Yamaha’s Ténéré 700 has punched above its weight since it joined the mid-size ADV class in 2019. With Iwata’s lauded CP2 engine plopped into a double-cradle tubular steel frame, the T7 favors usability and simplicity over outright performance. That practicality draws in beginner off-roaders as well as experienced riders looking for a back-to-basics package.
However, the Ténéré 700’s greatest strength is also its greatest weakness, with many detractors citing its rudimentary electronics package as a barrier to purchase. That’s where Aprilia steps in, filling the void with its all-new Tuareg 660. Drawing inspiration from the Tuareg 600 Wind of the ’80s and ’90s, the mid-size adventure bike features Aprilia’s snazzy new 660 parallel-twin and a modern electronic suite to match.
With the Ténéré 700 and Tuareg 660 vying for the same customers, they take similar approaches to achieving the same goal. From neo-retro styling to rally-inspired ergonomics, the two adventurers share countless characteristics. Comparing the two spec sheets may lead to many split decisions, but it’s worth splitting hairs to truly see who has what it takes to go the distance in the class.
|2022 Aprilia Tuareg 660||2021 Yamaha Ténéré 700|
|Engine:||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 659cc parallel-twin||Liquid-cooled, DOHC, 689cc parallel-twin|
|Bore and Stroke:||81mm x 63.93 mm||81mm x 63.93 mm|
|Performance:||80 hp/ 51.6 lb-ft||74 hp/ 50 lb-ft|
|Weight (wet):||449 pounds||452 pounds|
Most riders don’t need fire-breathing engines to enjoy the trail. In some cases, less power is actually more effective. With the Tuareg and Ténéré’s liquid-cooled, DOHC parallel-twins only separated by 40cc, that point isn’t lost on Aprilia and Yamaha. Transplanted from the Yamaha MT-07, the CP2 engine retains its 74 horsepower and 50 lb-ft of torque. On the other hand, Aprilia repurposes the RS 660’s parallel-twin, tuning the mill to produce 80 ponies and peak torque of 51.6 lb-ft in the Tuareg 660.
While the torque numbers are practically identical, the Tuareg’s 6-horsepower edge and more oversquare architecture secure the early victory. However, you don’t win a war with one battle, and you don’t conquer the dirt with an engine alone. For that, Yamaha and Aprilia turn to the chassis. The House of Noale uses its 660 twin as a stressed member of the tubular steel frame while Iwata wedges its CP2 into a double-cradle frame.
On the Ténéré, a fully adjustable 43mm USD fork provides 8.3 inches of front wheel travel, and a rebound and preload-adjustable rear shock results in 7.9 inches of travel. Similarly, the Tuareg features a fully adjustable 43mm USD front end and fully adjustable monoshock, but the Kayaba suspenders tout 9.4 inches of travel fore and aft. Despite its long legs, the Aprilia still has a lower seat height at 33.9 inches versus the Yamaha’s 34.4-inch-high perch.
Rake remains nearly indistinguishable with the Tuareg’s 26.7-degree headstock angle edging out the T7’s 27-degree rake. However, long-distance travelers will enjoy the stability of the Ténéré’s 62.8-inch wheelbase while canyon carvers will prefer the agility of the 660’s 60-inch wheelbase. Both middleweights boast Brembo calipers, but the Aprilia’s dual 300mm discs up front and 260mm rear rotor overshadow the Yamaha’s 282mm front and 245mm rear discs. When studied under a microscope, the Aprilia Tuareg 660 narrowly wins the hardware battle, but it doesn’t skimp on software either.
The Tech Factor
To keep the T7 affordable, Yamaha skimped on electronic rider aids. Without traction control or ride modes, the Ténéré 700 puts all the power in the rider’s right wrist. However, switchable ABS eliminates lock-ups on the road while still allowing the rear to slide in the dirt. The Ténéré’s LCD display matches those minimal electronics, only displaying speed, gear, range, revs, and time.
On the flip side, the Tuareg champions Aprilia’s APRC Suite with four-level traction control, three engine-braking settings, three engine maps, and cruise control. The new ADV also offers Urban, Explore, Off-road, and Individual ride modes. Multimap ABS adapts the Tuareg 660 to current conditions and available traction. Users can adjust all the settings via the five-inch TFT full-color display. Bluetooth connectivity also pairs the system to a smartphone, allowing riders to access media, display GPS navigation, and take phone calls on the go.
On the face of it, the new rivalry between the Yamaha Ténéré 700 and the Aprilia Tuareg 660 is an even bout. The neo-Dakar styling, long suspension, and similar power output make the models direct competitors. While Team Blue favors a budget-friendly build and MSRP, Aprilia prioritizes performance and tech. That, of course, leads to the Tuareg’s $11,999 price tag.
At $9,999, the Ténéré remains an incredible value. It may not have the bells and whistles of the Aprilia, but the T7 still strikes an excellent balance between price and performance. The Ténéré 700 may have found its bang-for-buck match in the Tuareg, however. Aprilia matches its higher price with higher-spec componentry, making the 660 an instant contender in the mid-size ADV market.
The Yamaha caters to a back-to-basics rider. The Aprilia suits tech-savvy riders that expect more control and flexibility. The two models may be direct competitors but they serve very different riding styles, which is a win-win for Yamaha, Aprilia, and the customer.