Yamaha Worldcrosser

The Worldcrosser is the tarted-up version of the Super Tenere 1200, and if we were to judge this bike solely by the number of dreamy-eyed looks that the ABR ‘Crosser’ has attracted, then Yamaha has a world-beater on its hands. Everlasting love, however, develops from qualities hidden below the surface, or at least that’s the conventional wisdom, so is this bike’s beauty more than skin deep?

In a line: If looks could kill, we’d all be pushing up daisies after setting eyes on the Worldcrosser; it’s a stunner

Quick Spec

MODEL: Super Tenere Worldcrosser
PRICE: £12,999
CAPACITY: 1199cc
MPG: We’ve been getting between 38 and 55mpg; about 45mpg would be realistic in all conditions.
TANK CAPACITY: 23 litres
RANGE: 227 miles
POWER: 108bhp
TORQUE: 85lb.ft
TRANSMISSION: 6 speed shaft drive
SEAT HIGHT: 845mm to 870mm
WEIGHT: 261kg wet weight (full with oil and petrol)
WHEELS: 19-inch front /17-inch rear
SUSPENSION FRONT: 43mm telescopic forks with 190mm of travel. Compression, rebound and preload adjustable
SUSPENSION BACK: Adjustable for preload and rebound monoshock with 190mm travel
BRAKES: Dual 310 wave discs at the front and a single 282 wave at the rear. Linked front to rear (rear will operate independently of front) with ABS, which cannot be switched off
COLOURS: Competition White/ Midnight Black

WORLDCROSSER – A SUPER TENERE IN DRAG?

The Worldcrosser is essentially a Super Tenere dressed up in additional protective aluminium and carbon-fibre clothing, but it also manages to achieve a result where the overall effect appears to be more than the sum of its parts.

The Worldcrosser features lightweight carbon-fibre side panels, fork protectors and frame guards, plus an anodized aluminum skid-plate, driveshaft shield and rear-brake guard for extra protection in off road conditions. It also has additional graphics, and it has to be said that this is a great-looking machine.

The Yamaha website also claims that Worldcrosser kits can be purchased to beef up a standard Super Tenere, and there’s a growing list of additional accessories, which include a lightweight titanium Akrapovic exhaust, carbon-fibre het-shield, fog lights and LED indicators. We’ll have more to follow on Worldcrosser/Super Tenere accessories in a future issue of ABR

YAMAHA OFF-ROAD EXPERIENCE

The Yamaha Tenere Off-Road Experience offers riders the chance to explore some of the most beautiful and rugged countryside in Mid Wales on a XT660Z Tenere or XT1200Z Super Tenere, or you can bring your own bike.

On arrival the team will spend time coaching you on how to tackle a wide variety of off-road terrain. You then head off into the thousands of acres of surrounding countryside, coming up against hills, river crossings, forest tracks and lots of mud.

There are two instructors per group – maximum 10 riders – to guide and advise. Riders may be split into groups of similar ability, to ensure that everybody has the optimum experience.

There are one-and two-day tours and all riders must have a full motorcycle licence. Riders restricted to 33 KW will only be able to ride WR 250Rs. Prices start from £250. For more details and booking information, see www.yamaha-tenere-experience.co.uk

HOW VERSATILE IS THE WORLDCROSSER…

AS A COMMUTER?

With a relatively low seat and centre of gravity, the Worldcrosser is one of the better big adventure beasts when it comes to nipping around town. Good fuel economy and visibility, plus excellent comfort all mean you’ll be melting down your four-wheel commuter for scrap before you know it

AS A WEEKEND TOURER?

The Worldcrosser is hard to beat when it comes to travelling big mileage in comfort. Taller riders will fi nd a higher seat setting and a bigger screen an advantage, but other than that, let the weekend begin and never end

AS AN OFFROADER?

Having used the 1200 Super Tenere in the sort of conditions 99 percent of owners would never contemplate, I can say that 99 percent of owners are going to find the off -road capabilities of this bike acceptable. However, the remaining 1 percent will find it difficult to come to terms with an ABS system that can’t be switched off

AS A CONTINENTAL ROAD TOURER?

