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2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride

Friday, November 12, 2010
2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride
The 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere will hit the ground running in May of 2011 and the only way to get one is to pre-order it.
The 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere hits American soil sometime in May 2011. This early release Adventure-Touring motorcycle from Japan is sure to make an impact. If you haven’t noticed, the dual sports seem to be taking over the world with OEMs from all walks of life jumping on the bandwagon. The stalwart BMW GS-series is no longer the only game in town and the $13,900 Super Tenere is destined to play the role of antagonist in the battle for market share. It brings a base package replete with shaft drive, traction control, unified ABS brakes, handguards, adjustable seat, adjustable windscreen, DC power port, high-tech info system and competent suspension components that rival what BMW and Ducati offer, but the Yamaha delivers them for $3000-$6000 less. All of this high-tech componentry looks great on paper but the proof is in the performance so Yamaha led us around Northern Arizona for a couple days of canyon carving and off-road riding for a glimpse at what the new Super Tenere is capable of.

All new from the ground up, the Super Tenere features a liquid-cooled, fuel-injected 1199cc Parallel Twin with a 270-degree crankshaft design. The crank layout has been a fixture of the Tenere for a few years now, and the philosophy of
2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride
The 270-degree crank allows the pistons to fire close together, creating tractable power. The primary counterbalancer on the front also drives the water pump.
the 270 crank is similar to the new Crossplane Crankshaft design of the latest generation YZF-R1 superbikes. Having the pair of 98mm cast aluminum pistons rotate through 79.5mm stroke at uneven firing intervals results in what can best be described as a big single-cylinder engine that sounds and makes power like a V-Twin. The power is mellow and the exhaust note is distinct. Yamaha claims the ST will make 108 horsepower at 7250 rpm with 84 lb-ft of torque arriving at 6000 rpm.

After a few days of riding the big bike it’s similar in both power and feel to its popular Bavarian counterpart. The Super Tenere has decent low-end power and although the tall gearing requires attention when launching the bike from a stop. Once underway it has the bottom-end necessary to crawl over rough terrain and the mid-range to cruise on down the road at 60-80 mph in sixth gear with nary an unwanted vibration or hiccup in power delivery. There are two drive modes, Sport and Touring available by toggle on the right bar as well. As mellow as this engine is, the Sport mode was mild mannered enough that I didn’t spend more than a few minutes in Touring mode. The name of the game with the ST is smooth, usable power suitable for street or off-road riding. Its worked for the GS forever so we shouldn’t expect any less from a bike that emulates it.

2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride
If you plan to spend any time off-road or simply want that urban assault vehicle look, then the Engine guards and skid plate are a must have.
Yamaha intended the Super Tenere to be the perfect all around adventure-touring motorcycle from the beginning so the chassis needs to handle all types of riding without much compromise. It starts with a tubular steel frame that uses the engine as a stressed member and since the radiator is mounted along the left side of the bike, it allows the engine to be hung low and placed as far toward the front wheel as possible. The resulting weight distribution is nearly even at 51/49 combines with the low CG to help the long and heavy machine feel light on its feet despite what the spec sheet says. Up front a tall 43mm inverted fork with a full range of adjustability is paired with a preload- and compression-adjustable rear shock. The shock adjustments are tool-less thanks to a handy knob located on the rider’s right hand side. Both pieces offer 7.5 inches of travel and raise the seat height to a range of 33.26 – 34.25 inches depending on how you adjust it. Overall the suspension was up to task in both the on- and off-road environments. It’s soft enough to soak up bumps in the dirt and stiff enough to offer a sporting ride through canyons. Since the fork is tall, it does dive a bit under braking.

On the highway and blasting down back roads it hides its 575-pound curb weight well. Combined that mass with a relaxed 28-degree rake, 126mm trail and 60.6-inch wheelbase and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it requires a bit of effort to change directions quickly but again, this isn’t a race bike. That lack of flickability is part of the trade-off for highway stability, so Yamaha was wise to equip it with wide bars to help leverage the bike from side-to-side. Once you bend it into a turn the bike tracks true with the Bridgestone Battle Wing tires providing plenty of grip on the street. In the dirt the ‘Stones are not knobbies so you have to ride accordingly. They are fine on dirt roads but I doubt they’d be much fun in gravel or loose rocks.

