Quick ride: Yamaha XT700 Tenere review

t777See also:
Yamaha’s Ténéré travel bikes
Yamaha XScrambleR 700
Yamaha XT660Z Tenere
Africa Twin
Soon:
KTM 790R
Honda NC750X

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn the UK, July’s ABR show was the only chance to road-test Yamaha’s much-awaited XT700 Tenere before it reached dealers in September.
As a Tenere rider from the very start, and a fan of Yamaha’s proven CP2 engine from my XSR 700 (below right), I’ve been looking forward to trying the XT7. The show’s timing also allowed a fortnight before a £300 (~3.5%) pre-order discount expired, bringing the cost down to £8400.

In a line:
With the irresistible CP2 motor and legendary branding, the new XT700 Tenere will be a hit.

Modern bikes from established manufacturers are now predictably brilliant, and the recent launch reviews raved about the XT700. No great surprise there; Yamaha took their time trying to get the new Tenere just right while keeping the price down. We’ve all read or experienced what happens when that doesn’t happen. And like Honda’s Africa Twin of a few years ago, Yamaha chose to dodge a ‘because-we-can’ horsepower and tech-war with the KTM790 Adventure with which the XT7 is being inevitably compared.
The new Tenere shares the same CP2 motor with the MT-07 naked, Tracer tourer and XSR retro. Everything else is new or different. Since being introduced in 2014, all three have combined to make one of the all-time most successful model ranges for Yamaha. By now over 100,000 units have been sold worldwide and the XT700 will add to that figure just a fast as they can bang them out.

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They may have saved time by ignoring electronic aids but, crucially, Yamaha didn’t cut corners on the suspension, which often defines budget Jap bikes these days. And the XT OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAincludes one of my favourite gadgets: a 26-click  hydraulic pre-load adjustment knob (PLA; left) on the piggyback shock. It means you don’t have to faff about with C-spanners, or more often, hammers and chisels, to alter preload. It may be right under the mudguard collecting crap off the tyre, rather than to one side, but this sort of real-world prioritising speaks to riders like me whose eyesight is now too poor to be dazzled by colourful TFT screens, quick-shifters, cornering ABS, traction and cruise control plus ESA and over a dozen engine modes. Years of hard-won experience have taught the likes of us to simply ride appropriately for the conditions and location, be that 86-tin-taradjelinegotiating a rainy winter’s rush hour, or off-roading alone in the middle of nowhere (left).

Hook up a throttle cable to a CP2 motor and that’s all the traction control you need.

Indeed – just like the old Tenere singles, many commenters (and they are legion) are citing the XT700’s very simplicity including lack of riding aids, as integral to its appeal. It’s kept costs down, doesn’t radically affect the bike’s day-to-day usability, and is one less thing to light up the dash should the electronics play up.
That leaves ABS, which is now mandatory on all new bikes in the EU. Unlike the list above, it’s a safety feature I welcome, and at a standstill, can be disabled for the dirt. (On loose surfaces ABS can cut in too soon and extend braking distances. You don’t want that, though I’ve found at normal dirt speeds ABS on bikes is rarely a problem.)


What they say [source; includes typos]
When you’re riding the new Ténéré 700, your future can be whatever you want it to be. Because this a go-anywhere motorcycle that enables you to live life without limits and experience a new feeling of total freedom.
Driven by a high-torque, 689cc, 2-cylinder engine, equipped with a special optimised transmission that gives you the ideal balance of power and control, this rally-bred long distance adventure bike is built to master a wide range of riding conditions on the dirt
of asphalt.
The compact tubular chassis and slim bodywork offer maximum agility during stand up or sit down riding – and long travel suspension and spoke wheels give you the ability to get to anywhere you want. Just fill up and go! The Next Horizon is Yours.

Yamaha Adventure Brochure

Engine character and response – it’s perfect
• Fully adjustable, plush suspension
• Pre-load adjustment knob
Weighs 205kg (unverified). Same as my 660Z and less than my CB500X RR
• Flat but grippy textured seat
• Brakes feel good, road or dirt
• Brisk and agile on the road
• A display scroll button now on right bar
• 25,000-mile valve-clearance intervals
• Well set up cockpit
• Centre stand – at least an available option
• OMG – no beak!
• Is it such a bargain? Over £2k more than an MT-07
• At 16-litres, the tank could use a couple more
• Top-heavy at a standstill
• Non-adjustable screen
Handguards are plastic
• Screw-in filler cap
• At 34.5″ (875 mm), stock seat too high for many.
• Tall riders will need bar risers to stand comfortably

First impressions
Compared to the original T7 concept from a bike show back in 2016 (left), the production bike looks as good, but not dazzling. According to a tape measure, it has nearly the same dimensions as an Africa Twin (right); in t7rATfact it’s two inches longer but it sure looks less bulky. (There were loads of ATs at this show. Great to see how popular they’ve become instead of the You Know Whats).
With a 32-inch inseam and workboots, on the standard 875mm-high (34.5 inch) seat I was able to get my feet flat on the ground, but with little knee-bend to spare. There’s a lower 840-mm (33- inch) option which will be well worth a look, plus a higher rally seat. I noted coming back to the Yamaha stand one normal-sized bloke struggling to manoeuvre his T7 into place; one foot in the air, the other on tiptoe.
Although the CP2 motor is a slim unit, they’ve maintained that overall impression with a narrow seat and screen. Even the LCD display is in portrait format to suggest lack of width. This is not a wide-arsed GS12 or XT1200Z, and because of that feels less intimidating and more fun to ride on and off road.
t7rdasherThe plain LCD digital dash is a rectangular version of the round unit off my XSR: switchable Imperial/metric speed, gear, fuel and time readouts, plus the same range of seven other metrics in various formats, but with only room to display one at a time. On the MT-07/XSR you reached over and scrolled with a button on the display. The XT700 has a Select button on the right bar (below) which does the same and so makes it much easier to change the display on the move. Cycling the button seven times hits them all. Neat and simple.

• Ambient temperature (C or F)
• Engine temp
• Average mpg (or other formats)
• Current mpg (ditto)
• Odometer
• Trip
• Another trip?

Up here you also have a power outlet plus a place for another one, and a bar above the display for mounting a navigation aid or even a roadbook at near eye level.

t7rdash

The CP2 (right) may be narrow, cp2-motor
but it’s a tall wet sump motor which makes it less suited to trail bikes in need of ground clearance without getting too top-heavy;
there’s a lot of mass above those pistons, and a fuel tank too. This is partly why four-stroke trail and dirt bikes are traditionally dry sump, with a pump and an oil reservoir somewhere.
While repairing my XSR I remember wondering if I could have realistically reduced the 3-inch depth of the protruding sump, even though it was fairly well surrounded by the silencer box and header pipes. Some oil volume would have been lost.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn the XT7, under the skimpy 2mm alloy bashplate (left), it’s the same deep sump, so the longer suspension makes the whole bike top-heavy at parking speeds. It’s nothing new with such bikes, but I did have an …oh shit… moment, lowering the bike onto the stand on an off-camber path to remove dry grass from the hot pipes. It’s a long old way to fall, even at zero mph.

t7rlampThe narrow but steeply raked screen looked like it should do the job. Housed in the rally-style fairing, you’d also hope that, with four-LEDs plus two smaller day-lights, the headlight set-up (left) will do more than just look good once the sun goes down.
Sat on the bike, I liked the high, wide but slim feel and, apart from the saddle height and weight, felt right at home on the XT7.
eclipse-mapFor a bike carrying the Tenere name of the legendary ‘desert within a desert’ (left), only the modest fuel tank capacity spoils the picture. You imagine a sub-205-kg wet weight by any means possible was locked into the design brief, and the easiest way to play with that is tank volume. It’s only 2 litres bigger than my XSR, but if the XT700 averages the same consumption, that will still add up to a range of 420 km (260 miles), or between 330 and 510 km. Right on target for a travel bike. One easy way of unobtrusively supplementing fuel range to the XT would be to attach flat fuel containers low down to the accessory engine crash bars (right; another 200 quid). Fyi, the bike I rode had recorded an average of 58mpg / 20.5kpl since the tank had been refilled.

