End of lockdown ride out

The end of the 4 month COVID19 lockdown has finally arrived with 29th March 2021 being the first official day that we can get out on the bikes legally!

Needless to say I took advantage of this and got out on my new Yamaha Tenere 700 that’s spent most of it’s first 6 months of life in the garage.

Obligatory selfie – Ben Jackson sporting his lockdown hair and me with hardly any hair as always!

I arranged to meet up with Ben Jackson who I met back in 2018 at the HUBB event over in a very wet and soggy Wales. This was only the second time we’d met although we’ve been chatting on Signal for some time now.

The ride down to Danbury in Essex was without event although I did note that the A12 is still one of the worst roads in Britain!

Ben with his new Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sport

Ben had got his new Honda Africa Twin Adventure Sport the day before and was dying to stretch its legs so, the timing was perfect. After a brew and a chat at the “Tea on the Green” tea rooms we got mounted up and headed out.

We rode around Danbury and Maldon for a while but, there wasn’t much to see and so headed up towards Clacton and the coast.

After a quick blast up the A12 and then cross country we finally arrived in Clacton around lunch time.

Parked up at Clacton Pier for a brew and some rather nice chips!

Clacton was heaving, hardly surprising since it’s a Bank Holiday weekend in the U.K. We snuck the bikes into a cool little spot right on the pier and grabbed some lovely chips and a brew. The two bikes got a fair amount of attention from passers by including a couple of bikers who stopped for ice cream!

On leaving Clacton we found a neat little nature reserve that was in an old quarry in Fingringhoe and spent a little time taking photos and playing with slo-mo video on our phones. It didn’t take long to realise neither of us were particularly good with video and would need some practice before we did any trips!

Mike checking the lean angle in Fingringhoe, Essex.
My attempt to capture Ben in action in slow motion …
Baby Blue Eyes and Momma Africa parked up at the Nature Reserve Gate.

Sadly Ben’s attempt to take a slo-mo video of me came out as a bunch of photos with just a part of me in the frame as I went by, so I won’t embarrass him and post them here 🥴

It wasn’t long and it was time for us both to head off home, Ben back to Kent and me back to Suffolk. Getting home I found I’d done 193 miles over the day, not bad for a first rideout. Ben had hit the magic 200 miles!

Hopefully we’ll get more rides together planned and maybe even some weekends away camping.

More soon …

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!