Yamaha Super Tenere XT 1200 Top End rebuild


spoiler alert…it works, and works well post rebuild

I had this coming…my 2011 pre delivery  Tenere ran like a top till about 60 k km (all units will be metric!!). At which point I wasn’t able to do a full oil interval of 5 k without adding oil. It wasn’t much at first, maybe .5 L between fill, then eventually around the 75 k mark it needed 1.5 L between intervals. To top it off I was told that the bike puffed blue off throttle.

Out came the compression tester. For reference, factory spec compression: 84-108 PSI. I’m at 1200 m elevation (3500 or so footsies)
Readings were as follows:

Cyl 1/Cyl 2 (no oil): 62/72 PSI
Cyl 1/Cyl 2 (oil added): 72/88 PSI

I didn’t bother with a leak down test…I don’t own a tester.
If you don’t like reading and like looking at pictures…they are here :

Logic would dictate that rings are suspect, with a possibility of valve seals.
To rebuild or ride, or sell…I went back and fourth a few times. It annoys me to have to carry oil on longer trips. A normal motor will use a small amount of oil between changes i.e. from full mark to low mark on the window. But this was more than that.

Many will say that it’s the oil that I used (non synthetic for a break in-motoman style, google it), then amsoil synthetic from there.
Many will say it’s lack of maintenance. I ride my bikes as intended. I don’t baby them, I don’t putter. I ride. Wheelies, hell yes. Pinging off the rev limiter, hell no. I use the entire rev range. And yes, the bike has been ridden off road. Roughly 40% of the k’s were off road.
What if it was a long weekend bike? The boys at Yamaha Japan wanted to knock off early to drink sake…who knows.
Maybe sub par components? The first gen rings and pistons were discontinued. Same goes for the god awful oil fed cc tensioner. Don’t forget the clutch basket.

At any rate, the decision was made to rebuild the motor. No point in taking it in the ass on a trade in (would sir take $5k, then pay full retail for a new 2016 ST), I didn’t want to sell it second hand to some unsuspecting sucker, besides I really like this bike. It’s a keeper.
I budgeted for a $1000 cdn in parts (not including head work/valve work if needed), Without going into the motor, I wasn’t sure what needed changing/rebuilding.
My initial guess was the parts needing changing would be: pistons, rings, gaskets, valve seals, valves, springs, head bolts, possible head work/valve lap, hone and a possible re plate.
I was extremely fortunate to have a good friend of mine overseeing the process. Richard from nearby Red Deer offered to help me tear down the top end, and rebuild it once we figured out what the motor needed. Richard is one of the top motor guys in Alberta, so I was in good hands.



Do not attempt this on your own! Do not touch your motor, unless absolutely necessary! Spend lots of money at the dealer, as they will do a better job (highly unlikely) Better yet, sell the Yamaha and buy something reliable like a BMW!

Right.  The above out of the way, I set to work on dropping the motor.  As always, my trusty Yamaha book by my side, I followed the motor removal step by step.  Easy enough.  Motor came out without too much trouble.  Once out, I had to get my neighbor to help me carry the heavy bastard from my bike bench over to my work bench.  The thing weights a god damned ton.  I’m guessing about 180 lb.

Motor disassembly was straight forward.  Again following the book, I took the head off, set my head studs aside (numbered in a card board sheet)

Below, the famous K mark…

Off with the head!!
combustion chamber

I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain, I’ve never seen this much carbon before.. pistons prior to dissasembly

Now being a complete engine newbie (I only go to the valves, and maybe the cct…but that’s it!!) I was worried by the 1/8″ of carbon on the pistons. It looked pretty gross. No matter, I kept keeping on. Next up was the cylinder head, and to have a peek a boo at the pistons and rings.

Note the small cooling gasket on bottom left of picture. I ordered a new one…It would suck to have to take the whole motor apart again for a $2 gasket.
Bore prior to dissasembly

Here’s the head
Bore close up

Notice the fine scratches at the top of the bore. Yep, the Tenere got a case of KTnatis! took some dirt in somewhere along the way. No worries, a hone will clean it up sufficiently. The nickasil was in perfect shape. About 1/4 thou wear. Cylinder was well within spec. Nothing out of sorts

piston ring close up piston ring close up

Rings were just ok. Some blow by present, top ring was starting to move (my plating guy said that that’s what caused the scratches on top of the bores) I’m thinking it’s dirt and shit.
Scraper rings look…meh

Other odds and ends…

If you ride off road, clean the rad from time to time. This never affected cooling of the bike.
Radiator...a bit dirty//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

So it was time to gather up all the bits, and head off to Richards shop for some real work to take place. Notice the filthy rad…I would need to clean that eventually…
engine bits

Head tear down, and clean day.
I dragged all the various bits over to Richards place and we set to work. Now you can tell a lot from a man’s work space. Mine looks like someone lobbed a grenade into my garage, and ran away. Richard’s shop looks nothing like mine.

Valves ready to come out
Valves ready to come out

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the valves, valve faces, head, guides and seals. Once the valves were compressed, springs seats, valve lock thingies set aside and bagged (Richard’s fine work, not mine…) I was tasked to go to town in the wash basin.

