WHAT ABOUT A JUNIOR TENERE?
In TRAIL ZONE issue 28 in the article ‘Riding with factory Phil’, the question was asked about the re-introduction of the Super Tenere. My question is, what about a ‘Junior’ Tenere??? The Super Tenere was developed as a big-bore weapon for the Dakar. Now that the Dakar has a 450cc limit, are manufacturers going to release a bike such as the Tenere, but in a smaller capacity to compete in these type of events? (There’s actually quite a few Rallye events around when you start looking.) You could add pages of pros and cons, but I just wanted to throw the idea out there.
-- Mark McConnell, via www.trailzone.com.au
Thanks for your email, Mark. Yeah, we've got the new Tenere now, and the next new Super Tenere is all set to be revealed internationally on February 24, so it's a fair question to ask about a 'Junior' Tenere. No doubt the thrust behind the 'controversial' change to 450cc machinery in the Dakar Rally has been aimed to generate more manufacturer support, and with the growing popularity of the Dakar and the success of the change in venue to South America and the massive publicity the event draws, manufacturers would obviously be keen to exploit the commercial success of 450cc rallye type machines by building production versions for general sale. Witness the Gas Gas 450 Desert, which is precisely that kind of machine. As you ponder, you would imagine Yamaha would be one brand enthusiastic to pursue this concept, given their rich history of Dakar competition. So, too, would be KTM, with this year's Dakar winner Cyril Despres already on record as saying he will soon begin work on testing and developing KTM's new 450cc rallye race bike for next year's Dakar -- despite all the hoopla at the time when the 450cc-for-Dakar changes were first announced and KTM pulled its support of the event. The 450cc rallye bikes will come, but as to whether they will remain factory specials or if they will be built in solid numbers by the factories for worldwide sale, only market demand would dictate that. Certainly the lower-volume specialist European brands can readily adapt their existing 450s by building rallye versions. To get back to your point, a Junior Tenere is an interesting concept: merge the existing WR450F platform with a new-generation WR450R-style machine (EFI, even more durable valve-train, increased engine oil capacity, wider gear ratios, beefed up frame etc) and then add a larger tank, fairing and space for navigation equipment etc and you have a machine that would readily find a home amongst rallye replica riders wanting to live the Dakar dream. But what kind of numbers would it sell? That's the $64,000 question. And only Yamaha's marketing and sales departments can answer that question in advance before the product planning dept and engineers even start mulling over their drawing boards. The current WR450F is a massive seller in Australia, but would a WR450R Junior Tenere sell as well? Would it sell well enough to justify its existence? Guess we won't know until they try! Stay tuned.
-- Clubby, www.trailzone.com.au