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t7rsidewTest ride
The 45-minute test ride – part of the so-called Tenere Tour doing Europe at the moment – was an escorted run. This meant little chance to grab good photos. About eight German-registered XT7s were available, all with a few light scrapes from previous test rides. My bike showed 3800 miles on the clock, but otherwise looked pretty new.
You had to book a time allocation. I arrived before the show gates opened and even then, got on the second or third slot that day. I overheard that by the end of Friday the whole weekend had been booked out for XT7 test rides.

Initially, the route followed a marked grassy trail around the spacious grounds of Ragley Hall, before a taking off on a blast around Warwickshire’s lush, midsummer backroads.
I was told all these pre-production bikes were all destined for the crusher (a common practice). No chance of getting an ex-test bike cheap.

On the trail
Tender - 12twin_crank_shaft_anglesPulling away, who can resist the instantaneous grunt of that CP2 engine, characterised by its 270-° crank timing, (left; more here). In the modern era it was first used on Yamaha’s TDM900 but has now become almost ubiquitous on big parallel twins. It’s one of my all-time favourite motors, harking back to my XS650 or, of course, your favourite 90-° V-twin, whose firing pulse is replicated by a 270-° crank, but in a much more compact engine. Thanks to revised injection mapping and a new pipe and air box, the XT7’s added low-down torque was noticeable right away and might even have been described as snatchy. The radiator is a little different, too.
According to Yamaha 
t7rpipespecs, the XT700’s 72hp at 9000 rpm is 5% less than the three CP2-engined road bikes, but it has the same 68Nm of torque at 6500rpm. I imagine the XT’s long, rally-style pipe (right) helps deliver that low-down torque, compared to the stumpy XSR/MT-07 silencers (inset).
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe way my clutch was adjusted, initially, the unfamiliar bike was a bit of a handful in the slower sections – or maybe it was just a little snatchy at low rpm. This wasn’t helped by the tall first gear and shallow-blocked Pirelli Scorpion Rally do-it-all tyres on the flattened dry grass with all the grip of old lino.
Tubeless spoked rims (as found on the XT1200Z) would have blown the XT700 budget, but I have a hope that the rear rim has safety beads, which make sealing with Airtight or BARTubeless a possibility. On the front that’s less likely, but safety-beaded 21s are available. As it is, a tubeless rear is more useful, as on the road that’s where most flats occur.

Gearing
Riding along in first hand off the throttle at the 1400rpm tickover, the bike fuelled cleanly but the speedo registered 7mph. As with so many bikes in this category, that’s normal but too fast for trickling uphill round gnarly hairpins without slipping the clutch, though I recall the XSR managing that surprisingly well in Morocco. Problems may occur doing that for too long x7-sidein hot conditions, but let’s be realistic: this is a 200-kilo bike. Despite the exuberant promo images (left), the elephant in the adventure-motorcycling room is the belief that bikes two or three times the weight of their pilots are manageable on anything more than smooth gravel tracks. For most, they make fun road bikes with a cool, adventuresome image.
Compared to the MT-07 (and probably XSR), I read here that they’ve added three teeth on the rear sprocket but taken one off the front, ending up with 15/46. That adds up to an identical 0.33 final-drive ratio unless I am very much mistaken, so it may have more to do with chain/swingarm clearance for the longer-travel suspension. It’s actually the taller 18-inch wheel with a 150/70-R18 tyre which increases the overall diameter to raise the gearing. Unless they’ve taken the trouble to modify the internal gear ratios, any mention of ‘… special optimised transmission…’ (as above) is presumably just marketing flannel.

t7rgrass.jpg

Sat upright, grappling the wide ‘bars, at least the big trail bike’s commanding seating position makes you feel both in control and nimble; ready to respond with confidence to whatever’s ahead. It’s not a new idea, but squidgy rubber inserts in the footrests (right) also mean you get the benefits of comfort and isolation sitting down, with boot soles compressing the rubber and biting the serrated metal edges when standing up.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADoing this, as expected, I found the fatbars an inch or two too low to stand comfortably (me: 6  foot 1). That can be fixed with Yamaha risers or similar, but I did notice that to get the stock bars up, the rubber-mounted bar mounts (left) are even higher than they were on my XSR. Add some risers and that’s getting on for six inches of leverage on the triple clamp mounts when hammering over rough terrain or when the bike falls over (my XSR ones were bent in the write-off crash).

t7rstanley

This may be a red herring and only relevant 2bikesto taller riders who expect to need to stand, but it’s a problem I’ve encountered on projects when trying to convert what’s essentially a road bike into an all-road travel bike – particularly when attempting to Tenerise a TDM (right). You can’t just fit some apehangers and hope for the best. At the front, the XT700 is still a low-headstock, MT-07/XSR road chassis (more below).
Who knows what the settings were, but the suspension coped fine on the trail at our modest speeds. It soaked up what few bumps I could find and had it not, there’s preload as well as rebound and compression damping to meddle with. It was hard to make a worthwhile evaluation in our 10 to 15 minutes on the grassy trails, but it’s unlikely the Tenere’s suspension will urgently need the same Rally-Raid treatment which their CB500Xs benefit from. a great motor and good, adjustable suspension is half the battle won.
t7rbrakesThe brakes too had enough feel plus ABS back-up to inspire confidence and stop you embarrassing yourself. I never knowingly actuated the ABS.
It might be an off-road clearance issue, but Id have prefered a powerful single rotor on the front; it saves tententenweight and worked fine on an NC750X I tried later. The XT660Z single (right) which this bike effectively replaces was unnecessarily lumbered with twin front discs. The front wheel on that thing weighed a ton.

t7rriders

On the road
Truly, there’s nothing more I need from a motorbike engine apart from 100mpg: smooth, ambrosia-like power delivery right off the throttle, but with that sweet, characterful lumpiness of warm rice pudding and which can never be called harshness or vibration. Just as it was on my XSR. I bet the manual Africa Twin and some Triumph twins are similar – a KTM790 I rode wasn’t, and it’s what’s missing from Honda’s bland CB500X. Done up with a Rally Raid kit (as mine was), I’d call the CB a contender alongside the T7, especially with the 2019 model’s 19-inch front wheel.
t7rriderOnce on the highway, the escort riders didn’t dawdle unnecessarily and the XT700 took it all in its stride. Potholes and drain covers didn’t faze the springing, the brakes handled sudden bunch-ups well, and the motor just pulled up through it all as fast as you wanted to go. I could have kept going all day.
You’re sitting on 200mm or 8 inches of fully adjustable and compliant suspension with USD forks and the PLA on the back. As it’s so easy, I cranked the knob all the way in to 26: the ride was much firmer – ready for some heavy throwovers and a dusty trail. Back at the normal mid-setting, the feel is of being able to hit irregularities with less wincing while – if you know what you’re doing – tuning the damping in both directions as well as easily setting the sag; the vital metric.
Where 60 to 70mph was possible, the blast from the slim screen hit me at nose level but still gave useful protection. I could crouch and get out of the wind, but wearing a Moto III didn’t help the aerodynamics. You’re riding a motorbike; don’t expect a turbulence-free cocoon. Just as since time immemorial, the mirrors shared the rear view with my arms but were blur-free.

