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Africa Twin - Upcoming Camel Tank

We have finally received our 2016 Honda Africa Twin/CRF1000L! After having a deposit on this mythical beast for over a year, we were able to pick it up last week.

We've begun working on two different Camel Tank auxiliary fuel kits for it. The first kit should be available late July and is intended for use with no luggage or rackless soft bags such as Mosko Moto's Reckless series, Giant Loop Great Basin, Endurostan's Monsoon system.

The second kit will be compatible with several popular hard pannier systems and is expected late 2016/early 2017. Send us an email at info@cameltank.com and asked to be added to our pre-buy and notification list.

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Our new Japanese Mistress!

We were expecting the 2022 KLR back in May-June but the worldwide microchip shortage pushed production back a few months. Two weeks ago we got the call the our '22 KLR Adventure was here, built and ready to pick up.

I haven't spent much time on it and I have very little seat time on any year KLR but this updated model sure seems to be better than I remember. The motor seems to have more grunt (it's all relative). I was cruising around the city this afternoon and I realized of all the bikes I have access too at the shop, this is the one I like best for city riding. It's easy to ride, does what it needs to do and is comfortable. I'll take the 790R or T7 for dual-sport /offroad rides and the Pan America for longer rides but the KLR is my city pick for sure.

I'm not sure what we'll be making for it yet but we keep riding it and add things to possible project list.

Our new American Mistress

After much waiting, our Harley-Davidson Pan America arrived! Actually we got it a couple of months ago but I just realized that I never got a blog post up... so here it is, short and sweet.

We put a deposit on the bike back in February. It arrived about 2 months after the initial orders were shipped mid-May. Apparently, because I ordered the "Special" but opted out of the automatic ride height adjust option, my bike got pushed to the back of the queue. It arrived 7 weeks later than expected which is never a good thing when you design parts for a living. We got at the designing later than we really wanted to but better late than never.

The Gut Guard skid plate is damn near ready to go. I'm really happy with the way it has turned out. The motor on this bike is a "stressed member" and integral part of the motorcycle's chassis. There are no frame rails to mount a skid plate too. We didn't want to bolt the plate directly to the motor. It was a challenge but I'm very happy with the results. The Gut Guard will be available soon.

Pan America Gut Guard Product Page

Euro-5 Yamaha 700 Tenere Gut Guard Skid Plate

Many of you know that the European 2021.5 T7 now has the Euro 5 emissions package. The catalytic convertor was moved from the footpeg area to about 10" from the cylinder head. This was done so the catalyst material heats up faster. The move means cleaner running bikes which is great but it means that none of the skid plates from the Euro 4 bikes fit.

We've designed a new skid plate to work with the Euro 5 header. We had to lengthen the skid plate moving it forward. On top of working with the new header pipe, you can now do an oil change without removing the skid plate. There are some other small changes too. The new plate will work with the Euro 4 bikes as well.

Like the V1.0 Gut Guard, they will be available in black and silver.

Camel ADV Yamaha 700 Tenere Euro 5 Gut Guard Skid Plate Camel ADV Yamaha 700 Tenere Euro 5 Gut Guard Skid PlateCamel ADV Yamaha 700 Tenere Euro 5 Gut Guard Skid Plate

KTM 790R vs Yamaha 700 Tenere

I'm lucky enough to have both the KTM 790R and Yamaha 700 Tenere. I can ride them back to back and compare them long-term.

I can't do a well-rounded comparison. I don't do nearly as much "ADV" riding as I'd like to. It's been almost 2 years since I loaded up with camping gear and was out on a backcountry overnighter or even rode on the highway for more than an hour. I'll tell you what I can though. They're different tools for different jobs. Riders need to be honest about what their needs really are. Everyone wants to ride like Chris Birch but how many people will be able to regardless of what bike they are on? 1%? 0.5%? Less?

Hard Fast Riding:
The 790R excels at going fast. It destroys the T7 in rough, open terrain. The 790R suspension is simply better. It's not very plush but when you really start pushing the bike, it starts to work really well. The T7 suspension can't compete and honestly, how could it? You have 790R with 240mm travel and 48mm forks with 25mm cartridges vs the T7 with 200mm travel and 43mm forks with 20mm cartridges. Even with a respring/revalve, the shorter stroke and smaller cartridges/pistons in the T7 forks will be the limiting factor. Even with a respring/revalve from a great tuner, I doubt you'd be able to get the T7 suspension even close to the level of the stock 790R. The T7 will work well for spirited rides for most people as long as you're not too heavy and the terrain isn't too rough. Riders who usually just buy a bike and ride it with totally stock suspension will be happy with the suspension of the stock T7 too. If you're the kind of rider that gets all or most of their bikes revalved/resprung, this one will be no different.

