In this week's show, Ray talked us through his insurance win, we have another look
Since the birth of my first born child, family finances have been tight. Not "bread and water" tight, but definitely not "spend money on a dirt bike" tight. Not long before the birth of my now 3 year old son, I sold my WR250, with the expectation I wouldn't be getting out to ride it an awful lot. That turned out to be true, but not exactly for the reasons I thought, (thanks global pandemic). Then the Tenere 700 was announced, and I really wanted one. I remember using the justification of the expense of this flash new bike to my wife (A.k.a chief family book keeper) as a jack of all trades. I wouldn't need to get another dirt bike, because this was the one bike for all types of riding. If I bought THIS adventure bike, I would be able to commute and attend trail rides, I could tour and tackle the road less traveled. One bike to rule them all.
Now, this is a safe space, so just between you and me dear reader, that's a long bow to string. A man will say almost anything to justify the purchase of a new bike... right? I'm sure we both know that even a mid-weight adventure bike is a lot heavier then an enduro bike. But it does pose a serious question, can you trail ride on an Adventure bike? Yes, it's true, you can trail ride on anything, even an R1 with the right setup, but can you take a completely road legal mid-weight adventure bike, and tackle Bermbuster for example, without any serious modifications, and still have fun?
The team at MotoGear.co.nz were also interested to find an answer to this question, so they supplied a set of Maxxis Enduro tyres for the experiment. Apart from tyres, the Tenere 700 remained completely as it was when I last commuted on it. So Friday morning I loaded it on the trailer, and headed off to Taupo.
If theres any trail ride in the country that would give me the best shot at success, it would have to be BermBuster. Run by Epic Events, they keep a tight ship, grooming the trails between events. Held near Taupo, the soil is generally quite free draining and offers great traction, with a mix of trails from novice to AAA Expert, regular sweep riders and onsite medical assistance, I felt confident that if the worst happened, I would at least be looked after. Along with my riding companion for the weekend, Mathieu Day-Gillett on his Honda CRF250 Rally, As long as I stuck to the easy trails to begin with, I should at least be able to complete one loop. It would be a great test if it was dry, but if it rained, things had the potential to get quite challenging fast.
Murphy's law, Saturday morning it was hosing down, and the rain didn't let up all day. We hit the trails around 9:30am, and they were already feeling rather soft. I opted for the shortest loop to begin with and as soon as I rode through the pits and out the gate, I was starting to think I had made a terrible mistake. I had loads of traction in the rear, but the front was feeling very washy and uncontrollable. The weight of the bike was playing against me. About 4km in I started to feel a little more confident, but still riding slowly and with caution, trying to pick the driest lines. The last 2km were the worst by far however, as this was the section where all the other trails joined, so all riders were covering the same ground. I kept at it, completing the first loop of 8km in around 30 minutes.
Back in the pits I took stock and assessed the situation. Heavy bike, loads of power, little front end traction. I let some air out of the tyres, going down to around 15psi in the front and 18 in the rear. We then decided to tackle a longer loop. As we were already soaked through, it didn't matter how long it took us to get back. As soon as I hit the trails again, I felt more at home, more in control. I got the bike up into 2nd and 3rd and started to enjoy my self. I was getting some real flow going on. This trail was longer, around 15km, and although we stuck to the easy trail, I was getting some confidence up. That was until we started coming up on some small hill climbs. The first few were actually quite fun, I got the bike in 2nd and just wound on the power. With the exhaust singing obnoxiously, and the Maxxis rear tyre digging in and carving a trench up the hills. The first 4 or so were great, but then we came up on a hillclimb that riders on smaller dedicated dirt bikes were getting stuck on. Sitting at the bottom and studied the lines, it looked to be that the left hand line was the one to go for. I didn't see that about half way up the first incline, the rut had been carved out a little deeper. Nothing for a dirt bike, but for me on the Tenere 700 with less ground clearance and a big square bash plate, this was going to require some serious commitment. I hit the trench in 2nd, about 7000 rpm, and instantly felt the drag. I piled on more power, and the rear tyre started to spin, then I came to a complete halt. The bash plate was completely wedged. The mud was so high on both sides, I had to dig to find the gear lever, and because of the weight of the bike, there was no way I was getting her out on my own. I helped a few other riders then with the help of Mat, and another random rider, we man-handled the T7 out of the rut backwards, rolling her down the hill, which was no mean feat, as the chain, sprockets, brake discs and everything else were completely choked with mud and pumice. At the bottom of the hill again, I hooked into the right hand rut and again piled on the power, slip-sliding all over the show, some how finding enough traction to tractor all the way to the top.
That was pretty much the bulk of the action. once back in the pits I got dried off and as most people were bailing because of the weather, we followed suit, heading back to town for the rest of the afternoon.
The plan was to ride again on Sunday, but my knee was giving my hell. Results of an alteration with an actual dirt bike some months ago. So I didn't get to try out the T7 on what turned out to be a much dryer ride. But I am content that I succeeded in trail riding with an ADV bike. Not ideal, but it can be done. Will I do it again? If the conditions were going to be dryer, then yes, I probably would. I felt like a king on my completely road legal, comfortable and powerful twin-powered machine, along side people on dirt squirters. I probably looked like a right plonker. But since when has riding a motorbike been about anyone elses opinion?
Yes, you can Trail ride and ADV bike, but make no mistake, the T7 is not the "one ring to rule them all". Yes in the hands of Pol Tarres, the Tenere 700 can do amazing things, see youtube for videos from Romaniacs 2022. But an enduro bike it is not. So, dear reader, with that serious question answered, If you have any tips on how to get a new enduro bike across the line with the family accountant, then place don't hesitate to get in contact.