New Yamaha T7: Kramer’s Social Distancing 2020
A Brand New “Used” 2021 Yamaha Tenere 700
Kramer’s Social Distancing 2020
By: Mike Kramer
Featuring: 2021 Yamaha Tenere 700
Here is my story about how I MASTERED social distancing during the great COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
It started by having the need for a new bike. You see, in 2019 I had a few major eye surgeries in both eyes. I sold my 2009 BMW F800GS as I knew it would be a while before I got on a bike again, let alone see. Also it was time to move the BMW on to a new and excited owner. The new bike list had been narrowed down to the Yamaha MT-10 and the Yamaha Tenere 700 (T7). When I make a list, I get pretty specific. I had the model, color and options list documented. I settled on the MT-10. But it had limitations. Like touring. Poor fuel distance. But I had a plan.
COVID had made its way to all of my favorite MC events, so between not having a suitable bike and all the fun events being canceled, I was bummed. I still had my Beta dirt bike and Honda Monkey so I was getting out. Just not “out” on epic adventures.
I was chatting with a friend (Let’s call him Troy) about my disappointment on the last ride. He said, “hey! Why don’t you come to CO with us?!” Uh, I didn’t have a bike, but he was kind enough to offer up an old KLR650. And it was set-up pretty well. Correction. An awesome bike. But I don’t feel good about borrowing a bike for such a serious and long trip. So I wrote-off going with the boys to CO.
At about the same time, I had gotten the T7 bug and was scouring The Internet looking around for an available one. I had inquired about pre-ordering one with the local dealers and all they could tell me was “we might be able to get you one by the end of October”.
One night I was on the T7 Facebook site and saw a gentleman from Truth or Consequence, NM asking the group what the best method might be to sell his brand new T7. 70-year old guy who realized it was too tall and too top-heavy for the type of riding he was doing. I immediately replied “if you were closer…” Then it just so happened that a local buddy was on the same site and saw my post. His reply was “Get it Kramer!” Then I started thinking…how far is TorC, NM to CO and would it be possible to fly-and-ride that bike up to CO and trailer back home with my buddies?
Since i hate typing so much, here’s the result.
I bought the bike w 700 miles on it, loaded up with goodies sight-unseen. The seller agreed to meet me up in Albuquerque, NM with the bike. I pre-ordered some heated grips and new tires I had shipped to the seller. I flew with a helmet, wore my boots, had riding gear and a few days worth of stuff packed into a DrySpec D38 Dry Bag and flew to Albq. We met at Bobby J’s Yamaha in Albuquerque. I hung around the shop where they installed the tires and grips. I felt bad waiting, so I bought the shop a bunch of street tacos from across the street. Yum!
Day in advance of all of this, I got out my Butler Maps and drew up a route from Albq. to Monte Vista, CO where I’d meet the first of the Nashvillians. All set!
[ONE BEFORE trip picture…]
Friday, Day one – I strapped down the D38 Dry Bay (a very clever, easy strapping system), put on my Klim Gore Tex shell, vents fully open and ready to tackle the 90’s heat of Albuquerque. I didn’t care. I was on my new Yamaha Tenere 700. Slipped on my hydration pack, helmet and gloves. I was OFF. WooHoo! As I rolled North, off the beaten path, the landscape quickly changed. I started seeing “classic New Mexico”. Big plateau’s, Road Runner/Wile E Coyote looking stuff. I was in heaven. The weather started to cool as I rolled north toward CO. Or maybe it didn’t and I just didn’t care.
[Tenere 700 at the shop getting nice new tires installed! The previous owner was kind enough to install the tires I had Twisted Throttle ship him]
The bike was stock mechanically. But it sounded GOOD. Nice rumble from the Yamaha 689cc P2 270 degree crank, CP 2 motor. I loved it. Exhaust sounded a bit muffled, but a good quality sound. Nice n quiet for sneaking alone through the mountains and plateaus. I kept heading North until I came across a dirt road/pass that would take me to the NM/CO border. The guys at the shop said that it was a pretty technical and dirt bike only type of road. Pfft. Thought I’d risk it…what the heck. New bike and all alone. What could go wrong? (Spoiler alert>> NOTHING.)
