Yamaha Off Road Experience | Riding the Tenere 700 & WR250F off-road in Wales!

For those looking to brush up on their off-road ability, or just for a top day riding top trails in Wales, the Yamaha Off Road Experience is calling your name - with a sparkling new facility!

Yamaha Off Road Experience Alex on Tenere 700

With a brand new centre nestled within hundreds of acres of stunning trails & off-road routes in Wales, the Yamaha Off Road Experience has got a fresh lick of paint with a new main facility to tempt you in for an off-road day… which sounded perfect for Alex, so he suited up and headed over!

A day at the Experience centre promises tailored off-piste riding shaped to your ability, led by a team consisting of some of the best of the best enduro riders - including Rowan, Dylan & Geraint Jones - to help you brush up on your riding skills, or just enjoy a mega day out. 

The new facility is based near Llanidloes in Mid-Wales, boasting large changing areas for guys & girls complete with shower facilities, fresh enduro gear to borrow, and even a mini Yamaha dealership within!

Surrounded by the Cambrian Mountains, the encompassing land boasts the Jones’ own 300-acre farm, backing onto a vast 10,000-acre Hafren Forest & Sweet Lamb complex. Lots of room to play about, then.

Before we delve into how I got on, I’ll let you know a bit of background.

New Centre at the Yamaha Off-Road Experience

Though it may have a new facility, the Experience itself is by no means new. Geraint Jones, British Enduro champ, initially set up the experience centre as the Geraint Jones Enduro School, himself having experience running enduro-based training schools going back to the 80s.

Yamaha has supported the centre since 1994 (so quite literally as old as I am), and the centre is now in the capable hands of Geraint's sons, Rowan and Dylan - though you may still find Geraint riding along with you doing some coaching.

It’s a simply world-class site & setting, the brand new sparkling-new headquarters with trails running through the Cambrian mountains, complete with all of the trimmings. Plus it’s a true ‘rock up n ride’ place, you can borrow all the speciality off-road kit you’d need, plus the fuel, insurance, and bike ‘rental’ is all covered in the fee.

Whatever the weather, whatever your skill as a rider, you’re practically guaranteed top-level riding across forest roads, bogs and ruts, gravel paths and challenging ascents & descents over slate & mud trails.

Off-road courses on offer

When it comes to the courses available, there is a vast choice (all prices include use of the facilities, refreshments and tutoring).

  • The ‘Off-Road Experience’ is for those looking to try out off-roading on the Yamaha Enduro fleet, booked in for £230 on weekdays & £250 at weekends, or bring your own bike (doesn’t have to be Yamaha) for £100.
  • ‘Enduro Training' is for those with prior trail riding experience looking to further improve their skills, £420 over two days with a hire bike, or £180 on your own.
  • ‘1-2-1 Training’ is self-explanatory, really. From £400 with a hire bike, to £260 with your own bike.
  • If you fancy giving an adventure bike a go off-road, the ‘Tenere Experience Course’ is a 2-day affair, but you have the option of skipping day 1 and going for the slightly more advanced day 2 if you prefer. With hire Tenere included it’s £275 for both days, or £105 for day 2 only - on your own bike it’s £110 for both days, £60 for day 2 only. Note: this will book up quick.
  • ‘Adventure Bike Skills’ is for those perhaps planning a trip overland, looking to brush up on the multitude of skills you’ll need - or just wants to improve their riding. £270 with a hire bike, £100 with your own bike.
  • They’ll also arrange tailor-made courses for groups (motorcycle clubs, police forces, schools etc) who want to take on some professional off-road riding. 

Further details on the courses and requirements, and to book in, found on their website here.

Motorcycles to ride at the Yamaha Off Road Experience

My day at the centre was merely a taster of what is on offer, riding the WR250F in the morning, and the Yamaha Tenere 700 & Tenere World Raid in the afternoon - it’s fair to say I was seriously looking forward to this.

The full fleet on offer at the Yamaha Off Road Experience, as per their site, includes these Yamaha models:
The WR250F, WR450F, WR250R, TTR230, TTR125, & the Tenere 700.

Morning ride on the Yamaha WR250F

I’ll be first to say my experience with enduro bikes on proper trails is quite literally next to nothing - my younger days messing about on fields with questionable machinery is a far cry from this setting. Nevertheless, I was kitted up in a mixture of my own RST gear and some borrowed bits from YORE (lid, goggles, gloves, boots). 