Excellent fuel economy and a tank range of over 200 miles mean this bike has the basics for a top performing long-distance Euro traveller. Motorway riding is so relaxed you could make a sandwich on the tank at autobahn speeds, and with a quick flick of the ‘mode’ switch from ‘touring’ to ‘sports’ you’ll be nudging the sports bikes on Alpine twisties. Loading this bike up with the kitchen sink makes no difference

AS A RTW OVERLANDER?

When I think of overlanding on a Super Tenere, long-distance adventurer Nick Sanders comes to mind – he’s recently set records riding over 30,000 miles up and down the Americas between Alaska and Tierra del Fuego. I think that best provides an insight into the RTW capabilities and reliability of this bike. I’d not think twice about setting off into the sunset for a couple of years on the Worldcrosser

AS A PILLION CARRIER

Tinker with the adjustable suspension and you can pack this bike with a pillion and enough gear to throw a party for the Royal family and you’ll hardly know there’s anything on the back. Pillion comfort has been reported as being top notch, or more to the point, she was still smiling after 200 miles

The Review

Even on the best of days, when the sun is shining, the traffic is light and love is in the European air, it would be a service to humanity if the motorway from Calais heading north through Belgium and in to Germany was bombed out of existence. Just the thought of riding the Euro Route E40 makes hanging out on the M1 on a busy bank holiday Friday feel like a freedom trip down the more scenic parts of Route 66.

Having travelled the E40 many, many times, it’s surprising to find that I’m still sitting at a desk writing motorcycle reviews, as self-strangulation is often quoted as a far more enjoyable experience than taking the road that skirts Brussels. On my last trip north out of Calais, I came to the conclusion that the geographical and visual highlight of the E40 was either the new pothole opposite the smoke-belching power station on the approach to Cologne or the huge, garish yellow-and-blue Ikea sign just short of Genk. On balance, I felt the Swedish neon dazzler should get the nod if just for its historic status, though it was a close call.

Anyway, it’s precisely this sort of road, especially at 2am when it’s cold and hammering down with rain, that even the most bikerish of minds enters the zone where, Lord forbid, the answer to the question; ‘what the hell am I doing here on this bike’? becomes more than a rhetorical figure of speech.

It was at precisely 2am, with the rain lashing down and my fingers starting to feel the nip in the air, that I looked at the sign and decided to skip the services and ride on to the next one closer to Liege. This was no act of early morning defiance, nor a test of overnight stamina, neither was it a change of heart over the attractions of the E40, it was all to do with the World crosser being so comfy and easy going that I wanted to ride on.

Having spent time on just about all the current crop of monster-sized adventure bikes over the past few months, the World crosser felt the nearest to the all-conquering and supremely comfortable adventure touring BMW GS. Whereas the new Honda Crosstourer and Triumph Tiger Explorer come with an on-road performance that leaves the ageing Beamer a distant headlight in the rear-view mirror, the power, performance and riding position of the Yamaha and GS are close enough for a buying decision to come down to such features as colour and style.

And if they were the only things that mattered, and I was to base a decision on the response of the general biking public, then the Yam would win hands down. In the traditional white and red colours, this is the most coveted bike I’ve swung a leg over for at least the last 10 years. In short; the Worldcrosser is a stunner.

On-Road

I’ve attended a few manufacturer press launches of late where at best you get to ride the bike for nine hours and maybe even as few as three. While it’s possible to form a reasonable view over such a short space of time, it’s not long enough to be able to comment with confidence about many aspects of a bike; nor is it sometimes a reliable mark of a machine, as was recently the case of the high fuel consumption figures quoted against the Honda Crosstourer, which proved to be a false reflection of what’s happening in the real world of biking outside of an adrenaline-saturated press launch. (See page 106 for an update review on living with the Crosstourer).

With that in mind, I had something special lined up for testing out the Worldcrosser, which involved a 1,800- mile trip spread over four days taking me from Stratford-upon-Avon to Calais via the tunnel and then up the dreaded E40 to the hills east of Cologne before heading southwest into the spectacular Mosel Valley and back to Calais via Luxembourg, Bastogne (Belgium) and Lille.

The route would involve miles of mind-numbingly boring motorway travel; extra-tight twisties and minor roads up in the German hills; fast-paced A and B roads and maybe even the odd gravel track thrown in for good measure. Testing the off-road ability of the Worldcrosser (WC) was not high on the list, though, as I’d recently spent a day putting the Super Tenere 1200 through its paces at the Yamaha Off-Road Experience in Mid Wales.