Bath time mo-fos! Bath time

We weren’t going to stop at a varsol bath. Bead blasting was up next. I cleaned the head, pistons, and valves. The cylinder head simply had the excess gasket goop removed with a blade, and sent off for honing

Clean and dirty
overview of cleaned pistons

Here’s the interesting bit. The pistons had 1/4 thou wear, after 80k of me romping on them.  Basically brand new!
Here’s some hard numbers:
Piston clearance (Piston to cylinder)
Cyl #1: 0.5/.75 thou
Cyl #2: 0.5/0.75 thou

Cylinder number. Taper/out of round
Cyl #1: 0.5 thou / 0.5 thou
Cyl #2: 0.5 thou / 0.5 thou

Piston diameter. Factory spec: 3.8569-3.8575 inch
Piston #1: 3.8571
Piston #2: 3.8571

Richard the hand model, and my bead blasted head. Spotless.
Another spiffy shot,and Richards hand

Head, valve seats, and valves were perfect post bead blast. Nothing wrong with any of the parts.

Borat says:

At this point, I was ready to make my parts list:
-2nd gen pistons and rings. Yes I could have reused the old ones, but Yamaha updated the piston and ring design. You cannot get 1st gen rings anymore. Besides, the 2nd gen is lighter, and higher comp. I did check the cam shaft profiles. Identical from 1st to 2nd gen. Proceed!
-All new gaskets..obvs!
-O ring for water pump
-8 new valve seals. They were gone..like dropping a hot dog down a hallway…
Valve guides were perfect
-Two new coolant hoses. One that drops from the rad to the metal cross pipe. One from cross pipe to water pump. Both were looking a bit swollen
-New cam chain. Old one had about half a link of  extra wear. Cheap insurance.

So, what the hell went wrong with the motor. Three things:
-Valve seals (see hot dog down hallway)
-Dirt ingestion and/or top ring flex

Interlude!  Took this shot in CR while waiting for my parts.
Toucans in CR

Right. Back at it. All parts came in. Well packaged by my friend Don from Lodi. I’m hella cheap, shipping was free from http://www.procaliber.com

Don did say that their packing of the gaskets was sub par. Otherwise no issues. Cheapest parts I found. Plus, if you let you basket contents linger for an extra day, they give you an additional 5% off all items. Bonus!!!

Not sure what Don is trying to tell me….
New parts!

First up was the cam chain. Undo your bottom sprocket (the one with the K and T marks). Install chain, and replace sprocket. I was reusing my manual CCT.
Easy, peasy!
let the swearing begin

Now, for the fun part. Each piston has a total of 5 rings. Two main rings (with lettering), a scraper ring and a ring on either side of the scraper ring.

These were a total PITA. With two sets of hands, four head bolts to line up the head, we managed to cross the scraper ring several times. It’s extremely hard to notice if it’s actually crossed up. If you’re not paying attention, you’ll put it back together, turn it by hand and find out the hard way. At any rate, we finally got it together, one piston at a time

Extra funness below
The fun part

That shit job out of the way it was time to re-assemble the head. Earlier I mentioned a hot dog down a hallway (see valve seal). When the new valve seals went in, you could feel a nice even drag on the valve. Nice! Richard expertly re-assembled the head (compress each valve.  Tweezers in hand and using the force, insert both valve retaining clips (with a dab of grease), while backing out valve compression tool) Any one able to do this, is the fucking man in my book! Tricky, very tricky.
Holy shit on a stick…don’t forget that $2 o-ring on the water pump!!!

Head assembled, ready to be bolted on
Look at these hands!

I cheaped out, and did not order new head bolts. Think about it. The bolts do stretch, that said, you torque them to a given spec, then use the degree tool on top a torque wrench to go to the prescribed degree (270 degree, or whatever the book says). At any rate, the motor is holding together just fine. Joy!!

Before putting the cover back on we spun the motor, to check that everything is copacetic.

We spun the motor by hand, and there was a very faint ping, and noticeable stop to the proceedings…Yay !!!! Valves contacting the piston..

SHIT ON A STICK !!!  When we changed the cc, we re-set the motor to TDC on cyl #1         (T mark on bottom of motor!!).  If my little mind can grasp the Yamaha manual, the T mark is only for checking the valve clearance. See page 3-5 and on, in manual.
Remember, T mark is TDC on cyl#1. Then you turn it 270 degrees, and you have cyl #2 at TDC.  K mark is for disassembly/reassembly.

Problem being, that we had the valve train set to work with the K mark,  but the bottom of the motor itself was set to the T mark.
Long story short, if we didn’t check this, the valve would have run into the pistons on the first crank of the starter. Good catch, scratch that…great catch!
Right. Set the bottom to K. As per page 5-16. Pull the cams, make sure your camshaft marks are aligned on the case, and the hole on the intake camshaft, aligns with the mark on the intake cam cap (closest to the chain)

To sum up:
THE K MARK IS FOR PULLING CAMS. This is where the top and bottom are in alignment/not running interference.

Put the cover back on, and it’s beer o-clock.

Well no it isn’t. I had to drive home, so we high fived each other. Dragged the heavy bastard to the trunk of my car, and I went home. Job done!

Next day, I had a neighbor help me drag the motor onto my mini scissor lift, ready to hoist the bastard into the frame.
Let the fun begin

I did forget to check valve clearances the day previous.  I was reusing all the valves, and shims.  So I marked all the shims, and which vales they went back in.  I double checked the clearances, and they were all in spec.  Joy.  Valve cover back on, and now I can call on my buddy Cam M. to help me muscle the motor back in.

This is so easy to do out of the frame…and such a PITA in the frame..
Check valve gap one more time..

This took about 45 minutes with the both of us moving things back and forth.  Eventually we lined up the back bottom motor mounts, slid the bolts in, jacked up the mini jack, slid the top rear bolt in, and last but not least, the four main engine bolts.  Done!

Here’s a shot of the new intakes.