Where do you wnat to go today  Where ever it is  the 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere can get you there.
Yamaha’s objective was to create a bike well suited for road touring and durable enough for off-road so the suspension is set on the soft side in stock trim.
It is important to point out that the Super Tenere, with its wire-spoked 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels, was intended to be a capable off-road motorcycle. During our two days of testing we spent almost half our time in the dirt, traversing fire and Jeep roads that were a good representation of what these motorcycles are likely to face in the hands of the majority of today’s adventure-touring sect.

The bikes we tested came equipped with the optional Yamaha Adventure Touring package ($1520) that includes the panniers, engine guards and aluminum skid plate. Anyone who plans to do any level of off-roading would be wise to get the skid plate because the engine is exposed beneath the bike. Of particular concern, the easy access oil filter is right at the leading edge as are the headers. The skid plate offers necessary protection to these vital components. As adventure-touring bikes go, the Super Tenere is capable of more extreme off-road riding than what we put it through at the intro. It is well balanced and although it’s a heavy S.O.B. it was entertaining as we flat tracked and hauled ass through the high desert. It feels like a super-sized WR. Granted it weighs twice as much, but still, familiarity’s a good trait when it comes time to get down and dirty.

In case you missed it, the Super Tenere comes equipped with linked ABS and traction control. On the street these systems are a welcome addition to any bike but in the dirt they will be critiqued. The three-way traction control can be used in the default base position TCS1 which offers the maximum level of intervention. On the dirt it would kick in at the slightest hint of wheel spin. The traction control cuts fuel and retards timing when necessary but it was not too intrusive or abrupt, even at max setting. Using TCS2 it allowed for what seemed like twice as much freedom to spin up the rear and push the front harder on the dirt. It certainly made for some fun flat tracking in the hills outside of Flagstaff but the ability to turn it completely off and steer with the rear will make experienced ADV riders the most happy. To change TC levels the bike does need to be stopped and the little button is located on the left side of the dash. Overall the traction control worked excellent and we anticipate it will be well represented in a head-to-head comparison.

2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride
The connection between the bike and those roads came courtesy of a set of deeply grooved Bridgestone Battle Wing tires that are purposely designed for the Super Tenere.
What won’t get rave reviews is the unified ABS. On the street the linked brakes and ABS are fine and we agree it is an excellent safety feature that should be standard equipment on all of these big, high-end touring bikes. The only way to really get it to intervene was if I tried to slide the rear around or if I purposely mashed the front brakes to see if it would kick in. When it does, it’s subtle and not too intrusive. You can barely feel it pulse in the bar or foot pedal. On the dirt, it’s relevance is a different story. Since we’ve ridden a lot of bikes with ABS in the dirt we’ve grown accustomed to how to make the best of it. While I prefer to turn the ABS off, it’s not always an option so it’s critical to ride with that in mind. You can’t scrub speed in the same manner you would with a dirt bike – once you get that through your head and use the ABS to your advantage you’ll learn to live with and maybe even appreciate it. If you think you’re going to slide into corners on the brakes, square it up and drive out – then you’re on the wrong bike and you’ll be complaining about not being able to turn it off. The most common scenario where ABS sucks in the dirt is on downhill descents so be advised as this may be a limiting factor in where you want to bring a Super Tenere. I’m sure there has to be a way to bypass the ABS though, so keep your ear to the ground – something will come up.

Those not too concerned with off-road and more interested in touring will be happy to hear the Super Tenere is a very comfortable motorcycle. The riding position should fit most people but will be well suited for even the tallest of riders. The cockpit is spacious, it’s a long reach to the bars and pegs plus the seat is very comfortable. Standard hand guards will protect you from rocks, brush and provide a measure of relief from the cold as well as saving levers in case of a tip over. The front bodywork cuts a swath through the air and seems to protect the ride4r’s legs fairly well. We logged a couple hundred miles on the bike and in that short period of time I found it quite comfortable and more than once it crossed my mind that this was going to become a very popular adventure bike.