[The road turned out to be a really cool route. NM 550 to 96 to 112. Funny side-story.]
I’m ROLLING (meaning testing out the suspension on the T7, going pretty fast on an unknown dirt road going around those beautiful plateaus) on NM 112. Way off in the distance I see a guy…not common as there is NOTHING else out there…sitting in a chair at the end of his driveway (I think it was his drieway but it could have been a dirt road, not on the GPS). I don’t quite comprehend what’s going on, so I slow down. Then I notice, he’s getting up off his chair and heading out to the road so I slow waaay down the further evaluation. I stop somewhat confused, open my visor and say “What’s up?!” the very polite older gentleman asks if I would sign his petition. I asked what it was about.
“We’re trying to get cell service out here.”
“Well, I’m from out of town. Does it matter?”
“you’re out here, ain’t ya (he hold his arm out to show me the vast beauty of remoteness?)”
“I guess so.”
So he handed me a clip board and I signed his petition There were only a few signatures on it. Not sure how long he’d been there. But trust me when I tell you. This was in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t see another breathing thing other than a few huge elk on all of Hwy 112. We said our pleasantries and I went on my way. I should have had him snap a pic or two of the situation.
[New Mexican mountains – social distancing at it’s finest]
I motored on up to Chama, NM, and up through Chromo, CO. Pagosa Springs, CO was my initial destination. Just past that was Wolf Creek Pass. “Snowiest pass in CO”. Hopefully not at the end of July. Well, here came the mountains.10,857 ft about sea level. The ride up to the pass was glorious. Then just before the peak, it went from low 80’s to right at 50 degrees and raining. I pretty much rained the rest of the day until I landed in Monte Vista, CO about 7:30 pm. I was wet, cold and hungry. But not too wet. I was dry on the inside as my Gore Tex gear handled it well. Also, that Dry Spec D38 Dry Bag was dry as a bone. A pretty darn good first test. Love it!
[Riding solo on the new Tenere 700]
Days 2 – 10 were a fast blur. Did I mention that the folks I am meeting up with were F A S T? Oh yes. About that. I met Chris who rode over to Monte Vista, CO from KY to meet up. We met at a hotel/drive-in movie combo. They piped the movie audio into the rooms and each room has visibility to the screen. Pretty cool. Steve also rode in from Nashville and we’d be connecting with him on Saturday. Our goal on Saturday was to meet up in Victor, CO I like the cool old hotel there. Sat morning started out nice, so we rode over to Canon City, CO. We had a bit of lunch and watched the clouds and rain roll in. We tried to wait it out, then ducked into a car wash bay where Chris decided to put a smaller front sprocket on his bike for the week in the mountains.
[Of course my DRYSPEC D38 stayed dry all the while.]
Chris proceeded sprocket surgery while I scurried across the street to get some hand cleaner and rags. It didn’t take long and things were ready. And just like that, the rain cleared. The sun came out and the rest of the day was perfect! We rode up to Skyline Drive in Canon City. There we enjoyed the ride, view and dinosaur tracks. Yep. Pretty neat. Colorado Skyline Drive
From there decided to take Shelf Road up to Victor where we’d meet up with Steve.
[Colorado is a gold mine of riding… Literally]
On our way into Victor, CO we came upon the big, working gold mine. Interesting road-side stop. I will say, I had a hard time going up and onto the dump truck, but from there we determined that we could see Pike’s Peak!
[Ahhh…the civility of Victor, CO.]
The next morning, I left these two ( ^^) in Victor and headed over to Colorado Springs. There I met up with everyone else (Andrew, Troy, Mike, Mike, Jeff and Russell) PLUS the rest of my luggage. Once I finally found everyone it was a rush to get everything put on my bike of a week of rough riding. Remember, at this point, I’ve had my 2021 Yamaha Tenere 700 for exactly two days. Never having the luxury of figuring out my luggage plan. I’m a planner. So this was stressful to me.
