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|XT660Z Tenere Owner's Review|
Making the decision: The decision to move to an ‘adventure type’ bike was a slow process. My old road riding group splintered and I was the only one left riding a sports bike on the road, a Ducati 916. A friend suggested we get dirt bikes and we both did, trail riding all over the UK. By the time the trail riding bubble burst due to NERC bill the 916 was not getting used much. The increasing use of static and hidden mobile speed cameras was spoiling any road bike ride and the fanatical sentences being handed down to bikers meant I was feeling stressed for several days after a spirited ride. I always stuck to B roads or smaller to keep away from other road users as much as possible but keeping within the speed limit on a sports bike just doesn’t feel right. Heaven forbid you are seen performing a wheelie!
My new toy on the day i collected it!
The more I looked into it, a big single cylinder bike made more sense. The time when I’d need more oomph i.e. two up would be quite limited throughout the year, so it made sense to compromise on the two up riding than to have a fuel inefficient bike most of the time.
The 916 was sold to a chap on the KTM forum and after a bit of phoning around to find a ‘best price’ I went to Brian Gray ‘Powerbiking’ in High Wycombe to see what they could do for me. The deal was struck at £5400 with panniers for a new (but 2009 spec) bike. Two years warranty and three year 0% finance. This compared very favorably to the BM’s that were selling for over a grand to 1.5k more for a S/H bike and the KTM’s for this price were again S/H of 2005 vintage!
my old ducati had to go to make room and to pay for the new bike
I’d done my homework so I knew what I was buying beforehand but the salesman still let me have a ride on his own personal bike to be sure I was ok with it. What I knew about the bike before I bought it.
the first trail ride later in the year
In the run up to xmas the new bike meant the xmas list was going to be littered with XT parts and the family were very pleased at this as they sometimes claim it’s hard to find the ideal present for me. A forced layoff in October (three weeks holiday in the sun – yea life is hard) meant that by the time I got back on the bike the winter has set in with a vengeance and the 4.45am rides into work became unbelievably painful on the hands, so barkbusters were first on the list followed by heated grips. Another item on the list was an engine guard form adventure spec, as I heard the Yamaha one wasn’t up to much quality wise. The touratech catalogue had a good thumbing through and a power socket ,as well as a kick stand plate or ‘camel toe’ got on the list too. The XT660.com shop had some nice xt T-shirt so these made it into my stocking as well.
Now if you read all the above you might start to get the impression that I wasn’t too enamored with the bike, but nothing could be further from the truth. I loved being on a bike that wasn’t begging me to thrash it all the time, like a sports bike, or pull wheelie's like on the street fighter. I was plodding around looking at the scenery, well what I could see through the rain anyway and generally just being on a bike was a great feeling. Being on a sort of ‘utility bike’ as opposed to an elite sports bike meant I did not feel guilty about using it up and down the motorway and going to the shops in the rain.
A visit to the NEC show and I picked up a slightly taller screen (40mm) from Sidmarks for £40 and a set of heated grips on offer from George White. The screen and grips were fitted straight away but as the wind was still hitting my hands and freezing them, the commute into work stopped for a while. -4 degrease was just too much on the hands and it’s no good having warm palms if your fingers still feel like they are being chewed off by a yeti! The taller screen did appear to make a little improvement but I also invested in a small HG bag that sits on the bars and deflects the wind coming up the tunnel by the tank away from your chest. For £10 this is a great little thing to have and is also handy for keeping odds and sods in. After xmas I was in full fit out mode as father xmas had managed to come through with the adventure spec engine guard as well as the barkbuster hand guards, power socket and camel toe.
Evaluation of aftermarket products fitted by Jan 2011...
The lack of a switched fused auxiliary power supply is not great on an adventure bike though. I’d temporarily wired the heated grips straight onto the battery and this meant I had to remember to switch them off when I got to work. This worked fine of a while but of course the inevitable happened and one day I forgot. Despite the built in low power protection it still drained the battery so that all I got was a click when coming out at 10pm one night. Seeing as I needed to install the power socket and some auxiliary lights I was going to need a switched & fused power supply.