2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride
The Super Tenere may look like a rally racer but the fact is, this is a long range adventure-touring motorcycle. There is plenty of
information provided by the tidy LCD dashboard. If you want to access the tool kit or battery you have to remove the right side panel.
The windscreen offers decent protection in the lowest setting and the tall riders in our group reported that it didn’t buffet their helmets too much on the highest setting, either. There is an optional wider and taller windscreen available as well. The bad part of the deal is actually adjusting the darn thing. Watching the other editors pop the seat, pull out the Allen wrench necessary to dismantle the couple screws that hold the right side body panel on was kind of fun. Once they accessed the tool kit they went to work on screwing the four bolts and nuts that mount the thing. Then they removed the rubber grommets and stuffed them into the taller holes on the bracket and started the process of re-assembling the bike. Obviously this is meant to be a one-time process. Anyone looking for reason to bitch about things can spend a long time complaining about the windscreen – I chose to leave it in the stock setting and it worked fine.

The footpegs are dirt-bike in nature with serrated steel grips surrounding a smaller rubber pad inset in the peg itself. The density of the rubber allows it to mash down when the rider is standing up so that the metal pegs can dig into the sole of the boot for added grip. When seated, the rider’s un-weighted feet rest on the rubber, providing a bit of added riding comfort.

2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride
No self-respecting adventure touring bike would be caught dead without a good set of side cases.
For most folks with their hearts set on touring the world, it’s important to be able to stow lots of various sundries. Our bikes came with the optional 61-liter saddlebags with the pull out liners. Yamaha’s panniers are a nylon framed box with aluminum sides. The locking mechanism is keyed to the bike (each Tenere comes with luggage keys) so that’s convenient. But the locking mechanism is quirky. You have to press down on the lid while turning the key to the lock position to get it to secure and even then it’s finicky to get it to work. It never actually failed to lock but the system could be much better. On a lighter note, the cases themselves can be removed easily and the mounting mechanism looks like it should be much more durable than some other designs we’ve found flaws with. In addition, the optional liners which are basically duffle bags shaped like the cases, are a nifty feature. You can stuff your gear in there and then simply pull out the liner, leaving the cases secured to the bike. A top case can be added but in the meantime, you can remove the rear seat and open up a wide, flat perch to tie even more gear or secure a piece of aftermarket luggage.

We logged a few hours in temperatures that ranged from comfortable to really cold and spent a lot of time riding highways that were both smooth and roughly paved but always curvy and fun. But it was somewhere in the woods on a dirt road between Sedona and Jerome that I really started to like this new Yamaha. I feel the adventure-touring bikes are the best value in motorcycling today and I always tell people that when the zombie hordes take over, that I want one of these to escape on. The Super Tenere may be one of the better all-around AT bikes on the market if you aren’t too concerned with the extra weight and some finicky gizmos.

If you look at the Super Tenere with the Adventure Touring package it rings in with a price of $15,420 as opposed to a comparably equipped R1200GS where the Premium Package is $17,735 (without panniers or spoke wheels) and a Multistrada S Touring with its $19,995 MSRP. The Yamaha starts to look like more of a value than we originally thought. Take that a step further and consider that the Super Tenere is a large gas tank and set of knobbies away from being in the same league as the GS Adventure, which will set you back $17,250 for the base model. A case can be made that some of the features and options the GS offers like Electronic Suspension Adjustments (ESA) and the associated well-integrated switchgear and controls for the ESA, heated grips and other amenities is a plus in the box for the BMW and we would agree. The way the heated grips option looks on the Yamaha is like an afterthought and the full-time ABS, windscreen and luggage lock are things to complain about as well, but there is something to be said for getting an impressive list of technological features from the base model Super Tenere. I can’t wait to put this motorcycle into a comparison test to find out if my gut instinct is right. Doing the simple math it is clear that Yamaha has come up with a formidable combination at an affordable price point.

