Ténéré’s twin peak
World Raid laps up a day of dual-carriageways and forests and meets its identical brother
BUILDING A GOOD adventure bike is all about finding a compromise in a set of diverse and conflicting needs, but the World Raid has a lot of boxes ticked; it handles well on road and trail, has a great tank range and superb suspension. If only it had 20bhp more and cruise control, it would be my perfect middleweight long-distance, do-anything adventurer.
Its latest trip was a great demonstration of the T7 WR’S dual-sport ability — a 70-mile off-road loop of Thetford Forest with an old mate. Two decades ago, former MCN editor Marc Potter and I spent much of our lives riding sportsbikes but, in a way that mirrors what’s happened to the motorcycling public, as we’ve got older we’ve found our way onto adventure bikes and discovered a love of off-road too. I went down the Honda CRF250L and CRF450L trail-bike route, while Marc has owned a Yamaha Ténéré 700 and a Ducati Desertx amongst others. Today he’s on a borrowed World Raid, just like mine.
Our route is a Trf-affiliated loop around one of the UK’S largest man-made forests. Around 70% off-road, it cuts through the wooded firetracks and heathland around Thetford and is perfect adventure-bike fodder: there’s no rocks, no stone steps, just flowing sandy trails that drain well. Oh — and as many bumps, whoops and holes as you could ever want to ride. Best of all, it suits all levels of rider — go briskly and it’s a proper workout, but apart from the few sections of deep sand, novices are unlikely to get out of their depth in and among the trees.
This type of day is perfectly suited to the Ténéré. The schlep up was a good example. Cruising at 80mph up the A11, the little CP2 twin is unstressed and smooth, cosseting and quiet. But now as we hit the first set of whoops, the suspension control and the composure the bike demonstrates is impressive. Potski and I have always been, erm, competitive and the pace is
definitely a little bit higher than most of my previous adventure plods. Over the highfrequency bumps, the World Raid sucks in the undulations and happily uses the full stroke of its 240mm forks with complete stability and control. Thanks to softer bump-stops than the basemodel Ténéré, bottoming out the suspension is less of clattering affair.
After the first section we stop, out of breath. “That’s much better than my old T7,” says Marc. “Mine had a K-tech-tweaked fork and shock but this feels nicer; smoother and more compliant.” I’ve always been impressed by the suspension
— it is actually easier to ride and more forgiving than my old Honda CRF450L, too. We flow with the trails and the Ténérés are bounding and leaping like 220kg bikes really shouldn’t, but what’s interesting is that I’m nowhere near as tired as I would be on my old enduro bike. The ride is smoother, the power delivery nicer and the riding position much more comfortable. Halfway through the route, we stop and take a breather. I’m running different tyres to Marc; he’s fitted the full-on Dunlop D606 knobblies from his old T7, while I’m on slightly more road-based Michelin Anakee Wilds. However, despite their 50/50 road/dirt bias, they provide loads of confidence on the loose surface while being more grippier and longer-lasting on the road.
Looking at Marc’s bike, it’s easy to see the improvements you get through ownership; my riding position is easier thanks to rolled-forward bars, having the levers set in the right position and removing the footrest rubbers. Equally, by winding on a bit more preload for my 90kg lard, the suspension is working in the more-compliant part of its stroke. It all helps and I’d implore any T7 owner to spend the time doing the same. We complete our 70-mile lap in about the same amount of time it usually takes me on an enduro bike, but I’m fresher and we’re both pretty astounded how well the T7 Word Raid copes with the pace and the terrain. The ride home is one of relaxation, satisfaction and admiration for the Yamaha after a 180-mile day of single-track, forest roads and dual-carriageways. And I did it all on the same tank of fuel…