Yamaha`s 2014 Northern Safari looked set to

Yamaha`s 2014 Northern Safari looked set to
Words: Jock McLauchlan Photos: Geoff Osborne, Ollie Sharp
Super Safari
Yamaha’s 2014 Northern Safari looked
set to continue the adventure and
amazing riding of previous years. Jock
McLauchlan drew the long straw…
ropitious were the
circumstances”, to quote
the legendry Fred Dagg
- my childhood lifestyle mentor.
Yes indeed, the omens were
looking good. Ollie from Yamaha,
God bless him - and I’m not a
God-fearing man, had just rung
to confirm my spot on the 2014
Yamaha Great Northern Safari and
that he’d be providing a tricked-up
Super Tenere 1200 for the ride to
boot. Fantastic. Last year, for the
first time, I had ridden the Yamaha
Safari down on the west coast.
I had such an amazing ride, the
scenery, the terrain and even the
weather all conspired to make
the Yamaha-sponsored event
a real adventure. Then add in
excellent Britten family hospitality,
organisation, accommodation plus
awesome food and you have an
absolute ball-tearer of an occasion.
Even then I knew I would be riding
the 2014 Yamaha Safari, but I never
dreamt for a moment that this time
I would be riding it as a guest of
Happily, Yamaha let me pick up
the big ‘Super-ten’ a few days prior
to the Safari start. It’d been given
some bling too; a lighter muffler,
proper fat wall off-road handlebars
with risers, Barkbusters and
a solid alloy bash-plate. The
mechanics had also fitted sexy little
LED indicators and removed the
unnecessary, for this ride, pillion
seat and side covers.
I put the seat in the high position
and, together with the highermounted, MX-style bars I was
superbly comfortable both sitting
or standing. This meant I had a
magnificently set up bike for the
Safari conditions and it enabled
me to ride up to the event in the
Bay of Islands at Waitangi from
Auckland (with relief my ‘trailer
faggot’ t-shirt stayed in the
wardrobe on this occasion). For
the ride up, Vege (our Publisher)
had planned a route which took
in many gravel roads north of
the Mangaturoto area and so the
usual assortment of gnarled old
adventure riders departed from Vege’s rustic palace, plus Ben (the
Ed) on a BMW road bike. However,
not far into the gravel riding, the
mighty ‘Red Baron’, as Vege
likes to call his ageing GS BMW,
or ’Adolf’ as I prefer, developed
a drive issue and most of the
team returned to Auckland. The
rest of us pressed on to lunch at
Dargaville, from where I continued
on towards the Safari alone.
The Bay of Islands is a
stunningly beautiful area and the
Copthorne Resort and Hotel,
where the Yamaha Great Northern
Safari was to start, on the
foreshore just below the Waitangi
treaty grounds, is a little slice of
heaven. So, I got settled in, made
up my route sheets, had dinner
and chatted with other riders
before turning in for an early start
the next morning.
DAY ONE: 268km
On a gloriously crystal clear
morning I idled the Super Tenere
through Paihia, over to Opua,
jumped on the vehicle ferry to
Russell and then did a quick lap of
the main street past the Historic
Duke of Marlborough Hotel on
our way to The Farm. The roads
to there are twisty, well-surfaced
tarmac and the Tenere is really in
its element on this kind of road.
You just waft along on the massive
wave of torque the 1200cc parallel
twin delivers between 3500 and
4500rpm, short-shifting and
making indecent haste without
even having to try.
The Continental TKC80 knobbly
tyres fitted to the big Yam are
also superb in these conditions,
in some ways even better than
road tyres because they cope
with patches of loose gravel on
the tar-seal no problem at all. The
Farm was our first opportunity to
ride off-road. An easy, dry farm
track lead to a glorious view from
a grassy hill top and then down,
crossing the road for a more
advanced Enduro-style loop. This
section would have been quite a
challenge on the big Ten if wet,
but in the dry the big Yam loved
it. We even did a lap of the MX
track on the way out.
