Tenere 700, Simplicity at its best!

One of the great things about the little Honda CRF250 Rally that I initially purchased for the trip to Mongolia was its simplicity. No fancy electronics, cable controls and a long service interval, just what you need for an overland adventure where there won’t be any dealer support. For me, the most frustrating thing about the Rally was the lack of power.

Having had a long motorcycle career I’ve owned a lot of large CC bikes and have got used to the endless amounts of torque and power that are easily available at the twist of the throttle these days. Having the Rally and a 1000cc Kawasaki Versys at the same time highlighted this over and over again.

My trip to the Pyrenees earlier this year proved that the Rally is a great little trail bike and was a lot of fun on the mountain tracks but, at times the weight over powered the little 250cc engine to the point where it became very frustrating. Covering large distances quickly was pretty much impossible as the slightest head wind would knock 10MPH off the 60MPH cruise speed, making it even more frustrating. I soon came to the conclusion that this wasn’t the bike that I wanted to take on a 25000 mile journey as it would spoil the trip for me and I wasn’t going to let that happen at any cost.

So, once back from the trip I decided to sell the Rally and have a rethink. At the same time I also had a rethink about the Versys. Having put hardly any miles on it over the last year, it was spending most of its life covered up in the garage. With the ever rising costs of insurance and servicing I decided it was time to let it go too. As much as I loved riding the Versys with it’s silky smooth, torquey 4 cylinder engine it was soul destroying to see it just sitting begging to be used.

I put both bikes up for sale within days of each other and could had sold both of them multiple times over, the used bike market really is buoyant at the moment.

So in no time at all both bikes were sold and the garage was empty.

The relatively new Yamaha Tenere 700 is a bike I’ve had my eye on for some time. I took one for a short test ride when they first came out and really liked it and it’s been niggling at the back of my mind ever since.

Having the opportunity to ride one again it soon brought back memories of my old Tenere XT660z. No fancy electronics, simple controls and a bike that you have to actually ride as nothing is going to help you if you over cook things.

The new Tenere 700 is head and shoulders better than the old 660. The suspension is firm, no more diving under braking, handling is superb and the bike is so planted on the road that blasting down the twisties makes you whoop with excitement.

The Cross Plane 2 (CP2) 689cc engine has oodles of torque from the off, pulls like a train in all gears but, at the same time is silky smooth. If it didn’t have 700 on the side you could be excused for thinking it was more like a 900cc engine.

With the peak torque delivery being at 6500RPM it’s eager to accelerate no matter what gear you are in, it really is a very enthusiastic little engine. With the KYB suspension that comes as standard the bike handles extremely well on the road, much better than I imagined it would. Of course, I’m yet to ride it off-road as the dealer made it quite clear that they didn’t allow off-road test rides!

Unlike many bikes today (including my Versys 1000) the Tenere 700 doesn’t have a slipper clutch, for me this isn’t a problem as my 660 Tenere didn’t have one either and I have many fond memories of dropping a couple of gears coming up to roundabouts in the rain and the rear end getting a little lively. Personally I prefer traditional clutches, with the CP2 engine having bags of engine braking when rolling off the throttle it’s great to make use of this feature just like we did in the old days of the big single cylinder dirt bikes. The simplicity of this bike is its biggest plus by far. Those of you reading this that weren’t riding back in the 70’s and early 80’s won’t understand this!

Currently there are 3 different colour Tenere 700s available, black, dark blue and white with the latter being the better looking in my opinion.

In the last couple of months Yamaha have released a limited run of Tenere 700 Rally Edition bikes. Painted in their heritage rally colours and with an even higher standard specification they’ve been selling like hot cakes here in the U.K.

With each dealer only getting 3 Rally Edition bikes it’s now almost impossible to get one as most were sold before they even arrived in the U.K. I’ve also been reliably informed by a number of Yamaha dealers that there are no more, once they’re gone they’re gone. This will almost certainly help residuals in the future on the limited production run of the Rally Edition bikes.

If you are lucky, willing to phone around and travel a few miles you may find one still for sale, but be quick as there are many searching for this elusive beast.

