Black Dog's Custom Tenere 700: Built To Explore The Back of Beyond – ADV Pulse

Yamaha’s Tenere 700 is a big hit in the adventure-bike market. The T7’s combination of all-road prowess, tractable engine, simple design, rally-inspired looks and accessible price have proved so popular that Yamaha has had trouble keeping up with demand. 
But no bike is perfect, of course, and the T7 has its weak points. Black Dog Cycle Works owner Kurt Forgét has a history of tweaking adventure and dual-sport bikes to address the stock shortcomings, and decided to do the same with his T7. After having the soft, stock suspension revalved and sprung for his weight by a local suspension tuner, Forgét went for upgrades to fuel and luggage capacity, protection, lighting and comfort. The result is a bike aimed at crushing backcountry discovery routes, one that can take big hits off-road without sacrificing comfort and safety on-road. In short, it’s the T7 optimized. Here’s how he did it: 
The T7 comes equipped from the factory with a skid plate, but Forgét didn’t think it was up to the task. “Our only question is how much faith do you want to put in that ‘aluminum foil’ stock skid plate to prevent you from damaging your motor and having to walk out of the backcountry?,” the BDCW website asks. 
Their version employs front and rear submounts to attach the skid plate to the frame, improving on what BDCW feels is a weak point in the stock system: the 6-millimeter mounting bolts that hold it in place. The 3/16-inch thick 5052 aluminum plate becomes a stressed member that provides added coverage for delicate bits like the header pipes, engine block and catalytic converter. And like the stock unit, it drops easily and quickly with the removal of four bolts for maintenance. It’s compatible with lower engine guards and works with portable trail stands so you can ditch the weight and cost of a center stand.  (MSRP $395)
Burly and minimalist, Hepco & Beckers engine guards protect the essentials in tip overs and crashes. Made with 1” stainless steel tubing, they’re tied together so loads are spread evenly instead of transferred directly to the frame and they bolt on without drilling. (MSRP $210)
You probably don’t want to know how much it would cost to replace those fancy stock LED headlights on your T7. And you probably don’t want to ride out of the woods at night with a flashlight taped to your handlebars to light the way. One way to avoid such nastiness is Puig’s Headlight Protector. Constructed of 3-millimeter-thick polycarbonate lens and steel brackets, it’s a simple, tough and nearly invisible way to keep the lights on. (MSRP $86)
Designed to pair with Fasst’s Flexx handlebars, these mount securely with a threaded insert in the bar end and button bolt at the pivot on the center attachment. The plastic shield is included. (MSRP $136)
BDCW noted the relatively small footpegs that come stock on the T7 and saw room for improvement. Their Traction Footpegs are 55 percent larger than stock and feature sharp teeth so boots can find better grip in wet and muddy conditions. If you need more, each set comes with screw-in spikes that help keep your feet planted. Having more surface area is like “power steering,” according to the BDCW website, and the added comfort of the larger platform means you can stand longer. The pegs also have wide spacing so they clear mud better than stock, and when you’re parked for the day there’s a handy bottle opener for your apres-ride beverage. (MSRP $249)
The T7 is a simple bike unfettered with endless menus, settings and geegaws, an attribute many appreciate until they take the bike on a long highway slog and realize how nice it would be to have cruise control. BDCW did the next best thing with their Throttle Control, a lock that lets you set the throttle with the click of a wheel and rest your right hand. You can adjust the speed with the unit engaged, and it’s easy to override when needed. (MSRP $160)
While the T7 is blessed with a smooth engine, the bars do get tingly in the upper rev range. Forgét addressed that with Fasst’s Flexx Adventure bars, which eliminate all metal-to-metal contact points between your hands and the upper triples. The bars use elastomer spacers, adjustable to suit each rider’s preference, to absorb vibes as well as big hits out on the trail. (MSRP $400)
Like other twin-cylinder adventure bikes, the T7 can be a handful when the going gets rough. A steering damper helps in the situations where you hit something on the trail you didn’t even see, preventing the bars from getting ripped out of your hands and the bike from doing things you’d rather it didn’t do.