Fitting the fuse box and switched supply.....
tabs bent using some heat so they'd fit flush to the plastic under the seat
i cut a piece of rubber out to waterproof the bottom and siliconed it in place
fuse box in place. earths taken to the frame bolt in centre of pic.
A bit of searching the net and the expensive options were kicked into touch, to be replaced by a cheap £5 job from Halfords. The next step was to find a place to put it. Space under the seat is a bit of a premium entity and there are limited options. I eventually opted to fit it amidships on the near side. Fitting it here would mean the mounting tags would have to be bent or moulded to fit, so a little heat was applied and eventually the tags were bent down enough to form around the rounded profile of the wheel arch. Next step was to link out all one side of the fuse box so I didn’t end up with too many wires. I just soldered in some copper wire. I got some spade connectors with clear slip on shrouds from maplin and all the wire connections to the slip on spades were soldered. I also used heat shrink on all connections. For the neutral I bought back wires to one bolt, just behind the battery. I fitted a slightly longer bolt to accommodate all the terminals with one also going back to the battery to ensure 100% earthing at all time and not relying on the frame. The next step was to make it all switchable so a relay was used that picked its switching power signal up from the rear lights and I fitted it under the frame on the far side of the bike, opposite to the fuse box. Next I had to run some wires up front to power the grips, aux socket and spotlights.
from this angle you can see the relay sitting just below the flat frame section.
By now there are bits and pieces all over the workshop and many little washers and spacers, all via’ing for the chance to be the first piece of bodywork to get lost!
bracket made for the job
here you can see where it fits.
job done - powerful lights ready to shine
auxiliary power socket
Fitting the lead for the satnav was easy enough as there is a power source just in a convenient spot behind the main dash. It is actually for the diagnostic tool at the dealer but using some thin connectors you can connect up no problem. I bought a car lead to power the garmin off of Amazon for less than a tenner, which is a dam site cheaper than the one advertised in the touratech catalogue.
So now the bike was pretty well sorted for how I liked it. But I do want to modify the barkbuster's somewhat. They just stick out too far for worry free filtering in London traffic. I want to angle them in but I’ll need to use a template first to make sure I can get them to fit properly with the fairing.
Getting the engine to breath:
The exhaust is an obvious one to tackle as it has a catalytic converter built into it. Having seen the layout on the forum I performed my own surgery on it and took out the cat. Next I used a 20mm holesaw cutter (welded to a long metal rod) to open up the first chamber which would allow gasses to escape direct into the outlet pipe. This allows the engine to breathe a lot easier, but the de-restriction does raise the noise somewhat. Nothing like a race system but it is a bit louder. I’d say about the same as my 450 EXC or maybe a little less. Not an issue on the road, in fact it helps in traffic, but the 4.45 am starts are probably not favored by my neighbors!
i made the cut from the top so the welds are not visible from below when its on the bike...
now for the next phase...... a holesaw welded to a rod will soon free up the exhaust gas exit
you can see the new holes. drilled from down the end of the final exit pipe
pressure testing the exhaust after welding the cover plate back on.
Freeing up the exhaust does reduce the heat baking your behind and helps the engine breath out better but to get real results you need to add a free flow air filter and a ‘fuel mod’. So the next step was to open up the airbox and that is done by removing the snorkel that restricts the intake flow. This can be prised out carefully for use again later, but there is a further problem. The top cover no longer sits flush with the filter if you remove the snorkel. There are kits already on the market to fix this (DNA) but you can use a section of waste pipe rubber gasket cut down to do the same job!
Once the snorkel was out I needed a performance air filter. I was put off by the cost of the DNA/K&N filters so I started to look at foam filters. I couldn’t find any pictures of them or any reviews on the xt660 site so again I was a little slow in making a decision. But in the end I bought the Pipercross foam one from Bike Torque racing, partly because it is a lot cheaper than the others, but also because I can use the same cleaning/oiling products as I do on my enduro bike, due to the fact that its foam. Was it worth it? Well it’s not a light switch moment to instant mass power increase, but it definitely has made the bike pull a little smoother lower down in the rev range and has added to the other mod's to make the engine more flexible below 3k. Cruising on the motorway I also felt that it picked up quicker when the throttle was tweaked to overtake a car. So it’s well worth the £28 it cost, as it’ll have paid for itself within a few services.
