Updated: Feb 7, 2020
If there's two things I've learnt, don't make a new bike purchase based on reviews or glossy brochures, and don't decide until having the chance to ride the bike in both road and offroad conditions, seems pretty obvious but I think we've all done it at some stage.
I've been following the T7 closely, the bike just looks great and I was curious if it actually stacked up to all the hype.
I dropped in to S&P Motors in Bowral to have a good look at the bike, after talking with the dealer principal Peter Hogarth, I was stoked to learn this was a demo unit and he encouraged taking it out for a ride, not just around the block but on a decent ride.
I wanted to ride the bike over the types of terrain encountered on a typical Adventure ride, so I chose a mix from our BLITZ Routes.
The weekend ride covered sealed roads, gravel, backcountry dirt roads, the glorious twisties through Kangaroo Valley and private property single track near the coast.
The first thing I noticed was how light this bike feels, just moving it around the front of the dealership, laying it over and picking it up is a breeze.
Sitting on the bike, the ergo's are great, bar height, sweep and position were instantly natural, the controls are simple, dash and display were easy to see with an easy thumb toggle on the right switch block to chage basic info.
The seat to peg angle was spot on, although I'd probably like a slightly lower seat height just to get both feet flat on the ground, but that's about the only thing I'd think about changing from the standard 'feel'.
Out of the crate this bike is bloody good.
As a demo bike, the dealer adds a couple of Yamaha accessories, it had the Akro slip on, which looks and sounds great.
What I really liked was just how simple the bike is, there was no time wasted familiarising myself with controls, gadgets or fancy displays, it just felt like jumping on an old familar dirt bike in the shed and heading out for a ride.
On the road....
The bike was smooth, there was bugger all exhaust noise (even with the Akro) and the steering was sharp and gear changes were precise, the mirrors gave good rear view and the dash was clear to read. To be honest, the first 15 minutes seemed pretty boring, I thought it lacked character I guess.
Then it was onto a short gravel section, instant grin and the bike came to life, straight away it made sense, this bike was meant to be played with, not struggled with or manhandled to enjoy, so I stopped overthinking it's intentions or capabilities and just rode the bloody thing.
I quickly found myself chasing more sealed roads and hit the twisties, all I can say is FUN.
It steers like it's on rails and certainly not like a bike with a 21" front wheel.
After reading and watching a heap of comparisons between the T7 and other bikes like the Africa Twin, KTM790 etc, to me, this bike felt more like blending a WR450 with the 2019 Tiger and BMW850, just without any bulk.
Off Road (dirt and single tracks)....
This is where the T700 loves to be, as soon as you're up on the pegs the bike just wants to go, and just when you think you're revving that little twin, it laughs right back and just wants you to let the reigns out.
The steering is nuts, point it where you want to go and hold on, because it changes direction..FAST.
There's been a lot of talk about lack of suspension travel limiting the bike, out of the box it's pretty good, although it's lighter and a much different bike than my Africa Twin, the T7 suspension handled better everywhere, and I've thrown a few thousand dollars at the AT's fork and shock upgrades.
Be it wash outs, erossion mounds, sandy sections, trail trash or rocky trails it never clunked or banged, I didn't have any 'oh crap' moments waiting for the slam on obstacles and it didn't switch across the trail trying to throw me off. I could only imagine how good it'd feel with a revalve and springs to suit individual preferences.
The bike was free of luggage, I would like to throw 20 kilo's over the rear and see just how it performs.
The best part of riding the T7 in the bush is the ability to explore more places that I'd overlook on the Africa Twin or other big bikes, those side tracks and trails that can be a pain in the arse to turn the big bikes around if you get stuck aren't a problem on the T7.
Compared to the AT and other big bikes, the T7 is more like a trail bike with great road manners for the trip home on the slab after belting around the bush.
It's also a zippy little road bike.
After approximately 500kms, there's a heck of a lot to like about this bike and only a few niggles that I'd say weren't spot
The ABS wasn't predictable on road at all, with the back wheel locking up and sliding into corners more than a few times. I turned it off and never thought this bike needed it, the power and driveline works great without it.
Engine knocked more than I'd expect if gear choice wasn't spot on, the dealer is going to check into this further.
The dash vibrations were a little annoying, like the Africa Twin it seemed like the brace could be better, how it goes with a GPS hanging off it and hitting the Plenty Highway or other corrugated roads, who knows?
Lights, there's plenty of light on both low and high beam except there's a big black spot between the bike and where the light hits the road. So night riding around the twisties or in the bush could do with some extra candle power to fill the void.
Rear indicators kept popping out of the seal on corrugated roads.
Footpegs are too narrow.
All I'd do is add a GPS, Barkbuster Handguards, Pivot Pegz, a B&B Offroad bash plate, aux lighting, some light weight Enduristan luggage and ride it anywhere.
I'd look into extra fuel for long hauls too, I got 300kms from a tank.
Overall, the bike put a big grin on my face and it's really got it's own place in the market rather than competing with all the other bikes in the Adventure segment, damn, we're spoilt for choices.
Thanks to S&P Motors in Bowral NSW for making the bike available for the weekend.
S&P Motors are located at 64 Bowral Street, Bowral 2576
Drop in or give Leah a call and book a test ride for yourself, ph: 02 4862 1600
See you out there!
I'm not a pro rider, journalist or brand aficionado, this article is just my personal experience after a few days riding some of the roads, tracks and trails in the NSW Southern Highlands.