Sunday, October 4, 2009



When you work in the publishing game, there's no cry you love hearing more than, 'Stop the presses!'

It's a big call to make, because stopping the presses costs money, big money ... so you only do it when something big is up. 

When Yamaha Motor Australia called late last week and invited TRAIL ZONE to take a test ride on the mighty new XTZ660 Tenere, just as we were on final deadline for TRAIL ZONE issue #26, well, it was time make the biggest call of all and 'Stop the presses!'

Here at TRAIL ZONE we're hard-core Tenere fans -- hey, name me another dirt bike magazine editor that has an original '83 XT600ZL Tenere parked in their garage? There ain't one!

But I do, and I am on record as describing myself as a Tenere tragic. I wear that badge with pride. 

So as soon as as the new Tenere finally became available to test ride, we grabbed a pair of the shiny French-made adventure mounts and took aim up and over the Blue Mountains to Capertee, the Turon River, Sofala and an overnight stop at the famed Royal Hotel at Hill End, before coming home via the Bridle Track, Bathurst and Tarana the next morning.

We nailed down precisely 505km on the ride, and first impressions are the new Tenere is a ripper all-day big-mile adventure machine. 

It's comfy, it's fast (faster than I expected), it feels nowhere near as heavy as the specs suggest and the suspension action is plush and compliant -- though we did wind up the spring preload at both ends as soon as we hit the dirt at Zig Zag Railway and took aim down Blackfellow's Hand Trail.

And the other thing is, the Tenere is built as tough as a brick outhouse. All you blokes who love taking the kitchen sink with you on those outback rides, this bike will carry it with ease.

At $13,999 plus ORC the new Tenere is appreciably more expensive than other Japanese single cylinder adventure machines such as the Kawasaki KLR650 and Suzuki DR650, but there is no question you get appreciably more machine for your adventure riding dollar.

The Tenere has already landed on local Yamaha showroom floors and given there's been an almost two-year wait for the bike to finally make it to Australia, patient Tenere fans who have had their deposits down for ages are right about now taking delivery of their new pride and joy and heading for the wide blue yonder. 

And the Tenere is the perfect bike for doing precisely that.

We're in the queue for a long-term test Yamaha Tenere Project Bike and you can rest assured we'll be racking up the big miles as soon as 'our' Tenere touches down in the TRAIL ZONE workshop. 

In the meantime, you can look out for our first test-ride report on the XTZ660 Tenere in TRAIL ZONE issue #26, which is being printed right now and will go out in the mail at the end of next week to subscribers.

Long live the Tenere!

-- Clubby,

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