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t7rclutchAfter a while I noticed that the plastic clutch plate and arm cover (right; not present on earlier CP2 bikes) pressed into my right shin – and this was without knee-high boots. Maybe I have fat calves but it was never an issue on the XSR7 and at least two other reviews have mentioned it. I’m not sure what it does – stop boot rubbing? It could be easily removed.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe stock bashplate (left) is skimpy, but it’s a start. For 200 quid Yamaha do an optional version (right) which better covers the vulnerable water-pump and inlet pipes. These components were good and mashed following a low-side on the written-off XSR I bought. The engine bars pictured far below will work with the standard bashplate.

Revised chassis
The potential of lively owners grabbing big air required a heavily revised frame on the T7 (left).
Among other things, on the XSR700 etc, the top of the laid-over shock attaches to a lug on the top of the gearbox casing (above right); an expensive repair if that sheers off during a Great Escape (right).
mt07-frameThe XT700 has a different linkage for a vertically positioned shock which mounts to a chassis cross member which is better able to contain shock loads.
They call it double cradle, but you can clearly see above left, it’s not a closed loop. The new (red) downtubes meet the footrest mounts because, using the same rationale as the shock, a bashplate is better mounted to a chassis than a crankcase.
I didn’t get a chance to remove the seat and panels to eye up the rear subframe, but again, from the image top left you can see the triangulation is much greater, partly because the silencer needs to hang off it. Round the headstock they’ve added additional bracing.
Is that an alloy sidestand? If so I presume it’s solid cast and will be up to supporting the weight of the lent-over loaded bike when oiling the chain or removing the wheel. They do offer an optional centre stand which, having had one for the first time in years on the Himalayan, is a worthwhile redundancy on a travel bike.

t7rblaktenThe first batch of XT700s are being assembled in France right now from parts made in Japan. This must mean the MBK Industrie plant in Saint Quentin, south of Lille. A few early-adopters might get their pre-orders in July 2019; the rest will get them from September onwards when production resumes after the August factory break.
North America gets bikes shipped directly from Japan some time in late 2020 (as will Australiasia and maybe RSA, following late-2019 deliveries from Europe). The official explanation claims it’s: “Due to differing government regulatory standards and factory production line schedules.”
Either way, the wait of a year ought to help eliminate any teething problems, unlikely though they are with the established CP2 engine, at least. And a Japanese-built XT700 might be something to boast about. After all, from 2020, KTM’s similar 790 is said to switch assembly to… China!

t777Summing Up
The XT700 is a hard bike to dislike. It lacks the weight of the 850GS and the added bulk of an Africa Twin, the harshness, blingy complexity and cost of the KTM790R, and the relative blandness and cheap suspension of the CB500X as well as, dare I add, an NC750X. Like the CB-X, it’s a modern-day UJAM, not extreme in any way, be it suspension travel, power delivery, appearance, electronic sophistication or price.
You see reviewers mention ‘only 72hp’ for a 689-cc-engine and you really have to chuckle. It actually makes nearly 15% more power per litre than the 790, if that matters at all, but either way, it’ll do 120, cruise comfortably at 80mph, and overtake swiftly uphill and into the wind when needed. How often do you ride much faster, while still being able to hit the trails with confidence?
I came to this test ride fully expecting to love the new Tenere – a bike I tried to emulate two years ago with my XSR Scrambler (left), and which, along with the Himalayan, was one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve had in years.
I was even considering buying one after the test, with all the risks of delayed delivery,  teething problems and guaranteed depreciation. For the price and the weight, nothing else new in the table below comes close once you factor in its genuine off-road ability for its class. But I’ve not bought a new bike in the UK for nearly 40 years; to me it’s just too extravagant with so much good nearly as good used stuff out there. In a way, knowing that it all turned out well for the XT700 is good enough for me. For the sort of riding I still aspire to, I’d be more comfortable with something a bit lower and lighter.


If not an XT700 then…
The man from Honda hinted that something bigger was in the AT pipeline, but right now CRF1000L Africa Twins with about 10,000 miles are going for under £7k. That’s a similarly grunty 270-degree twin (with a DCT option), but in a bigger bike with a lot more weight. BMWs hold their value annoyingly well; used year-old 850GSs with KTM-like tech, tubeless wheels but an AT’s weight currently start at £9k. Meanwhile, there are Rally Raid CB500Xs going from £4300, plain, old-model high-milers from just three grand and 2019 CB-Xs with the desirable 19-inch fronts from just £5200.
The XT700’s profile and price is pitched midway between the ultra-accessible CB500X and ageing V-Strom, the bulkier Africa Twin and the 790 Adventures and BMs. Even if dynamically you’d assume the 790s must be better out of the crate for hard off-roading (I did try one; more later), realistically any 200+kg bike can only be exploited by a skilled and fit rider. With talk of a bigger AT, people are wondering if a 7-850cc Africa Twin might spin off from that. Until (or if) that ever happens, the XT700 will have a well-deserved market niche all to itself.

t7render

Posted in AMH News, Project Bikes, Project XScrambleR 700 | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Olympus TG5 Tough – a great motorcycle travel camera

You’ll have read it again and again: the best camera is one you can whip out and shoot in a jiffy. On a bike, that won’t be a bulky mirrorless or DSLR stuck in the tankbag. It’ll be a backup P&S in a quick-access chest pocket or mounted on your belt or daypack strap. The exposure of bike riding means it wants to be weatherproofed if it’s going to last, chiefly against dust, but if you can use it in the pouring rain, so much the better.
For this waterproof ‘diving’ P&S cameras with an enclosed lens are ideal. Rain, shine or sandstorm, you never have to worry about missing a shot or ruining the camera, and the sealed lens – tiny though it is – is protected. Over the years, along with lots of blurred rubbish, I’ve grabbed many great, one-handed shots while riding with such cameras. With it tethered to you (as right) or attached via a neck strap, just pull it out, switch it on (thin or finger chopped gloves help), Point & Shoot. Switch off and re-pocket.
tg5I used Panasonic’s Lumix FT2 ‘wet’ cameras for 13 years or more, a simple, slim, one-handed, all-weather P&S which didn’t have to be mollycoddled. In 2011 we even used them to make a packrafting movie. Later models seemed to lose the functionality of the FT2 so as mine died or sunk, I replaced them with used cheapies off ebay until they got too hard to find.
Desert, pocket or sea, I’ve always liked the Lumix range’s preference for a wider 24mm-ish lens. Ridiculous zoom levels are far less important, because with the tiny lens, picture quality dives. But after a really old FT1 burner unsurprisingly failed to survive a few minutes of snorkelling recently, I decided to try a used Olympus TG-5 (left) recommended by some paddle boarding bikers on one of my tours.
Ft7Commonly, the current Olympus TG-5 and Panasonic FT7 (right) get rated as the best waterproof cameras you can buy. But they seem expensive for what they are. And when you consider the tiny zoom lens tucked inside the inch-thick body you’d think you’re never going to get great shots, especially in low light or at full zoom.
Even then, my old FTs always needed to be tricked into slightly lower (correct) exposures by half-clicking on the sky, pulling down and composing before clicking. lumixevcIt was only when I got a Lumix LX100 a year years back that I realised a: how handy an EV Comp dial (right) can be; I use it on almost every shot (usually to under-expose a bit) and b: how relatively crappy some of my FT pics were. Mt photos improved greatly with the LX and I used the FT less and less.
With all the essential controls actual buttoms and levers on the body, not buried in a digital menu, the compact LX was very nice to handle, but wasn’t really suited to ride-by one-handers or paddling. Like all such cameras with extending lenses, each time you turn it on the lens sucks in dust which eventually gets on the sensor and appears as marks on most lumixhooverimages. It drove some LX owner-reviewers nuts, though it’s far from unique to this model. You can’t easily reach the sensor as you can on a mirrorless, even if the marks can easily be erased in iPhoto. But here’s a great trick: zoom in and out as you hoover the lens via a bottle (left). It really works.
After a few years of mostly desert trips my LX dials got grittier and grittier, and the deployment of the lens and the zoom got slower and slower. Eventually, it needed a tug to extend fully and a push to retract. The 2018 LX100 II got some improvements, but sadly weather-sealing wasn’t one of them, so I flogged my crunchy LX before it seized completely and bought a similar-sized but weather-sealed Sony 6300 mirrorless (here’s a great list of similar cameras).