The rest of it was straight forward. I basically had to put the whole bike back together. Once the motor was in, I had to re-install the swing arm, shaft drive, and rear wheel. Next up was my clean rad, all hoses, clamps, and coolant. I kept the crash bars and skid plate off, until everything was back on, and buttoned up. I refilled the oil to the top mark, and thumbed the starer. Bike fired up on the first or second crank. Joy!! Got the motor up to temp, and got a low oil light to ping on. Da fug? I forgot that the motor lost a bunch of oil out of the head. No matter. Put in an extra half liter and all was good to go.

Interesting side notes and findings on the rebuild.

While rummaging in the bike, I had a look at my ABS pump. What a mess. I had dried mud half way up my abs pump. The oem drains are too small, and don’t get all the filth out. I removed the pump, clean up the muck, and enlarged the two holes. I’ll check it from time to time to make sure it’s clean.

My throttle cables needed replacing. The bottom cable was catching on the throttle body assembly…can’t remember where exactly, and was starting to frey.

I tested my five year old battery at the local battery shop. The bastard lost five CCA over five years!!! I battery tender all my bikes. Maybe that helped. No matter, i’ll be good for a few years more.

I flushed all fluids, except the shaft drive. New clutch and brake fluids, new coolant, and new oil.

All in all, the whole job took about 10-12 hours.  7-8 hours on the motor.  Two hours each for tear out, and re-install.

I took the bike for a break in run, as there was a break in the weather.  Wow wee…this thing pulls hard.  The bike sounds smooth, and all is well in my world.  Now, if I could only get my KTM 300 starter mechanism to behave…
Deep snow//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Update: I did some compression readings after a 50 k ride. Here’s the findings:

Prior to rebuild (engine cold). dry/oil added
Cyl 1/Cyl 2 (no oil): 62/72 PSI
Cyl 1/Cyl 2 (oil added): 72/88 PSI

Post rebuild:
Cyl 1 cold/warmed up motor: 60/68 PSI
Cyl 2 cold/warmed up motor: 60/65 PSI

It’s possible that prior to rebuild the comp read higher because of the extra carbon build up :. more squish/compression

Another interesting fact is that I just did valves on a friends tenere, with 35km of light-ish use, comp cold read:

Cyl 1 cold: 55 PSI
Cyl 2 cold: 65 PSI

Da fug?

Yamaha compression test procedure page

How come I cannot come close to the Yamaha numbers listed on two bikes side by side, at the same elevation? At any rate, I’ll check it again at the next oil change and see what it reads then.

Moar updates:  this motor has a decompression unit built into the exhaust cam.  So how on earth can you measure compression if the decompression pin lets out the pressure in the cylinders every time?  It boggles the mind how Yamaha came up with the numbers.

Whatever.  The motor has just over 4k km on it now.  Running like a top, zero oil used.  What goes in comes out.  Magic.


Matt and Greg ride California

It was time for the annual trip to California.  Matt and I ironed out times, prepped the bikes, figured out a way to get them there from Calgary, and we were set.

As always, click on the picture to enlarge it.  All  flickr pics here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskHVEo45

Overall plan was to get our asses and bikes down to Don’s place in Lodi.  Ditch the car and trailer, and go riding.  Uneventful tow down with the car, and a slight hiccup on the tow back (One of the sensors on the turbo went, we made it home).
We wanted to camp as much as possible, to keep costs down. Weather dictated otherwise.
Below is the overall planned route, which ended up being slightly different. Plan called for roughly 3300km total.

Our first two days were get there days.  We killed time by driving roughly a tank each (500-600km), eating greasy chicken, and streaming MXC Extreme Elimination Challenge on Matt’s phone. Matt was in trouble when he got back to work. Apparently video’s use quite a bit of data :).  Weather was decent, and the car towed like a champ, even loaded down with two bikes. We averaged 600k on 45-50L of diesel.

The rig.
The tow rig

We arrived at Don’s hacienda early.  We broke out the beer, unloaded the car, bikes and set to work prepping for the ride.  Don arrived shortly thereafter, and joined us in drinking beer, and general bs’ing.

Day One: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29085

The plan was to meet Tim and Don at Putah creek cafe for breakfast, in Winters CA. We headed south from Lodi, mostly because I’m a muppet and wasn’t paying attention. We eventually got through the farm fields, and flat roads, and got a few turns in before breakfast. Tim and Don met us in Winters, and much fun was had over an excellent breakfast, procured by Tim.
Thanks Tim, you are a gentleman.

The motley crew
Dan, Matt and Tim, at Putah Creek Cafe in Winters CA
Dan, just out of shot 🙂

The four of us rode W-NW, and much fun was had. Tim peeled off half way during the day, and headed home. Dan, Matt and I persevered on to Fort Bragg, as Leggit was too much of a push in the dying daylight. A clean motel six, and excellent Mexican restaurant wrapped the day up.

Day two: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29087

Destination is Walnut Creek. We have a roof over our heads for the night at Matt’s friends place, Pete and Beth. We headed south on hwy one, stopped for a nice 1 hr walk to take in the scenery.

Where’s Waldo?
Another beauty of a day in California
Hwy one and the FJ

We had an excellent lunch at Busters in Calistoga CA. We then hit some back roads to avoid traffic. Dan peeled off home shortly there after, and we were left on our own to find our way to Walnut Creek. The GPS delivered us safely for an early arrival, and yup you guessed it, more beer! We spent a very enjoyable evening with our guests, Pete and Beth and their very energetic kids Teddy and Evvy.

Our excellent stay for the night at Walnut creek
If the lid fits…

Day Three: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29090

Big sur is our destination for the night, with a stop at Laguna Seca. Mines Road was a treat, SE of Livermore.   The big highlight of the day; Hwy 130. Lick Observatory on Copernicus Peak. Stunning road leading up to the peak, and even better heading down. Fudge nine at Copernicus peak.