First off was packing the bike. The WC comes with Yamaha luggage as standard, and while the style and weather proofing of the mock aluminium boxes are fine, I can’t say the same for the pannierlocking mechanism, which is shockingly sub-standard. Every time I opened and closed the lid, I did so sucking in air with the worry that the key would snap or bend; it really is that bad.

As it happens, the key did bend while I was in Luxembourg, along both its length and axis. A three-dimensional twist-and-bend if you like. As the key also works the ignition and petrol cap, it was with the aid of a small planishing hammer, an overly light touch and a constant prayer that I managed to get back home. I didn’t chance opening the panniers again until the Yamaha was safely in my drive. In summary, I’d be changing these boxes for aftermarket versions without more ado; I’d not trust them on another overseas trip, even with a spare key.

Setting off from Stratford, it was straight onto the M40 for the best part of 200 motorway miles to the tunnel. The WC’s ergonomics were spot on from the off. The wide bars, firm seat and foot pegs were in perfect harmony with the Davies torso, though after about 300 miles I’d have preferred a touch more leg room – I’m 6ft 2 with creaking knees, but it was nice to be able to get both feet flat on the ground at stops.

The adjustable screen provided reasonable protection from the elements, but as with all the adventure bikes I’ve tested of late, it doesn’t come close to providing the serenity found behind the barn-door that comes with the BMW GSA. At the lower setting I found noise to be a problem as the airflow would hit a point just at the top of the visor. At the upper setting, the flow would skim the top of my helmet but it also deflected a strong blast smack-bang on the shoulder blades. It was no big deal, and not massively uncomfortable (as opposed to the stock screen on, say, the Honda Crosstourer, which I found a waste of time) but I’ll be checking out aftermarket screen mods for the WC in due course.

The Worldcrosser is a motorway milemuncher and one of those bikes where I was genuinely surprised to find myself travelling far faster than I thought. At 70mph the rev counter was showing a relaxed 3,500rpm and the fuel consumption approximately 53mpg, though I reckon from receipts and the dent in my wallet the reality is a little more thirsty than indicated.

And, as we’re on the subject of fuel and consumption, the on-board computer displays current mpg and average mpg, which is nice, but no ‘distance to empty’ data. On top of this the fuel level indicator only has a four-bar display, which means those of a ‘just-in-case’ disposition spend more time fretting about stopping and filling up than needs be. A more detailed fuel level indicator and/or computer countdown to empty display would be less stressful for some and, at this price, something I’d like to see as standard. It would also be an improvement and far more convenient if the switch controls for the on-board computer were positioned on the handlebars rather than the dash, which is a fair old stretch when on the move. Again, this is a minor point, but it’s also a feature that I’d expect to come as standard on a bike of this price.

A further 300 miles of European motorway riding through the night and the WC had proved its worth as a long-distance tourer; it was so comfy I never got to the point where I thought ‘that’s enough of that’. However, the lack of heated grips was a pain (literally) as the rain soaked through and the temperatures dropped, and even though changing gear was a once-an-hour event, I missed having a gear selector indicator on the dash.

So, 500 miles in one hit, and with the exception of cold hands and a few minor flaws, the big Yamaha is my new best friend.

The hills to the east of Cologne are not as big or as scenic as the Alps, but they are the location of the dams which power the German industrial heartland known as the Ruhr Valley and where the Dambusters dropped the bouncing bomb in WWII. The roads up in the hills are as twisty, exciting and demanding as those in the Alps, and they’re relatively traffic free, a perfect testing ground for the livelier characteristics of WC.

Following on from recent ride-outs on the far sportier Honda Crosstourer and Triumph Explorer, the WC could be described as a gentle beast, but don’t let that fool you. They by wire throttle system means that the Crosser comes with three traction control settings plus a ‘touring’ and ‘sports’ mode for power delivery.

I’d left the bike in ‘touring’ mode for the motorway ride over to Germany, but now we were in a motorcycle playground it was time to check out the ‘sports’ setting. A flick of a switch and the upgrade in performance was instant with power delivered in a much punchier manner, and although the torque curve is said to be flattish, there was a noticeable kick in the back and wrench of the arm in the mid-range.

