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EXTREMADURA v YAMAHA SUPER TENERE a tall bike for short people

YAMAHA  SUPER TENEREExtremadura borders Portugal to the west and Andalusia to the south, it is not high up in the league table of regions most visited by tourists. The climate has a reputation as being very hard in winter and very hot in summer which often lends itself to the translation meaning ‘extremely hard’ but in actual fact it means ‘beyond the Douro River’

About the Yamaha they said it’s not my style, it’s too tall and negotiating the Brittany Ferry to Spain it would be a hand full. Wrong! It’s a tall bike maybe but for me with an inside leg of 27inches it was easy. The secret lies in the slim line parallel twin design of the Tenere and a narrow seat line. I’m not really an adventure style rider that prefers sit up in the breeze and hang onto big wide bars but by the time I had completed the 2000 mile Explore Extremadura tour I was converted and can now see the appeal of the big adventure touring.
I customised the bike – low seat setting – slackening off the hard suspension and familiarised myself with the hard luggage locks. These need delicate treatment if key brakeage is to be avoided. Luggage capacity was good for two up touring, the large Hein Gericke inner bags are made for the job and slide into the ‘tin’ boxes perfectly but we needed just a tad more room and added a tail pack.Yamaha Tenere

The ride to Plymouth was a learning curve. I played about with the two mapping settings. But found the sport setting for hard fast motorway riding too sporty for me and settled for the softer throttle response of the - touring mode.

Once away from Santander we were soon enjoying the first leg of 200 miles down to one of my favourite hotels at El Burgo de Osma. A new road sweeps across the Cantabrian farm land and ducks and dives round and through the snow dotted mountains. The bike is fitted with a tiny fly screen as standard and proved big enough to deflect most of the cold air away. The hand guards did little in the way of wind protection and heated grips would have made life more comfortable. A larger screen is available and so are hot grips but these should be included as standard in the £13,500 price tag.

I look forward to the welcome in El Burgo. The senora gives me a big squeeze then strangely never bothers with me until I come to pay. Pedro the waiter is different he is always at our service. This guy has been at the hotel for 27 years and over the 10years of visits greets me like an old friend, well we are. It’s a ‘waiter for life encounter’ The meal was as usual fantastic and wine from the local vineyard just flowed as Pedro served dish after dish with style and panache.

The next day our route took us across Castilla-La- Mancha to Almaden in Don Quixotes country dotted with those strange circular windmills. This was to be a novelty stop at the Plaza de Toros hotel in the ancient hexanganal bull ring. The Plaza de Toros was first established as a bull ring in 1752 and converted to a 4star hotel in 2002. Spain has the world’s largest deposits of mercury most of it coming from this region. Twenty three rooms are arranged round the ring and were once the miners living quarters.

Super TenereI was getting the hang of the Super Tenere now and started to ride it harder, I even switched over to sport mode. With a full tank of 23litres, 200 miles should have been possible. Consumption figures were returning around 10 miles per litre (45mpg). I only discovered on the last day that the digital display could change from miles to kilometres. The large speed display is brilliant – no excuses for braking the limits however from time to time glare from the instrument panel made it difficult to read.

Extremadura is not without a sweeping kind of beauty, one of endless rolling fields of wheat dotted with cork trees and olive groves. It is also where black bulls are bread, they share pastures with storks whose rustic nests add a hairy topping to each church and telegraph pole.

The gear box was a dream, light and positive. The water cooled parallel twin would chug along quite happily in 6th gear but would rebel with harsh vibes if the gear box wasn’t used effectively. With this model Yamaha have gotten away from the chain drive and challenged BMW at the own game and used a very neat shaft drive – no snatch – no oily rear end mess.

Ensalada HurdanaOur accommodation in Extremadura was provided by the Hospederia chain that specialises in converting ancient stone buildings into hotels. Similar to the concept of the Paradores but at a fraction of the price without compromising quality. The four star Hurdes Real in Caceres was once an infirmary built to celebrate the visit of King Alfonso X111 in 1922. It nestles in an area of spectacular beauty in its own warm micro climate. Food was amazing, try Ensalada Hurdana, sliced fresh oranges and lemon together with chucks of spicy sausage and topped with two fried eggs, delicious.

As the crow flies distances from the Hospederia hotels are not great so our route zigzagged across country to make the best of the landscape and deserted roads. The route that day was brilliant, 200 miles of perfect tarmac swooping left and then right bordered with green on the Michelin. Bend markings 60s, 40s, and 20s give an accurate indication of bend severity and soon it became a habit of dropping one gear for a 60, 2 for a forty and 20 meant throwing out the anchor for a tight one. The Tenere has an agile easy handling chassis and was joy to flick through the flip flop serpentine roads.

Mirador de LlerenaThe Mirador de Llerena suggested that the was located on a hilltop view point not in the town centre where we eventually found it. The mirador bit came once you had climbed the iron spiral stair case to the top of the high belfry. Here the evening meal had an even more exotic name of Extremaduran Kettledrum which translated means a mess of sautéed potatoes with Iberian products of pork, mushrooms, paprika and two fried eggs – again!

As the miles rolled on it occurred to me that the superb riding comfort came basically from the generous distance between the seating position and foot rests and despite sporting the low seat option my knees were not bent at such an acute angle. It was all good news from the pillion seat where the same generous relationship applied.

AlcantataWe saved the best till last at Conventual de Alcantara. A San Francisco Monastery dating back to 1478 and later a flower mill in 1912. The hotel has been tastily built around the enormous machinery that was used in those times and is on display in the hotels museum. We were greeted with an even more spectacular sounding menu of Chinstrap of pork cooked in stained wine – another great meal.

It was a much too shorter visit to Extremadura and hard to see why it’s not serviced by more tourists but that’s great for us, I like to keep it as being our secret. Food, roads, countryside and the warm Spanish ambiance made it a rider’s holiday. For the historians the region has more than its share of Roman ruins, Caceres and the Roman Monuments of Merida are jewels in the Extremadura crown.

Forgetting the price tag of over £13,000 it’s a perfectly good bike. I loved riding the Tenere despite the bulk it never presented a problem. The weight is low down and the wide bars assisted manoeuvrability. In performance and ability it could be a strong contender to the GS range but not as good value. The five star riding position makes long days in the saddle are a synch and if I had been allowed would have quite happily used the bike for all of our remaining tours.