Excellent gravel roads then
lead to Kawakawa for a pee stop
at the famous Hunterwasser
toilets, then on to lunch at the
Oromahoe School. Well fed, I
rode on for a quick peek at the
historic Waimate (north) Mission
House, before riding on to more
grass (with rocks) farmland.
Then on through Upukurau and
Takakuri Stations on terrific
farm tracks. Forestry gravel and
dirt roads followed out to the
foreshore of Taipa Bay, then more
farmland with beautiful views out
over Doubtless Bay and Karikari.
Down off the hills we came,
over the main road where I
stopped for a look at a terrific
farm machinery museum (I’ve
never seen a Treadle metal-work
lathe before). More rolling grass
hill country riding out towards
Inland Road and the Karikari
Peninsula followed, which led to
the Carrington Peppers Resort
near Rangiputa. This resort is
absolutely stunning. Surrounded
by a lovely golf course (yes… I
Super Tenere is at home
on the road or trail
was very tempted to keep riding)
and magical coastal views, most
guests seem to helicopter in
and out, which gives you some
idea of the calibre of the place. I
parked up, had a swim then lazed
in the lounge bar with a G&T (ok,
two), soaking up the view and
atmosphere while I waited for the
banquet dinner.
DAY TWO: 363km
A big day on paper but in reality
most of the riding was open and
flowing, so the k’s just fell away.
A lovely breakfast installed, I
jumped on the Yamaha. In what
seemed like no time at all, we
had ridden down Tokerau Beach,
along a sandy/grassy/overgrown
track, through to Awanui where I
checked out a super-cool Kauri
staircase cut inside a single Kauri
Further down the road, a little
gravel and voilà, 90-mile beach
for my first ever visit. Now, guess
what I’m thinking…? I’m sitting on
an approximately 110hp Yamaha
adventure bike fitted with knobbly
tyres. Yes, that’s right, opening
the throttle and a slide or two
might be the order of the day.
Also, I wondered what the top
speed was on sand? In reality, I
was a bit of a wimp. I did a few
slides, but mainly idled along at
the 125/130km/h mark with one
short burst up to 175km/h. The
Tenere still had plenty left, but
with the odd spot of soft sand…
I didn’t.
Near the northern end of 90mile beach I rode past a dead
whale that had been washed
up. I was intrigued, another first,
then the smell got the better of
me. Leaving the beach I rode
up to Cape Reinga on the main
road, which was spectacular and
beautiful. Back down to Waitiki
Landing and, because I was early,
up to Spirits Bay and back, then
on to Te Hapua for lunch.
The afternoon ride had a mix
of tar seal, but mainly forestry
and gravel roads. Just prior to
the Kohukohu ferry crossing on
the Hokianga Harbour the gravel
roads were tight and twisty,
superb fun! While on the ferry
crossing, I noticed that the tyre
tread on the rear of the Super Ten
had almost disappeared. How
could this have happened, I asked
myself. Fortunately I knew it was
only a short distance from the
ferry to our overnight stay at the
lovely Copthorne Omapere, where
over night the tyre ‘healed’ and
grew back half its knob height.
Remarkable! Thanks Mike…
DAY THREE: 217km
At the top of the hill above
Omapere, I stopped and took a
photograph of the Tenere with the
delightful Hokianga Harbour in the
background. This was truly another
stunning place to over-night.
The road south took us to the
Waipoua forest and the aweinspiring Kauri tree Tane Mahuta,
always an absolutely magical
sight. The Waipoua forest road is a
fantastic road ride with awesome
fun turns and little traffic. A short
section of gravel took us up to
the forest lookout tower and more
magical views out to the west
Aranga Station Road and Farm
came shortly after - a very attractive
property. Mixed surface roads
lead to an old road near Donnelly’s
Crossing. The next 10km was the
highlight trail-wise of the whole
Safari. The long since disused,
overgrown road, very picturesque
with excellent single track, mud,
rocks and slips plus dropouts (one
massive, die of starvation before
you hit the bottom territory) to
traverse. Awesome fun and the
Ten lapped it all up. From there on,
All day touring comfort (good
screen, seat/handle bar/foot peg
layout). Seat is height adjustable.
