52,000 Miles Aboard A Tenere 700
By Brady Allen
Over 13,000 miles in the dirt.
One helicopter evacuation.
Not a single mechanical failure.
Starting a long-term review by stating that nothing broke is somewhat anticlimactic. In the ADV community riders tend to look at long-term reviews in order to judge reliability, and long-term comfort. They imagine themselves on a Long Way Round style expedition to areas unknown, far from the safety net of everyday life. In this imaginary situation they must depend on their motorcycle entirely, for without it they will surely fail in their trip, and possibly endanger their own lives.
Whether this matches reality or not is somewhat irrelevant. A reliable bike is what most ADV riders are looking for. Whether they go off road, away from civilization, or simply commute, we want our bikes to work and work no matter what.
In September of 2021 I purchased a like-new (less than 50 miles on it) Tenere 700 which I named Yennefer. Yen was in bone stock condition, though it would not remain that way for long, and was purchased for the purpose of traveling and living off the bike. Since then, I have ridden in three countries, over 30 states, and completed the aforementioned 52,000 miles without any mechanical failures. I lived on the bike, camping where I could, completed all the Backcountry Discovery Routes, the Dakota 600 dual sport event, and LA-Barstow-Vegas dual sport ride. I rode to Tuktoyaktuk and back, and have crossed the United States approximately three times to include an Iron Butt ride. All without a mechanical failure.
I cannot however count the number of times I have fallen over or dropped. I have had days with enough falls I lost count simply in the last 24 hours. In California I twisted my foot on a rock and had to be helicoptered off the route. After providing me with shade for 4 hours the bike sat in the Mojave sun for another day before I was able to get a tow out to it. The tow truck driver hopped on and rode the bike out to the pavement. Snow, ice, mud, sand, grass, gravel, rocks, and yes pavement, lots of pavement. I have worried about my clutch plates as I powered through mud in Wyoming and sand in California, yet the bike has never let me down. About the only things I have not done to Yennefer is drown her or light her on fire. Thankfully I have never crashed at speed on the pavement. I have ridden in temperatures as high as 106 and as low as 19, Yen continues to plug along like the wonderful beast that she is.
Obviously the Tenere 700 is a reliable bike. The CP2 motor, and Yamahas in general, are known for their reliability. So it should not come as much of a surprise the bike was capable of completing this kind of mileage safely. Though to go through the average lifespan of a motorcycle without any failures raises further questions. What did I have to do in order to maintain this reliability? Was I changing oil every 1000 miles? Monitoring my tire pressures like a F1 pit crew? Stressing over battery life and charge status at every stop? What did I do to ensure my bike works? Or did I do what a lot of riders do, and ignore the bike unless things started going wrong?
The answer, like so many things, is somewhere in the middle. I made many modifications to the bike, but nearly none which involved the engine or overall reliability. I have a Twin Air prefilter in place to keep my air filter clean. I have an Anti-Gravity lithium battery installed. I have not changed the ECU, fueling, or anything else mechanically in the engine other than running full synthetic oil. In that 52,000 miles, I have completed oil changes as early as 3000 miles, and as late as 8000+ miles. I have swapped chain and sprockets 4 times (the current one has less than 2000 miles on it). I have swapped tires 6 times and brake pads 3 times. I have run tire pressures as low as 19PSI and as high as 45PSI. During my scheduled valve checks (25,500 miles) the motor was still within spec. The reality is I have not needed to fix anything if standard maintenance items were handled.
The only thing I can point to which is not working on the bike was my fault. While riding in Arizona I low-sided the bike in deep sand and severely bent my brake pedal. After bending the pedal back into position my brake light would not turn off. I disconnected the brake pedal switch and now my brake pedal does not illuminate my brake light. My brake lever does however so it did not affect anything else, and my rear brake still works.
The one thing I can state with complete confidence is I have never doubted that this bike would work. With other bikes I have owned there were times I just did not trust that the bike would start, or that it would not leave me stranded randomly. Whether that was ever the case did not matter, I just had that doubt in the back of my head when riding. That feeling is non-existent with the T7. It is not the most powerful, biggest, best, most high tech, or capable in the dirt. I do not have ride modes, I do not have lean sensitive ABS, I do not have cruise control, or even throttle-by-wire. But there is never a doubt in my mind that I can rely on my bike to start, run, and get me home. And that is what a reliable bike is. That is the kind of bike you trust your life to. A bike you trust to ride around the world. A bike you depend on.
At the end of the day, I am still excited every time I throw my leg over the back of my bike. I depend on Yennefer, and I know that I can.