Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Yamaha Super Tenere XT1200Z Ohlins YA 013 Rear Shock Absorber Review

Well after 1,000 miles of riding Mr T with the new Ohlins YA013 Rear Shock Absorber fitted and receiving a few enquiries from close friends like Jaxon who wrote:-

Hello my friend...

Jaxon here... When you have time I would like to know your thoughts on the new rear shock... How do you like it ? The major differences you feel ? Etc............. Any info I can read up on I would appreciate..

Thanks bud ! ~ Jaxon

I thought it would be appropriate to review just what differences have been achieved by  investing in the .......

It’s not the first time I have uprated the suspension on a Yamaha. My trust FJR1300 was treated to a new rear shock absorber at the 18,000 mile service which was done by Ernie at the FJ OwnersClub Workshop  in Wooton-under-Edge in Gloucestershire. I remember being astounded at the time by what a vast improvement the Nitron  rear shock absorber made, changing the handling characteristics so dramatically that the improvement was felt immediately.

Yamaha FJR1300 fitted with
Nitron Rear Shock Absorber

To be honest I’d forgotten all about that experience being well over 2 years ago but stumbling across a listing on eBay for the Ohlins YA013 Rear Shock Absorber unit made me think, “What if this has the same effect on the Super Tenere as the Nitron  had on the FJR1300?”.

The cost was a major factor  as £950 is a hell of a lot of money to be investing in something that is in essence “wasn’t broken”.  One of my many sayings includes the well-used phrase “If it isn’t broken don’t fix it” but this sentiment has one major floor. I would have moved on and not given the Ohlins listing another thought had it not been for when Mr T fell over in Reims with Ben sat on the back causing us to abort our ride to Monaco. I remember Blogging the incident at the time “Monaco or Bust”…… Bust it is then! After which Ben has always been very sceptical of remaining seated on Mr T when I fill up with fuel or leave him sat on Mr T whilst taking a photo. Now both Ben & Jeannie slide forward onto my seat to ensure a similar incident does not re-occur.

So having seen this amazingly beautiful piece of craftsmanship staring at me on eBay my mind sprang into action.

“I’m not happy about paying £950 & then having to get it fitted!” I thought to myself, I know my limitations and although I could have fitted it I’d still have want it checking by a professional.

“Right Raymondo, who springs to mind when the word Ohlins is mentioned?”

The answer is always the same, Kais in Atherton. These guys in my mind are without doubt fantastic when it comes to anything vaguely suspension orientated. When I needed to get Trinity’s Ohlins rear shock absorber refurbished Kais did an amazing job, not to mention the total strip, repair and rebuild of the front forks. As luck would have it I just happen to have their number firmly stored in my mobile.

"Trinity" Ben's Kawasaki ZXR750 L1
 fitted with Ohlins Rear Shock Absorber

“Hi, it’s Ray here, not sure if you remember me, you sorted Trinity out for me last year”

“Ay up Ray, how are you? Long-time no speak, of cause I remember Trinity, how’s she running”

“still parked in the garage, I’ll have to bring her over one day to get her set up………”

After a few minutes catching up it was down to the nitty gritty of the call……….

“George, I’m looking at a full Ohlins Rear Shock Absorber set up on eBay & wondered if a) you have them in stock, b) if not can you get hold of one for me & c) how much including fitting and set up is it going to cost me”?

“What make and model is your bike again Ray”

“Yamaha Super Tenere XT1200Z 2011”

“Right, leave it with me I’ll come straight back to you, give me 10 minutes” and with that he was gone.

True to his word George called me back 10 minutes later.

“Right Ray are you sat down, these are mega bucks mate!”

“I know I’ve seen the listing on eBay, hence the call”

“They are coming in at £949.95 including VAT!”

“Ouch! Same as price as this one then”

“Tell you what, hold the line a minute, ……. as you’ve had some work done with us before how does £900 sound fitted and set up?”


The rest is history, well Blogged actually .. “Mr T just got a whole lot more “Super”.

After fitting the Ohlins YA013 Rear Shock Absorber George showed me Mr T in the workshop, pressing down firmly on the seat, Mr T just rose straight back to his normal ride height and sat there totally undisturbed. No bounce, rebound nothing just a smooth levelling off of the seat.

Once outside, I refitted the panniers & mounted Mr T. I could feel how reassuringly firm but not in a hard sort of way, the rear of the bike felt. Riding away from Kais one thing struck me straight away, the overall height! First of all I thought George had put the seat back on at the higher setting but he hadn’t.  My feet were no longer sat flat on the ground, I was back on tip toes both sides.

