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Offline Adventurer

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Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« on: November 09, 2008, 04:40:03 pm »
XT Challenge

Biker Lifestyle‚??s editor, Dudley, reckoned I had not kakked off enough at the KTM Rallye Raid, so after receiving the invite to the XT Challenge, decided I needed to do this event as well.
This was Yamaha‚??s first attempt at an event of this kind, it was held on a farm in the Free State, Shumba Valley Farm, not far from Fouriesburg.
I fetched my ride for the weekend on Thursday, a brand-new XT 660 Yamaha, made a plan to carry my luggage, a tankbag and a luggage roll, I was sorted.

I left mid morning on Friday, caned it straight to the venue, the XT was quite hard work on tar, it had no screen for protection.
I arrived at the venue; Adrian Bac greeted me on arrival, showed me to my sleeping quarters, one of the guest rooms in the farmhouse. I then met up with Grim, who was there with his mate; they were still waiting for a third buddy, who arrived at dusk.
By now most of the 31 participants were there, we rode out to a ‚??sundowners‚?? venue, a huge sandstone castle that overlooks the valley below. It was decided this was not an ideal venue, so we headed off to a koppie nearby, which overlooks Lesotho.

Sundowners were consumed, the scenery was appreciated, and back to camp we went.
That night we had a braai, Adrian did the introductions and the rider briefing. The party continued till late, these Yamaha riders don‚??t have kill buttons‚?¶.

Saturday morning, with much trepidation from riders that had not done an event of this type before, we set off in a group, looking forward to the ride.

The route took us along the Caledon River, which separates South Africa from Lesotho,
Most of the first section was a goat track; overgrown in places, and for the most part, only fit for goats.
The XT I had was not fitted with any protection, no handguards, no bashplate and no crashbars, Biker Lifestyle has a brilliant reputation for not bending bikes, I dared not stuff this up.
Having done various events of this type on other brands of bike, I found the XT very competent, even though it had no protection; it is very nimble, turns well and has a smooth torque band, excellent in these conditions even though I had Metzeler Tourance tyres fitted
Some of the other participants on XT 660‚??s had gone the whole hog kitting their bikes out, knobbly tyres, all the crash protection in the world, and then there were the Durban guys‚?¶‚?¶ two of them on XT 660 X‚??s, Yamaha‚??s motard version, full road tyres, never heard of ATGATT, jeans and T-shirt, more than enough in their opinion, but I must hand it to them, they walked away relatively unscathed, a few scratches here and there, but one of their guys came off pretty hard, needed stitches and his ankle was put in cast, other than that he was fine.
The first major obstacle was a very rocky river crossing which looked very familiar, turns out it we were doing a large section of the 2006 Red Route GS Challenge!

There were some spectacular attempts at crossing this river, with the opposite bank getting more and more slippery, I was the last to cross, almost made it, just needed some rope assistance at the end.

Our next major obstacle was another river crossing, the normal route had fallen in, so we had to go around it, into a stream, mud up to the axles, lots of roosters, huge fun had by all, it was now getting seriously hot, I was thankful to have a camelpack, essential kit for this type of riding.

The rest of the morning route took us up some very steep rocky inclines, tight narrow tracks, and some fantastic scenery, the Free State might appear very bland in places, but the rolling valleys and sandstone hills and koppies which make up the landscape, make for some awesome dual sport riding.

We stopped in for lunch at a venue on the main road, the power was out, the waitresses were overstressed, but the food and refreshments were great.

After lunch some of the guys headed directly back to camp, the rest of us followed our fearless leader along the second half of the route, it was a bit easier than the morning route, but still had some interesting sections, rocky descents, all the while doing my best not to damage the exposed exhausts, some testing rocky uphills, one of which saw Braam of Shimwells Yamaha cracking his water pump cover, not his fault though, a huge rock got caught between his back wheel and exhaust, a handbrake of note, his departure off the bike was done in spectacular fashion, after a hasty repair to the casing, we were off again, Braam had to endure quite a few chirps on the way back, the patchwork had not been very successful. The best chirp was an offer from an XT 500 rider, wondering if he‚??d like a tow back behind a ‚??real‚?? bike‚?¶.

Back in camp, Adrian had set up the skills challenge, a slow race, won by Braam of Shimwells, a round the barrels race won by Alan on a mid 70‚??s XT 500, and a wheelie competition, won by the journo from Dirt and Quad.

