The 2008 XT660Z Tenere is fitted with a 660cc, liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, SOHC, four-valve, single-cylinder engine, mated to a five-speed gearbox. The steel tube cradle chassis is all-new, and suspension components – aluminium swingarm with monoshock, and long-travel front forks – have been optimized for on- and off-road use. Dual-purpose tyres are used and the brakes are Brembo units – twin 298mm discs at the front and single 245mm disc at the back ensure that the bike has adequate stopping power. Together with the long-range 22-litre fuel tank, tall screen, and plush, well-padded seat, Long Way Round-style journeys shouldn’t be a problem on the XT660Z!
Brakes are twin 256mm discs up front and single 240mm disc at the back – ABS is optional. Suspension is Honda’s Pro-Link adjustable monoshock at the back and 41mm telescopic fork at the front. The rear wheel is a 17-inch units, while the 19-inch front makes the Transalp’s off-road intent clear.
The XChallenge runs 21-inch front and 18-inch rear wheels, wearing dirt-oriented tyres, and is the lighter of the two. The XCountry rides on 19-inch front and 17-inch rear wheels, shod with dual-purpose rubber. ABS, which the rider can switch off when it’s not needed, is available as an optional extra. The bikes’ suspension is tuned and fettled according to their positioning, and according to most road tests worldwide, both are capable machines in their own way.
Finally, for those who want something lighter, funkier, radical and even more off-road oriented – but something that’s only suitable for shorter journeys as compared with the XT660Z or the Transalp – there’s the 2008 KTM 690 Enduro. The bike is fitted with KTM’s 654cc, fuel-injected, single-cylinder ‘LC4’ engine, which makes 65bhp. The chassis is chrome-molybdenum tubular space frame, and the bike gets a one-piece, aluminium die-cast swingarm, and WP suspension components – 48mm USD fork at front, fully adjustable monoshock at the rear, with a Pro-Lever linkage system. As you’d expect, the bike has been optimized for outstanding off-road performance, but isn’t suitable for street use or longer-distance riding. For that, you'll want to check out the KTM 690 SMR.
Which one would we take? A GSX-R1000!! Er… okay, for its styling alone, we’d have the Yamaha XT660Z Tenere. And our choice is helped by the fact that its single-cylinder engine would be supremely reliable and the bike’s ergos look just right for that Long Way Round trip of our own…