So is it the bike for me? Well it’s certainly ticked all the boxes except one, weight. It’s heavier than I was hoping for but, all the other pluses of this bike outweigh this one thing and so it’s the compromise I have to accept. Looks like I’ll be heading to the gym once they open fully!

After much phoning around I found a Tenere 700 Rally Edition that hadn’t arrived in the U.K. yet and hadn’t been sold, needless to say I immediately put a deposit on it and a few days later I took the train down to Woodford Motorcycles in London and collected it.

The Akrapovich pipe sounds wonderful on the Yamaha Tenere 700 Rally Edition

With some crash bars, a pannier frame for my Givi GRT709 soft panniers and a centre stand this bike will be pretty much ready for the trip to Mongolia. Just need to get some miles on her now and get the first service done so that I can open her up a bit and enjoy that exhaust!

That bitter sweet moment …

Today was the day that Sean came to collect my CRF250 Rally that he purchased ready for his trip to Mongolia. It was a bitter sweet moment for me, sad to see her go but, excited about what I would get to replace her.

Sean, moments before he headed off to Wales

The CRF250 Rally has been a fun little bike to own, we’ve spent many hours and over 5000 miles tootling around together. It’s also been a great little project upgrading the suspension, fitting the crash bars, skid plate and pannier frame along with many other little extras that turned the little bike into a true adventure machine. There’s a great CRF community online and it’s been fun sharing ideas with them all.

I will miss it for sure, although I won’t miss the bum killing seat!

Sean is a really nice guy, if you ever have the opportunity to meet up with him then do it, you won’t regret it. He’s a true biker gent and I hope we cross paths during our adventures to Mongolia and back. It would be great to ride some miles with him.

“So, what now?” I hear you say, well I’m not too sure … I have some thoughts on bikes that may meet my requirements and an even bigger list of bikes that won’t. Unfortunately there is no unicorn bike out there today, there are lots of bikes in the adventure sector but, none come close to the sub 140kg, 70hp unicorn that we’re all hunting for.

What next?

With both my Honda CRF250 Rally and Kawasaki Versys 1000 GT now sold it’s time to seriously start looking at a new adventure bike for the trip and general riding here in the U.K.

Currently on the list are the following:

Yamaha Tenere 700 Rally
KTM 790 Adventure R
KTM 690 Enduro R
Husqvarna 701LR

I have to admit that I’m not a huge fan of KTM or Husqvarna but, they have to be in the running as they currently have some impressive machines in the adventure market.

The Husqvarna 701 range are actually KTM 690’s rebadged and the only real advantage of the 701LR is the long range fuel capability. Whether this is enough to swing my brand choice remains to be seen

The Yamaha Tenere 700 Rally is currently my favourite. Having owned and really enjoyed a Tenere 660 I know the Yamaha will be super reliable and well put together.

Price wise the KTM 690 Enduro R is probably the cheapest with the Husqvarna and Tenere 700 coming in a close second and the KTM 790 Adventure R being the most expensive.

So it’s now time to start researching, riding and seeing which I prefer!

More soon …

For Sale – CRF250 Rally with many extras!

Bike now Sold.

For Sale: 2019 Honda CRF250 Rally with many extras.

Purchased new in Jan 2019 for my adventure to Mongolia and back however, due to the pandemic this trip is now cancelled for the forseeable future and so I have decided to sell the bike and will purchase another new bike once travel to Central Asia is possible again

The bike has been well maintained and serviced by the local Honda dealer and had oil and filter changes done by me in between regular services.

The bike has been kitted out for the ride to Mongolia and has had the following extras fitted:

Gecko heavy duty clutch £35
Tutoro auto chain oiler £100
DID 520 VX3 chain £55
JTSprockets £25
Tusk Pannier Rack £292
Oxford heated grips £100
Renthal bars £35
Bar risers £25
Hagon rear shock £300
HyperPro front suspension £120
Continental TKC80 tyres £174
GP-Kompozit Crashbars and skid plate £135
Zeta XC handguards £52
Sidestand foot £5
Rotopax style 5L fuel can £22
Optimate battery charger £56

The sale also includes the following Parts: £165
4 x Oil filters + Gaskets
Front/rear brake pad sets
1 x air filter 
Front & Rear wheel bearing sets
Head bearing set
2 sparks plugs
Front sprocket
Inner tubes

Total cost of extras £1696

Original OEM IRC tyres free!