lympusBack to the TG-5. Watching one of the vids below I learned it has an unmarked control dial in the same, top-right position and which can work as an EV Comp dial. That alone is worth the price of the camera. No more point to the sky to expose correctly.
Having even been inspired to RTFM, I now realise the TG-5 is actually much closer in quality to the LX than I  realised, not least in terms of the staggering number of things it can do – most of which go way over my head.
For riding, ou can easily screw on a clear filter over the lens window to stop it catching a scratch. It may not show up on photos, but a filter is easily wiped by a cuff or relaced for a few quid. To mount it you need the Olympus olyhoyaCLA-T01 adapter (£20; or a £6 JJC knock-off; right) to which you then screw in a regular 40.5mm filter: olyjjcUV, polarised, whatever (left). Add a piece of screen guard over the LCD and the Olympus Tough can now be treated Olympus Rough, with both screen guard and UV filter being inexpensively replaceable.
I used the TG for a month in Morocco on my Himalayan and loved the Mr-Whippy-like accessibility. It too has a wide 24mm so you know you’ll shoot something, and closing the EV Comp down to -0.7 means great exposures.
It also has an easy to use custom self-timer, a blessing for us adventure-riding singletons. Normally I’ve had to settle for 3-shots-at-10 seconds, or simply shoot video and extract a cruddy still or a more complicated 4k. On the TG you press the sequential shooting dial and set: delay time, # of frames and shooting interval. With this I was able to grab some key riding shots which magazines require. Even my Sony hasn’t got as good timer options. At 4000px width resolution, that’s enough for a magazine full pager. And when shooting others, the burst speed is staggering. And all this without having to fuss about knocking the lens, dropping the camera or crap getting in it.
The battery is a slim 1270Ah which still did masses of shots – a week or more – and can be charged in olycharthe camera which means one less thing to carry. But for 20 quid I bought 3 clone batteries plus a travel-friendly USB- (right) charger, which will work off a laptop, battery pack, USB wall plug or a solar panel.
I always use a tether while riding, but one time in Morocco the chunky red Olympus strap attached to the tether unknowingly came undone just as I chose to let it go… It should have dangled from my wrist but instead fell on to the road at 30mph and tumbled along. I swung back expecting the worst but, apart from a small hole bashed through in one corner, it still worked fine! Its snorkelling days may be over before they began, but that was amazing. A bit of duct tape kept the dust out of the hole.
olycompOnce I’d have said GPS position, elevation and a compass in a camera were gimmicks. Now I’d admit they add some redundancy when a proper GPS unit goes flat. The Olympus accesses this data with a simple press of the Info button with the camera off (left). Up it comes for 10 secs, north by northwest. The TG-5 also takes great pictures.

tikEasy to turn on and zoom one-handed
EV Comp dial in the usual position
Battery charges in the camera
Spare 3rd-party batteries from £4; USB charger from £8
Good hand grip
Rated at 15m of water so ought to survive some splashes
Slim and light (260g with chunky wrist strap)
GPS, elevation, compass, and even a tracking app, with the camera off
Easy to access and configure custom self-timer
Red; easy to find on the river bed or roadside
Now discounted to <£300 new
cros A baffling new menu to master – sigh
LCD text is a bit small
Wrist strap undoes itself in the wind

 

Posted in Adventure Motorcycling Gear Reviews, AMH News, Project: Enfield Himalayan | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Yamaha’s Ténéré travel bikes

xt60-34lI well remember the day in the southern winter of 1983 when xt60-35I first clocked Yamaha’s original XT600Z Ténéré (left) outside Maxim Motorcycles on the Parramatta Road, west Sydney.
I crouched down for a good look at the machine which appeared to have addressed just about all the deficiencies of my 1982 XT500 desert bike: front disc brake, huge 28-litre tank, monoshock back-end, 12-volt electrics, folding lever trips, oil cooler and a thrifty ‘twin-carb’ set up. And all at around 140 kilos dry. The 34L XT600Z Ténéré, named after the most gruelling Saharan stage of the Paris-Dakar Rally (see below), looked pretty much desert-ready right off the showroom floor.


eclipse-map‘Tenere’ – What’s that then?
tenmapTenere – or as the French write it: Ténéré – is one of the many Tuareg words for ’emptiness’ or ‘desert’. The more familiar Arabic Sahra [Sahara] means the same thing, but like the Inuit and their snow, the nomads of the Sahara distinguish between many types of desert and regions. The Tenere is a particularly desolate waterless expanse which fills the northeast corner of Niger (left and above right).
Marinoni85In the Dakar Rally’s 1980s heyday, the crossing of the Tenere from Algeria to Agadez in Niger via the dunes of the Bilma Erg typically decimated the field and helped establish the Tenere’s already notorious reputation of the ‘desert within a desert’.
In 2003 we rode to the famous Arbre Perdu or ‘Lost Tree’ in the northern Tenere (below) where Dakar founder Thierry Sabine had his ashes scattered following his death during the ’86 rally. More on the Tenere click this.
drid-attree


xt6spexI finally bought my first Ténéré in London in 1985 to tackle my own London–Dakar adventure. This was the slightly modified 55W version of the original 1983 34L, produced for just one year. The changes were small: front disc brake cover, stronger DID rims, revised chain adjuster, longer, all-red or blue seat and most easily spotted: sloping speed blocks on the tank.
Modifications to my 55W amounted to nothing more than adding thicker seat foam and some Metzeler ‘Sahara’ tyres – a rubbish choice for the actual Sahara, even back then. Using no rack was another mistake which nearly cost me the bike when my baggage caught fire.
In fact, there was so little to do that I went to the 80-madmaxbother of moving the oil cooler from next to the carbs out into the breeze over the bars. And I painted it black because I was still in my juvenile Mad Max phase.
With my £5 ex-army panniers slung over the back, in December ’85 I set off for Marseille, bound for Dakar in Senegal via Algeria, Niger and Mali.

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This was my first overland trip which succeeded in actually crossing a few African borders – and it proved to be as eventful as my first Sahara ride on the XT500 (and the Benele quickie which followed). On the way I learned many must-do-next-times as well as several more never-do-agains, all useful material for my Desert Biking guide published a few years later and which evolved into the current AM Handbook.85xt60-dakarmap

I met Helmut in Tamanrasset and we set off across the Sahara together. Sadly he crashed and burned, never to reach the Niger border. I also had a smaller fire a day or 86-burningtwo later, but was thrilled to have finally crossed the Sahara into West Africa. As I wrote later, reaching sub-Saharan Africa was like switching a TV from black and white to colour. There are a few photos at the bottom of the page, or you can read the long version of that trip in Desert Travels.
A few weeks later, with many more adventures and worthwhile lessons under my belt, I shipped my partly burned Tenere out of Dakar and flew on to Spain to catch up with it.