Slow Technical Riding:
For slow technical riding, I'll jump on the T7 over the 790R every time. The T7 is an f'n tractor, it's a gorilla, it just chugs along. The low-end torque this thing has is incredible. It is very confidence-inspiring off-road. This CP2 motor is perfect for this bike and the gearing is on point. The 790 has good mid-range and top-end power but the bottom end is lacking and it's geared tall. It requires a lot more clutching to ride the same technical terrain. I went down one tooth on the front and up 3 on the back of my 790 and now it's slightly more stall resistant than the T7... that's a huge gearing change. If you don't spend much time on the highway, then gearing the 790 will make a huge difference in its usability for technical. The T7 just works out of the crate.

Ergonomics:
790: I feel really cramped on the 790. The footpegs are quite far back so my feet are under my ass, feels sportbike like. The peg location is great once you're standing as you're a bit more stretched out and stable but for sitting, they are too far back. The sitting to standing transition is less than ideal. Even with the KTM PowerParts tall seat, moving up and down wrecks my knees over the course of a couple hours. The bars will feel low for most people. Over the past few years, my preferred bar height has come down a lot. I started with 4" bar risers on my first ADV bike and as I get better offroad, my bars have started coming down. The 790 bar position feels pretty good for me as is. The stock standing position works well for hard and fast offroad.

T7: The sitting position is excellent and comfortable for long days. The pegs are a few inches forward so I'm not nearly as cramped sitting. The bars are very tall, most people that have sat on my bike have assumed I've added risers. This creates a bit of an issue for me when standing as I don't have the same "base" as I do on the 790. I need to lower the bars a bit to find the sweet spot. The sitting standing transition is much better than the 790 for me YMMV. The forward location of the footpegs and tall bars means I'm standing taller and having to hold on to the bars harder which puts more strain on my shoulders, back and forearms. This bike is begging for Stegz Pegz. If you don't know what they are, Google them. They've been a game-changer for me offroad (on Japanese bikes anyway).

Electronics:
The T7 doesn't have traction control but I don't think it needs it... it makes good tractable power and doesn't seem to want to spin wildly. I do wish it had Offroad ABS though. I thought it was gimmicky when it came out a few years ago but I have grown to like it, a lot. I also wish the T7 would retain the ABS setting when you turn the key off and back on. It's annoying (and dangerous) when the ABS defaults back to ON when you're doing sketchy offroad riding, grab the brakes and get basically nothing as you are headed toward <insert something you don't want to hit, or ride off of>.

Misc:
The TFT display on the 790 beats the T7's Gameboy looking unit. That been said, my TFT was replaced under warranty for condensation in it after 1000km... and is leaking again so perhaps a waterproof Game Boy beats a leaking state-of-the-art TFT...

Wheels: I run tubes in everything I own so the 790R's tubeless isn't an asset to me. YMMV.

Wind protection: A draw, they are both m'eh for me @6'3"

Fuel Range:
The 790 carries 25% fuel more and the range seems to reflect that too.

The gas gauges suck on both of them. The 790 doesn't start to read until a 1/2 tank. That's not an issue with mine, literally, the gauge starts at 1/2 and goes from there. I assume this is because of the tank's very weird shape. It would be very difficult to get a float/sending unit to work with the shape. Even though you know the gauge starts at half (meaning the gauge showing 1/2 tank is actually 1/4), I'm, still adjusting to it... have run out of fuel twice.

The T7 has a full gauge but it's not very accurate. When it reads empty, mine still has 3/8 of a tank left, not helpful.... and, I don't want it to read full longer, you're not conning me into thinking the bike is way more efficient than it actually is! I wish someone would just build a gauge/float that was accurate. Full means full, half means half and empty means you're pushing. At least that way I can plan accordingly.

You'd think the T7 would feel much more top-heavy with the fuel all up top compared to the 790 being very low... somehow, it isn't that noticeable. I have a few ideas about how to actually measure it... that will be interesting to see that actual results.

