super tenuous

i have always been into bikes, since i was a kid, even those times i haven’t owned one the feeling about them didn’t go away.

now i find myself without any money and desperate to have the kind of bike i have wanted for some time, but can’t afford.

what is it about bikes?
for me, its the freedom. freedom to think, freedom to feel, freedom to be.

in the world of fantasy bikes, this is what i would like


a ktm 990 adventure r.
my idea of the total adventure bike.
as of last year they stopped making them, however, there are numerous ones available second hand,  anywhere from £2700 on upto £10,000. now it doesn’t bother me how new it is, it just has to be in running condition. so anyone out there reading this, that has deep pockets, and an over abundance of charity, if you fancy buying me one, i wont stop you, i will be grateful as hell, and, very, very happy.

now back to reality. about six years ago, i was looking for a yamaha xtz750 super tenere, and a karate friend just happened to have one collecting dust in the back of his garage. well a couple a quid later and borrowing a friend’s bike trailer i had a very ratty 1990 version.

it wasn’t running, and i started by stripping down the carbs, and cleaning them, they were emulsified with petrol, and took some time. i made a few other repairs, and then ran out of time, as about 5 minutes later we moved out here to portugal, the bike was rolling but not running. for a moment i put it back together and got it running, but only when i bypassed the fuel pump, and dumped fuel directly into the carbs. the gaters that held the air box on had shrunk over the years and it just wouldn’t stay on.  it fired up and ran, even with the end can off, and sounded not unlike a ducati.

5 years later, and it had sat in one garage or another here, and nothing further had happened to it, as i couldn’t make the time to do anything, until about a month ago i had started watching a series of youtube videos on guys building cafe racers, and it occurred to me, why didn’t i build the all terrain weapon i was looking to ride?

a bit of research later, a visit to the super tenere net, etc and i found a list of recommended modifications to turn what was an adventure tourer bike of the 1990’s into a rallye raid ready tool.

so i started stripping the bike down.

s10 stripdown start

and this is what it looked like. a bit of a mess, though not possibly as bad as some that others have renovated.

s10 swining arm

s10  getting rid of stuff

and this is a pic of what i’d like it to look like when i’ve finished (this is the Yamaha team sonauto yze850)


or this


or this


ok, you can stop laughing now.

the last one is my current favorite.

how i’m looking at it is, (and i don’t have any other option but to look at things this way) if you can make one thing, you can make another, build one thing, build another, its just processes, get your head around doing something and you can do it. since being here in portugal i’ve built a bunch of things and in ways that i had little knowledge or experience of, and with this, i have some experience, mostly its just bolting on, ‘there are only so many places where it can go’ (this may become my new mantra) its not re-machining, or fabricating particularly, other than a bit of bracing to be welded to the frame, and currently its not tearing apart the engine. now where’s that jet engine? bi-plane anyone? this whole endeavor is in the spirit of burt munro

its going to need a complete and thorough overhaul, with a lot of the original parts not going back on.

here is a list of the intended parts i would like to put on in place of the o.e.m parts. well other than the engine, which at the moment i am planning on re-using, as it hasn’t done a huge amount of miles, and is just more money i don’t have to outlay, even if the suggested tdm 850, or 900 engine replacement is more powerful, therefore sexier.

