Test Yamaha DTM 850

Test, Yamaha TDM 850

Yamaha DTM 850

Heavily revised, the Yamaha TDM 850 should finally become a big winner five years after its market launch.

Some people have a particularly difficult time. Time and again they show what they are made of, relegating competitors to their places in rows, and yet their performance is always called into question again.

And all because they don’t look like the others. The first two years in particular were anything but a breeze for the visually very idiosyncratic Yamaha TDM 850. Despite multiple proven talents, including the good ride comfort, the powerful two-cylinder engine and the great brakes, a TDM was not so easy to get for the Yamaha dealers.

That should now be over for good. The ugly duckling was given an elaborate beauty treatment for 1996, and wherever you have been in the process of really leaning on, the Yamaha engineers also tackled some of the weaknesses that made life unnecessarily difficult for a TDM owner.

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Test Yamaha DTM 850

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Yamaha DTM 850

Yamaha is quite generous, because the test machine drives hard at the upper tolerance limit of what is permitted with a measured 85 hp.

Regardless of the additional power, the additional horsepower plays almost no role when driving. The driving performance determined is all at the level of previously tested TDM. In return, the new TDM was a little more economical with fuel than the first version, known as a drunkard. Around one liter less flowed through the two .38 carburettors, whose throttle valve sensor, in conjunction with the ignition, is supposed to ensure more effective combustion. However, an environmental award cannot be won with it, unfortunately the TDM lacks an effective exhaust gas cleaning system.

One of the most important points of criticism of the old TDM – and unfortunately it still is today – was a terrible load change jolt. No throttle, no matter how fine, can make you forget the hard, jerky transition from pushing to load. The smaller the gear selected, the worse the effects. Especially in tight turns, this jerk can cost your nerves. There is no trace of an elegant driving style, even with the most experienced corner scraper. This driving technique is called »poking around« in motorcyclist jargon.

The Japanese could also have made a little more effort to redesign the gear box. It is not enough to step up the individual gears a little closer and to dampen the loud switching noises by filling the frame and swing arm profiles with rubber elements. If the transmission was still working quite satisfactorily at the first driving presentation (issue 8/1996), the old weaknesses could be seen again on the current test machine. Gears that engage poorly – especially when changing from the first to the second – always require repeated pedaling.

But once you get used to such bad habits, the sporty two-cylinder can definitely become a friend for life. It pulls through cleanly from 2000 rpm, and in normal day-to-day operation rarely requires speeds on the edge of the red range. Thanks to two balancer shafts, the vibrations remain to an extent that can still be described as pleasant. If the pilot strictly adheres to the specifications of the rev counter, he will probably never be able to enjoy the full power of the TDM engine. On the redrawn dial, the red area stops at 8000 rpm. Unfortunately, the good piece is ahead of around 1000 rpm in this upper area, so that in truth only 7000 rpm is achieved. The peak performance is only available at 7500 rpm. The conflict of conscience is thus programmed: red or not red, that is the question here. Incidentally, a rev limiter was only found on the test machine behind the red area – Yamaha probably doesn’t see it that tight.

The same applies to the chassis as to the engine: TDM remains TDM. Even if the press documents speak of significant changes, not much of them can be seen on the street. Anyone who seriously wants to say that five millimeters less wheelbase makes a motorcycle noticeably more manageable. More important is the fact that the fork now has thicker stanchions. But even the two millimeters more do not make the TDM a stable athlete. Comfort was and will remain the strength of TDM. Like no other, the spring elements, which are still extremely soft, can cope with short waves and edges. Instead, the long-legged all-rounder rocks a little on long waves. Even the standard somewhat tighter damping cannot change that. The TDM is still not particularly suitable for pillion rides, possibly with luggage. Although the idea with the switchable spring on the central spring strut is extremely smart, the sensitive component cannot withstand increased loads and goes mercilessly on the block. Without a progressive lever reversal, there won’t be much that can be changed in the future.

The technicians did not have to change anything on the braking system. The front two panes were at the highest level from the very first hour. The conversion to new brake pads could therefore no longer bring any noticeable improvement. Even at the rear, the TDM can be delayed at any time without the annoying brake stamping occurring.

What the TDM still lacks is a main stand. For an all-rounder, as this jack of all trades wants to be, such a pillar would be a welcome aid, not only for chain maintenance. And while we’re on the road, the too softly padded bench should also be mentioned. What use is a larger tank, a relaxed seating position and a super comfortable chassis if the defenseless buttocks already feel the plastic under the upholstery after 100 kilometers.

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