20150406-moto-1For my travels through South America, I choose a 2010 YAMAHA XT660Z TENERE – with a lot of modifications, notably the suspension, exhaust / air box and ample protection. (See the link at the bottom for a detailed list of all the mods.)

The bike was superb, cruising comfortably on long road sections and soaking up a real beating on the dirt and gravel tracks in the mountains and the desert. I rod many thousands of kilometres on the South American dirt roads, fast and fully loaded; the frame and sub-frame proved to be bomb-proof. And I lost count of the number of times I dropped it! Pre-emptive servicing of the shock and forks saved me the problems which every Beemer rider in South America seems to suffer from.  And I changed all the bearings, cam-chain, clutch plates and a few other consumables at about 50,000km to avoid a parts failure in the middle of nowhere. The only occasions she refused to start were due to a dirty plug (crap fuel, I’d guess). And at 40,000km, the radiator fan failed and needed replacing. Otherwise, she ran faultlessly with very little maintenance. They told me the Tenere was a strong and reliable bike, and it proved to be so.

With all factors considered – reliability, on and off-road performance, access to spares, load-carrying capability and fun factor – the Tenere is a great bike for over-landing and the near perfect bike for the mix of riding I encountered in South America. The only thing I’d like to chance about the Tenere would be to reduce its weight – crossing technical ground such as rockfalls, deep mud and rivers would be easier (and sometimes safer) with a lighter bike. But, as with every motorcycle, a degree of  compromise is unavoidable.


–  To view the LUGGAGE SETUP I use on the Tenere, click HERE

3 Comments on YAMAHA XT660Z TENERE

  1. Great advice.
    Thanks !

  2. Stuart Smith // 28/08/2015 at 3:56 pm // Reply

    Hello Paul
    In Latvia on my way home from Mongolia via the Stanns and Russia. Lots of off road and lots of on road. My XT660Z has been great. No problems even droped itduring a river crossing in Tajikstan took a couple of days to get it going again, but it did go again. Just clocked 40000 miles and still going strong. Very pleased with the bike.

    • Hey Stuart. Yeah, these bikes are tough!! Mine has about 40,000 miles total now. Running a bit hot so I suspect the radiator needs a clean and using a bit too much oil, but still going strong. Definitely got one or two more big trips left in her! Safe ride back. P

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