2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First RideA slick-shifting 6-speed transmission is a welcome partner to the mellow engine. With a light clutch pull  the tranny slips smoothly into gear. - 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride
Standard features on the Yamaha Super Tenere include dual 310mm wave rotors, linked ABS brakes, fully-adjustable suspension,
tubelss spoked wheels and shaft drive. The steel frame holds the engine low and forward to maintain good balance and a low CG.
With the dust settled and the notes combed over a few things start to become clear. First of all the Super Tenere has what it takes to be a great Adventure Touring motorcycle. The suspension and chassis are well sorted and provide an exciting ride both on and off road. The bike looks like it rolled right out of the bivouac at Dakar. The basic electronics package, including ABS, selectable drive mode and traction control systems are on par with the new Multistrada S Touring. And, like the GS, it is a capable off-road motorcycle.

2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride
At $13,900 the new XTZ12B Yamaha Super Tenere represents a good value for adventure touring riders.
The engine, while it feels sort of bland, offers good fuel economy at 43-44mpg which, along with its 6.1 gallon fuel tank, means it should have a range of around 250 miles. Plus, the seat and riding position are comfortable. Depending on your taste the bike has a style that should appeal to a lot of people, especially those who lean more towards off road. The black spoke wheels, rally racer-inspired bodywork and dirt bike feel are all something Yamaha should be proud of. However, for all the positive traits the Super Tenere brings to the table there are a few negatives. It’s heavy, probably less powerful and has a few quirks that need to be refined. Overall, it lacks some pizazz that a more-peppy engine or a lighter chassis might have provided. That said, the Tenere is a grand cheaper than the competition, and an even greater value when you compare its standard package versus the base models of other AT rides.

Yamaha reps state that the objective right now is to get Yamaha fans that haven’t had an Adventure Touring alternative to climb on the Super Tenere and get immersed in the adventure riding experience. If that’s truly the case then I’m sure this bike is going to convert a few riders. Plus, from our point of view this gives us another good reason to conduct one of our most popular shootouts. Like you, we want to see how the Super Tenere stacks up against the rest of the AT class so stay tuned for the 2011 Adventure Touring comparison review sometime in June.
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Yamaha Super Tenere Accessories
2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride
Super Tenere Accessories & Pricing
Side Case, Left - $449.95
Side Case, Right - $449.95
Side Case Mounting Kit - $189.95
Side Case Inner Bag - $39.95
Top Case - $369.95
Top Case Inner Bag - $49.95
Tall Windscreen - $119.95
Side Wind Deflectors - $79.95
Headlight Protector - $99.95
Engine Guard - $449.95
Low Seat - $239.95
Aluminum Skid Plate - $199.95
Grip Heater Kit - $399.95
Tank Bag - $149.95

These available accessories for the Super-Tenere can be purchased individually or as a part of three basic packages: X-Country Terrain ($750) features the engine gard, skid plate and a headlight protector. The Comfort Package ($1020) includes top cases, inner bag, heated grips, tall windscreen and wind deflectors. The Adventure Touring package ($1520). A clever marketing move has Yamaha offering a free GoPro Hero Video Camera with each package.
2012 Yamaha Super Tenere Specs
2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride
Engine: 1199cc liquid-cooled Parallel Twin, 8-valve
Bore x Stroke: 98.0 x 79.5mm
Compression Ratio: 11.0:1
Fuel Delivery: Fuel-injection
Clutch: Wet multi-plate, cable actuation
Transmission: 6-Speed
Final Drive: Shaft
Front Suspension: Soqi 43mm inverted fork with adjustable preload, compression, and rebound damping; 7.5 in. travel
Rear Suspension: Soqi shock absorber with remote adjustable spring preload and rebound damping; 7.5 in. travel
Front Brakes: 310mm disc, 4-piston caliper
Rear Brake: 282mm disc, 2-piston caliper
Front Tire: Bridgestone Battle Wing 110/80-19
Rear Tire: Bridgestone Battle Wing Rear 150/70-17
Curb Weight: 575 lbs.
Wheelbase: 60.6 in. Length: 88.6 in. Width: 38.6 in.
Rake / Trail: 28 deg. / 4.9 in.
Seat Height: 33.26 or 34.25 in.
Fuel Capacity: 6.1 gal.
MSRP: $13,900
Colors: Raven; Blue
Ken's 2012 Yamaha Tenere Gearbag
A fully adjustable long-travel 43mm fork with 7.5-inches of travel takes care of suspension duties. - 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere First Ride

