EXTREMADURA v YAMAHA SUPER TENERE
a tall bike for short people
borders Portugal to the west and Andalusia to the
south, it is not high up in the league table of regions
most visited by tourists. The climate has a reputation
as being very hard in winter and very hot in summer
which often lends itself to the translation meaning
‘extremely hard’ but in actual fact it
means ‘beyond the Douro River’
About the Yamaha they said it’s not my style,
it’s too tall and negotiating the Brittany Ferry
to Spain it would be a hand full. Wrong! It’s
a tall bike maybe but for me with an inside leg of
27inches it was easy. The secret lies in the slim
line parallel twin design of the Tenere and a narrow
seat line. I’m not really an adventure style
rider that prefers sit up in the breeze and hang onto
big wide bars but by the time I had completed the
2000 mile Explore Extremadura tour I was converted
and can now see the appeal of the big adventure touring.
I customised the bike – low seat setting –
slackening off the hard suspension and familiarised
myself with the hard luggage locks. These need delicate
treatment if key brakeage is to be avoided. Luggage
capacity was good for two up touring, the large Hein
Gericke inner bags are made for the job and slide
into the ‘tin’ boxes perfectly but we
needed just a tad more room and added a tail pack.
The ride to Plymouth was a learning curve. I played
about with the two mapping settings. But found the
sport setting for hard fast motorway riding too sporty
for me and settled for the softer throttle response
of the - touring mode.
Once away from Santander we were soon enjoying the
first leg of 200 miles down to one of my favourite
hotels at El Burgo de Osma. A new road sweeps across
the Cantabrian farm land and ducks and dives round
and through the snow dotted mountains. The bike is
fitted with a tiny fly screen as standard and proved
big enough to deflect most of the cold air away. The
hand guards did little in the way of wind protection
and heated grips would have made life more comfortable.
A larger screen is available and so are hot grips
but these should be included as standard in the £13,500
I look forward to the welcome in El Burgo. The senora
gives me a big squeeze then strangely never bothers
with me until I come to pay. Pedro the waiter is different
he is always at our service. This guy has been at
the hotel for 27 years and over the 10years of visits
greets me like an old friend, well we are. It’s
a ‘waiter for life encounter’ The meal
was as usual fantastic and wine from the local vineyard
just flowed as Pedro served dish after dish with style
The next day our route took us across Castilla-La-
Mancha to Almaden in Don Quixotes country dotted with
those strange circular windmills. This was to be a
novelty stop at the Plaza de Toros hotel in the ancient
hexanganal bull ring. The Plaza de Toros was first
established as a bull ring in 1752 and converted to
a 4star hotel in 2002. Spain has the world’s
largest deposits of mercury most of it coming from
this region. Twenty three rooms are arranged round
the ring and were once the miners living quarters.
was getting the hang of the Super Tenere now and started
to ride it harder, I even switched over to sport mode.
With a full tank of 23litres, 200 miles should have
been possible. Consumption figures were returning
around 10 miles per litre (45mpg). I only discovered
on the last day that the digital display could change
from miles to kilometres. The large speed display
is brilliant – no excuses for braking the limits
however from time to time glare from the instrument
panel made it difficult to read.
Extremadura is not without a sweeping kind of beauty,
one of endless rolling fields of wheat dotted with
cork trees and olive groves. It is also where black
bulls are bread, they share pastures with storks whose
rustic nests add a hairy topping to each church and
The gear box was a dream, light and positive. The
water cooled parallel twin would chug along quite
happily in 6th gear but would rebel with harsh vibes
if the gear box wasn’t used effectively. With
this model Yamaha have gotten away from the chain
drive and challenged BMW at the own game and used
a very neat shaft drive – no snatch –
no oily rear end mess.
accommodation in Extremadura was provided by the Hospederia
chain that specialises in converting ancient stone
buildings into hotels. Similar to the concept of the
Paradores but at a fraction of the price without compromising
quality. The four star Hurdes Real in Caceres was
once an infirmary built to celebrate the visit of
King Alfonso X111 in 1922. It nestles in an area of
spectacular beauty in its own warm micro climate.
Food was amazing, try Ensalada Hurdana, sliced fresh
oranges and lemon together with chucks of spicy sausage
and topped with two fried eggs, delicious.
As the crow flies distances from the Hospederia
hotels are not great so our route zigzagged across
country to make the best of the landscape and deserted
roads. The route that day was brilliant, 200 miles
of perfect tarmac swooping left and then right bordered
with green on the Michelin. Bend markings 60s, 40s,
and 20s give an accurate indication of bend severity
and soon it became a habit of dropping one gear for
a 60, 2 for a forty and 20 meant throwing out the
anchor for a tight one. The Tenere has an agile easy
handling chassis and was joy to flick through the
flip flop serpentine roads.
Mirador de Llerena suggested that the was located
on a hilltop view point not in the town centre where
we eventually found it. The mirador bit came once
you had climbed the iron spiral stair case to the
top of the high belfry. Here the evening meal had
an even more exotic name of Extremaduran Kettledrum
which translated means a mess of sautéed potatoes
with Iberian products of pork, mushrooms, paprika
and two fried eggs – again!
As the miles rolled on it occurred to me that the
superb riding comfort came basically from the generous
distance between the seating position and foot rests
and despite sporting the low seat option my knees
were not bent at such an acute angle. It was all good
news from the pillion seat where the same generous
saved the best till last at Conventual de Alcantara.
A San Francisco Monastery dating back to 1478 and
later a flower mill in 1912. The hotel has been tastily
built around the enormous machinery that was used
in those times and is on display in the hotels museum.
We were greeted with an even more spectacular sounding
menu of Chinstrap of pork cooked in stained wine –
another great meal.
It was a much too shorter visit to Extremadura and
hard to see why it’s not serviced by more tourists
but that’s great for us, I like to keep it as
being our secret. Food, roads, countryside and the
warm Spanish ambiance made it a rider’s holiday.
For the historians the region has more than its share
of Roman ruins, Caceres and the Roman Monuments of
Merida are jewels in the Extremadura crown.
Forgetting the price tag of over £13,000 it’s
a perfectly good bike. I loved riding the Tenere despite
the bulk it never presented a problem. The weight
is low down and the wide bars assisted manoeuvrability.
In performance and ability it could be a strong contender
to the GS range but not as good value. The five star
riding position makes long days in the saddle are
a synch and if I had been allowed would have quite
happily used the bike for all of our remaining tours.