[Pictured is a cobble job so my luggage wouldn’t lean on the hot muffler. Courtesy of an old chevy skid plate laying in someone’s garage. This was after the full week of moto-camping. It held up well.]
Once everyone was loaded up and ready to roll, we hit the dirt pretty quick outside of CO Springs and headed back to Victor. This was the first test of the fully loaded bike off-road, and I have to say it handled phenomenally! You could hardly tell the bike had all of this gear strapped on, although it helps that I packed pretty light for this trip.
[Here I am loaded-up on the T7.]
From here, things went pretty quick (from a picture-not-taking perspective). We spent Sunday night back in Victor, then closed down the restaurant/bar. Lots of panning was necessary. (Not really.)
On Monday we went over Medina pass, through the bottom of the Sand dunes (lots of work!), Stony pass ￼and on into Silverton. If you’ve never ridden in sand, my advice is that you do it first on a smaller bike with as little gear strapped on as possible. Sand dunes on a large ADV bike can be challenging. Luckily the T7 took it like a champ! On our ride to Silverton we covered several remote mountain passes, made famous by ADV riders before us.
[BMW GS intake snorkels are LOW…]
[Wednesday started out cold. The T7 was shivering. This is Wednesday 9/2/2020]
[Odom Point is a must visit if riding in this area]
[Engineer Pass – Just beautiful out here]
We packed up and left Silverton. Yet another day riding through the gorgeous Colorado mountains. Around every corner there was a new and majestic scene. Sometimes it was hard to pay attention to the ride/trail and not the beauty that surrounded us! There were lots of gravel roads, some with larger chunks of gravel and rock. Our crew was moving fast, so you had to focus on what was coming up ahead of you. I’m sure glad I picked the T7 for this trip, as it made easy work of this segment of the route!
[Camped out on a 10,000+ ft valley somewhere outside of Tin Cup, CO.. A BEAUTIFUL spot.]
Friday brought us more riding and more beautiful mountain scenery. I wish we had mountains like this back in Tennessee! A few times along the route there were sheer drop off’s that you definitely don’t want to roll off of. We were lucky during this trip not to have any major mechanical malfunctions – no punctured tubes/tires!
[Cumberland Pass – me on the Tenere 700]
[The mountains are calling and I must go!]
More mountain passes filled our Saturday, which completely wore us out. By this day, we had ridden hundreds of miles over some of the roughest dual sport terrain in Colorado! When we reached Buena Vista, we stayed in a neat spot… It was my first time staying in a yurt! It turned out to be quite cozy and warm!
[First time in a yurt]
Sunday morning finally comes around and it’s time to head home. I was going to put the Tenere 700 on a trailer, but Chris, Steve and I planned a ride home. A MUCH better option. We planned to stay off the interstate, taking scenic backroads all the way home from Colorado to Tennessee.
[We did NOT take any Interstates. CO to KS, MO, TN. The T7 liked that.]
[Sunday night / Monday morning…Dodge City, KS]
What an amazing ride, from the mountains to the mighty Mississippi on the (now trusty) Tenere 700. I enjoyed this motorcycle more than I ever expected to, and I plan to keep it for some time.
(In fact, I’ve already tackled some more modifications since my return home!) I had a fantastic trip, with an awesome bunch of friends. Thanks fellas! Let’s do it again soon.
2021 Yamaha Tenere 700
w/ the Rally Pack Kit
Tusk High Fender Kit
Touratech Rear Rack
Garmin Montana 610
SW Motech Micro Tank Bag
DrySpec D38 Rigid Core Dry Bag
DrySpec D20 Dry Saddlebag Set
Travel compression bags for clothes. Packs super-small
Tires – Mitas E07+ Dakar (rear), E07 Dakar (f)
Arai XD4 Helmet
Klim Latitude Gore Tex Pants and Jacket
Sidi Adventure Rain boots.