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Camped by the Niger river, Niger

Yamaha’s original 600cc Ténéré was the first proper well-equipped lightweight travel bikes, created on the back of Yamaha’s success in the Dakar Rally which I encountered on a few occasions out there. That bike was a game changer, with the brakes, range, xt6-polosuspension, economy, power and lack of weight which ticked all the boxes. fritenIn Europe they absolutely loved them; over a decade the French alone bought 20,000 Teneres; over 30% of all production. A mate just picked up a rough one for a few hundred euros to go with an Italian minter worth €3500. They were never officially imported into North America. From 1987 the only-recently discontinued KLR650 filled the same niche and had the same loyal following. In Europe it was largely ignored.
A good early-Tenere page.

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87-xt-hoggarThe next Tenere was the IVJ model (left and above) with kick and electric start, firmer suspension and the air filter positioned rally-style under the back of the tank. But costs were cut elsewhere, it supposedly had over-heating problems and it just didn’t seem as durable as the original kickers. Mine sounded pretty clapped-out by the time I returned from a 3000-mile Sahara trip.
I never owned one, but the classic twin-lamp Yamaha XT600 3AJ3AJ Teneres (left), was said to be a better machine, even if it had by now gained some 25kg. There was said to be a 5th gear problem common to other 600 Teneres, but only if you rode them very hard.
The 5-valve XTZ660 Tenere from the 1990s (below left) still looked great but by now had gained even more weight. On top of that, poor electrics ktmm640advand other flaws managed to Yamaha XTZ 660-5vlose the Ténéré mojo in the face of KTM’s dirt-focussed 640 Adventure (right).
After the 5-valve was dropped, for nearly ten lean years in the Noughties there were no Teneres in production. BMW’s 650 Dakar became popular big single travel bike; Teneres were seen as an 80s throwback.
Then, in 2008 Yamaha’s legendary desert bike returned as the XT660Z. Based on the injected XT660R and X produced from 2004, the fuelling was much improved and again, it ticked many boxes, even if it now weighed over 200 kilos and, at times, felt it. Fuel consumption varied widely but averaged 25 kpl, giving a range of about 570km/360 miles from the 23-litre plastic tank.

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I bought a barely used one (above) soon after they came out, did the usual kerbside makeover and set off for Morocco to research the first edition of Morocco Overland. Read about that bike here.
By 2016 ever-tightening emissions regs killed off the hefty 660Z Ténéré. Meanwhile, travel bikers round the world have their hopes pinned on 2019’s XT700 Ténéré, based on the brilliant twin-cylinder CP2 motor as in my XSR700. The T7 is no heavier than the 660Z and looks like it’ll be another desert-ready hit right out of the crate. Read my impressions here.

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Pictures from Sahara & West Africa, 1985-6

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Hombori, Mali

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Tenere in No Man’s Land, near Assamaka, Niger.

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Baggage on the left still blazing near Arlit, Niger.

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Dakar founder Thierry Sabine killed near Timbuktu

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Trans Sahara Highway near Arak, Algeria. The road was already falling apart.

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In Salah, Algeria. Heading for Niamey, Bamako and Dakar.

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Postcard from Helmut

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Leaving Tamanrasset with Helmut on the 600-km trans-Sahara piste

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Waterfall, west Mali

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Yamaha factory racer, Andrea Marinoni in Dakar

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A week or two earlier, this famous photo shows the determined Marinoni belting through the desert in search of a Kwik-Fit

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Windy hill near Arak. Full black leathers not a great choice for West Africa.

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Helmut on the trail to Assekrem

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Sunset over Assekrem, Hoggar mountains, Algeria

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Helmut surveys the damage.

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Bush tracks in west Mali

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Arriving at the Niger river in Mali

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Head surgery on a crashed BMW on the trans-Sahara piste

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Stuck by a river in Mali. What now?

tenere85

Riverside camp in Niger

85-helmut-upd

Helmut flips his BMW on the way down from Assekrem

 

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Quick Look: Adventure Spec Trail Waterproof Shell jacket


Quick look
:
Adventure Spec Trail Waterproof Shell* jacket

UK price: £375

Weight: 715g (verified)

Size tested: Large (me: 6ft 1in/186cm • 210lbs/95kg)

* Yes, the label pictured top right was confusing
See also:
Adventure Spec Linesman,
Klim Overland and Aerostich Darien
Klim Traverse (shortly),

tik• Smart-looking design
• Good fit according to AS size chart
• Generous length keeps you snug
• Very light and rolls up to about a litre (right)
• Integrated hood
• Two-way zips on the vents
• Kevlar abrasive patches
• Actually has 3 outside pockets (contrary to AS description)

cros

• Main zip is one-way and lacks storm flap
• Single underarm vents limit air flow
•  A bit heavier than the claimed 650g
• Is an integrated hood that useful?


What they say:
A lightweight waterproof breathable over jacket with DuPont™ Kevlar® reinforced impact areas. This expedition/trail jacket includes a helmet a
[sic] compatible fold away hood, body vents and one throttle friendly chest pocket.


Review
The Trail shell is the latest addition to Adventure Spec’s  own-brand rider wear, including the vented Atacama Race jacket, similar open-weave Mongolia and the popular Linesman softshell I used last year.
The long-awaited Trail is their first waterproof shell to wear all day, rain or shine, or over some of the above listed jackets. It breathes, it vents, it’s waterproof and has an integrated hood. But note that unless you’re riding in the tropics, as an all-weather, trans-continental travel jacket you may find the TWS a bit too skimpy; the body is not much thicker than my hill-walking cag. The priority has been to save weight and bulk while retaining some function and the agility needed in off-roading rather than sitting on the slab at 120kph..
Contrary to AS’s online description (which may get corrected), the Trail has three external pockets (left), not one. Good to see. In one of the lower pockets is a small combination whistle/tyre valve-core tool. The latter will work but blowing through the tiny whistle, the air soon backs up and doesn’t make a usefully audible noise. For that a proper ‘pea whistle’ works best.
High-wear areas like elbows/forearms, shoulders plus the lower sides get rugged kevlar patches which also help give the otherwise plain nylon shell some eye-catching texture. The elongated back with its drawstring hem helps keep draughts at bay when crouched over the bars on a mission.
Adv Spec suggest the bonded membrane shell errs towards waterproofness rather than breathability, and without layering, the thin body fabric won’t keep you as warm as heavier jackets. When things do warm up or slow down in gnarly terrain, single underarm vents (right) with two-way, water-resistant zips help the air flow through, especially if you open up the front. But with front zipped up and on the move, I’ve found single underarm vents less effective in purging air.
I’m not convinced the roomy hood which tucks into the collar is such a useful feature for bike riding, even if it does make for a cushy collar. It’s huge, and the rationale of it stopping water running down the back of your neck is not an issue I’ve experienced with a snug jacket collar or wearing a neck buff. Around a camp or at the roadside, it may have its uses (I mislay at least one cap or hat a year).
I think many potential buyers would sooner see that weight re-allocated towards some sewn- or velcro’d in sleeves for armour pads. Such an option would broaden the Trail’s use out towards less technical moto-travelling as opposed to pure dirt biking, where some sort of padded or armoured top (right) would probably be wise.

For the purpose for which it was designed, Adventure Spec’s super light Trail Waterproof Shell will suit many riders. Be it the bike or the gear you wear, lightness is always desirable, but to me all-weather functionality is more important. For my sort of riding I’d be happy to skip the hood and, if necessary, carry another few hundred grams for proper through-venting, a big, securely dry inner pocket and a storm-flap over the front zip.

