We have at last our Yamaha Ténéré 700 long termer. A bike we were looking to test in depth in 2020, but between Covid and latterly the world shipping issues – and the supply and demand position – it was seriously delayed.
But it’s here now and we’ve got some great plans for it. We plan to mix up the riding, taking in some local rallies and go touring – in an adventuresome way! Plus it’s going to be doing some serious trail scouting – but more on that later.
We’ll also look at personalising it – like every Ténéré owner does. Picking from the Yamaha accessories catalogue and working with Touratech on their vast array of aftermarket parts we’re looking forward to making the Ténéré our perfect travel bike. We’ll be working with other accessory suppliers too, naturally!
YAMAHA Ténéré 700 – Part one: fitting the bike to the rider
Here we go – step one, making the ‘cockpit’ fit the rider. And I’ll make this clear now, so we’re all on the same page – this ‘build’ (and I hesitate to call it that) is all about enhancing the Ténéré’s touring capability. Of course, that’s adventure-touring, we’ll be going off-road, but essentially we’re not looking to soup the T7 up into some maxi-rally racer. You see, we’re going back to the roots of adventure which is travelling the road/track less travelled. Not seeing is we can launch 250kg from this end to the other of an MX tabletop jump.
Now we had planned on doing some roadbook rallies in 2021 – which are not speed events, incidentally – but life gets complicated when you’re dealing with the estate of your deceased father so at least two of these have now passed me by while land agents, valuers, solicitors and accountants vie for attention. But fear not, we’re on the cusp of a super adventure that’ll see the Ténéré doing exactly what it’s intended for. So best get on with the prep…
D’oh, I said it again. This is not a build, just a matter of adding aftermarket parts that will help the Ténéré work even better over the travel missions we have instore for it. The add-ons I’m categorising like this: ergonomics, protection, travel. In this issue I’ll look at the ergos, next issue the protection parts and so on. I’m sure tyres and suspension will crop up at some stage, too. To be fair, with Pirelli Scorpion Rally tyres already fitted as standard we’re doing okay, there’s no need to immediately swap these out. I did a month’s ride across the Aussie Outback with bikes on these tyres and they were excellent. Admittedly Aussie’s red sand and Wales’s black mud have nothing in common, but generally when it comes to adventure bikes mud is in any case best avoided whatever the tyre.
A few years back I created a feature on personalising an enduro bike to fit the rider – just using things like the correct spring weights in the suspension, putting the handlebars in the best position, choosing the correct seat etc. The effect was far greater than I’d imagined, it transformed the ride and since then I’ve paid a lot more attention to how the bike fits the rider.
So before adding lots of other parts I figured my best first step was making the Ténéré fit me better. For this I changed three things.
I’m 6’0” tall, or was, with age I think I’ve lost half an inch off that. However, with a 33” inseam I find the standard seat creates too much knee bend to be comfortable for me for long distances. My answer to this was very simple, Yamaha offer an accessory tall ‘rally’ seat option which adds a significant 35mm to the seat height. It’s not cheap, though (RRP £317.95), so you’d think twice before buying.
Also, bear this in mind: having already jacked up the rear end with extra preload (to allow for this 100kg rider in all his gear) that extra 35mm puts me on tiptoes at a standstill. For once, I’m getting to find out how it is for shorter people riding big adventure bikes and yes, when it comes to stopping at traffic lights, or anywhere, I’m carefully considering which foot to put down so I don’t teeter over.
The upside is I now have the optimum seat-to-footpeg distance which is way more comfortable, less tiring, and it’s easier to transition from sitting to standing when off-road. As well the rally seat seems to be about an inch wider where I sit so there’s plenty of support. Given two six-hour rides (one in perpetual rain) I can now report the seat works a treat, I can just about go a whole tankful (2.5 hours) in relative comfort, with just a few fidgets toward the end each time. If I add my old sheepskin it’s even more cushy. And even after the six hours when I get off the bike I’m not crippled and I suffer no leg cramps. And despite being sat that much higher the screen still works just fine, my head is not getting blown off. Yeah, for me the seat is a gamechanger!
Where to buy: https://www.yamaha-motor.eu/gb/en/products/motorcycles/adventure/t-n-r-700-2022/accessories/rally-seat/bw3-f47c0-10-00/?path=/?page=1&categories.id=b7f96c7e-a7b8-4719-97a7-30410d4145a5#/
I fear coming off as a bit of a prima donna here, but I like decent foot pegs. Mostly standard units are good enough, but the Ténéré’s just don’t quite do it for me off-road. Often, I’m riding in a smooth-sole mx boot – as against proper adventure boots with a commando sole – so I find I need grippier pegs so my feet don’t slip off. A recent trip to the Yamaha Off Road Experience in Wales revealed a great option – the standard Yamaha YZ/WR footpegs slip straight in – which is a mod they’ve done with their school Ténérés.
Now I’ve ridden with longer rally footpegs in the past and they work great but too often I found myself snagging them with my pant leg when trying to put a foot down, sometimes with near disastrous consequences. So I was happy to go with these regular MX pegs. Dimensionally they’re almost identical to the standard pegs, but the ‘teeth’ are just a little bit pointier and there’s that all important third row of teeth across the middle for added grip. The return spring is also beefier and properly snaps the peg back into position if they get flipped up in a rut.
And I’ll mention this now, because the likelihood is this mod is the only one I’m making that will actually save, not add, weight. Yeah, standard peg (without rubber insert) is 290 grams, YZ peg is 232 grams, so for the two that’s 104 grams saved. Which I’ll put in the credit column against the debit of tens of kilos that are going to come along very soon!
Touratech folding, adjustable brake/clutch lever set
I recall adding some Zeta adjustable levers to a Honda CRF250L project we ran at TBM back in 2014 – they were excellent and really improved the feel. I was quite surprised. This came to mind on my first rides with the Ténéré. The standard levers are fine but I found the clutch lever was a longer reach than I’d like and both being fairly basic sort they would not survive a fall.
Yamaha can supply a set of Gilles folding levers but at £234 the pair of course I baulked. However, our friends Touratech make a similar spec’d set for roughly half that (£128.52) – still CNC-machined high grade aluminium and adjustable for span and length and the fold upwards should they contact the ground. They’re well finished too, being anodised black. Just a winning combination.
Straightaway I now have the clutch lever where I want it for easy single-finger operation and until I fit the upgraded handguards (and even after that) I’ll not have to worry about breakage.
You’ll notice I’ve not fitted bar risers. Curiously I’ve gone off them a bit. Probably I’ve listened to too many people mention how they adversely affect steering (moving your weight too far back) and are prone to snapping in a fall. But as with enduro I’ve become used to riding with a lower bar bend and finding better connection to the front end. We’ll see if I change my mind on that.
So next time I’ll take you through the protection I’m adding. And if that wasn’t weight enough I’m adding a centrestand (most definitely not racing this one, eh?) and I’ll explain that move in more detail then.