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realrider   December 11, 2011 10:02 PM
I have been riding this bike for a year, since I first bought it in Melbounre, Australia.
I could write a book, but I am in a hurry so I will make it short.
The bike is great, feels good but it is heavy. As expected when you buy a 1200cc.
the bike loves monos in first gear but the power delivery from second is very flat.
I am happy with the bike but I think if the Triumph explorer was there at the time, I would have bought it.

protondecay123   August 30, 2011 08:26 AM
You can definitely lock up the rear wheel, just use the rear brake. My bikes been down literally miles of gravelly downhill washboard and it has not been dropped. Also turn OFF the traction control in the dirt, especially if there is washboard! Keep it in Sport mode off road for throttle response and low end torque and horsepower. The ABS system is the best in its class and perhaps in all of motorcycling. Being 6'3 windscreens have been an issue, however the large windscreen with wind deflectors work great. The cockpit is very quiet with little buffeting in wind gusts.
Madianto Dino -about yamaha super tenere  November 27, 2010 10:41 PM
well,well, it took yamaha 20 yrs to figure this out ... whenn they took my loved super tenere 750 out of the market i stop caring for yamaha products and did not buy any more. it did spoil it for me ! Now in 2012 they bring it back, well well yamaha thank you for a great new bike even with that ABS that cant be turnd off and a nice $$$ tag,i now buy BMW PRODUCTS .
andy -well well  November 27, 2010 11:25 AM
@Hutch: So...I don´t get it...Riding for almost 30 years now, lved my Africa twin to the death, crossed Marocco, Libya and Mauretania at least 20times , still the Yamaha isn´t what I had wished for !!...the little TENERE on the other hand is a prime , affortable bike!! ;)
Dave -Adventurer/Tourer 3  November 24, 2010 10:34 AM
What are you talking about Upchuck? I guess you don't have too many friends.

Anyone would prefer a larger displancement bike on a long highway ride. My comments were pretty straight forward. As I said the KLR can do what these larger bikes can do at a fraction of the price. The old KLR is definately more dirt than this bike, but the newer model from 2008-current, is the opposite and Kawasaki marketed that way. A street bike with a little dirt built into it. Other than the tires there is not much different with the way the bikes are set-up. The Kawi, 80/20 street/dirt, Tenere, 85/15 I would say.

I am sure most people who read these posts know that a 1200 would be a better ride than a smaller displacement model, but that doesn't mean that the smaller model isn't as capable.

Oh, I don't the Tenere is going to sell that well. Too much $$$.

xplaner -XTZ 12  November 20, 2010 03:24 PM
Ok, I get it upchuck, hilarious. Andy, you have an iron butt, some of us don't. I will far prefer the comfort of this over a KLR on a 500+ mile day, but I'm old! The KLR is nice bike for sure, it wouldn't have such a large following if it weren't. It's more dirt than the Tenere and not enough street, imho. There's a difference between ability to do something and the ability to do it in comfort. A 1200 is going be more relaxed than a 650 cross country no matter what. I think this thing will sell pretty well.
Dave -Adventurer tourer 2  November 17, 2010 08:19 AM
Oh, I forgot to mention. I rode my Kawasaki over 650 miles a day and it was 2-days each way. Camping out was also part of the adventure with my gear and Givi side cases.
Dave -Adventurer tourer  November 16, 2010 04:55 PM
I like it but not at that price or any bike that size and price. These bikes are starting to get a following here in the states after having little fan fair when Honda started it with a Transalp that only lasted a few year here in the 1980's.

I can get nealy the same results in my less than half the price Kawasaki KLR650. It may not be technically advanced like this bike or others in this size class, but my KLR can go cross-country no problem and I did a 2,600 hundred mile trip last year on my 2008 from Illinois to Texas and back.