AS-TWS dims

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Reviewing AMH7’s bike predictions

While flicking through AMH7 looking for ideas for the 8th edition, I spotted the box, right, previewing bikes just out, thought to be on the horizon or ones we’d wish to see. Written in 2016, it made an interesting read. The easier-to-read text is at the bottom of the page.

First up: a couple of clangers: when it comes to P-twin 270° crankshaft timing – now all the rage – I clearly got my V4 Crosstourer mixed up with Honda’s more interesting NC750 twins.
Less obviously, I also assumed the short-lived 650 Husky Terra/Strada engines (similar to the BMW 650s) would be used in what has ended up as the SWM SuperDual 600 X and T (above right). It seems the older but lighter TE630 motor passes Euro 4 emissions regs for the moment. That same motor is also used in the predicted AJP PR7 which is now out, as well as the current CCM 650 Spitfires and CCM’s forthcoming adventure bike to replace their short-lived GP450.

So, did the CRF1000L Africa Twin become an instant classic? It’s certainly become a popular adventure-styled bike, though not necessarily as popular a travel bike compared to the old 750. Probably because today’s range of great bikes makes the new AT less unusual.
The talk now if of a new 1100cc version for 2020, and possibly a 700- 850 after that, because the Africa Twin concept easily outsells the older and less fuel efficient V4-engined Crosstourer 1200 and Crossrunner 800. I’d love to see the heavy NC750X turned and not just styled as an all-terrain travel bike, but that’s a bit too radical. So will rallyfying the CB500X and calling it a mini AT. The alternative is a new P-twin engine for the 700/850 which seems unlikely unless it’s attached to a rang of bikes like the CB500s. Will they pitch it against the tech-heavy KTM790 or the plainer XT700? If the original 1000L is anything to go by, Honda will aim at the Yamaha.

Still with Honda and, hallelujah, in 2018 they surprised us with a CRF450L! Saly, it took one quick look to realise it was just their 450R dirt racer with indicators and – bizarrely for Europe – detuned by over 50% down to 25hp. Worst still, it costs nearly 10 grand and – officially – requires oil changes every 1000km. As my Himalayan has proved, 25hp is nearly enough to live with, but 1000-km oil changes are not, let alone the asking price. Yes, oil changes could be pushed if the bike is not hammered, but not by several 1000kms. Using the CRF…L designation for a street legal dirt racer was a bit of a dirty trick.

The 660 motor in Yamaha’s XT660Z did indeed fall foul of emissions regs, but seeing only Tracers and XSR700s, my assumption that a CP2-engined Tenere had been overlooked was too gloomy. After an advance promotion as drawn out as Honda’s Africa Twin, the XT700 will finally reach European dealers by September and the US a year later. And with the much admired Tenere brand and knowing the brilliant CP2 motor, I predict the XT7 will become an instant classic even faster than the AT.

As we all known Enfield’s Himalayan did also come to pass. There’s me on mine in the Sahara a couple of months back. Read my 4000-mile review here. And so did the KTM technically sophisticated 790 parallel twin on road and all-road versions, a category which is now described as ‘midweight’. At around 200 kilos, it’s about as heavy as you want in a travel bike.

swms

They say a KTM 390 Adventure may also due out for 2020. The 440 SWMs turned out to be nothing special, playing it safe with retro styling and branding. Who knows, they may bang out a modern travel bike with the 29-hp 440cc motor, but currently discounted by 30% in the UK suggests they’ve not caught on.

Look out for more hit and miss predictions in next year’s fun colour AMH8


BIKES TO WATCH, WAIT AND TO WISH FOR [2016]
Now a compact parallel twin rather than the original V, thirteen years after the XRV750 ended (the XL1000V Varadero has been expunged from the records) I’ll stick my neck out and say the new Africa Twin (right) will become an instant classic.
Adopting both the irresistible off-beat 270-degree crank of the Crosstourers NC700/750s (and Super Téneré), there’s also optional ‘automatic’ DCT shifting and traction control, both fine tuned for off-roading. The ABS version is 232 kilos wet, but the 21-inch front wheel puts it closer to the KTM category than the GS12, while being much cheaper than both. The fact that they’ve ‘only’ given it 96hp (the same per litre as the CB500X) means they’ve side-stepped the giant adv horsepower race and the 18-litre tank could be good for 400 clicks.
They’re even calling it a CRF1000L to capitalise on the 250’s success. In that case let’s hope they fill the gap with a modern day XR400/Dominator hybrid, a rallyesque CRF450L single with a load-carrying subframe. While we’re dreaming I suppose we’ll settle for an injected DRZ450 or a similar sized mini-Ténéré. Isn’t anyone paying attention to CCM’s GP450?
Talking of which, they say in Europe new emissions regs may spell an end to the XT660Z. The ABS version may be the last gasp, but as it is the XT-Z’s UK price alongside the very popular MT-07 is having the same effect. When a street scrambler-styled XSR700 was annonced, there was some hope the 07’s brilliant 700cc, 270°-crank motor might also get Ténerised, but it now looks like it’ll just be a Versys- or V-Stromlike MT-07 Tracer.
Instead, AJP’s PR7 rally-raid clone might be out by now, last I heard using the Husky twin-cam TE630 engine and not the Minarelli-built XT660Z’s motor. We can also expect an Enfield Himalayan by the time you read this, an adventure-styled 500 which might see Enfield try and break from their reliance on old-school plodders.
‘They say’ – or should that be ‘we are all hoping for…’ a mid-weight KTM parallel twin as an alternative to the beserker V-twins. You can add a mid-weight Triumph to that wish list too, though the 800-cc triples are lighter than you’d think.
As for an adventurised KTM 390, some would sooner see the tasty SWM 440 prototypes (above) reach production, even if the SWM’s RS650 and SM650R (rebadged old Husky Terra/Strada 650s) TE630s) will probably come first. 


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Enfield Himalayan: 4000-mile review

Himalayan Index Page

Him4k - 9

In a line:
Didn’t miss a beat over a month; no one was more surprised than me.

• At £4000, with the stock equipment it’s a bargain
• Low, 800mm seat – at last a travel bike not limited to tall people
• Enfield build quality stood up to it
• Efi motor pulled smoothly up to 3000m (nearly 10,000′)
• Michelin Anakee Wilds (run tubeless) – great do-it-all tyres
• Low CoG and 21-″ front make it agile on the dirt
• Rear YSS shock showed up the rather harsh forks
• Yes it’s 190kg, but road and trail, it carries it well
• Subframe easily sturdy enough for RTW load carrying
• Economy went up and up: averaged 78 mpg (65 US; 27.6kpl; 3.62L/100k)
• 400km range from the 15-litre tank – about 250 miles
• Weak front brake on the road (fitting sintered pads is a fix)
• As a result, front ABS is a bit docile
• Stock seat foam way too mushy for my bulk
Tubliss core failed on the front; replaced with inner tube
Centre stand hangs low – but can be raised
• Valves need checking every 3000 miles (according to manual)
• Small digit dash data hard to read at a glance
• Compass always out
• Head bearings notchy at 4000 miles, despite regressing @ 1200 (replaced on warranty @ 5000)

Him4k - 11

Review
Following a test ride, I bought my Himalayan just under 1000 miles old. Following the make-over detailed here (summarised in the image below) I picked it up in southern Spain with 1300 miles on the clock. So, like many of my crudely adapted project bikes, I’d barely ridden the thing or tested the modifications. With a Royal Enfield this did feel a bit more of a gamble than usual and, on collection near Malaga I was all prepared for the worst.