The bike has now done 5369 miles mainly on road with the bike having been taken on Peddars Way in Norfolk and a week riding soft trails in the Pyrenees. I’m a mature experienced off-road rider and so the bike hasn’t been abused.

The bike has just had an oil and filter change and the next official service isn’t for another 6000 miles.

The bike is in excellent running order but does have a little wear to one of the transfers on the left side where my boot has rubbed, see photos.

The Tusk rack that is fitted to the bike was imported from the USA and fitted by me in my extensive workshop.

Viewing highly recommended as first to see will buy.

£5300 OVNO 

Payment of cleared funds only via bank transfer before collection.
No test rides.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me direct on 0752 6116110 (08:30 – 22:00hrs) or at mike@trailsoftheunexpected.co.uk

A few photos …

Just a few photos from my 142 mile back lane ride up into Norfolk this week using the Calimoto app on the Honda CRF250 Rally.

Walcott Beach – There’s a great biker cafe opposite the beach.
Happisburgh Light House.
Horsey Windmill.
Part of the Norfolk Broads with the Horsey Windmill in the background.

Getting back in the saddle post COVID19

Somewhere in the wilds of Suffolk

Now that the UK is starting to relax the COVID19 restrictions it’s been possible to get out on the bike more. Not being able to leave the country and head into Europe has meant that local rides are the only thing available at the moment, especially with Wales and Scotland keeping their lockdown in place and not allowing the English to visit.

The village of Walpole

I’ve been riding on my own on the little Honda CRF2510 Rally and really enjoying it. It’s the perfect bike for riding around the tiny B roads in Suffolk and Norfolk enjoying the countryside. Only problem has been not being able to get a drink very often as there is nowhere open for food or drink.

Not a soul for miles around

I’ve been using the Calimoto app to generate loop rides starting and ending at home. It really is superb for this and created some really interesting rides. The photo above is from an 80 mile loop ride automagically generated by Calimoto.

Being just just 15mins from the coast is handy to pickup the tiny coast roads and head north up through Suffolk and into Norfolk taking in Orford, Aldeburgh, Thorpeness and Sizewell to mention few eventually arriving at Walcott.

Phil and I on another of our coastal rides

I’ve also been stretching the legs of my Kawasaki Versys 1000 riding out with my good mate Phil who lives a couple of doors down from me. The weather has been superb and the riding has been great. The roads are getting a lot busier now which is a shame but to be expected. It’s been great to get out and about again for sure.

I’d really like to take the CRF250 Rally down to the Pyrenees this summer if at all possible and do the coast to coast route through the mountain trails. Whether this will be possible or not is still too hard to predict but we can but hope!

More soon …

Freedom!

The UK government has started to relax the U.K. wide lockdown and it’s now possible for us to ride our motorcycles to and from a place of exercise.

My expedition Honda CRF250 Rally Parked up on the quay at Bawdsey Suffolk.

So without delay, I got the bikes out and headed out into the wilds of Suffolk. The weather has been splendid for this time of year. Normally it’s rainy and miserable in Spring but, since the COVID19 pandemic hit and the planes have all been grounded the weather has been spectacular!
With temperatures hitting the dizzy highs of 20c it’s been like summer here in the U.K. for a couple of weeks now.

First trip out was on the Kawasaki Versys 1000cc, my wolf in sheep’s clothing. It’s a bike I’ve owned from new in 2016 and one that I dearly love. Heading north up the Suffolk coast I dropped into the lovely seaside town of Southwold. Not far up the road in real terms but since it was my first ride out in quite a while I wanted to break myself in gently.

My 2016 Kawasaki Versys 1000 parked up in the sun at Southwold Suffolk.

The ride was glorious albeit a tad windy as I got closer to the coast. Getting the tyres warmed up on the bike for the first time in ages was a great feeling and I was soon back in the swing of things.