Quiet! don’t wake the day sleepers!!
Lick Observatory, on  glorious hwy 130

We stopped in at Laguna Seca. I’ve watched many races on TV, but never had the chance to check it out in person. My favourite part of the track is the corkscrew. There was a cheap car endurance race. Very neat to watch.
We wrapped up the day at the worlds most expensive campsite.
Big Sur welcome sign should read: Welcome to Big Sur. Hope you brought money.

The cork screw
Light fading on the PCH
PCH north of Big Sur

Day four: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29091

Starting the day on the PCH. Life is good
PCH south of Big Sur
Dead things on N.F. road
Nacimento Fergusson Road

Plan is to end up in or near Ojai. We head inland on Nacimento Fergusson Road (N.F road).
Great mexican lunch at Don Hermanos, across the Chevron in San Miguel CA.
Hwy 226, short but truly amazing. Hwy 58, fantastic start, some straights, and finishes very well near Taft CA. We fuelled, bought food and beer, and set off to find a camp site way up in the hills

Pump Jacks
North of Taft
Camping at 2000m. Cheers!
Pine Mountain

Day five: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29092

Play day in the hills! How better to start a day than riding Hwy 33 with no one on it. A large breakfast in Ojai, and some arm twisting on Matt’s part to convince me to ride to Malibu. I was feeling a bit shit, as my cold started coming on full steam.
The hills never disappoint. Typically in California, when someone fast comes up behind you usually move out of the way. The Audi Q7 driving cock did not get that memo. We took our time coming up Westlake Blvd (hwy 23). Cock man finally turned off on Mullholand East. We continued on at our own pace to Decker canyon Road. Wow wee! We took some time off to take it all in, and chatted to some locals that complained about the constant sunshine (kid you not!).
We hopped onto the PCH to link up to Latigo Canyon Road (LCR). We lane split a whole lot of traffic, including three sports cars (Porka boxter s, BMW M5, and a 911). Didn’t think much of it, and hung a left on LCR. I took the lead at a brisk pace, Matt followed, with the three cars not too far behind us. I was enjoying myself, when about 5 minutes into the brisk charge up LCR, boxter man appeared out of nowhere. This dude was moving. I was mostly in 2nd gear to negotiate the tight blind corners, but it looked like I was holding up boxter man. I gave it a honest go for three or four corners, and finally let him pass, figuring that he could set the pace, and I could push him. Man was I wrong. One blind right hander, followed by three quick flick flack left-rights, and boxter man was gone. Ok, keep going. Another 5 minutes go by, and M5 man is up my back tire. And he’s not hanging about either. Ok, let’s play! This time I managed to put in six to eight decent corners, before my left peg hero blob touched and shifter foot touched, and I backed off. M5 man took off. I tried to follow for a few minutes, but couldn’t hack the pace. Either end up on my ass, or back off, and ride my own pace.
I turned off Kane Dume road, and found the two guys parked up on the side. I said hello, while we waited for Matt and 911 man. Turns out these guys ride the roads often (go figure!) and have been driving track for the last 10 or so years. We all had a good laugh, and went our separate ways. A quick stop at the snake for some people watching. An R1 bouncing off the rev limiter, and doing huge stand up wheelies. A local guy on a hopped up FZ09, wearing full leathers complained that he wouldn’t dare ride LCR as there was a touch of rain last night and the road was dirty. Funny we never lacked grip 🙂
We flipped a u-turn and headed back to Ojai for the night. We wrapped up the day with pizza and lots of beer. We booked a hotel room to attempt to get rid of our colds, and turned in for the night.

Pine mountain ridge road, looking North towards Taft.
Pine mountain ridge road

Here we go. Hwy 33 first thing in the morning.
Hwy 33
Decker Canyon road. Amazing
Malibu Hills
The Snake
Mulholland Snake

Day Six: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=29115

Once again, HWY 33. No traffic, perfect pavement, and the sun is out. Magic. That said, just before our turnoff on Lockwood Valley road the fog rolled in. Thick enough that you could see 10 meters in front of you, and that was it. We rode out of the fog, and into light rain. It ranged from mild to flat out annyoing and hard on Interstate 5. We ducked into a starbucks for some coffee and a rest. Half an hour later we manned up, and went back into the rain. Eventually by Rankin Ranch the rain cleared and we were once again back in the sunshine. I had a detour planned to Glenville on the 155. We didn’t make it far before the weather turned ugly. As we climbed, the rain turned to wet snow. The road was none too grippy. We decided to take a few pics, and turn around. We wrapped the day up in Kernville, at a decent little motel. Pub food rounded off the day.

Fog on hwy 33 Hwy 33 in the fog
Rain tapering off
IMG_2540 More weather on hwy 155 Hwy 155
Hwy 155. Crappy, yet pretty
The motel guests IMG_2560

Day Seven: https://goo.gl/maps/5T6v7puGcuj

We woke to a frosty morning. 5C and frost on the bikes. Further up the road, the temp dropped to 2C, and we had several sections of road that had ice on it. We gingerly made our way over the mountain.  Bit of a shame, as hwy 190 is an excellent road.

The link above doesn’t show us going through Yosemite, as it’s currently closed for winter.  We did ride it, and it was excellent.  One thing to keep in mind is that the speed limit ranges from 25 to  40 MPH.  Most people do the limit or less, so for us two wheeled hooligans, it’s a bit of a drag.  Lucky for us, november is not busy, and we made quick progress .  Towards the end of the park, the speed limit perked up, and so did I.  So much so that I left Matt behind.  I really should have waited, sorry man.  At any rate, we regrouped, and headed down to Sqaw Valley to find a motel, pizza and cheap beer.

