Review: Yamaha Tracer 7

Do you smell that? The scent of incense? Yes, your nose already guessed it: you’re reading a review in which Yamaha’s universally praised CP2 twin plays a role. This time it’s spooned in between the legs of a sports touring model: the Tracer 7. But that incense of praise, does it apply to just the engine or the whole bike? Let’s find out.

Never change a winning team, they say. That is, until someone commands you to “Apply Euro5 standards, now!” which forced Yamaha to work on their two-cilinder engine (year of birth: 2014). The air intake, injection system and exhaust got reworked among other things. Yamaha claims a more linear power curve, but at the same time they also lost some power: the Tracer 7 has 73.5 hp, while its predecessor (that went by the name of Tracer 700) had 74.8 horses shining on its passport. Newton meters stayed the same at 68 units.

Yamaha didn’t just do an engine update: it’s impossible to miss the new face of the Tracer 7. It looks a lot more modern, sportier, yes, even more aggressive than the previous generation that all of a sudden seems to be boring and dated. The position of the two headlights, the frowning light strips, the tight lines of the bodywork: great design.

The rather plump indicators of the previous model were replaced by slimmer ones, but apart from that the design department Continue reading

2020: Jean’s year in review

I guess I don’t have to tell you 2020 was a somewhat special year. For me it started on January 1st with a job change: much closer to home. No more long daily commutes from Limburg to Brussels. And as if that hadn’t enough impact on my milage, there was also this virus. So not only the number of km’s dropped dramatically in 2020, but also the number of motorcycle tests. An overview:

9.110 km ridden, for the first time not a five-digit number (3.627 km with my BMW F 800 GS, 5.483 km with test bikes)

3 motorcycles tested (BMW F 900 XR, Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro, Yamaha Ténéré 700)

2 trips done (Tournée Staycationée in June and the Moselle in September)

1 trip cancelled (Alps in june, due to you know what)

1 motorcycle training attended

1 maintenance done (at 106.000 km)

0 offroad days :/

0 track days :/

0 pitbike sessions :/

0 falls 🙂

Review: Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro

Last year we said farewell to the Triumph Tiger 800 because Triumph unveiled a completely new Tiger 900. Completely new indeed, because there’s a new engine, a new frame, new brakes and suspension, and a new dashboard …

When the press release came in I must say it wasn’t love at first sight. The 800 looked good with its double headlights but the 900 tried something else which I didn’t fancy right away. But hey, a test could maybe change my mind. So I decided to head out on the Tiger 900 Rally Pro, five days in the Moselle region (of which you can find the travel report right here).

Love at second sight?

Pictures don’t always tell the whole story so I was curious to see if sparks would fly on our first real life meeting. Unfortunately, they didn’t. Something about the proportions. The headlight seems a little small and looks less ballsy than the previous model. The rear light is okay, but is mounted into a plump construction. And even though the fuel tank with its sloping frontside doesn’t deviate that much from its predecessor’s looks and the finish is right up to Triumph’s standards (read: very high), the 900 just doesn’t do the trick for me design-wise. A shame, because the 800 was one of the best looking adventure bikes if you ask me.

In our last Tiger 800 review (the XCa in 2018) we suggested a few improvements. We missed a quick shifter in the options list, the tire choice was dated, it was impossible to mount tubeless tires and wasn’t it time for lean-angle technology to make its way onto this bike? Triumph went to work and added all of it to the new Tiger, or at least Continue reading

Five days in the Moselle, the report

Planning a motorcycle holiday isn’t easy nowadays. In June we had to convert our trip to the Alps into a staycation. In September I had a week off work, but where would I go to?

The Covid-19 colour code carousel changed my plans for that week more than once. My first idea was to give our getaway to the Alps a second try, but the green zone of France quickly said ‘Adieu’. Next idea: Dolomites. I was already plotting out routes when that green zone turned to red. Arrivederci.

