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TDM 900 review

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' started by Stormtrooper, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. Thought I'd write down my thoughts on the TDM given info on these beasts can be a little hard to find. I do ramble a bit so you've been warned :D

    First up, the naming of this bike leaves a little to be desired. As letters, nothing to worry about but as you run them together, you can’t help but notice TeDiuM….. did the marketing department have a bad hangover when they approved this??

    Anyhoo, the Yammy is far from tedious. Read on :)

    Like many adventure/tourers its not all that pretty, its got the hulking shoulder look happening along with the slightly larger than usual front wheel – 18” on the Yammy. Its got a fairly narrow tail end, a huge shovel hanging off the back and a pretty comfy looking seat. In the flesh, you might even be inclined to think it’s a huge bike - I’d say its almost as big as the Triumph Tiger.

    Once you swing a leg over, you notice that whilst it sits quite high (I’m 178cm and I’m not quite flat footed), the bike is actually very light for all its bulk. With a 900cc engine you’d be thinking a dry weight of around 220 would be acceptable but it actually weighs in at a measly 193kg. This is about the same as the Wee Strom.

    The dashboard layout is pretty straight forward with an analogue tacho and temp gauge, digital speedo and fuel guage, and the usual range of lights. Yamaha has actually set up the bike so the rider can set the CO levels for each cylinder via the LCD display, as well as throttle response. Not sure if this is standard as this is my first fuel injected bike but I liked the idea. The rest of the controls are in the usual spots, although the mirrors are mounted on the handlebars instead of the bikini fairing which was a little disconcerting to start with.

    Here's where things start to get interesting. Turn the key, enjoy the site of the dials spinning up and press the start button and you start to get a better appreciation for the bike. Mine is running twin Staintune pipes, so not exactly standard but I can highly recommend the upgrade. The rumble when it fires up is beautiful. Being a V-Twin fan, I had thought nothing but a V-Twin would work for me but the parallel twin comes very, very close. With the baffles out, I think you could almost outdo any Harley you’d like to put beside it but unlike the Harley, there’s performance to match the noise.

    Once the engine is warm, a small twist of the throttle brings a bark from the exhaust that instantly brings a grin to the face. I’ve actually opted to keep the baffles in though as I like my neighbours… even still, the noise is a match for an SV650 running a Yoshi without the baffle.

    As you roll on the throttle and release the light clutch the bike moves off easily and your feet fall comfortably onto the pegs. The ride position is quite upright and the pegs are in a position you could stay in all day. If you need a change though, Yamaha have thoughtfully fitted some exhaust guards that double as somewhere to stick your heels when you’ve got the balls of your feet on the pegs. Means you’ve got very planted feet when it comes to the twisties.

    Gearshift is precise and smooth. 6 speeds are easy to work through, although I’d have to say 6th could do with some improvement – at 100kmh the bikes feels much happier in 5th.

    About this point, you notice one of the odd things about the TDM - the redline sits at 8,000rpm but peak power doesn't kick in till 7,500…. And as far as I’m aware, the rev limiter doesn’t stop you until 9k…. this doesn't tend to be much of a problem, given the engine capacity and torque you tend to sit around the 5k mark and don’t really need to move much off that. It will hustle with a roll of the throttle from anywhere around 3.5k so you can shift early if that’s your thing.

    The acceleration of the TDM can be very deceptive. Its easy to shift early, give it small amounts of throttle and get to 60 or 100 in a lazy manner, but you can also give it a big twist, hang off the handlebars as you’re thrown back and shift to second as you clear 80 in a couple of seconds. With a 0 -100 of around 4 seconds, its not superbike fast, but it is more than enough to have some fun.

    Out on the open road, the bike is very planted. It tips easily into corners, holds the line beautifully and allows you to power out of the exit from pretty much any gear. And after riding through some pretty blustery, windy conditions, I can confidently say the bike could handle pretty much any weather you would care to throw at it.

    Brakes are very good, with the front offering plenty of bite and lots of feedback. One or two fingers stops you equally well. Back brake is pretty good (although the brake pedal sticks out like dogs testicles) and when riding two up provides plenty of balance to the bike so you don’t bump helmets.

    And speaking of pillions, the bike handles 2-up very nicely. Comfy seat, plenty of room and the pegs are in a good position for the pillion to sit for a few hours at a time. My only complaint here is the default position for the pillion is quite close to the rider. Not really a problem if its your other half, but I’m not sure I’d want to get that cosy with one of my mates!

    All in all, I’m really happy with my TDM. It was blind luck that I came across it (was going to get a V-Strom but after a bikesales search for bikes priced 5 – 10k I stumbled upon this beauty). Yamaha haven’t really gone out of their way to push this bike as I’m guessing the superbikes are a more lucrative market but they really are one of the great unsung bikes. Comfortable for two up, beautiful handling and braking with fuel economy to match any 600cc bike – I’m getting 5 litres per hundred and that’s having fun with the throttle.

    The only things I’d say are negatives are the parallel twin tends to chug if you sit below 3k once you’re out of second gear (but keep it around 5k and the bike will keep you entertained :D ) and initially the bike is a little top heavy. First day of ownership and I nearly dropped it doing a low speed turn. Turned the handlebars full lock and the bike wanted to drop into the gap…. In that respect, I’d be inclined to say the bike is probably suited for taller riders.

    A great bike and well worth a look at if you can find one. Makes a nice compromise for touring, twisties, commuting and making the boss happy :)
  2. Nice write up mate. They were on my shopping list at one stage.
    Once again it prooves you dont need 150hp to get from A to B. 150 is good for getting from A to A :)
  3. Excellent review mate! I was very, very close to buying one a few months ago with the 4.9% finance. Didn't go through with it...
  4. Well, I guess they could have called it "iBike 9.00"...

    Why are these great bikes (TDM and Wee/Vee) made so ugly? Wouldn't they sell thousands more if they were more visually appealing? I don't get it.

    Great writeup.
  5. I think the ugly look is so when you drop it trying something inappropriate off road you don't really notice :)
  6. I like the 'ugly' look. It's kind of like appreciating a cow for what it is, as opposed to a stallion. ;)
  7. Very nice write-up - enjoyed!

    As for dual purpose bikes being ugly, it is my personal opinion that the v-strom simply developed the delightful design theme in the headlights of the gsx750f, which is one of the most delightful bikes available. No surprise that Honda is also looking to that theme...

    Ok, yeah, you're right, they're ugly!
  8. Hmmmm, interesting read.

    I rode the TRX850 for a couple of years, and the 270 degree crank gave it a unique "lumpy" feel and awesome sound with the staintunes. :grin:

    My workmate rides one (TDM), and his description and praises are similar to yours.

    I'm fond of parallel twins and will most likely hop back onto one soon enough. (BMW F800 ;))
  9. That was the attraction for me (the off road ability, not the ugly look). I've had mine a few weeks and taken it on some pretty rough dirt roads, some mud, sand, rutted dry clay flats, shallow creek crossing, up on the pegs picking through the saltbush to go around a washed out section of track. I'll often think to myself "wouldn't be doing this on an R1"....

    The bike is an absolute blast on graded gravel tracks :grin: :D

    On the way to those tracks is about 20km of twisty bitumen, rough in patches but the TDM is great fun through there too (the speed through the twisties is limited by my skill, not by the bike - I'd possibly be slower on an R1).

    So for me, it's just a great all round bike. Planning some long road trips which I am sure it will handle better than me, but also can't wait to get some dual purpose tyres on it and see where we can go....
  10. Appreciating a cow for what it is. A leather jacket and some rump steaks.