Sunny morning, day seven
I found this guy crossing the road IMG_2569
Yosemite Park. Great roads. Low speed limit, and slow traffic. Use caution.
The view from 2300 m

Day eight: https://goo.gl/maps/ufvNVjzqWqr

Nothing too crazy on the last day. Weather was a bit meh..so we took it easy, and stareted making our way NW towards Lodi. Halfway through the day I noticed my clutch cable starting to frey. Naturally I freaked out, and thought that it would snap immediately. It lasted all the way till Lodi, and then some. I have a new one on order. We made it back to Don’s house early. Loaded up the bikes, and made our way slowly out of Lodi, into the Sacramento traffic.

Mexican dumping ground just out of shot
Cold day. We were meant to turn right. We turned left
Wet and Cold
Check out the road in the back ground. Stunning stuff.
The aftermath of the drive home
What the FJ looked like

In summary: Great trip, good company. 3300 km on the bikes, 4400 km in the car. Both the bikes worked brilliantly (Matt had an issue with his front headlight, working whenever it damn well pleased). My FJ09 was in its element. The upgraded suspension soaked everything up. The motor was stunning especially at sea level. A couple of times, hard on the gas, over a crest, I would pull huge third gear wheelies (TC off, cover clutch and rear brake). It had power everywhere. Matt and I both run Michelin PR4s. These tires work a treat. They never gave us any cause for concern. Great at full lean, on the brakes, in the rain, and in the snot. At 3k km, mine are nicely scrubbed in, and show little if no wear. Can’t wait to go again, to re-ride some of these roads in the dry, or very least without ice 🙂

Four day blast on the FJ09

Here’s a half ass attempt at a blog post about  my quick trip into BC and Washington State.

if you don’t want to bother with reading the below…you can have a look at the pics here: https://flic.kr/s/aHskG37v2Z

Trip went very well. 3500 actual gps shown KM in 4.5 days. Odometer showed roughly 3650km, so there’s error there, and as well as indicated speed (usually 7%)

Saturday: SW Calgary to Nanaimo…yep 1100km in one go and the ferry.  It was a bit of a marathon day.  I started it all off by loosing my tent and foamie somewhere in Calgary.  Note to self, strap things down better.   Weather wise, it was an extreme in both situations.  4C in Banff, and 36C in Lilooet.  Bike made it no problems to Golden on one tank.  Picked up a new house and bed at the Crap tire in Salmon Arm ($135 gone…) and kept on trucking to Chase for a fill up, and to get off hwy one.  Had a bit of smooth gravel between Chase and Kamloops.  From there the road to Cache Creek is un-eventful.  Once on the 99, things become fun.  This is where the FJ shines.  It punts past cars, buses, a line of 20 Harley riders, without issue, and with absolute hilarity.  I did have to keep reminding myself about the 40km/h over rule…I love BC.  Going was good till Whistler, when traffic got snarled up a bit.  Once out of Whistler, the Sea to Sky high way is a pleasure.  I was in time for the 520 pm sailing.  Some home made sandwiches consumed on the ferry, I headed for my very decent campsite south of Nanaimo. Beer and pizza to round off a most excellent day


Days map here (Calgary to Nanaimo only) https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=25040&key=7282730d

Sunday: Easy ride around the south Island. Started the day off right with Nanaimo river road.  Epic paved road, which ends at a locked gate (opens 8am to 6pm, as it’s private logging road).  I was there early, and didn’t get to ride that part of the road to Lake Cowichan.  Instead, I turned around, rode that splendid paved section again, hooked up to Lake Cowichan, and did the loop to Port Renfrew.  This road is a treat.  It’s all paved, and rough in some sections, but for the most part, fast, flowing and empty.  Recommended.  I topped off the morning with a wild Salmon eggs Benedict at the Coastal Cafe.  Epic.


Breakfast done, I headed East towards Victoria.  This stretch of road is all perfect pavement.  And I was really looking forward to it.  Unfortunately, the fog rolled in.  It was bad enough that all I could do it follow the yellow line at 60 km/h.  The locals call August Fogust…Half way down the road, I stopped to help three guy fish out a large Victory bagger out of the ditch.  Amazingly we succeeded and the guy rode away unbroken, with a few scratches on the bike.  Lucky him


Spent the day hanging out with my buddy Scott, and his delinquent friends.  Good times indeed.


Monday: Early wake up call at 4 am, to catch the ferry to Port Angeles. Bit of a slog to Mt. Rainer…meh. The park pass was a bit of a rip at $20 USD.  Getting there and out of it was a pain, but worth seeing once for sure.



I stuck to back roads, and found a winner.  The Mountain Loop Hwy.  Perfect pavement, interrupted by roughly 25km of decent gravel.  The FJ coped well, I did have to be mindful of the wheel swallowing pot holes


End of day was a revelation though…Hwy 20, into Winthrop, WA, all to myself for close to 120km!! Magic.


Checked into the KOA campsite, set the tent up by the river, and went off for the worlds best pizza at East 20 Pizza.  Great day all in all.

Days map here: https://www.motogoloco.com/map?route=25043&key=8017a9c0

Tuesday: Winthrop to Kaslo. Some great roads out of Winthrop.  No pictures, as I was busy riding.  Originally I was going to end up in Bonners Ferry, and head home the day following via Coleman.  It’s a bit of a shit ending to the trip, as it’s straight, and windy.  So I elected to head up via New Denver, hit the 31A to Kaslo, camp at Toad Rock, and get to do the 31A all over the next morning.  good plan.

