Narratives about motorcycling on Northern California's back roads; Reflections on the history and geography of the North State; Memoirs and early recollections of youthful visits to towns and forests and mountaintops.
Also middle-of-the-road takes on current issues in politics and education. Middle of the road? Isn't that dangerous?
Monday, September 18, 2017
IT’S A YAMAHA!
First Impressions of the Yamaha Super Tenere
My foray into cruiser motorcycling
is over.The Triumph Thunderbird
is gone, not so much because she wasn’t a relatively competent and very cool
looking machine – although there were some bugs in her that shouldn’t have been
– but because I guess I’m a fickle rider.While I generally keep a machine for six to eight years, the T-bird
lasted less than two.It seems my
experiment on a heavyweight bike with loads of chrome and torque gave way to a
longing for crisp handling, long distance capability, lighter weight to push
around in the garage, a collective record of dependability, a comprehensive
dealer network, and a shaft drive system.
After conducting some on-line research and chatting with
guys on the road who loved this particular mount, the Yamaha Super Tenere rose
to the top as the chosen successor.It has become the first non-BMW, non-Moto Guzzi, non-Triumph,
non-European primary motorcycle I’ve owned since I was about 24.Forty years past that age, I suspect I
found that, for me, cachet has succumbed to something else.
900 miles in, this scoot appears to have that something.
The Yamaha Super T recalls my BMW
R1200GSA with its tall seat, commanding view, rugged go-almost-anywhere
suspension and ability to strap on a week’s worth of gear before heading
out.With a smaller fuel tank,
however, ready-to-roll it is lighter and easier to pad around in the garage
much like the Guzzi Breva or the Kawasaki KLR.
Enrico Caruso, tenor 1873-1921
At idle, the exhaust doesn’t burble like the T-bird, rather
it sings a smooth tenor note similar to the Breva or maybe more similar to
Sitting on the Tenere, rather than in it, at speed, the
miniscule windscreen deflects the blast from my chest, but even when adjusted
to the high position, blows a good torrent of whistling air past my
helmet.Plenty of aftermarket
windscreens are out there.I’ll do
a bit of research with an eye toward upgrading that.
And only that.
Everything else on this machine feels as if it were
engineered specifically for me.The seat is high, wide and comfortable making a ninety-minute or even
two-hour runs quite reasonable.The switchgear seems standardized – that’s good – but I have yet to take
the five minutes it’ll take to figure out resetting the trip meters.
The fuel tank packs premium and gets me a couple of hundred
miles down the road and I now get better mileage on a bike than my
brother-in-law gets in his Prius.Noted
is that the range function is pretty optimistic until it isn’t optimistic any
longer.I was cruising along with
60 miles listed when all at once it hopped down to 32, then 21 then zero, when
it mysteriously began counting single miles up, one… two… three… and me still
about sixteen miles short of the next Chevron.When I, with a sigh of relief, filled Enrico up, he only
took about 4.6 gallons in his 6.1-gallon tank.
Something a little more saddle time will help me to
The Super Tenere handles 65 to 75 mile-per-hour jaunts on
the freeway portion of US 101 with ease, although the windblast makes slower
speeds winding through the redwoods more enjoyable.
Of all the gin joints, in all the towns...
Not as classically good looking as
the T-bird or, say, Ingrid Bergman, it does garner comments, one from a Harley
rider who’d accompanied a pal on a GS, saying, “It’s sort of a shame to see a Triumph Tiger with no dirt on it, ain’t it?”To which the GS rider (a former Tiger owner, it turns out)
responded: “That’s not a Tiger.It’s a Yamaha that’s like a Tiger only with a dealer network.”
Enrico was, indeed, rather clean that day.He only had 456 miles on him at the
time.And my intention is to use
the bike as a paved road tourer recalling the sinking feeling I got trying to
singlehandedly pry my GS upright from laying on her side in the gravel on many
a remote forest service road.Don’t want to do that anymore.