That night we treated to another scrumptious meal by Bob and Di, and then came the prize giving.
All sorts of items were awarded prizes, for me the ‚??true spirit award‚?? was the best, two brothers from Meyerton, these guys, aboard TT600‚??s, phoned Adrian at 7pm on Friday night to say they were having electrical problems and were stuck in Heilbron, they
fixed the problem, slept there for an hour, hit the road again, the one TT was leaking so much oil by the time they got to Bethlehem, they towed that bike to the venue from there, arrived at camp at 5am, pitched their tents, had maybe an hours sleep, they then rode the whole day, the one brother on a TTR250 on loan from Yamaha, they completed the whole day‚??s riding, and still partied that night, this type of determination is rare these days.

They each received a new helmet for their efforts.
Reliving the day‚??s events carried on until late, riders from all over had come to this venue to have a jol, and indeed it was.
I departed for home early on Sunday, arriving home mid morning, what an awesome weekend!
This event was a prototype by Yamaha, the dual sport market is the fastest growing in South Africa, events of this type are normally organized strictly per bike brand, and without this type of event, routes of this nature are not normally available to the general public, and you have the additional safety of a doctor on site and a fully qualified paramedic, in this case he was aboard his own XT 660 R, and rode with us all the way.
The XT 660 R is a very capable bike for this type of riding, it‚??s bulletproof single cylinder motor does not know when to die, it needs a few parts fitted to make it more offroad ready, but from what I saw on the other privately owned bikes, everything you could possibly need is available from various sources.
On dirt roads it is very stable, it corners well and has good traction.
The fuel tank could also be a bit bigger, but I understand all these issues have been addressed on the new Tenere, which will be launched here early next year. I hope to be at next year‚??s event aboard the new Tenere, it will make an interesting comparison.

A big thank you to Peter of Yamaha, Adrian of Red Cherry, and Bob and Di of Shumba Valley Farm for a well-organized XT Challenge, may this be the first of many.

And lastly to Dudley of Biker Lifestyle, my sore muscles are testimony to how much fun this event was.

More pictures and a revised story will be in the December issue of Biker Lifestyle.

If you can keep your head in the midst of all this confusion, you don't understand the situation!

Offline Captain Zef

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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2008, 06:04:04 pm »
Nice report

Offline letsgofishing

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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2008, 06:10:20 pm »
That looks like agreat ride you had on Saturday :thumleft: - good one!
There is nothing you can do about the past and you can't predict the future...all you have is the now...live it to the fullest.


Offline Pistonpete

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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2008, 07:07:20 pm »
Awesome! :mwink: I'm an old Yamaha fan & love the 660's.....just wish i could get a ride on one!
'Routine is the thief of time'

Offline Andy660

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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2008, 07:08:53 pm »
Pitty it was so far , I would have loved to have been there.

Thanks for the cool RR Adv.
I havnt seen so many xt`s together.
Hope the do somthing closer next time.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2008, 07:10:37 pm by XT660R »
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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2008, 07:16:14 pm »
Nice report and pics!
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Offline JustBiking

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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2008, 07:26:33 pm »
Lekka report. Seems like you had lotz of fun  :thumleft:  :biggrin:
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Offline Kykdaar

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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2008, 08:24:42 am »
Lekker report there  :thumleft:

Offline Mark Hardy

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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2008, 08:37:28 am »
Thanks for e RR ADV. Nice one.
Also looking forward to the launch of the new XT.

Offline Misty

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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2008, 08:59:55 am »
Nice report ADV - stunning location  :thumleft: - and the bike didn't look as brand spanking new the day you left as the day you got it! ;)
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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2008, 09:15:46 pm »
Ah, my first bike - an XT500. Wish I still had it... :(

Thanx for the report K. Appreciated. :thumleft:

Offline Adventurer

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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2008, 10:45:34 pm »
Having done a few of these events, BMW, KTM and now Yamaha, one thing I have noticed is the passion guys have for the brand they ride, no matter what it is.
The XT guys are crazy about their bikes, and so they should be, it is a great bike.
The amount of bling is all relative, but all bikes seem to need it, just some need more than other's. :pot:
Another aspect I've noticed, and please all you Beemer riders, don't take offence, the level of capability seemed to be higher at the KTM and XT event as to the the BMW events, possibly because a lot of these KTM and XT riders come from MX or Enduro backgrounds?
If you can keep your head in the midst of all this confusion, you don't understand the situation!

Offline Bullit

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Re: Yamaha XT Challenge 2008
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2008, 12:25:46 am »
Great write up thanks. :thumleft:

Wish I was there.