Here you can see the fuel mod and the much wider opening to the airfilter. the original has a snorkel that arcs up and over into the recess where the mode is now sitting. You can just make out the bit of waste pipe rubber gasket that is used to seal the new filter to the airbox.
waste pipe rubber gasket......cheap at your local B&Q
At the same time as the snorkel removal you should fit a ‘fuel mod’. This is simply a 3k adjustable potentiometer wired into the temperature sensor circuit to fool the engine management into thinking it is colder that it is, and it enriches the fueling to suit. Again join xt660.com to get the full specs or you can buy a readymade one from the site. All this work (not that it is that much) will allow the engine to pull lower down in the rev range and whereas before anything below 3k was met with a shudder it’ll now pull ok from 2k in third. Remember the engine is in a very conservative state of tune, so it’s never going to set the world on fire performance wise.
A surprising side effect to all of this, is the fact that it has improved the fuel economy. While running the engine in I was getting up to 60mpg but after a while it was dropping into the 50’s, with one week being as low as 52 mpg. Since the mod's it has returned a consistent 60 mpg, with the odd longer trip pushing it up to 62 mpg, even though three quarters of it was two up.
I've never had one of these before but seeing as the touring and adventure crown rate them i thought i'd give it a go. Fitting was easy enough and i put a little thought into it as i didn't want to cable tie it on to the frame or use cable ties on the swingarm. I found a convenient spot on the right side of the engine and i made a small little flat bar bracket up so i could mount it with a screw and nut. Next i looked for a good way to run the oil feed to the rear sprocket. Before i did that though i ran the original pipe inside a airline pipe for extra protection. I then routed it round the engine, down to the swingarm where i very conveniently found that the swingarm is hollow and has cutouts - just right for running the pipe inside the arm. At the rear i drilled and tapped the swingarm and fixed one of the supplied bracket to the arm. the feed pipe was then attached via a jubilee clamp. There is a wire inside the last section so you can position the outlet in the correct position.
This is where the vacuum pipe has to be cut and the T-piece inserted.
Bracket mounted to swingarm by drilling and tapping the arm.
the feed pipe from the outside
finally finished - looks good and easy to get to if i need to adjust the feed or re-fill the oil
Personally I find the seat very comfy, but not everyone feels that way as there have been a lot of complaints about it on the forums. Most people opt for the sheepskin fix. The wife complained about the comfort of the pillion perch so I’ll have to get something for her before we hit the road again. The grab handles at the back are convenient for the rider while maneuvering the bike at standstill, but my wife reports that they are too far under the legs to be of any use when trying to brace herself on the back. I need to buy some pillion pal ‘love handles’ or get a top box.
Well i've solved the 'uncomfy seat' problem for my wife. I bought a Airhawk blow up seat pad and that works well enough to get my wife back into the seat. I also bought some Oxford Pillion Pal handles and they also work quite well so Nicky is a lot happier on the back now.
Another issue widely discussed on the net is the wind blast and there are many ‘fixes’ out there but with the taller screen and Hein Gericke bag on the bars I’m happy with it. I have notice one thing through and that is the position of your legs can make a big difference. If you sit splay legged then the air streaming around the front hits your legs and rockets up into your body. Sit with them tucked in with your toes on the pegs and I was amazed at the difference. This is more noticeable if you are wearing jeans as the airflow is disrupted more by big heavy pants with armour in.
Buy the way if you are using a peaked helmet like an Aria Tour X (I was given one) you might find that the wind blast rattles your brains a bit. I cured this by forming a piece of sturdy wire into the same shape as the peak and glued it to the underside (front) of the peak. This stiffens it up enough to stop the wind from flexing it, as it is this flexing that causes the most awful vibration.
wire mod to stop the peak vibrating my head like mad.
What's it like to ride off road?