Days map here: https://goo.gl/maps/kTgGCCYGp2L2

Wednesday: Rode the 31A one more time.  Nice, very nice.  The rest of the trip was uneventful, and entertaining.  I’d let cars by on the passing lanes, but would catch them up quickly on the single lane stuff.  When ever the coast was clear, down to 4th gear, and gas it…fun.

The bike. Well, it was my first 1000km day on any motorcycle. It was cold going through Banff, 4C, and damn hot in Lilooet towards the end of the day, 36C.
Overally I’m very pleased with this bike. It’s not a tenere, and was never meant to be. I did a bit of gravel here and there. It coped well with it, and so did the tires. naturally the 17″ wheels didn’t like deep pot holes.
Engine is a peach. It’s very quick compared to the ST. It’s weird to describe, but it simply doesn’t linger, it just goes. On single lane highways, if I needed to punt more than three cars at once, down to 4th, and give-er! Wow wee. Even at 1200m elevation the thing motored.
And down at sea level, with the bags and the addedweight , it did perfect second gear power wheelies.
Pegs and bar was a bit buzzy, noticeable some times, other times I simply ignored the issue.
Economy ranged from 4.7L (taking it easy) to 5.2L/100km (caning it).  Tank range a respectful 280km to 330km for the idiot light to ping.  You could easily squeeze out another 50km, before having to push

Ergos…I’ve changed the seats to seat concept foam and covers. While fine around town, the mileage I was doing daily (except for sunday) the air hawk was a blessing, and quite literally saved my ass.

Suspension: The stock suspenders sucked! The money spent on traxxion dynamics cartridges, and the rear yacugar shock was well worth it. There were some amazing roads that I had a chance to test the bike. Stuck like glue, and the stock Dunlops did very well, wet or dry, or gravel for that matter.  10k km on the tires now, and they should be good for another 2k

Luggage, carrying capacity. The 45L givi E45s are plain as day, but they work very well.
Besides being a complete spanner, and loosing my tent and foamie before even leaving Calgary, everything stayed on once I strapped it down properly.

One really long term review, one short term, and a bunch of ramblings


I haven’t put anything on errrmmmm…paper lately.  I’ve been busy riding my dirt bike.  Moar on that later.

As the title points out, below is my long term review (75 000 KM) of my 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere, followed by my short term review of my 2015 FJ09 (Fudge9).

2012 Super Tenere Long term review.  I’ve written many many times on the subject of my ST.  It’s been a fantastic bike.  I’ve beaten it now for 75k with very little problems.  Outside of the shaft seals going (missing swing arm plug was the culprit) the bike has never let me down.

Above: Mount Robson, majestic as ever.  Below:  Crap footwear, and a pig

So we’re fast approaching five year, 75K, I figured a dodgy write up was in order.  I have used the bike for roughly 60/40% Road/gravel use.  It has not disappointed.  Yes, she’s a heavy old girl, but if you know what you’re doing, and you know your limitations the bike will get you through most things.  On a recent trip through interior BC, up to Jasper, and back down the forestry trunk road I thought about the times where the ST presented issues to do with weight.  Honestly, I got myself into trouble with the bike all of five times.  Most of them could have been avoided if I simply thought about the situation, or actually knew my own lack of skill.

Below are the ever necessary pluses and minuses of the ST.  Do remember, the below are my opinions and experiences.  Yours will vary widely


  • Motor (luggable down to 12km/h in 1st, yet can pull easily on the hwy all the way to 160km/h and stay there for days)
  • Ergos.  This thing is spacious.  If you don’t believe me, climb on a stock Vstrom 1000 or 650 and see how much room you have
  • Maintenance intervals.  Ginormous!  42k for valves, yes please.  Even though they are an absolute pig to do!  Check out my various post on that
  • Very capable off road (Read: fire roads and such.  No self respecting idiot would attempt single track on a 580 lb bike with Mitas
  • Reliable as the day is long.  The bike has not given me any concerns in 75k.  Has never stranded me.  For a trip, I check the oil, tires, load it up and go.
  • Shaft drive.  Yes it adds weight, but my god is it awesome.  No maintenance on trips.  Change the oil when you damn well please.  Best part?  Make fun of your buddies when they are lubing their chains daily, and adjusting every few days, all while you drink the beer


  • Weight.  Even though it carries it low, when things go wrong, you cannot somehow miss it.  Again, asses the situation, question your skills, and go from there
  • Valves.  Satan himself designed this procedure.  I’ve done mine once, and done a few others on friends bikes.  It does get easier after the first one, but man…is it a pain
  • Reliability.  I broke my bike in per motoman’s method.  But as of late the bike has been using roughly 500ml for every 2500-3000km.  I’ve been told that after a wheelie (read: ping the bike off the rev limiter in 1st gear-and don’t judge! Wheelies are fun, and quite frankly necessary in my book) she puffs a bit of blue.  Valve seals perhaps?  I’ll keep an eye on it.  Maybe the top end needs a freshening up.  The first gens were rumored to have dodgy rings (I read it on the net!).  I may just buy a 2014 and up new head, pistons, rings, valves, seals, and gaskets, and have an excuse for another crappy blog post.
  • Errrmmm…that’s the negatives

To sum up.  I’ll be keeping the ST for the foreseeable future.  Current offering don’t have me rushing to the dealers.  Yes the new AT looks tasty, but I never liked tubes.  Plus the slow trickle of bikes has not allowed a test ride.  I did ride a KTM 1190, and a 1190R.  Really liked the R.  I think it would be a good fit for me, but lack of funds, imminent layoff, a costly premium gas/premix for the off road 300, a want of a trials bike, and a perfectly functioning dual purpose will keep me out of the dealers for a while.  Maybe the new baby Tenere will convince me to spend some money.

