Author: Julian Challis

The Yamaha Off-Road Experience takes adventure riding to the next level

For many adventure bike riders, the thought of venturing away from the tarmac on that sparkly new machine is a daunting prospect.

If it’s not the confusing regulations of where you can actually ride, it’s the nagging suspicion that piloting a bike weighing over 200kg on anything other than smooth blacktop might be a tad tricky, and if it were to go wrong, very expensive as well as perhaps just as worrying, very painful.

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Luckily, running alongside the continued and ever-increasing popularity of adventure bikes, training schools and experience facilities have gradually popped up from many of the top manufacturers.

Now you can choose from the BMW Off Road Skills facility, the Triumph Adventure Riding Experience,  the Dave Thorpe Honda Off Road Centre,  the Sweet Lamb Adventure Rally Bike Academy  with KTM, and now throwing it’s hat into the ring with Mick Extance, the Harley Davidson Adventure Centre.

Of course, if you fancy your training a bit more exotic, you could always head for the sun-baked rolling hills of Tuscany and Ducati’s DRE Adventure Academy.

But all these facilities are firmly in the ‘Jonny-come-lately’ category compared to the history and back catalogue of the Jones family farm in Old Hall, just outside Llanidloes, home to the Yamaha Off-road Experience (YORE).

Originally set up by an enduro legend and nine-times world champion as the Geraint Jones Enduro School as a way of passing on his vast experience and off-road riding skills, the Jones family have pretty much drawn the blueprint for off-road training for the past 20 years.

Joined but under his two sons, Dylan and Rowan, both accomplished riders in British, European and World Enduro Championships, the centre went from strength to strength, with Yamaha coming on board in 1994 to make the centre a massive part of their off-road presence within the UK.

New Build

And 2022 marks yet another milestone for this world class and world leading off-road training facility, with the opening of an all new and purpose-built Welcome Centre.

The new building sits comfortably alongside the older farm buildings with a host of both new technology and new facilities to greet the legions of riders that visit the Yamaha Off-Road Experience.

Coming on the back of a devastating fire in 2017 that destroyed many of Geraint’s historic bikes and enduro memorabilia from his racing days, not to mention consuming an entire fleet of enduro and adventure bikes, the new building has risen literally phoenix-like from the ashes.

Designed and built by local architects and builders using timber grown on the families’ own farm, the new Welcome Centre is suitably environmentally friendly and low impact too with biomass heating and electricity from wind turbines and solar panels.

And inside, it’s a country mile from the converted farm buildings that Geraint started with.  There’s a welcome area with the latest Yamaha off-road and adventure models on display, large male and female changing rooms with showers, a dedicated kit room for the top-class clothing, helmets and boots which customers can hire, and a similarly large drying room in case the kit takes on a bit too much of Wales’s famous liquid sunshine.

With the new building now up and running, Dylan, Rowan, Geraint and the team can continue to run the vast number of experiences hosted at YORE each year. No matter what level your riding is at, the hugely patient and skilled instructors can tailor your time to give you the best possible riding experience on the family farm and the vast Hafren forest that dominates the hills above the Welcome Centre.

Complete novices can start out on the easy-to-use Yamaha TTRs with plenty of instruction, more experienced riders can opt for the Off-road Experience on the awesome WRF250s which come in restricted or unrestricted modes with lowered options, or for the those that like their riding ‘full gas’ – the truly spectacular WR450F.

And as all the riding is on private land well away from any roads, you don’t even need a motorcycle licence.

Adventure Time

For adventure bike riders there are plenty of options too, with the Tenere Experience for riders relatively new to adventure riding using not only the excellent T7 but also the all new T7 World Raid on a variety of gravel roads, forest trails and spectacular country roads through the stunning scenery of Mid Wales over one or two days.

For more experienced riders, there is the Adventure Bike Skills course which will allow you to learn, improve and perfect your off-road techniques to get the best out of your riding away from the blacktop.

Most riders use the centre’s own Tenere, but you can bring your own bike if you fancy, the cost being suitably reduced if you do.

And if you are determined to become the next Pol Tarres, the YORE team can offer one to one training packages, or can tailor make courses for clubs and organisations.

Yamaha are understandably delighted with the new facility and the potential it has for their customer, with BSB Champion Tarran Mackenzie drafted in to cut the ribbon on the new building.

I’ve been to the Yamaha Off Road Experience a number of times over the past fifteen years, and, following my last visit, I can attest that the new Welcome Centre takes the facilities to the next level.

While I was there, we spent the morning blasting through deliciously tight and technical tracks through the vast Hafren forest, getting thoroughly muddy and soaked in the process.  After a slap-up lunch in the new building, we were out on the Teneres on proper off-road tyres for mile after mile of great gravel tracks, rocky trails and glorious dirt roads through the Welsh countryside.

If you fancy getting a slice of the action at the all-new and improved Yamaha Off Road Expedience, check out the details here.