When we started working out the details for the ride, one of the critical components that we had to iron out really early is the bike we would choose to make the trip. We looked at the specifications of many bikes and in the final stages we narrowed it down to three bikes that we felt were capable of withstanding the rigors of what we wanted to accomplish.
We looked at the Honda Africa Twin, BMW GS 1200, and the Yamaha Super Tenere. After some lengthy discussions and a little individual homework on both our parts we opted for the Yamaha Super Tenere. We did so for a multitude of reasons.
First of all, cost was a huge consideration. We recognized we needed affordable yet reliable equipment that would minimize the amount of maintenance we might encounter along the way. Aside from your standard oil changes and tires, we didn't want to have to replace parts that wore out prematurely or due to poor quality. In regards to price, the BMW was almost initially ruled out. BMW has had a long history of making quality motorcycles, but if something went wrong getting it fixed was likely to take a long time and be extremely expensive.
Honda's new Africa Twin was next on our list and while we liked the idea of shiftless design, the use of chain drive presented a worry for when we made it to Alaska and began traveling the Dalton Highway, where conditions are far more uncertain due to the forces of nature.
We narrowed it down to Yamaha and decided it was time to go take a test ride to see how the 1200cc motor coupled with the rest of the hardware would fair. Initially I test rode an 2016 Super Tenere ES and was almost immediately in love with it. Plenty of power and torque made the 575 pound motorcycle handle with ease. I immediately noticed that the bike seemed as if it lumbered through the corners as if the tires were worn. Noticing that the bike was set to sport mode, I quickly adjusted the setting and responsiveness of the slower speeds rapidly improved. See the full specs here!
Out for the first test session in the mountains of NC!
Loaded up for the trip back to North Carolina
Oh my, two new Super T's!!
Waiting for some more new parts.
Fuel can mounted. 3 to go!
Sorting out an electrical issue!
Panniers getting installed
Heckle and Jeckle
Custom mad flagpole mounts!
Jeckle is utilizing a .50 cal ammo can until the top cases arrive!
New windscreen and cup holder for Jeckle
GPS cradle installed
Installing quick release flagpole mounts