The Battle of Middleweight Adventure Bikes: Yamaha Ténéré 700 vs Honda XL750 Transalp

The middleweight adventure bike segment is filled with options from various manufacturers. From the major Japanese brands to the prominent European manufacturers, it's clear that adventure bikes with compact engines, typically ranging from 700cc to 900cc, are the preferred choice for adventure riding.

However, two models stand out in terms of pricing, performance, and intended use, and they both come from two highly respected Japanese manufacturers. We're referring to the Yamaha Ténéré 700 and the Honda XL750 Transalp. Having ridden both bikes on multiple occasions, it's safe to say that choosing one over the other is extremely challenging. But riding them is one thing, owning both is a different story altogether.

Fortunately, Ben Sell, also known as Dork In The Road on YouTube, does own both bikes, and he recently provided a detailed comparison of the pros and cons of each bike. Known as everyone's "Internet riding buddy," Dork In The Road's videos are enjoyable, light-hearted, and informative. His comparison of these two middleweight adventure bikes is no exception, and he makes compelling arguments for both.

Firstly, he highlights the strengths of both bikes. As Japanese bikes, they are highly reliable, although not as technologically advanced as their European counterparts. Additionally, they are priced similarly, with the Ténéré 700 retailing for $10,799 USD and the Transalp having a lower MSRP of $9,999 USD. In terms of specs and features, they are also quite similar, with both bikes sporting a 21-inch front wheel and weighing around 450 pounds.

Despite these similarities, there are a few seemingly minor differences that could be significant for avid adventurers. Ben mentions ground clearance, a crucial factor for off-road riding, with the Ténéré 700 having an advantage with 9.3 inches compared to the Honda's 8.3 inches. Consequently, the T7 also has a higher seat height than the Transalp, which is worth considering for beginner riders or those on the shorter side.

Next, Ben discusses the strengths of each bike. Starting with the Transalp, he explains how Honda envisioned it as a capable machine for both on and off-road use, with a focus on comfort. Having ridden the Transalp before, he agrees that it is more comfortable than the T7, evident from its cushier saddle that is better suited for longer rides.

Ben also states that the Transalp is a superior street bike, largely due to its electronics package. With five riding modes, three of which are designed for road use, it's clear that Honda prioritized the Transalp as a road bike before an adventurous one. This makes the Transalp an excellent long-distance tourer, as intended by Honda. However, Ben also claims that the Transalp performs admirably off-road, even suggesting that it can do 90 percent of what the Ténéré can do.

Turning to the Yamaha Ténéré 700, despite using one of the most popular motors in the world of motorcycling, the CP2, it is a more purpose-driven machine than the XL750 Transalp. It is a simpler machine overall, foregoing sophisticated electronics and rider aids in favor of a basic cable-actuated throttle, with switchable ABS being the only notable tech feature. Ben also explains that the Ténéré 700 has better suspension, offering more adjustability and slightly more travel. Overall, Ben emphasizes that the T7 was designed with function in mind, specifically excelling in off-road performance.

When it comes to determining which bike is better, Dork In The Road asserts that, like most things in life, the choice ultimately depends on individual needs and preferences. As for Ben's personal choice, he concludes in the video that the Transalp offers a little more than the Ténéré as an overall package. Both bikes straddle the line between on and off-road capability, with the T7 leaning more towards off-road and the Transalp leaning more towards on-road. Therefore, it's important to keep this in mind when considering these two bikes.