a well-run trail remains an incredibly pleasant and efficient motorcycle. Between the balance of the cycle part, the suspensions which allow to fly over the holes and the bumps, an engine, certainly linear and generally not very demonstrative, but which allows immediate revivals, an diabolical agility thanks to the narrow tires and a braking all in all correct, the XT660Z Tenere will be able to trace it back to a bunch of more pretentious machines.

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere test: good ergonomics

At a leisurely pace, the Tenere purrs at 3000 rpm at 90 km / h in fifth gear and again, its ease, agility and suspension comfort make it the queen of the secondary network..

On the paths

Here too, the Tenere is perfectly at ease. Admittedly, its weight and its flexible suspensions do not allow it to venture on extreme crossing or very selective enduro courses, but to make the ride or the discovery on rolling tracks or small paths, the Tenere will feel at home. Its ease of driving and the roundness of its engine are two advantages that make it easy to access, while the driving position standing on the footrests remains comfortable and ergonomic. Only downside for purists: the ABS which is not disconnectable (unless you look in the fuse box), which can make the whole player in the event of an emergency stop on a piece of track made of corrugated iron. But the Tenere is an adventurer, not cut for extreme off road.

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere test: efficient suspensions


No very sophisticated solutions here, only the proven. So, of course, we may find that the suspensions lack rigor in large bends or that the attitude movements are sensitive during acceleration and braking phases. The frame is a simple tubular steel cradle. The suspension travel is 210mm at the front and 200mm at the rear. The fork is adjustable in preload and the rear shock absorber in preload and rebound. Thus, the Tenere offers services in line with its philosophy…


In absolute terms, the braking is average but as the performance is not supersonic either, the whole is perfectly coherent. Compared to the XT660X and R, the Tenere has two front disc brakes (with a diameter of 298 mm), clamped by 2-piston calipers. But above all, it can equip itself with an ABS (which is also part of the standard equipment) where its two cousins ​​are deprived of it. Tested on a test of more than 2000 kilometers of winding roads in the Pyrenees, the ABS gave complete satisfaction and was not characterized by untimely triggering. On the other hand, it will be necessary to deal with movements of attitude on the big braking..

Comfort / duo

This is a new strong point of this Tenere since the ergonomics, the space on board, the comfort of the saddle or the suspensions make it possible to envisage long journeys without fear of particular fatigue. The passenger grab handles are conveniently located and easy to grip. This, of course, knowing that she prefers alternative routes at a reasonable pace than long bouldering routes..


Certainly, at € 7,999 (with ABS), you will find machines that are faster, more recent, even more beautiful. Although all tastes are in nature and the Tenere poses its pilot like an adventurer eager to escape. Promises that she keeps, since she asks for nothing more than to travel to Iceland, the High Atlas or Trans-Sylvania, this without accessories other than a pair of adapted tires. While being perfectly capable of managing daily life and the weekend stroll. And finally, at this price, you will find few machines as versatile. The icing on the cake, consumption that easily remains below 5 l / 100 (or even 4.5 l / 100 for a ride, with a range that then reaches 450 km), which makes this Tenere very economical to use. La Tenere actually has few limits. It’s a motorcycle that makes you want to ride a motorcycle, if only to feed this need for escape and freedom that is inherent in motorcycling. For that alone, it deserves to be (re-) discovered.

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere test: it swallows the great outdoors

As a bonus, a real question: the small or the large ?

During this long test, we had an XT1200Z Super Tenere alongside us. The ideal opportunity to go from one to the other throughout these 2000 kilometers on very varied terrain. And to note that, in most cases, they do not play in the same category: if you are looking for an engine with trunk, space for luggage and duo, long journeys made at high speed, then the 1200 is obviously an incomparably more efficient motorcycle with its piloted suspensions, its cruise control and its heated grips. On the other hand, on the small roads or the tracks of the desert of Bardenas, the 660 took again the advantage by its facility, its neutrality and its agility as well as by its capacity to be forgotten where the weight, the congestion and the load. inertia of the 1200 always remain in the mind of its pilot.

Yamaha XT660Z Tenere test: 660 versus 1200, the battle!

In the end and as part of a long trip on small roads where the concerns are clearly different than during a quick contact where we are just trying to get out of the way, I admit to having preferred ( and by far!) the 660 to the 1200 because the first promises a little and delivers a lot, which makes it fundamentally more and more endearing as the days go by, while the 1200 ends up tiring by its heavy side and not very fun. And when we look at the budget and the price / performance ratio, there is no room for doubt. The original spirit of the trail remains a concept that is still full of meaning: that of a simple motorcycle that gives you the desire for freedom..

Strong points

  • Real adventurer
  • True traveler
  • As essential and tasty as a Knacki Herta
  • Autonomy (more than 450 kilometers)
  • Comfort and versatility
  • Simplicity and economy of use

Weak points

  • Saddle height
  • Particular look
  • No changes in 8 years (except ABS in 2013)
  • Objectively average performance (although sufficient)

The technical sheet of the Yamaha XT660Z Tenere

The competition: It doesn’t have any more! Or, it goes from the Mash 400 Adventure to the Honda 1000 Africa Twin via the BMW F 800 GS and Triumph Tiger 800 Xc, or even an old KTM 990 Adventure. Or, in a much less mainstream register, the CCM 400 Adventure.

Test conditions

  • Itinerary: 2,000 kilometers through the Pyrenees from Narbonne to Biarritz via the main passes of the Tour de France and the Bardenas Desert
  • Motorcycle mileage: 2000 km
  • Problem encountered: none

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6 thoughts on “Test Yamaha XT660Z Tenere

  1. Salvation

    Nothing to say about this essay. Everything has been said and well said respect

    Maybe over long distance, the comfort disappears a bit.

    Personally, my rear brake blocks easily (set here with ABS ….)

    It is high and I like it … except for the maneuver, because the bougresse weighs 210 kgs with the full tank and beware of the slopes.

    Suitable for TT. Besides, it’s a trail, a real one.

    Does not consume anything (- 4 liters / 100), personally and I have already said it here, I arrived at 550 kms with still almost 2 l in the tank … So the 600 kms of autonomy are possible….

    Only downside: its price € 8000 a "banal" mono 660 cm3 is expensive….


  2. Thank you for the conclusion of the conclusion which sums up what drives many of us … and makes me want to buy a Trail!

    Super happy

  3. She might not be a beauty cannon, but she’s not that bad for a trail.

    It has nothing to envy to a 1200 GS look level anyway! … and let’s not talk about the price !!!

    There’s only this duckbill that I don’t like !

    Otherwise, a simple and efficient motorcycle, as I like !!

  4. Well I had the 2015 and now the 2018, and frankly I find it prettier and also its dashboard and more complete and adjustable on the handlebars. The 20 L of the tank and 450 kilometers of appreciable autonomy, motorcycle that does everything and much more, I also tried the 1000 very good machine also with a good engine and radial brakes but the price difference means that I I found the 650 not disgusting anyway so the small one for me knowing when 1000 is above.

  5. Quoteroutago
    In Asia, there is very strong growth because we don’t piss off people by putting obstacles in their way..

    Of course, this is absolutely not because a large part of the Asian population was not equipped with consumer goods and is in the process of doing so (like Europe during the glorious 30s). No, no, it shouldn’t be that pipe.

    (if not, question "obstacles" posed to people, China is still a model of its kind … and has double-digit growth …).

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