himlabels
Far from it. The Him started on the button, ticked-over like a diesel and after the ferry crossing and sailing the usual gale down the Atlantic coast, I arrived at a cushy hilltop lodge out of Asilah feeling moderately hopeful, while still braced for a kick in the nuts somewhere down the road.
Riding an untried, near-new machine, saddled with Enfield’s possibly outdated  reputation led to stressful days, waiting for something to play up, either with the bike or with my mods. But riding my first piste: the lovely Assif Melloul gorge route out of Anergui  inspired confidence. This was a great trail bike!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Engine and transmission
Much is made of the 410LS’s meagre 24hp because we’re so used to bikes delivering over 100hp per litre. Don’t forget Honda’s CRF450L makes about the same. It’s when you combine it with the strapping 190-kilo wet weight you’d think it can’t possibly work. Yet it does – and in a way that you won’t find on a similar powered and much lighter 250 trail bike like the WR250R, KLX250S or CRF250L which I’ve also used in recent years, as well as a 310GS. I prefer riding the REH to all of them.
It must be down to the way the long-stroke, low compression, two-valve motor delivers it’s modest power, like something from the apogee of Brit biking half a century ago, but without a millstone for a flywheel it revs more freely. The Himalayan may have the power of a CRF250L, but it has the torque of an XR400: 32Nm at 4250rpm (1150 lower than the XR). Combined with counter balancer and unexpected refinement, despite wide gearing it’s a very satisfying bike to ride. It won’t hurl you from bend to bend, it just chugs along steadily but without the sensation that you’re missing out or grossly under-powered. The key is to maintain smooth momentum which is very much the riding style I aspire to. It’s an easy bike to enjoy on the empty roads and even emptier trails of southern Morocco. Duelling with congested traffic or tackling busy alpine passes may not be such fun.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Until the end of my trip – by which time the valves were technically well overdue for adjustment – it started on the button without the ‘choke’, ticked over once warmed up (probably needs adjustment too) and fuelled cleanly up to 5000rpm and nearly 10,000 feet (3000m). A lot of it must be down to accepting the Himalayan for what it is, but there was never a moment on my ride when I thought ‘FFS! I wish this thing had more poke’. I tried some super grade fuel in Morocco but didn’t notice the difference that some claim (I know in the US fuel octane varies widely). However, once back on Spanish fuel, it did seem faster and smoother, or maybe I was just rushing for the finish line.
him-tempOne thing the Trail Tech temperature sensor did highlight was how hot the engine runs – up to 240°C at higher revs with a load on. Note I say ‘hot’, not over-heating. On my bike it’s reading from the spark plug, about as hot as it gets in there. Running down hill it might drop to 160°C or so. Either way, especially with an air-cooled motor, it’s good to know how hard the engine is working an when it may be time to back off.
Oil consumption was zero up to a pre-emptive oil change at 3000 miles. Straight 50W Moroccan was all they had (a bit thicker; better for hot weather) and I had the feeling consumption increased briefly after that, maybe 200ml in 2000 miles, but then it stopped.
The gearbox is a lot less clunky than some. Originally, I thought first gear would be too tall off road (a common complaint) but, helped by the low-down torque, it’s well matched to the Himalayan’s modest trail biking abilities which are governed mainly by its weight. One time in deep soft sand, the gearing was too tall to move the bike forward –  the chain jumped on the front sprocket instead (see below). You can change up without, but I can’t break the habit of using the clutch when changing gear.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe chain had a hard time in Morocco: conditions too gritty to lube most of the time. On longer road stretches I hand-lubed with a toothbrush from small bottle of Tutoro oil. As a result I adjusted it three times in 4000 miles –  more than normal, even for a stock chain. Again, you have to assume the stock chain was chosen for its price, not quality, but with a bit more care and lube it should last 8000 miles.

Suspension
Normally the suspension is where a budget bike shows its limits once pushed on rough roads, with heavy loads, or on the dirt. Plus I tend to leave my tyres at road pressures unless absolutely necessary, so as a result off-road the my suspension can feel a little harsher than it could be.
himyssOn the rear there’s only preload adjustment and nothing on the front, but the Himalayan surprised me with firm suspension. Before I realised this I’d fitted some inexpensive fork preload caps, (set at zero), and a YSS shock that had 1cm of length adjustment and 35 clicks of rebound damping. I had the YSS fitted on the settings out of the box (more here) which worked fine once loaded up and on the dirt. At one point in Morocco I screwed the rebound in 4 clicks (more rebound?) but can’t say I noticed any difference.
Overall, I suspect the stock shock (inset above) would have been OK, but you have to assume the YSS must be an improvement because there’s more adjustment and it’s red. It certainly felt him-yss-forkbetter than a twice-as-expensive Wilbers on the XSR last year. Over the trip it loosened up a bit and bottomed out maybe once.
If anything the front forks are now shown up by the YSS. YSS do offer a fork kit but in the UK it’s £330 (though it seems you can buy springs plus the emulators for half that). Bottom line: no great need to meddle with the stock suspension for normal riding.

Him4k - 13

Economy
It seems that even at a 1300 miles the air-cooled REH was still running in. As I added the miles the economy improved, eventually averaging 78.7mpg (27.8kpl; 65US). With the 15-litre tank that’s a potential range of just over 400km. Riding with some 310GSs for a week, my mpg was near identical to the more powerful and lighter BMWs. The gauge on the tank is pessimistic and the warning light plus a trip reset comes on with a good 100km left. Hot, cold, high, low the fueling itself was glitch-free. Fuel consumption data here.

himr-filler

Comfort
Thanks to a counter-balanced and non-ginormous capacity, the REH is very smooth for a single. I did feel some tingling in my right hand after hours at the bars which could have been from over-gripping a heavy throttle. I’d have used my throttle handrest had I remembered it.
One of the best things about the Himalayan is the low seat of 800mm or 31.5 inches. At 6′ 1″, it’s actually a bit too low for me, especially once my mass sinks down through the soft foam, but at last there’s a travel bike which isn’t limited to tall people, while still having useful ground clearance.
himslabsI needed more height with firmer foam, inexpensively achieved with a couple of 20mm slabs under a Cool Cover. It enabled 500-km days with few stops, but on rough tracks still gave soreness, probably because I wasn’t standing up or letting the tyres down enough. I also thought the seat could do with levelling out to stop me sliding forward on the aerated Cool Cover.
My seat bodge was himcoolcovnot a night-and-day transformation, but by the end of my trip it didn’t cause any discomfort over long days on the road. I’m less convinced now that I need to improve it some more.
The 50mm bar risers managed to not snag the screen on full lock and nearly reduced my stooping when standing up – another inch would have done it. I might have cured that stoop by removing the footrest rubbers, but to be honest I liked the comfort when standing (in ordinary slip-on boots). Otherwise, for wet conditions, consider fitting wider footrests if you’re off-roading. I hear that DR650 pegs nearly fit.

Him4k - 10
Some say it will clock 80 but I set myself a self-imposed cruising limit of around 65mph (where possible). At this speed the screen did a pretty good job, even with my wind-catching Bell Moto III helmet. Others claim the mirrors create turbulence and are better moved or changed. I suppose this is possible but it’s a new one on me. Let’s face it: it’s a motorbike out in the wind, not a space capsule. Some turbulence will be evident.