Budget upgrade

Stock TDM850 (MK1) engine, using stock carbs running stock Tci (Cdi).
Silicon SFS hoses. £47
K&N stack air filters.   £32 x2
K&N pre-charger air filter covers. £27 x2
Yamaha YZ/WR USD fork stanchions.
Renthal/ modified stock USD yokes, reinforced USD alloy stem.
GPR v4 steering damper and mount. £380
Renthal Fatbars fitted with TDM850 throttle grip & HD (longer) throttle cables. £80
Renthal Kevlar throttle grips. £10
Acerbis Rally Pro hand guards. £60
Stock brake and clutch perch/res.
Stock XTZ/TDM handlebar switches.
HD braided stainless clutch cable. £90
HD braided stainless brake line with plated fittings. £90
Hel hydraulic brake light switches (front and rear). £
WR 320 supermoto calliper mount and floating Braking disc. £130
Touratech IMO
ERTF gps mount
Touratech RB roadbook holder.
Rally dash mount, (short mount). £
Sentinel &
Gps antenna mount.
First Aid Kit.
Electric/air horn. £10
Hella optic headlight case (oem fit) with HID H4 bulb kit.
LED side light bulbs.
LED indicator units.
LED WR style brake light.
Mild Steel 38mm header tubes with ceramic coating.
Carbon Fibre Harpoon exhaust can. £200
One piece loom with AMP Sureseal electrical connectors.
Bosch electric fuel pump. £20
Odyssey Gel battery
Eaton MB self reset fuses.
Excel 21″ front rim built on stock YZ hub with HD stainless steel spokes.
Excel 18″ rear rim built on stock XTZ hub with HD stainless steel spokes.
Michelin HD tubes front and rear. £200
Michelin Desert Tyres front and rear. £120
Rim lock fitted to rear tyre.
1″ Extended stock swing arm. £50
Renthal steel sprockets and 530 chain. £130
Alloy chain guard.
Alloy chain catcher with nylon liner.
WP rear shock and spring. £440
WP USD springs.
Reinforced main frame.
Dual side stand mount.
Yz foot rests. (relocated back 2”) (wide rests available from someone on s10net £28)
Alloy bash guard. £100
Fibreglass enduro yz style rear mudguard.
Fibreglass enduro front low mudguard.
Fibreglass stock replacement side panels.
Fibreglass one piece rally front fairing.
Fibreglass fuel tank (without locking fuel cap).
Fibreglass extended seat base.   (see s10 net advertising section) possibly $425 for the full fairing kit
Map pocket seat cover.

the pricing is just a guide. this is the budget version, and again, if anyone wants to buy me some parts, hint hint, boy would i be grateful. and thank you in advance. in the rare case you do want to buy me something off the list, you’ll need to make sure its a compatible part, as bikes are hideously specific when it comes to replacements.

why do i want a bike that’s rallye raid capable? well for more years than i can remember it has been a collective dream of mine and some of my friends to do a trans-saharan trip, like to timbuktu and back. ever since we came across chris scott’s first book on desert biking back in the early 1990’s,, shortly after the advent of the paris dakar rally.

even if it remains only a dream, and all i get to do is blast around the mountain tracks of portugal, that wouldn’t be so bad. the trails here are seemingly endless, and you could probably ride the length and breadth of the country without hitting tarmac, just following the mountain ranges, that would be one helluva experience, and a little less difficult to chew off.

part of the idea is about making something. there is a beauty in making your own, a beauty nothing shop bought can ever really match, because the thing you made has something of you in it.

back to the bike. having stripped it down, i’ve just got to get the engine out of the frame, whilst i locate someone who can bead or glass blast the frame and powder-coat it.

it was so heavily corroded, that whilst stripping it down, a number of bolts sheered off, including two of the header pipe bolts. these will have to be drilled out very carefully and the housings (threads) recut (tapped).

the idea behind building my own bike was largely financial. i couldn’t see any time in the foreseeable when i was going to have a wad of cash in my pocket that i could throw at a bike i wanted, however, i thought there was a greater possibility of being able, little by little, to acquire the parts, and bolt them on, no great outlay, and hopefully a complete bike for less than £2500 in parts. somebody described it as a diy ktm, which isn’t such a funny thing to say as ktm’s are made up of a lot of high end bolt on parts.

anyway, this is the start, and it fits with my mantra

buy less, make more.

This entry was posted in Blokey stuff, motorcycles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to super tenuous

  1. brother Mac says:


    Just found your blog and i’m enjoying it so far, thanks for sharing!

    I spent 3 years cycling around and loved it! I plan to do a dirt bike ride at some stage as well, I think building your own bike is such a cool project in itself, and everything learned will transfer to your future adventures on the road as well. There is something to be said i think between the intimate, sometimes mystical relationship between you, your bike and the road.

    Happy building!

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