Over the next 250 miles of switchbacks and long sweeping bends on mountain roads, I was once again reminded of how close to the BMW GS this bike is. The handling defied the weight and size, with first boots and then pegs taking a dab on the Euro tarmac. Flicking from tight rights and then straight into even tighter lefts, the WC was always nimble enough and never diverted from my chosen line, even when making midturn corrections. The ABS and traction control were just as I like them – effective and unobtrusive – and the power delivery, while never scary, was enough for me, and would probably do it for almost all riders contemplating an adventure bike.

The ride back through the spectacular Mosel Valley (feature to come in a future issue of ABR) and on through Belgium and France confirmed the strength of the Worldcrosser as a top contender in the current line-up of long-distance adventure touring bikes. A comfy, economical, stress-free ride, with more than enough power for most.

Off-Road

A day out at the Yamaha Off-Road Experience in Mid Wales was a great opportunity to test out the off-road capabilities of the XT1200Z Super Tenere, which is essentially the Worldcrosser without all the trimmings. The centre is run by Enduro legend Geraint Jones and his able sons Dylan and Rowan. In partnership with Yamaha, the Jonses hold specific Tenere off-road courses where riders can spend time on the hills and trails around the family farm, including access to the off-road heaven known as Hafren Forest.

I’ll be writing a full feature on the Yamaha Off-Road Experience in a future issue of ABR, but for now, let’s just focus on the ability of the XT1200Z Super Tenere (S10).

There’s no doubt that when in experienced hands the S10 is capable of taking on the sort of terrain that inexperienced riders would class as un-ridable. It’s also fair to point out that the off-road performance of any big bore adventure bike is going to be more down to the experience and competence of the rider than the characteristics of the bike. So, with that in mind, let’s press on.

When you’re sitting at the start of an off-road trail, the sheer size and weight of the S10 is daunting, and I have to admit that my first thought was, ‘can I check out the lighter XT660Z Tenere instead, please?’. However, when the big beast starts rolling the excellent balance and low centre of gravity inspire confidence, as did the fact that it was someone else’s bike.

Over the course of the day I rode the S10 over open farmland; the gravel roads of the Hafren Forest; very muddy and deeply rutted forest trails; steep, rocky single- track ascents and descents with tight switchbacks thrown in for good measure, and some fast-paced green lanes.

I came to the conclusion that the S10 (and consequently the Worldcrosser) was on a par with the BMW 1200 GS when it comes to off-road competence, and I rate the GS very highly in the big-bike off-road league. However, the S10 comes with an off-road disadvantage in so much as the ABS cannot be switched off. This feature is unlikely to affect all but a handful of potential purchasers, the vast majority of whom will never come near the sort of terrain or ride at a speed where being unable to switch off the ABS matters.

I had a heart-stopping moment on a tight downhill right-hand bend on a narrow forest trail with a big drop off to the left and slippery, unstable ground under wheel. As I approached the bend and dabbed at the back brake, the ABS kicked in and there was nothing to slow my rate of progress; very scary. The answer is, of course, to ride more slowly, but even that didn’t help at what became a comedy moment a little later up the trail. Slowly descending a steep bank to ford a river, the photographer signaled for us to stop. What happened next was that I couldn’t stop, and neither could the S10 behind me. I nudged the bike in front, the bike behind nudged me for the same reason, and it was all down to the ABS working very efficiently.

In summary, the S10 is a hugely capable off-road adventure bike, especially so considering its size and weight. In the real world, the lack of a non-switchable ABS is unlikely to make any difference, and this really is a bike that’ll take you to go. Personally, I wouldn’t think twice about heading off on a Worldcrosser to the dusty, rocky pistes and trails found in countries like Morocco.

Conclusion

After a recent test ride on the Honda Crosstourer, I raved about the quality and performance of the V4 engine; after stepping off the Triumph Explorer, I told all it was like riding a sports bike on stilts, and a day out on the new BMW Sertao had me grinning from ear to ear over its off -road ability. The reason I mention the above is that, in my experience, there’s no stand-out performance feature with the Worldcrosser. Equally, there’s not one aspect of the big Yam that would stop me from buying one.

The Worldcrosser is a bike that does all a big adventure bike should do, and very well indeed, but will that be enough to get you opening your cheque book? I’ll sign off with a critical financial-health warning; if you don’t want a Worldcrosser, wear a blindfold the next time you visit a Yamaha dealership as the inevitable consequence of not doing so will be you riding home on the sexiest 1200cc adventure bike the world has to offer. I’m in lust. ­