At least they didn't put that duck bill high fender on this bike like everyone seems to be copying for some reason from BWM. Even the new Tiger 800 has that stupid duck bill. I put a low fender on my bike after I got it.
Bruno & Jen Straight -Yamaha Super T  November 16, 2010 02:23 PM
Quote "People don't want CRAP like this.." Really? Well, the rest of Europe disagrees, both the XTZ660 & XTZ1200 are out selling everything, in its class. People just want a lot more from their bikes these days, while Harley's have their place they don't do dirt & country roads all that well.
Up Chuck -owner  November 16, 2010 12:20 PM
What does Yamaha think? Nothing apparently. People don't want CRAP like this, they want good looking bikes with FUEL INJECTION. My 1984 Venture, is still the best looking bike ever built and they (yamaha) think that Americans want nothing but crap? Must be as that is what they have been giving us since 1993 when the stopped making the Venture in the true style of a good looking motorcycle.
Hutch -SamXRL & Lifting the Tenere  November 15, 2010 08:24 AM
I hate to admit it but I fell over doing a U-turn on a Jeep trail during one of our photoshoots. I lifted the bike back up - it is heavy - but just like any heavy lifting, bend your knees and hoist that baby back up. rash bars got a small scratch - that was it. So, it's not imopssible to lift.

Andy: The jokes on folks who don't get it.
xplaner -Super Ten on the way  November 15, 2010 06:53 AM
I ordered one of these. I've been looking at actual owner/rider comments on ADVrider unlike the numb skull who thinks the bike is a joke. The riders are loving this thing, getting along fine with the ABS in the dirt and all say the bike handles its weight brilliantly. I don't plan to compete in Paris to Dakar but I'm sure this thing will take me all over the US, Canada, Mexico (if they ever stop killing people down there), on-road and off with ease. Having that Yamaha dealer network and reliability are a much bigger factor than the reasonable price. Good job Yamaha! I can't wait to get this bike.
andy -LOL  November 15, 2010 01:50 AM
...this bike is a Joke!!
SamXRL -Weight  November 14, 2010 01:00 PM
Curb weight 575 pounds?!! You'd better have a strong back and legs if you drop this beast on a dirt road! These huge adventure bikes are only pretenders in spirit. They look the part well enough but you'd have to be a Dakar rally veteran to muscle these bikes around anywhere but dirt roads and paved streets. As it is, the Tenere is a good looking bike if a bit expensive.
Zippy -correction  November 13, 2010 10:59 PM
I meant state income tax. Keep your money, solve your own problems, and dress how you like. Works for me!
Zippy -Got it  November 13, 2010 10:57 PM
Fortunatley Florida does not require insurance, helmets, any type of vehicle inspection or state sales tax.

This leaves me plenty of money to buy health insurance!
MotoGP -Hi Zip  November 13, 2010 05:12 PM
Well now that there is likely going to be universal health coverage, I will end up paying for your hospital stay if god for bid a vehicle does not see the little red brake light on you cruiser and rear end's your bike. But hey, do what you want. To everyone else, Ride Safe.
Zippy -Response to MotoGP on neon safety gear.  November 13, 2010 04:04 PM
Point well taken, I will make sure to wear a neon doo-rag, tank top and flip flops when I ride my 900lb cruiser tomorrow.

With all due respect, why would you care what I wear when I ride?
cf -Need to See v.2.0  November 13, 2010 11:03 AM
The ST looks to be a contender, but the windscreen and boxes look finicky, and why can't you switch off the ABS? Yamaha really needs to re-think that last point.
Hutch -Accessories  November 13, 2010 09:05 AM
GP - You're going to be a happy ADV rider. I included the accerssory list on the side bar of the review. There's pricing as well. The majority of the extras are featured on the bike we tested or in the photo gallery. Get the package deals and save a few bukcs, plus you get a GoPro camera so you can video your trips and upload to the Super Tenere Club social media site they are developing.
GP -deposit down  November 13, 2010 12:32 AM
I've had a few Yams and really like the rally look. The prospect of packing it like a mule & riding trouble free anywhere is it for me. Yam's engine reputation coupled with shaft drive are fabulous. I would like to show up at WSB in Salt Lake, but may need to wait for Laguna depending on delivery. I need to interogate the Yam rep at the Int'l Bike Show on accessories.
MotoGP -Yamaha Tenere  November 12, 2010 06:59 PM
Great article and great photographs and video. I'll grab a couple of screen savers from the photos. I also like to see Hutch wearing the new military spec jacket by Icon. I'm hoping that all motorcyclists will start wearing some safety neon gear.