Unified braking system with ABS,
luggage rack and tie down points
plus panniers available.
Twin cylinder, 270
degree crank
motor has with
excellent mid-range
Fully adjustable
front and rear. Rear
shock has a remote
preload adjuster.
Tough spoked,
tubeless aluminium rims.
fast, flowing gravel roads took us
to our lunch stop at Pioneer Village
Museum in Kaikohe.
The afternoon run had gravel,
farm races, a decent motorcross
track to circumnavigate, the site
where Jeremy Clarkson (of Top
Gear fame) crashed his car and, of
course, more amazing scenery.
Type: 1199cc, liquid-cooled,
DOHC, eight-valve, four-stroke
270° parallel twin
Bore x stroke: 98 x 79.5mm
Compression: 11.0:1
Power (claimed):
80.9 kW (108hp) @ 7250rpm
Torque (claimed):
114.1 Nm (84.2lbft) @ 6000rpm
Starter system: Electric
Ignition: Digital electronic
Fuelling: Electronic fuel injection
Clutch: Wet, multi-plate
Transmission: Six-speed, shaft
Frame: Tubular steel spine
Swing-arm: Cast aluminium
Suspension: Inverted telescopic
fork, compression and rebound
damping and spring preload
adjustment front; monoshock with
rebound damping and remote
spring preload adjustment rear
Brakes: ABS, 310mm twin discs,
four-piston calipers front; single
282mm disc, one-piston caliper
Wheels: Aluminium, spoked
Tyres: 110/80-19 front; 150/70-17
Seat height: 870mm
Wheelbase: 1540mm
Rake/trail: 28.0°/126mm
Weight (wet): 261kg
Fuel capacity: 23 litres
Price: $25,549 + on road costs
Contact: Yamaha New Zealand
Web: www.yamaha-motor.co.nz
The Historic Stone Store
followed soon after KeriKeri
and then it was back onto more
farmland riding on the coast
north of Waitangi. The next five
kilometres had possibly even more
picturesque sights over the Bay of
Islands than anything I had seen
over the previous few days. Hard to
believe, but I think so. That done,
I shot up to the pretty Haruru falls
for a peek, then back past the golf
course (more naughty urges) to the
Yamaha Safari finish at Copthorne
Waitangi. The three days had
brought 848km of spectacular
riding, magnificent food,
accommodation and scenery. Fancy this? Get yourself booked on
the next Yamaha Northern Safari
First up the Yamaha Super Tenere
1200 is absolutely capable and
awesome fun. Of all the bikes
there, I firmly believe I had the
best seat in the house. Thank
you very much to Mike, family
and team, for another fabulous
quick QUOTE
Yamaha Super Tenere $25,549
Monthly premium: $8342
Excess: $500
Yamaha Safari. I’ll be back
next year when the Yamaha
Safari goes to the Invercargill
area where at the final dinner
celebration a fine southern
man from that area promised
us a ‘root’ we would never
forget. Hmm, I’m sure he meant
‘route’ but with this particular
gentleman it was difficult to
say. Either way, if you have ever
thought about riding the Safari,
stop thinking and do it. The
event is the most unbelievable
fun. Finally to Ollie and Yamaha,
thank you, it was an honour and
a privilege.
For more information about
Yamaha’s adventure rides visit
www.adventurerides.co.nz or call
Mike Britton on 021 284 9047. ■
Genuinely capable both
on and offroad (for big
adventure bike);
Great all day touring comfort;
Decent fuel range
Fly by wire engine
management too intrusive at
low rev’s in lower gears;
Difficult to turn ABS off;
Small guy unfriendly
Cape Rienga stop off ‘up North’
Full Cover premium including AA Road
Service cover, Track Day cover, Helmet
cover, Keys and Locks, Completion
of Journey Costs, Legal Defence,
Salvage Costs. The quoted premium is
based on the following assumptions:
Experienced rider, over 25, living in the
North Island, correct Drivers Licence for
the Motorcycle, no claims or convictions
within the
last 5 years,
private use
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