Ride On: 2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES

PICKING up the 2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES (pronounced Ten–er–ray) and making the 100km trek home on the blacktop is an enjoyable experience, especially when that trip includes ‘the old road’ between Sydney and the NSW Central Coast.

The big adventure bike ate up the corners, and did it in comfort. It had this author thinking of days spent in the saddle, on long trips with the boys, ploughing through 600-700km in a day. I have no doubt this steed would be a capable partner for similar trips.

As much as riding it on the road is fun, we couldn’t wait to get it in the bush, and while it isn’t intended to be a motocross bike, and it’s not, the Super Tenere is great on open trails and some of the ‘not too difficult’ tracks.

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As a rider with limited dirt bike ability, the XT1200ZE is more than manageable. You can turn off the traction control too, and allow the tail end to slide around corners, just like it should in the dirt.

Named after a desert region in the south central part of the Sahara that played host to a stage of the brutal Dakar Rally, the 2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES continues a long history of dual sport/adventure bikes that began in the early 1980s.

2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES

Power comes from the compact 1199cc parallel twin with 270 degree crank, and is smooth, predictable and delivered with consistency across the rev range. The engine mass is kept low and slim too, which helps in those tighter off-road situations.

Side mounted radiators mean there’s protection from any unwanted rocks or sticks as well. The wide ratio 6-speed gearbox is smooth, as we have come to expect from Yamaha, and offers everything you could want for slow dirt riding and higher freeway speeds.

It’s the first Yamaha bike to sport a shaft drive with a hypoid gear, and comes with two ride modes, including T mode for touring and everyday riding, and S mode for Sport. The latter provides improved performance and feedback.

Seating and the layout of controls are comfortable and relaxed. At just over 6ft 1in, yours truly found getting both feet flat to the ground easy, and the adjustable seat height helps shorter riders, with a 25mm variance between 870mm at the top, down to 845mm.

Everything is easy to reach, and the hand adjustable windshield is also simple to use. It’s helpful to protect you from the wind. Traction control is a necessity in the wet though, otherwise you might feel like a baby giraffe on ice skates.

2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES
2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES

Two traction control modes are available, should you need them, including TCS1 and TCS2, which allow for different options, depending on conditions and rider ability. Importantly, braking is ample, without being super bike brutal.

ABS is standard and comes with the UBS unified braking system. This system allows the rider to operate both front and rear brakes by pulling the front brake lever; especially handy when standing on the pegs.

Grooved front foot pegs are feature of the Super Tenere. When seated, the rubber cushions provide amazing comfort, but once you stand, the rubber compresses and allows your boots to contact the metal spikes, thus giving better grip and control.

It’s those little details that make the Yamaha a stand-out. Suspension management is easy too, with four pre-load and thre damping settings available at the push of a button, as are an addition seven fine tuning adjustments.

The suspension can be dialled in to suit not only the rider, but also the passenger and the amount of luggage being carried. The adventure bike also comes with cruise control, and the dash is easy to read, with the menu system a cinch to navigate.

2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES

A 23-litre fuel tank ensures you’re good for around 350km of riding, with fuel economy of around 6.5-litres/100km. Wraparound handlebar guards help with wind deflection, which is handy for not only cold mornings, but protection from sticks and shrubs when off road.

It comes with a centre stand, and heated hand grips, and is luggage ready, having been designed to carry gear. Available in just one colour, Ceramic Ice, the 2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES is priced at $24,349 ride away.

Rivals vying for your adventure touring bike dollar include the BMW GS 1250, Honda Africa Twin, Suzuki V-Strom and the Triumph Tiger 1200.

Our test bike was supplied by Yamaha Motor Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES, contact your local Yamaha dealer.

2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES
2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES


Ride experience
Style and comfort
Braking and handling
Technology and connectivity
Overall bike performance


Pros - compact, effortless engine; versatility; electronic controls.
Cons - lack of colour choices.
Adam Cranstone
Adam Cranstone
Adam Cranstone started his motorbike journey in his teenage years when he brought home his first bike against his parents wishes. It was at that point that he knew motorbikes were in his blood. He has a love for high performance sports bikes, dirt bikes and tourers, but is happy to climb aboard any two-wheeled machine.


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<strong>Pros -</strong> compact, effortless engine; versatility; electronic controls.<br> <strong>Cons -</strong> lack of colour choices.Ride On: 2020 Yamaha XT1200ZE Super Tenere ES