Chokes set and engines rolling, we set off on the WR250F over to the nearby grassy farmlands and gravel trails. That was just the start, and as the Welsh rain made a natural appearance, we descended into the muddy forest trails and boggy wooded areas.

I’ve wanted to give a proper Enduro bike a go for a while - and I wasn’t surprised to find it’s way harder than you may think. Weighing in at just 115kg wet, the 250cc single revs high and pulls from low down - there's a button to reduce the power a bit, and whilst the power figures aren't officially published it felt like more than enough to work with. Smiles for miles.

So, working with a newfound respect for the MX riders shredding off-road and down the trails, I set off on my learning expedition. The coaches riding with you are extremely knowledgable, and as they lead you around the route they’ll pull up to point of a few tailored tips to improve your riding. I was told to work on my body positioning and working with the bike, to both make it easier to ride on challenging terrain and not tire myself out as quickly.

Primarily focusing on my positioning and keeping my weight forward on the bike, I was (trying to) straighten my legs and bend at the hips to stick my arse out - and upon doing that, it all instantly felt much easier. That’s what it’s all about; alongside having a top time, you’re there to learn from the best of the best and improve your riding ability off-road (which certainly helps on-road).

Now, I did have a brief excursion into the bushes as I followed a felled tree branch into some mud and onto the verge, but it was all good. As I say, a newfound respect for the MX riders who make it look far too easy…

So yeah, I learned that I’m a bit naff on one of these - but it’s addictively fun, and 250cc of dirt bike is a serious motorcycle in the right hands, and I just want to get better at it!

Afternoon ride on the Yamaha Tenere 700

After a sandwich and coffee for lunch, we were back at it - this time on the more familiar Tenere 700, plus the brand new Tenere 700 World Raid with its top-spec 43mm KYB suspension and off-road bias.

Our Tenere ride started with easy-going fire roads and wide, winding, slate trails. I’ve ridden with the CP2 platform before, but could instantly see why this adventurer is so revered by those that have been on it. The famed 689cc CP2 motor is fantastic to work with, and I was sure to flick into the off-road mode to let the rear wheel get put to full use with no ABS intervention.

Tackling some tougher trails, I naturally spent about 95% of the time standing up on the pegs, and it was a comfortable place to be. Far bigger than the WR250F from the morning, and much more suited to my 6’4” frame.

I swapped out to the Tenere World Raid, and wow, what a difference. I think it was a fresh arrival following the launch, and whilst the half & half road/trail hoops weren’t as suited for the riding we were doing, the suspension more than made up for that. 

You could throw the World Raid at practically anything on the trail, and it would just eat it up. It’s a bit larger in stature compared to the Tenere 700, in part thanks to the larger 23-litre tank, but it felt like you were just floating across the trails, regardless of what you were riding through. 

I was quite hesitant to let it go, to be honest. It genuinely felt night & day compared to the standard Tenere, though that’s no slouch off-road by any means.

We completed our ride through more forest trails and tracks and headed back to the centre. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the scenery and terrain in Wales are quite honestly second to none, in my mind.

Back to the centre

Yet again, as with all of the bike experiences you can opt to sample, your riding will improve immeasurably from the start of the day to the end of the day.

The Yamaha Off-Road Centre has been there for years, and it’s clear to see why. With the sparkling new facility that has only recently been completed, the centre has instantly elevated itself to what could be one of the best facilities in Europe, if not the world - and I felt a bit guilty about trudging through the new digs with mud from the trails!

Though only a taster of what is available at the brilliant Welsh facility, it was enough to see that thanks to the various course options on offer, you can be sure to get precisely what you’re after - be it a two-day off-road experience, Tenere skills ride, or pure Enduro training. 

Once you’ve completed a day at YORE, you feel like your journey with the team there has only just begun. They’d be more than happy to welcome return visitors for another chance to ride their exquisite trails.

So, an epic day riding in Wales, yet another huge reason to get out exploring the UK - and more specifically, the Welsh roads (though Welsh riders are probably happy for their hidden gems to remain just that… hidden). 

In the meantime, I had a 500-mile ride back home to look forward to atop the eternally comfortable Verity the Versys

Huge thanks to Yamaha & the guys and girls of Yamaha Off-Road Experience for a brilliant day out. It goes without saying I recommend getting yourself booked in.

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