Forgét installed BRP’s sub mount, which uses a stabilizer-under-bars (the SUB part) mount that raises the bars slightly for taller riders, and provides more room for accessories like GPS units or phone mounts while still allowing access to the stabilizer for adjustments. (MSRP $651)
Adventure riders want two seemingly incompatible characteristics in a tire: great grip in all conditions, and long tread life for continent-spanning rides. MotoZ’s answer is the Tractionator Adventure, a design that combines a deep tread for long life, self-sharpening edges on the blocks for grip throughout the tire’s life, and a strong carcass for overall durability. Many big-bike riders give them a thumbs-up for traction and wear. Overall, they complement the mission of Forgét T7 well: strong, durable and capable. (MSRP $370)
Yamaha T7 owners will immediately realize one thing about their stock setup: It is nearly impossible to carry anything on the back due to the shape of the tail section and the lack of attachment points. BDCW’s tail rack, dubbed the Helo Pad, is a stout choice. It’s made of 1/4 -inch aluminum with lots of perimeter holes for straps. It’s also pre-drilled to accept Rotopax fuel or water carriers and, because it’s mounted to the stock seat mechanism which is supported by the frame, can be removed in seconds if desired. (MSRP $289)
Forgét chose Hepco & Becker racks to boost luggage space beyond what the Helo Pad top rack can provide. The asymmetric racks are solidly bolted to the bike and will accept a variety of Hepco & Becker side cases, which are attached with a quick-release fastener, or soft luggage from many manufacturers. They’re rated for 10 kilograms (22 pounds) per side, which should be more than enough for most adventure rides. (MSRP $325)
T7 owners will also quickly realize that while the stock LED headlights look cool, they leave much to be desired. They’re good at lighting up what’s directly ahead of you, but if you’d like some inkling about where a turn is leading you, or what’s in the ditch by the side of the road, aftermarket lights are called for. BDCW’s 6-inch lightbar kit gives T7 riders a choice between two Rigid Industries offerings: a retina-frying 7,100-lumen package best used only in conjunction with the high-beam, or a DOT-approved 2,640-lumen set up that won’t blind oncoming traffic. This build used the more powerful 7,100-lumen light for maximum illumination off-road. Whichever you choose, this kit attaches under the headlight with a billet mount where it’s well protected in a fall. (MSRP $389)
In this day and age when people are paying less attention to the road, improving your visibility is more critical than ever. A set of auxiliary lights provide a more visible frontal profile, whereas a single headlight can blend into the background more easily. Ensuring they are DOT/SAE ‘road legal’ aux lights is also important if you want to use them on the street, day or night, without creating blinding glare for oncoming traffic. Black Dog’s DOT/SAE Fog Light Kit uses two 1,760-lumen, 3-inch Rigid Industries auxiliary lights, drawing just 22 watts each. Don’t let the “fog light” designation fool you though. They still offer excellent forward projection and mounting them low on the insides of the crash bars further illuminates shadows in ditches while keeping them protected in a fall. The included amber covers also help grab other motorists’ attention, improve impact protection and reduce reflected glare in foggy or dusty conditions. (MSRP $400)
The T7 may be sleek and modern, but the stock turn signals look like leftovers from an early incarnation of the TW200. Incandescent bulbs? Gasp. Forgét solved the ugly with a set of Cyclops’ multi-function LED signals. The latest version is plug-and-play for the T7, including a full-length wiring harness and covers to seal the giant holes left in the fairing when you remove the stockers. They can also serve as running- and brake-lights. Lots of T7 owners must be trying to pretty up their bikes because these are routinely sold out at Cyclops. (MSRP $60)
One of the best things about the T7’s parallel-twin engine is the way it sounds; thanks to the cross-plane crank design, it’s got a throaty burble even in stock form. Forgét pumped it up a notch with a Scorpion slip-on, which saves almost two kilograms (4.4 pounds) of weight and bumps engine power by a claimed 2.5 horsepower, and sounds really great in the process. (MSRP $560)
A durable soft luggage solution is a must for rugged adventure rides and Mosko’s Backcountry 35L Panniers are up to the task. Made of ballistic nylon and Hypalon for damage resistance on the outer shell, they use 100% waterproof bags on the inside to keep your gear dry. A roll-top closure provides easy access to personal items, while multiple compression straps let you cinch down gear tight when riding through the rough stuff. To expand capacity further, they feature molle grids for attaching accessories and come with a pair of quick-access, waterproof bolt-on pockets that are ideal for storage of tools, a fuel bottle or first aid kit. Mosko’s “puck” mounting system adapts to many pannier racks, and their “Speed Pin” attachment latches keep the bags securely on the bike. (MSRP $1,039)
For those who don’t like riding with a tank bag, a minimalist tank bag is a potential option. The Mosko Moto Pico tank bag is just 8 inches long, 5 inches wide and 3.5 inches tall, so it stays out of the way of your body movements when hustling down technical trails. Yet it has 1-liter of carrying capacity so it can conveniently store essential items you need quick access to during a trip like a wallet, phone, battery pack, chapstick, earplugs, and a few snacks. Plus it has a number of different holders and organizer straps inside to help keep smaller items from floating around. It’s also made of durable 1000D Nylon TPU-Coated material that is 100% waterproof. (MSRP $129)
The stock mirrors on the Tenere 700 won’t last long on the trail and sooner or later they will snap off or shatter. It’s a good idea to be proactive and replace them with something that can handle off-road abuse. DoubleTake Adventure Mirrors are a proven off-road upgrade, which allow you to fold them down out of the way while riding in technical terrain, and flip them back up when on smooth dirt roads or asphalt. They stay stable and lock in place at high speeds, while having the ability to absorb big impacts if you take a fall. They are virtually indestructible and attach directly to your handlebars via a ram mount. (MSRP $136
In stock form, the rear of the T7 is a mess. The license plate holder/mudguard/fender is a bulbous, gangly thing that looks as though it will snap off from even light off-road use. Here again, Forgét fixed the ugly, this time with T7 Rally’s slick Tail Tidy Kit. It’s a one-piece polymer design that works with stock or aftermarket turn signals, and it comes complete with all the connections, grommets and a license plate light. (MSRP $100)
With a light wrist, the T7 can deliver excellent fuel mileage. That’s a good thing because the stock tank only holds 4.2 gallons liters. Forgét didn’t want to have to worry about running out, so he added Safari’s 25 liter (six gallon) tank, which pushes range to around 280 miles off road, more if you are taking it easy. The tank uses the stock fuel pump and mounts, incorporates smoothly into the fairings and doesn’t change the overall feel of the bike. It’s an improvement that even Yamaha conceded was necessary, as evidenced by the recent unveiling of the T7 World Raid edition. With 6.1 gallons dual tanks. (MSRP $640)

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