It’s kind of ironic that Europe, which mostly has great roads, loves dual-purpose bikes like the Suzuki V-Strom and Yamaha TDM900 etc. But Australia, which has roads that, once you leave the major highways, get littered with pot-holes, humps and bumps and roughly patched sections, and nowhere (apart from the NT) where you can legally do more than 110kph, isn’t keen on the dual-purpose bikes; much preferring to buy full-on sports-bikes with firm suspension and seats like vinyl-covered planks. The “all-road” bikes should be much more popular than they are! Well, one man who has found how good these are – and who, not co-incidentally probably, comes from Europe – is Thierry, and he wrote to tell of his Yamaha TDM900. In 2007 I migrated to Australia from Mauritius. I had come from mono-cylinder type of motorbikes. My first real bike was a 20 year old Honda XL500R that I restored to almost new. I loved that bike, then I got myself a 2001 Suzuki XF 650 Freewind. I then started dirt ridding with a Honda XR 400 (great bike). The Suzuki XF 650 Freewind) was more like a road bike than a real dual purpose as there were lots of nice looking and fragile things bolted on. So after settling in (couple of months), I started feeling itchy because I did not have a ride, so I went to the local (and only) dealer in town (Sunbury, Vic) that happened to be a Yamaha dealer. I was looking for convenience in the beginning so I bought a Yamaha XT660R from them. (They are Honda now, by the way). The XT660 was a great bike but there was something missing and I did not know exactly why at the time. Then comes my uncle for a visit (who also likes to ride), so we plan a couple of days on the great ocean road, rent a bike for him (that happens to be a TDM900) and off we go. That's where I got the revelation, he was practically making circles around me and my XT and I had a hard time keeping up. The TDM looked very nice to me too (I know that some people dislike the looks). So that was it, as far as I am concerned, I had to get myself one of those. So I traded-in my XT for a beautiful black 2009 TDM900. I was impressed by that bike as I first sat on it: it's tall and quite big. I found the riding position a bit more aggressive than on the XT because I had to lean slightly forward to reach the handlebars. I am 179 cm tall but I can reach the ground with both feet easily. So there I was, ready to go, with that tremendous excitement everybody feels (I presume) when picking up a new bike. Turned the ignition on (lights on, needles to max deflection and back), engine stop switch to "ON" and a push on the grey start switch.What a sound, more like a V-twin than a parallel one. I remember feeling apprehensive about riding that big bike in Melbourne city for the first time, as I recall taking my friend's Kawasaki ZRX1200R for a little ride once and it was quite difficult for me to maneuver that bike around at slow speeds. Well, the apprehension vanished quickly as the TDM is very easy to ride. It's heavier (223 Kg with fuel and oil) than what I used to ride previously but feels extremely light. I reached home with a smile on my face that I couldn't erase for hours. After some more kms on the clock and few ad-ons (Barkbusters Storm handguards, AMHP Headlight Protectors and a Fenda Extenda for the front mud guard), I can honestly say that I am very satisfied with that bike. It looks and feels solid, the overall build quality is good. It handles extremely well, it has good power and torque (86HP & 88Nm respectively), more than I could ever use anyway, good fuel range; I can easily get between 350 and 400 kms per tank, (please bear in mind that I am a conservative rider). The brakes offer good stopping power and good feel. The front brake handle is adjustable (5 positions). The engine brake is very effective, I really enjoy that as I don't need to use the brakes excessively, specially on a road with lots of bends. The 6 speed gear box is smooth and easy to put in the right gear. At highway speeds in 6th gear you are cruising at 3500 RPM at 100 KPH and 3900 RPM at 110 KPH. The engine likes to be kept at or above 3000 RPM and is quiet, which I find actually comfortable on long rides. For those who like a bit more noise, there is a comprehensive selection of after market slip-on silencers. The suspensions are good at original setting but could be a little on the soft side when you push it a little, so I tuned them according to settings I found on the website http://bikes.no-ip.info/TDM900/ . They are as follows: Front Compression Damping - 3 Front Preload - 5 Rear Preload - 5 Rear Rebound Damping - 7 Rear Compression - 9 It works well for me and rear preload could be increased by a few clicks when carrying a pillion. (See my article on suspension adjustments regarding setting up to suit yourself. Elwyn.) Talking about pillion, he/she will be quite comfortable on board the TDM. I have no complaints about the Dunlop Sportmax tyres that came originally with the bike, they offer good grip and a comfortable ride. The seat is comfortable but after a couple of hundred kms starts to hurt my backside a bit so I'm planning to buy an Airhawk for long distance riding. The riding position is excellent, my back was hurting on the XT but not on the TDM even after a whole day in the saddle (I do regular stops of course). The half fairing and the windscreen do a good job as it keeps the wind away from the chest and neck area. There is also a good selection of luggage (original or after-market) that can be fitted to the TDM. As a conclusion, the TDM 900 is a very enjoyable motorbike that handles well, is comfortable, has got good range, good power, is reliable and solidly built. What more to ask? I enjoy it more every day I ride it. It's a motorbike that is not very popular in Australia and frankly, I don't understand why. Thanks Thierry. And no, I don’t understand why it isn’t more popular either! I've ridden a couple of these, and at one stage I was seriously thinking of buying one. Maybe after reading this, people will see what good bikes they are! You sound very happy with the bike, which is always great to see.
A little while after writing the article above, Thierry wrote in with details of a couple of additions he’d made to the bike. He said he was influenced by some articles on the web-site here; and he thought other readers might be interested in the additions. The first one is a pair of Oggy Knobbs for protection. It was not a priority at first as I wanted to purchase some kind of small carrying device, but when I saw it on your web-site, I thought that it would actually be a good investment. I had them fitted by the local motorcycle dealer as I do not have the necessary tools at home to do the job. The second one is of course a seat bag to carry the useful small stuff that I need on my rides. I don't really like to add pieces of metal to my bike so I was looking for an easy fit small but practical carrying device and after some research I found what I needed and that is the Ventura Imola seat bag. It is an expandable (14 – 22 litres) bag that fits on the pillion seat of my TDM (it is a universal fit kit). The bag comes with a securing pad (called Bra) that you attach to the pillion seat and then you just clip the bag on and off in a matter of seconds. Fitting and adjusting the “Bra” is relatively easy, it took me 10 minutes. I like this option because it does not change the looks of the bike frame and it can carry a substantial amount of items if used properly. You can easily fit a full face helmet in when the bag is deployed to its maximum capacity. When you don't need it, simply unclip it and the bike is back to its original shape. The material seems to be of good quality and solid. The Oggy Knobbs cost me $175.00 (including $10.00 for postage to Melbourne) through the Kenma website. The Ventura bag cost $120.00, and this time I purchased through Sunbury Honda as it saved me the 10 dollars of postage that I would have paid if I went through Kenma again. Thanks for the up-date, Thierry. The seat bag looks like a great idea - easily fitted and removed. Below are some photos of the new additions.
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