Conclusion:
For BDR type rides, either will work but I'd be more comfortable on the T7... it's just an easier bike to ride. The 790R is a more race-type bike and needs to be ridden hard and fast to be truly appreciated. If I am going riding in the desert in Southern California or Nevada, I'll take the 790R. However, after I swap to top-shelf suspension on the T7, this will be closer to a draw.
If I'm riding nasty technical trails at home (that I really should be using my actual dirt bike for), the T7 would be my pick. But... after really gearing the 790R down and this gets closer too.

Yamaha will sell a PILE of T7s. I think it's the new KLR... I don't mean that in a negative way. It's an inexpensive bike that should be reliable (I haven't had any issues and I'm not seeing many online yet). It's a great beginner bike (my noob girlfriend has a deposit on one) but it appeals to experienced riders too. There's no new tech in it, just tried, tested and true parts. 

They are both great bikes but definitely have different target audiences (with a bunch of cross-over).

 

Yamaha T7: Welcoming the new girl

The early launch of the highly anticipated Yamaha 700 Tenere in Europe has many people in the rest of the world pretty unhappy. Seeing all the Europeans having fun on their new T7s while we have to sit on the sidelines and watch straight sucks. As an ADV enthusiast, this is not fun for me either but as a parts manufacturer, waiting a full year longer than my European competition is a whole different level of terrible.

We've had a deposit at our Canadian dealer of choice for 21 months already (placed Nov 2017 after the EICMA bike show) so we should be one of the first in the country to get a Canadian spec T7. That's cool and all but still quite unacceptable!

We enlisted a friend of a friend in Switzerland to order a Euro spec T7 as soon as the online ordering opened this spring. It was a bit unnerving to wire the full purchase amount to someone I'd never met before so he could go and buy the bike on my behalf. When I look at the chain of events, I could have just as easily lost all my $$$ on this deal. Anyway it's all worked out well so far (few snags but OK).

Camel ADV Yamaha Tenere 700 T7 #TenereTuesday

How did we get this Euro spec T7 into Canada? We applied for and received a special 12 month permit that allows businesses to temporarily import vehicles for things like exhibition, evaluation and testing, shooting of movies and TV shows etc. The catch with the permit is that after 12months, the vehicle has to be exported out of the country or crushed. Heartbreaking really. After a year of abuse, will it be worth enough to justify the paperwork drama and freight cost to ship it back to Europe, unlikely but time will tell.

Camel ADV Yamaha Tenere 700 T7 #TenereTuesday

For the next 11.5 months we'll be riding the wheels off this thing, seeing what we can break and what needs upgrading. We also plan on starting #TenereTuesday on our social media channels with new T7 content every Tuesday. If you haven't already, subscribe on Instragram, Facebook and YouTube so you don't miss out. There will be updates here as well as an FAQ section for the bike.

Camel ADV Yamaha Tenere 700 T7 #TenereTuesday

Camel ADV Yamaha Tenere 700 T7 #TenereTuesday

 

KTM 790 ADV-R One Finger Clutch

I've really put the 790 through the wringer, conquering terrain that I've been unable to on my previous ADV bikes. The 790 ADV-R really is a game changer bike. 

There are few stand out things that aren't quite where I'd like they to be though. The first is the bottom end torque. The 790 is rated at 94hp which is respectable but the power comes on at about 5000rpm... somewhere I rarely ride. This bike is a Ferrari, a thoroughbred and it really likes to rev. For the riding I do, I prefer a Turbo Diesel 1 ton truck to a sports car, not actually a Diesel of course but a bike with really good bottom end.

To get the 790 where I wanted it required a sprocket change to start. Simply dropping a single tooth on the front sprocket really made a noticeable change to the bottom end of the bike. 16T to a 15T, worth it!

The other thing I noticed right away was the clutch engagement was very digital; off/on. The friction zone is quite short and it makes riding in technical terrain harder than it really needs to be. Luckily, the 790 comes with a cable clutch so the clutch arm on the motor side is accessible and easily swapped.

I designed a new clutch arm that is 19mm (3/4") longer than the stock unit. This gives a better mechanical advantage (lighter clutch pull) and increases the friction zone by 60%(!). I also added a second hole half way better the original and the 19mm hole so you have 3 options to tune clutch engagement to your taste.

The Camel ADV One Finger Clutch:Camel ADV KTM 790 One Finger ClutchCamel ADV KTM 790 One Finger Clutch