2015 FJ09 Short term review.  I purchased the Fudge9 last August.  Walked into the Yammie dealer to buy an off road helmet, walked out with a new bike.  Job done.  I had a 2015 FZ07 that I was enjoying, but not really loving.  So that went on sale, and sold quickly, and the Fudge9 entered my commuter life.  In the short Canadian season, I ride my bikes to work daily.  Last year, between all the road bikes, I ran up roughly 26K.  They do get used.  The main objectives of the Fudge9 are: to serve commuter duties (excellent), fun bike (excellent), light sport tourer (see latest rubbish post).  So far the bike is getting better and better with time and mileage.   It has power everywhere.  It’s punchy down low, and revs for ever.  Motor sounds good too with the modded stock muffler.  Wheelies? Yes it does those just dandy. The comfort is excellent, especially after I turfed the stock seat in favor of a Seat concepts set.  Bars are very comfy, and the seat to peg is very good (not as roomy as the ST).  The bike is very light to move around (approx.  440 LB wet).  Decent on fuel, 5.4L/100km (43 MPG-USA, 52 MPG-UK).  I managed 300km in town, with 2L remaining in the tank.


  • Motor.  A triple, with great fueling (huge improvement over the donor FZ09 motor and ECU.  No remapping needed).  I leave it in STD mode, turn off TC, and save on front tire wear.  Need more snap, stick it in A mode.  Tired on a long and greasy day? Stick it in B mode, leave TC on, and you’re good to go.  Brakes are radial no name jobbies.  They work very well.
  • Fuel economy is very decent indeed.  Riding it as I ride all my bikes, I get 300km to a tank in the city.  More is possible with a lighter wrist.  Hwy may see the tank stretching to 350km or a bit more depending on user and use
  • Ergos and weight  Very decent bike to wheel around.  Next to the tenere, it’s very very light.  Easy handling (read more below).  Ergonomics are spot on for me (5’9″) The stock seat was ok.  Still trying to sort out the windshield buffeting though…
  • This is a fun and usable bike.  I’ve stuck GIVI racks on it, and it’s ready to tour
  • Electronic gizmolics.  ABS is a bonus.  TC is basic (on/off), and stays off most of the time (yes you have to prod at it every time.  I’m used to it by now).  Dash is simple to use, with more setting that I know what to do with.  All accessible from the handlebar
  • A center stand is a beautiful thing.  Who wouldn’t put a center stand on sport touring bike or an ADV bike with a chain..oh right, Honda and Kawasaki
  • Price.  $11 grand CDN out the door? That’s a good deal


  • For $11 grand you will need to cut a corner or ten.  First to suffer the blow…suspension.  It’s much much better than the FZ09.  But still far away from where I wanted it.  I ended up spending some dough on the rear shock, a Yacugar something or other, fully adjustable, with hydraulic preload (must have).  I also splurged on traxxion dynamics front end cartridges (pretty sure I blogged about that).  The bike as it sits is amazing with the suspension changes.
  • The fit and finish of the plastics could be better.  A few of them look a bit rushed, and slapped together.  Overall though, I like the look of the bike in matte gray, and the paint has held up well in the year of ownership.
  • Hand guards.  They are pointless.  Not only do they not offer any wind protection.  But they also manage to make the handlebars buzzier.  Off they went.  I’ll replace them with some actual aluminum hand guards c/w plastic hand shrouds (Edit! job done, with Enduro Engineering aluminum guards and spoilers)
  • Access to the fuses could be better.  I blew the 2A lighter adaptor and will need to dis assemble the entire bike (edit! The right hand side panel comes off with three quarter turn type screws.  Easy peasy, lemon squeeezy!!)
  • Maintenance.  Valves are every 42k, so that’s good.  Yamaha calls for a tb sync at first service…what the hell?  It’s not the easiest bike to get at (Edit! Sync’d the TB’s recently.  Bit of a faff, but doeable.  They were indeed out)
  • Windshield buffeting.  I’ve tried all the settings on the adjustable screen.  Installed spacers on the oem potato chip with little results.  I even have a large ermax screen, but the thing vibrates on the edges, and probably causes more turbulence.  The search for perfection continues (Edit! I’ve cut the OEM screen down by a few inches.  Seems to help, but it’s far from perfect)

To sum up.  The Fudge9 is doing a great job of it’s intended purpose.  Coming up is a short road trip into BC (see dodgy blog post), and possibly a long trip all the way to LA and back (pending time, funds, willingness, and life generally getting in the way)

And last but not least, a bunch of ramblings.

Not much to ramble about.  I’ve been busy crashing into trees, attempting to ride over slick logs, and generally having an absolute blast off road.  My buddy and I were daft enough to enter the local Red Bull Logs and Rocks.  After walking the water logged track, carefully reviewing our 16 month trail riding experience, we decided to sit out the 2016 edition.  We will be back, on trials bikes, and more experience.

With time and experience, I’m feeling better on the smoker, and quite frankly having a blast.  I cannot believe I didn’t pick up off road riding sooner.  No matter.  I’m knee deep in it, and sinking even faster.

I’m trying out some Flexx bars, so far so good.  Also giving the Kenda trail tires a go…so far so very good.  http://powersports.kendatire.com/en-us/find-a-tire/motorcyclescooter/mxoff-road/equilibrium/

Well.. that’s all for now




My new found love

I’ve been quiet as of late.  As you might have guessed, I’ve been busy working, and riding year round.  No I have not fallen on my head, studded the tires on one of the Yammies, and hit the streets, nope, I found Hesus…no wait, that’s not it, it’s off road bikes.