Pulling away from the workshop over the rutted track that leads to the main road, not the main entrance but the short cut, I hasten to add, I could feel how planted Mr T felt straight away. There was no bouncing as before when I hit a deep rut, Mr T just sat there absorbing all the jolts, it was instantly noticeable how planted and reassuringly stable the whole bike felt.

As I pulled onto the road, I initially thought the bike was tipped forward a little, maybe this was just in my head but one thing is for certain, I almost over cooked the first right-hander due to the speed at which Mr T turned in. Wow! The whole bike felt different. It was if I was riding an R1 again, the steering was precise to the point of thinking, “is this really an XT1200Z?”.

Heading through Atherton towards the M6 I purposefully rode through every patch of rough surface I could find. Nothing, not even a twitch, “this is bloody amazing” I screamed at myself, “It’s fantastic”.

Pulling onto the M6 I opened Mr T up and just sat at a steady 70. Panniers fitted, one up, the whole bike just soaked everything up, I was astounded at what a difference this single piece of kit has made to my bike. Happy does not come close to how I felt then and more so now. 

Since fitting the Ohlins I have been to Wales, London, Derbyshire & around Manchester both with and without panniers, the difference in handling is immense. Cornering with & without the panniers, but especially without is just un-believable. Also my feet are back on the ground now the suspension has settled in. I have not touched any of the numerous adjustments which is a testament to the great work George did in setting the Ohlins up in the first place.

I have one very favourite bend which is the M6 – M62 intersection. Both Ben & I love this corner as it just begs to be ridden hard.

We pull off the M6 left, passing under the M62 so as you can imagine it is a full 360 degree turn. The road is two lanes that up until recently joined at the top just before it merges into the M62. Now however you can ride the whole curve and exit onto the M62 at the top in lane two.  The final 180 degrees is a gradual climb to bring you up to the height of the M62 that you have just ridden under. There is a 50 mph speed limit around the curve with most car drivers normally hold 40 mph and trucks considerably less.

My first run round through the bend came on my return from Wales, no panniers but with top-box full. I just banked over and held the 50 all the way through with my knee just cm from the roads surface.  Not a twitch from the front end, no wiggle as I’ve had in the past just a smooth curve. It was brilliant! I could quite as easily been riding at 70mph. The control was inspiring and I remember thinking “I wish I had an R1 motor in Mr T right now”. 

Sunday saw Jeannie & I heading to the National Arboretum Memorial from the annual Ride to the Wall,  RTTW 2012. This was the first time Jeannie has been on Mr T since the Ohlins was installed.

Mr T was fully loaded with panniers and top-box. The first thing I noticed straight away when Jeannie got on first and slid back onto the pillion seat was, no movement. The rear didn’t sink as it did normally causing me to hold the handlebars just in case it decides to go over again.

Riding through Rochdale Jeannie commented on just how smooth the ride was, as the road through Rochdale could do with some TLC that was proof enough the Ohlins was doing a great job. On the return leg some 200 miles later we approached my favourite M6 – M62 bend.

Tipping in I remember thinking just how safe and secure the Ohlins made me feel, this was followed by a rather long silence in my helmet. I’d been toying with a car for about 2 miles heading towards the junction and at the last minute the car driver had decided to go down the outside lane in order to get two cars in front of me. As we slid effortlessly around the bend in the outside lane at a fair pace I looked at the car drivers face some 60cm from my head. He shoot his eyes and shook his head as we rode past at a very impressive angle. (How come I never have my Go-Pro camera on at times like this?). The silence in my helmet told me everything, but the grin on my face was immense! Job Done!

So who needs an R1 when you can have a Super Tenere XT1200Z kitted out with an Ohlins YA013 Rear Shock Absorber and have twice as much fun. Mind I’d still love a “Pocket Rocket” if the truth be known.

If you’re thinking about upgrading the suspension on your XT1200Z my advice, for what it’s worth is, seriously consider the Ohlins YA013 Rear Shock Absorber. It’s changed my bike into something close to perfection. It’s money well spent in my eye’s plus if it means Ben & Jeannie are safer on the back then I’m happy .

Looking good Mr T
Handeling even better!


  1. Great report. Do the two brackets come with the Ohlins shock for the Super Tenere?

  2. Yes the two brackets do come with the kit.

  3. Hi George,

    I know they are two different bikes, but if you could compare the riding quality of the öhlins to that of the Nitron, what is you're favorite?
    And also what is you're favorite one in terns of durability and servicebility.

    Kr, Johan