YAMAHA XT660Z TENERE
For 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 see the COMPLETE LIST OF XT660Z MODIFICATIONS, click HERE
– To view the LUGGAGE SETUP I use on the Tenere, click HERE