The very next day it was the turn of the Honda CRF250 Rally to get out onto the road. I love this little bike and it just loves tootling around the back lanes and byways, together we make a great team.

My expedition Honda CRF250 Rally taking in the views of the Suffolk countryside.

Heading out into the sticks not really having a preplanned route I just explored lanes and byways that I’d not ridden before, most of the time not having any real idea of where I was.

Stopping here and there to take photos, take in the scenery and enjoy the sun on my face it was heavenly to enjoy the silence of the countryside. At times it felt as if I was the only one on the planet, a wonderful feeling to be had.

Passing through tiny villages that I’d never heard of before I found my self arriving on the outskirts of the town of Felixstowe on a back lane that I didn’t know existed. Eventually I came out near the golf course in the old part of the town and continued on until I reached the dead end at the Felixstowe Ferry opposite Bawdsey on the river Deben.

Heading out of Felixstowe I decided to ride around the river Deben to the other side and follow the road to its natural end at Bawdsey. Once again heading out into the sticks and not having any real route in mind I passed through a completely different set of little villages until I arrived in Newbourne, a village I know. Passing the Newbourne Fox Pub that was closed like all the other pubs at the moment, the village seemed dead compared to normal. Heading north through Waldringfield Heath round the back of Adastral park where all the tech companies live I was soon in the town of Woodbridge. A lovely old market town with many fine public establishments. I followed the road round past the marina, through Melton and headed out into the sticks once more.

The view over the river Deben from the dizzy heights of Ramsholt.

I somehow found myself on the Ramsholt road and decided to head up onto the top of the hill overlooking the river Deben near the Ramsholt Arms pub. Stopping at the top of the hill I sat in the sun for a while enjoying the view over the river whilst listening to the birds chattering away. This was becoming a very relaxing and enjoyable second ride out!

Leaving Ramsholt along the sandy lanes I managed to find myself on the back lane heading in the direction of Bawdsey.

Passing Bawdsey Manor where the radar research took place in the early part of World War II I soon arrived at Bawdsey Quay, directly opposite Felixstowe Ferry where I had been an hour or so earlier. 25 miles of riding to end up no more than 150 metres from where I started!

Wanting to stay within the law, I took my exercise and walked over to the cobbled beach to take a photo of Felixstowe. Exercise over, I headed back to the quay.

Looking across the river Deben to Felixstowe Ferry from Bawdsey cobbled beach.

Sitting on an old wooden bench with my back up against an old brick building in the sun, I watched the world go by for what seemed an age. Fishing boats came and went, sail boats slipped by silently all whilst the tide gradually came in. It was heaven!

Soon it was time for me to start heading home again. Getting my crash helmet on, biking gear zipped up and the bike fired up I headed back out into the countryside winding my way around little back lanes enjoying every moment of my new found freedom.

Looking up the river Deben from Bawdsey Quay.

The little Honda buzzed excitedly as we progressed past the lush green fields and derelict farm buildings that litter the landscape. I’d forgotten how much fun it is to ride little bikes, it was like being a boy again except it was totally legal this time!

Stopped on a Byway somewhere in Suffolk.

Ten or so miles later going through one village twice somehow I was soon back home and putting the bike away ready for another day.

COVID19 – U.K. Lock Down

We’re now two weeks into the COVID19 U.K. wide lockdown with no definite date for when the restrictions will be relaxed. The weather has changed and it’s been glorious, typical really, great weather but banned from riding!

My Kawasaki Versys 1000 has never been so shiny and the CRF250 Rally is raring to go on an adventure. The bikes have spent the last month in the workshop/garage and so I got them out over the last weekend to warm them up and let them breath.

Hopefully in a few weeks time I’ll be able to get them back out onto the road again and get a few miles in.

Since the trip to Mongolia and back looks like it’s not going to be possible this year I’ve been wondering if I could do some sort of mini adventure around the U.K. once the lockdown is over. I’ll keep mulling this idea over and see if it comes to anything.

A few of us in the HUBB Facebook group have been talking about meeting up for a weekend of camping and trail riding so that’s something to look forward to.

In the meantime, I’ll just carry on doing all the jobs I’ve been putting off for ages … almost at the end of the list!