Euro Allure: Yamaha Imports Two European Models to Bolster its 2011 American Lineup

Big-bore "trailies" are best-sellers in Europe, and among the best-selling European models in America. With the exception of Suzuki's V-Strom, however, Japanese manufacturers have never offered a proper, full-spec adventure-tourer stateside. This changes with Yamaha's decision to offer its Super Ténéré, introduced to Europe in 2010, to America buyers next year.

Priced at $13,900, the Super Ténéré could give the dominant BMW R1200GS and upstart Ducati Multistrada 1200 serious competition. That figure undercuts the base-model BMW and Ducati by $1050 and $1095, respectively, and includes a ride-by-wire throttle, three levels of selectable traction control, switchable drive modes and linked anti-lock brakes as standard equipment. Similar high-tech rider aids are optional on the other bikes and push their prices close to $20,000, making the Yamaha a comparative value.

Don't expect the Super Ténéré to give up anything in terms of performance or comfort. The ultra-compact, 1200cc parallel-twin uses a 270-degree Crossplane crankshaft influenced by the YZF-R1 superbike to help make the claimed 110 horsepower and 84 lb.-ft. of torque (figures nearly identical to the BMW, BTW) easy to apply and exploit. The steel frame is carefully engineered to reduce rider fatigue, while a two-axis primary balancer reduces engine vibration and an adjustable-height seat lets riders customize the riding position.

To avoid containers of unsold adventure-tourers clogging up warehouses if the model fails to find favor in the U.S., Yamaha has devised a clever and almost risk-free distribution scheme. The Super Ténéré will be available exclusively on a special-order basis via the company's Priority Delivery Program. If you're ready to put your money where your mouth is, your local Yamaha dealer is accepting $500 advance deposits right now. First deliveries are planned for May.

Yamaha will also bring the new-for-2010 FZ8 stateside for 2011. The midsized, 779cc inline-four essentially makes this bike a class of one, promising more usable midrange power than a 600cc naked at a significantly lower price than liter-sized standards. Its $8490 MSRP is $2000 less than Yamaha's 1000cc FZ1, though the claimed 487-lb. curb weight is identical. A more aggressive "mass-forward" riding position and a smaller, 180mm-wide rear tire should keep handling acceptably nimble and light. Taking a cue from that legendary penny-pincher Henry Ford, black-or Raven, as Yamaha prefers-is the only available color.

The FZ8 shares the same aluminum frame as the FZ1, but with a smaller-capacity inline-four. Different-length intake stacks boost torque.