Germany still looked good, but what about preparing a trip on German roads? Not that obvious in my opinion, because of the lack of Google Streetview. Would I spend my time researching to see a green zone turn to red once more? I didn’t feel like doing that.

So I changed my plans. No more figuring out routes or looking for overnight stays myself, I was just gonna go for a last minute all-in package: a motorcycle hotel in a green zone, with gps-tracks in the deal.

That wasn’t simple either. The five days in the Harz mountains which I hoped for fizzled out when the green disappeared just a few days before my departure. So I booked five days in the Moselle with Horizon Motorreizen. Nothing but green over there, or at least when I visited.

Day 1: Off we go

The outward route is 277 kilometers long and starts near Aachen, which is 30 minutes from my home. I leave the highway after a few kilometers of full gas on the Triumph Tiger 900 (test report coming soon).

I’m crossing the Eifel to reach the Moselle valley and even though this is nothing but the ‘route to get there’, I’m having fun. There’s a wide variation of corners: slow, winding, sharp, pointed, fast, it’s all there.

The countryside changes from woods to sloping meadows and fields as far as the eye can see. Add a lot of climbing and descending to this and you can say Continue reading

Review: Yamaha Ténéré 700

It was the year 2016 and as the first pictures of the Yamaha T7 Concept came in, I couldn’t stop drooling over them. It was a long wait until the Ténéré 700 finally arrived in 2019 and an even longer wait until I could finally swing my leg over it mid-2020. Enough with the drooling, shall we go for a ride?

Before I turn over the key, let’s have a look at what I’m dealing with. A middleweight adventure bike. That’s a very crowded segment with all the usual suspects and mavericks. It’s not hard to find some ten competitors once you start listing them up. BMW F 850 GS, Triumph Tiger 900, KTM 790 Adventure, Suzuki V-Strom 650, Moto Guzzi V85 TT, Ducati Multistrada 950, Kawasaki Versys 650, Benelli TRK 502, Royal Enfield Himalayan, Honda CB500X … almost all brands have got one in their model range. What added value can Yamaha offer?

The looks and equipment clearly state which side the Ténéré 700 is choosing. Offroad? Yes, please! It turns its back on more road-focused adventure bikes, thereby shortening the list of competitors.

The high, slim figure, the rally-inspired face, the long suspension travel (8.3 inch front and 7.9 inch rear), block pattern Pirelli’s, aluminum engine guard: it all looks pretty tough. The seat matches the adventurous appearance: Continue reading

Quick test: Honda CB500X

Photographer Michele Micoli (who rides a Kawasaki Versys 650 himself ) already treated us to photo galleries a couple of times. A while ago he surprised me with a text message: “Hi Jean, I’ve tested the CB500X and made a review.” As it turns out, he’s not only in his comfort zone behind the lens or handlebars, but also behind a writing desk. Check out his write-up:

The CB500X is Honda’s most unpretentious offering in the adventure category. Will 500cc do the trick to get some kicks? I took it out for a day of riding.

Real adventure bike, or just long-legged?

The offering in the lightweight and middleweight adventure class has grown immensely over the last few years. Honda’s CB500X is a prime example of this segment. Not only does it provide us with a complete package and all necessary features, but the front and back LED-lighting give it a very modern look while retaining the typical ‘trail bike’ appearance. Clever design by the Hamamatsu company, and with 47 hp, a 19-inch front wheel and longer suspension travel in the front, it’s set to go off on an adventure.

I’ve always had a thing for lightweight two-cilinder engines, mainly due to the fact that I can push them to the edge without scaring myself senseless in the process. They offer tons of fun without breaking any speed limits, even when you’re on a sporty ride with the tach needle bouncing off the rev limiter. The CB500X is no exception to that, even though my first impressions focused more on the riding comfort.

The seat height is much lower than expected. Standing 173 cm tall, I can easily touch the ground with both feet due to the very narrow seat and the neutral riding position. The wide handlebars offer plenty of leverage and within the first few wheelspins I’m already Continue reading