I’ve been riding since I was a young and stupid shit kicker (15).  Many bikes have come and gone (note to self:  make a list).  I’ve owned plenty of street bikes, dual purpose bikes, and a touring bike or two.  Never owned a cruiser (thank gad), or a dirt bike.  Not really sure why I never got into dirt bikes, but there you go.

At any rate, I finally pulled the trigger on a used 2008 KTM EXC 450.  Why the 450 you ask? well mostly because I had no clue about dirt bikes.  Zero.  I figured I needed a plated (street legal) DP bike.  Now, there’s nowt wrong with the 450.  Stupid amount of power, surprisingly reliable (after I adjusted the valves, and rebuilt the carb-it started and ran great), electric starter for those tricky situations, and a back up kicker.

I found the following out rather quickly:

  • Even though, I’m a competent road rider, I completely sucked off road.  The smallest obstacles, crossings, climbs presented problems for the first few rides.  My non existent off road technique shone.  No matter,  ride by ride, the skill grew, along with confidence.  Off road riding requires a lot of skill and practice
  • The 450 is huge for trail riding, and for a off road noob.  All gubbins that came on the bike (turn signals, mirror, rear tail light/fender) were broken in the first 4 hours on the bike.  What I also figured out that with all the power and zero skill, I never made it out of second gear.
2015-11-29 15.45.26

EXC 450 in winter wonder land

2015-11-29 15.45.08 (1)

Richard, his very capable YZ450, and the EXC

2015-12-16 21.04.16

What gives us traction.  Kold kutter screws, set with PL300 Glue (carpenters glue).  Tires are Dunlop geomax 51

I bought the exc in May 2015, put roughly 30-35 hours on it, and sold it on.  The ‘new to me’ bike is a 2011 KTM XC 300.  Yes a two stroke.  My first ever.  Reason for it? Everybody and their dachshund has one.  Dead easy to maintain.  Put premix in the fuel, change the tranny oil every 10 hrs, look at the top end every 100 hrs, and change if needed (which is easy to do, any semi competent muppet i.e. me, can do the job) at a cost of about $350 USD.   As the bike was used, I spent the next few months replacing/checking all the main components, and getting the bike to where I would like it to be.  Wheel, swing arm, heim bearings all replaced.  My first closed cartridge fork service, along with some tasty SKF seals.  The bike was also shod with tubliss system, as I hate tubes, and like the fact that you can run zero pressure and still have a great seal on the entire rim.

I’m not going to go into specifics about the bike.  Plenty of reviews and opinions out there.  For me, it has more power than I can ever use, suspension is great, and tough as nails.  The starter design is horrible.  No matter, I bought a second hand oem case, and deleted the starter.  This bike can by stared by a 90 pound weakling.  In the 30 or so hours of use, I have not missed the starter…much.

This has opened a whole new world of motorcycling for me.  Since we’re located at the door of the rocky mountains, any which way you point the car/trailer/bike (as long as it’s not east 🙂 ) you’re good to go

The really big plus of off road bikes?  You never really go any faster than 60km, save for the few open stretches where you’re flat out in 4th…Since you’re not balls to the wall all the time, you can ride in colder temperatures.  On my road bikes, if the road are relatively clean, and the morning hovers around zero Celcius, I ride.  I have a good assortment of all weather gear, and heated gear to keep the cold out.  When it comes to the dirt bike, some decent under garments that keep the warmth in, and you’re good to go to about -10C.

So what do you do in the dead of winter in Canada? You stud up your tires, man up and go riding in the woods.  Seriously, this is the best type of practice you can get when riding off road.  It’s loose (doh!) totally unpredictable (did I just run over a log, or a dead badger?!), and exhausting.  I’ve spent half the winter on the 450, and the other half on the 300.  Riding ranged from soft fluffy snow, anywhere from inches all the way to two feet of powder.  Johnny and his dad spent some time prepping a ice track behind their house, which was sooper fun.  As a bonus, the worn studs are still serving me today, to ride trails that are frozen over, slushy, for added grip.  Once they wear out, I’ll remove them, and finish off the tire, without studs.  The three of us are currently trying out various lenghts of kold kutter studs (1/2″ for front, 5/8″ for back).  I’ve had good success with these, at a relatively low price ($200 both tires studded).  Life depends on how hard you are on the throttle, and what the hell you ride over.  I’m loosing studs at an alarming pace now, since I’m riding a mix of ice, rocks, shale, mud, and hard pack.  I’ll do a proper write up on studding tires, once we figure out what the hell we need to do to make them last.

Some excellent folks below, doing great work for the sport

A big thanks to the guys from Cross training Enduro Skills from Ooooostralia.  Truly great videos showing how it’s done.  I’ve spent countless hours watching and re-watching their videos, then attempting to re-create said killer moves, with limited success.  Keep up the great work guys, much appreciated.


Slavens Racing.   Not only are the instructional video’s fantastic (anything from product demos, to top end rebuilds), the service is first rate, and they ship world wide.  Great selection of KTM, husky, Beta parts.  Thanks to Slavens I won’t even bother posting how to blogs, as the guy covers it extremely well, and in video format.  Awesome.  The above is not a plug for Slavens.   I’ve dealt with them, and I was very happy indeed.


oh, my crap youtube channel here:


2016-01-23 08.30.24

The german pickup 🙂

2016-02-27 12.20.34

Johnny’s Honder, and the 300, in Southern Alberta, in March!!

2016-02-20 13.04.57

2016-01-30 12.12.45

The occupational hazards of riding on ice…no Honda or man was harmed in this exercise