Better than I thought it would be in fact. I traveled down to the Salisbury Plain area for a weekend’s camping and trail riding with the guys from the Adventure Bike Mag forum. The ride down there was a little nerve racking as I was alone and riding the byways, which had a lot of deep ruts. I had visions of getting stuck under the bike and all the camping gear and not being able to get out, but everything worked out fine. The panniers did catch on some of the ruts and at one point the bike remained upright on its own when I got off to open a gate. However once it was unloaded the next day, it really shone on the trails. Its ease at handling the slippery mud and clay (I had Swiss army tyres fitted) was clear to all there, so much so that several of them have either bought a Tenere or are in the process of getting one! Full ride report of the weekend can be found on my website. Once the speeds crept up in the dry the basic non-adjustable suspension found its limits on the bumpy stuff, but never go out of control.
Fuel tank tells lies!
Up until the new 650 BMW was re-launched, the XT660Z was in a class of its own, but even the BMW does not have the ground clearance and touring capability of the Tenere. What other new, single pot, ‘Adventure Bike’ is out there - that can tour and hack the byways as well as the Tenere?
Temperature Warning LED
So i was looking for a temperature gauge or meter to warn me of ice when coming home to the 'sticks' from London. often the temperature can drop by three of four degrees once you get to Bucks and i wanted a heads up if there was ice about. I searched high and low to no avail. I posted on the ABR forum too and after many suggestion someone came up with a part solution. An LED low temperature warning light. I also got a LED charging light as well so i could keep an eye on the battery level when i have many accessories working.
I opted to fit them into the RHS fairing/indicator console so i used a drill to open the hole for the large LED first (temperature) and a soldering iron to burn a hole for the battery LED. I prefer to use a soldering iron when making holes in plastic and perspex as there is no chance of it breaking or shattering.
the wiring to the LED's. i took power from the front sidelight as these use almost no power, milliamps only
I originally fitted the temp probe here
what it looks like from the riders seat. the small LED remains on if the voltage is correct. if the power dips it turns orange and flashes. Large LED is the low temperature light. This remains off until it gets to 3 degrees and then turns orange too. if it gets colder it flashes and then goes red to warn you of ice.
Once all the wiring was done i fitted the temperature probe to the outside of the pod so i could get a fresh signal from the air. Only this did not work too well as it was getting the wind blast and the wind chill was setting the warning LED off when it was needed. after a week or so i moved the probe into the pod and its been as good as gold since.
I picked up a rear hugger form the NEC show. Made by skidmarks it looks good and is easy to fit. However the primary reason for me buying it was to keep the rear end of the bike clean from road spray and i'm sad to say it hasn't been to successful. Well i think its a bit better but not as good as i hoped it would be. I (rightly or wrongly) expected the rear to stay crap free on the ride back from work on wet roads but nope it full of muck. I supposed I'm expecting too much. It would work better if it sealed around the swingarm I think as it has a gap all around the edge. i might just remove it and fit some sticky spongy foam to seal it.
Looks nice, doesn't work that well though. I'll take it off when going off road in the summer.
Remember that i said earlier that they stopped working pretty early on in their life? Well i could have taken them back but i just never got my butt into gear to do that and when the cold weather hit I knocked something up from bits i had laying about the garage. A little box, and old switch and a 24v LED from a crane at work - voila! Fixed! The controller was shot when i took it apart. Not surprising really as the top part is only sealed by the little stick on cover/sticker. below that the switched are open to water ingress. Totaly not fit for purpose. the top should have a rubber cap covering the whole lid. Anyway they work now. By the way i got these Roxter ones as they were a copy of the Oxford ones and i've heard many Oxford grips have controller problems too so i reckon they get water in just like these.
homemade but it works, and it was free!
Another homemade part is the little clamp for the GPS bracket. i took a round piece of aluminium and drilled the centre out. i then cut it in half and drilled one side while tapping a thread into the other. One gps bracket with a knob on ready to take the Ram Mount for the Garmin Map 60csx. I then needed to get some power to the unit. The bespoke Garmin lead from some like Touratech is silly money so i looked through Amazon and found a cheap car lead. I cut the car plug end off and used small flat blade crimps to connect it up to the diagnostic plug that is located just behind the plastic dash cover on the left hand side. I use a little plastic cap to keep the rain out of the connections when not in use.
Homemade GPS bracket
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|©2010 John Muizelaar|