On the dirt
The Him took to the dirt so naturally, I didn’t even notice it at first. The key attributes must be the Michelin tyres, low seat and firm suspension. The 21-inch front wheel must help  too, as does the torquey motor, getting round the wide gearing. And the otherwise ordinary brakes are just right on the dirt.
The Him is a plodder, but then so am I. You won’t be pulling wheelies, launching of jumps or bouncing off berms. For that the bike is just too heavy and low-powered. It’s a travel bike, not a dirt bike and in all the miles I never ever had a sketchy moment on the dirt, nor wished the bike was something else.
I reached the Himalayan’s limit in the sandy gorge on Route MW6/7 in Western Sahara – same place I’d struggled with the WR two years earlier. This time I traced a better route along the valley but the flooded waterhole was now a dry mass of tracks in which the Himalayan would bog down for sure. I aired down, pushed around the side in first but stopped once I the chain jumped on the front sprocket from the strain: the torque had got the better of the weight and tall gearing. The Himalayan doesn’t have the agility or power to handle deep soft sand – for that you want an unloaded KTM 450.

Him4k - 4

Durability and problems
It’s a short list. Apart from what’s below, nothing broke or even came loose, but I’ve not seen the bike since I left it at Malaga. A closer inspection may reveal more.

Stock bike
• Head bearings got notchy by 4000 miles, despite regreasing
• Chain needed adjustment every 1000 miles
• Exhaust guards dented
My mods
• Tubliss core leaked around valve stem, then packed up
Michelin TPMS packed up – twice

Summary
The Himalayan is a rare type of all-road travel bike, one that not only looks fit for the job as many adv bikes do – but one that’s actually equipped for it and performs well, too. You might not think 24hp and 190 kilos (420 lbs) adds up, and for some it won’t. But for your £4000 or $4500 you get a lot of kit that’s no found on similar bikes. Don’t dismiss it as a shoddily assembled Asian cheapie or anything to do with the Bullets. The bike has caught on and in western markets the demand for the BS4 has outstripped importers’ expectations. If you’re curious like I was, try one. You might also be surprised.

Him4k - 5

Posted in AMH News, Project Bikes, Project: Enfield Himalayan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Tested: Kriega OS22 pannier review

Himalayan Index Page

krigOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe new OS22 pannier from Kriega is the mini version of their OS32 I tried on a WR250 a couple of years back. The OS22 has the same proportions up-down, left-right but is 40mm thinner, reducing each bag’s capacity by 10 litres. It also retains the same uabrasion resistant Hypalon casing on a 1000D Cordura shell impreganted with aramid webbing to resist slash and grabs. An alloy block allows you to wrap a cable lock round the bag for added security. Each bag folds out to a formed box shape, costs £215 and weighs a hefty but durable 2.6kg.
The OS22s just happened to be ideal for my Himalayan, destined for a similar trip through the Atlas and on into the deep south of Morocco.


tik • Slimk2232
• Rugged, quality construction
• Easy removal from plate, or just lift out the liners
• Lots of exterior tabs for expandability or securing the bags
• Option to not use platform

cros • Expensive


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMost riders don’t seem too bothered, but I like a bike to be as slim as possible and ideally never wider than the bars. Whether splitting city traffic, riding against the wind, squeezing through a hotel door  and not least, teetering along a narrow and gnarly mountain track with a big drop to one side – in all cases excessive width holds you back. Keeping away from the edge of a drop is instinctive and increases the margin of error, but stray too close to a cliff face opposite and you risk snagging over-wide panniers on a rock, losing your balance, over-correcting and taking a dive, just like that viral bike-in-a-boat video of a few years ago (below).

monwideHigh and fat silencers can force racks to be annoyingly wide (especially when attempting to be needlessly symmetrical from the rear). Soft or hard, add a plain, box-shaped pannier and the GS500widebike can be half as wide as it is long, like the F650GS fitted with Enduristan Monsoons (right), or my all time favourite, the GS500 on the left.
On a travel bike, I feel panniers are best when ‘suitcase’ shaped: longer front-to-back than top-to-bottom and no more than a hand’s span wide. This helps centralise the weight but is an unpopular format because, presumably, it interferes with pillion riders. Many aftermarket racks don’t help either, being set too far back for optimal weight centralisation, as mentioned in this old post.


kriega-os32-fit1With Kriega OS panniers, an HDPE plate  or ‘platform’ in Kriegaspeak (left) can be bolted to a rack. You may think it just adds weight and expense. Both true, but a plate is actually a smart way to fit any rack. HDPE (think: kitchen chopping board) is great stuff, too: light, rigid and dead easy to drill or even just poke with a red-hot skewer.
The Kriega plate and its adapter clamps have been designed to fit just about any round-tube, 18mm/¾” rack and offer a broad, grippy surface for the hypalon-backed OS bag to cinch up against. Making your own fitting to fatted or  square tubed racks would be easy enough. The Kriega OS bags use a cunning anchor on and strap-up system to make a very secure fitting while enabling easy fitting or removal – a key element when on the long road. Strapping the hypalon-backed bag to the grippy plate surface spreads loads over a broad area too, meaning no failure-prone stress points.

Like the 32s, the OS22s can be hooked on and lashed down to the Kriega HDPE platform or plate (see above). It’s a very solid off-road-proof mounting system which I also found dead easy to use. But this time round, on the Himalayan I chose to use the 22s as plain throwovers, like Adventure Spec’s Magadans, Doing it this way meant that once the bags shoppingbagwere lashed down securely to the bike, I found it less hassle to simply remove the waterproof, velcro-rimmed white liner bags to carry stuff indoors when not camping, rather than unrigging the whole bag. As such, a couple of shopping bag handles wouldn’t have gone amiss on the liner bags.
A rack is still needed to constrain any swinging and shuffling. I initially bought an Enfield rack from India but despite being cheap, I sold it unopened once I saw how heavy it was; it’s more suited to alloy cases. All I needed was something to support the bags, so Simon made me what I call C-racks (below) in one-inch tube. They’re only mounted at each end and are unbraced against so could bend in a heavy crash, but I tend not to do that so much these days.

him-raker

Adjusting the strap length for the throwovers is easily done. A horizontal strap round the bag and rack kept it located and another (yellow) strap from the rear rack stopped the bags sliding forward. There are plenty of attachment points all over the outer bags to refine your strapping set up if not using the platforms, or of course to add additional Kriega bags.

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It all worked well for me once I pinned down the strapping arrangement. Access was as simple as undoing or just loosening the two big hook straps then unclipping the side cinch-down clips. I never got to test the bags in prolonged rain, not did I test the rugged hypalon panels by sliding down the road. My load in the bags was about 15kg overall. The RHS pipe-side pannier was hitched high enough to avoid the silencer, but just in case, I had a long jubilee clip to attach some sort of metal heat guard round the pipe, had it been necessary.

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Lomo Crash Bar Bags
lomo_logoForty four litres may not sound enough for a month-long trip involving camping, but the Himalayan benefits from tank racks which are Product Imageideal for adding a pair of small bags like the tough, 7-litre PVC Lomos (£40 a pair). In this position they’re easy to access from the saddle, and up to a point protect your knees from an oncoming downpour or chilly wind. They also help give the bike a soft landing when you don’t quite swing your leg high enough while getting on or off.
Access is roll top with clip down sides, like the Kriegas. Two additional horizontal straps fix or pull the bags in, but I didn’t use them.

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The combination of Lomo and Kriega gave me a massive capacity of 58 litres and meant no bag was ever jammed packed and I needed no bulky tailpack other than the trusty old Touratech zip pouch I’ve reused over the years from bike to bike. Add the small Giant Loop tank bag and my Himalayan always had room to spare. One drawback with several bags hanging all around the bike means there’s more to empty and take in to a hotel of an evening. But on the road having the load spread evenly across the bike is better for access and weight distribution.

The Kriega and Lomo bags were supplied free for testing.

k22ender.jpg

 

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