The Story of My New Yamahammer

I was getting tired of my old KTM 990 Adventure trying to leave me stranded on long trips so it was time for a replacement.

Here is my old 990.  I had some good times on this bike and I loved the way it sounded.  I had custom wheels from Woody’s Wheelworks that made it like a street bike.  When I used to ride it at Mt. Palomar in San Diego County, I would get a lot of crazy looks as I would drag knee and pass sportbikes.

KTM 990 Adventure

Dragging knee before the bodywork change.

Mt. Palomar

As I said, the 990 gave me issues on some trips.

The first time, June and I were on a trip around southwest Colorado.  We were just coming into Durango on Hwy 160 and my front end started to get really loose.  I thought I had a flat front tire.  I radioed June over our intercoms that I was having an issue and we both pulled over to the side of the highway.  I checked my front tire and it was not flat.  I was really scratching my head as to what was going on.  I then grabbed the front wheel to give it a shake and it wobbled like crazy.  I looked at the front bearings and could see that they had come apart.

I really wasn’t sure what I was going to do at that point.  I called Woody’s Wheelworks to see if they could help.  There really wasn’t much they could do, so the nice lady on the phone gave me the bearing sizes and wished me good luck.

I started to call around to the local shops in Durango without much hope of finding bearings for an aftermarket wheel.  Much to my surprise, Fun Center Inc had the bearings I needed.  The problem was, they did not have anyone to install them.  I had called Handlebar Motorsports earlier.  They didn’t have the bearings, but did have someone to install them if I found a set.

Now for the coordination.  I rode to Fun Center on June’s bike to get the bearings without knowing how I was going to get my bike to Handlebar.  As I was in Fun Center, a guy from Handlebar was in there picking up parts.  The guy from Handlebar overheard me talking to the counter guys and had heard of my dilemma while he was still at his shop.  He offered to get his truck to come over and pick up my bike at the gas station (I was able to get my bike to a gas station that was close to where I stopped).  What luck!!!  I rode back to my bike and shortly the guy from Handlebar was there picking up my bike.

It took some effort for the guys at Handlebar to get the pieces of my bearings out from the hub and I was actually getting a bit worried as I watched them take a welder to my wheel.  They had to weld a piece of metal onto one of the races to get it out.   Finally they were able to complete the bearing swap…what a relief!!!

Total time from pulling off the road to getting back on..3 hours!  How lucky is that?!?!

Second issue:

My friend Chad and I were taking a short 3 day trip on some of the great roads we have here in Colorado.  On day one, we were riding along Hwy 285 near Jefferson and I noticed my bike drag a little bit.  It was really, really windy that day, so I thought it was just the wind.  A couple of hours later as we were going down a dirt road I found that I had no rear brake.  We stopped so I could see what was going on.  I looked at my rear caliper and saw a lot of brake fluid.  I looked closer and noticed that my brake pads were shredded.  I thought “WTF!!!”  We decide to head for Gunnison so I could get some pads and brake fluid.

We found a shop in Gunnision that had the pads and brake fluid.  They allowed me to work on the bike in their parking lot.  When I went to remove what remained of my brake pads, I found that the caliper had crapped out as well.  Of course I was not as lucky as I was in Durango and there was no caliper in town.

I didn’t want to stop the trip for just not having a back brake (better rear than front), so I disconnected the rear brake and we went on with our trip.  We had a great time even though Chad tried to kill me by taking me down a rocky decent with me not having rear brakes.

There were other things besides those two instances, but that was pretty much the last straw for the KTM even thought it took months before I replaced it.  I just didn’t love it anymore.  I wanted a bike I could trust if I wanted to take a 2 week trip on it.

In early March of 2015 I started shopping for replacement.  Finally after reading a ton of reviews on ADVRider, it came down to either the KTM 1190 Adventure or the Yamaha Super Tenere.  I was struggling with which one to choose, but it came down to reliability and I chose the Yamaha.  The Yamaha certainly was not as “cool” as the KTM as well as not having the power of the KTM, but every review I read (long term stuff) indicated that the Yamaha was extremely reliable.  I really wanted to lean towards the KTM, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger.  I would always worry if it was going to leave me stranded.  I know any bike can break down, but I wanted to hedge my bets.

So, here she is:

After about 3000 miles so far, I can say that I’m very impressed.  I have the ES model so I have electronic suspension, heated grips and cruise control.  I like the electronic suspension more than I thought I would, it’s so easy to make adjustments of damping on the fly.  I also love the cruise control.  I’ve had throttle locks on before, but having electronic cruise control is awesome.

I recently put Shinko Big Blocks on it and it’s even better.  So far I am very impressed with these tires, they are much smoother on the road than I would have thought and much better in the dirt.

I’ll give further updates as I get more miles on the bike.

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