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Yamaha XT600 Trail Motorbike Review

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Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Riding
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MCN overall verdict rating is 3

The Yamaha XT600E is about as straightforward, reliable and solid as an old school trail bike gets. The Yamaha XT600E was the last of a long line of 4-valve air-cooled Yamaha singles, starting off with the original, much-loved XT500 of the mid-70s. This is a true trailie: decent off-round and straightforward and ujn-fussy on. Don’t expect any frills or motorway plushness. But you won’t find a more honest workhorse than the Yamaha XT600E.


MCN rating rating is 4
Owners' rating rating is 4

Completely trustworthy and about as straightforward as motorcycle engines get. The world may now have moved on with liquid-cooling, fuel injection and multi-valve systems, but for honest, trustworthy poke you could drive across deserts, I know which I’d take. The Yamaha XT600E is limited (to about 90mph) as a road bike, though…

Ride and Handling

MCN rating rating is 2
Owners' rating rating is 5

The Yamaha XT600E is a trail bike first, road bike second – and it shows. Tyres are semi knobbly, suspension is soft, brakes are weedy (by road standards) and the seat is narrow and uncomfortable after middling distances. But there are no great suprises, either, and around town the Yamaha XT600E is fab.


MCN rating rating is 1
Owners' rating rating is 3.5

If the off-road world, less is more, and the Yamaha XT600E certainly lives up to that mantra. Instruments-wise there’s just one square speedo and a sprinkling of idiot lights, the Yamaha XT600E's switchgear is definitely on the basic side and there’s not much else worth speaking of.

Yamaha XT600E (1990-2004)

Detail Value
Engine size 595 cc
Power 45 bhp
Top speed 100 mph
Insurance group 9 of 17
  MCN ratings Owners' ratings
Overall rating is 3 rating is 4.5
Engine rating is 4 rating is 4
Ride & Handling rating is 2 rating is 5
Equipment rating is 1 rating is 3.5
Quality & Reliability rating is 3 rating is 4.5
Value rating is 3 rating is 5

Quality and Reliability

MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 4.5

The Yamaha XT600E definitely isn’t dripping in thick paint and lustrous chrome, but it’s rugged, durable and reliable – besides, all that shiny stuff never lasts long when riding on the much. No mechanical issues to speak of on the Yamaha XT600E, otherwise it’s a case of how well it’s been looked after…


MCN rating rating is 3
Owners' rating rating is 5

There are other basic trailies out there, but few (Honda XL perhaps apart) that are as proven or trusted as the Yamaha XT600E. There’s plenty to choose from, too, shich helps make it reasonable value and make it worth shopping around. Find a Yamaha XT600E for sale


Insurance group: 9 of 17

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Model History

1990: Yamaha XT600E launched.
1993: New footrest brackets and other minor detail changes for the Yamaha XT600E.
1995: Larger 15 litre fuel tank. New bodywork. New switchgear. New tachometer and other minor modifications. Uprated front disc brake.
2004: Yamaha XT600E discontinued.

Other Versions



Top speed 100 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 14.3 secs
Max power 45 bhp
Max torque 35.5 ft-lb
Weight 156 kg
Seat height 855 mm
Fuel capacity 15 litres
Average fuel consumption 41 mpg
Tank range 120 miles
Annual road tax
Insurance group 9 of 17
Engine size 595 cc
Engine specification Air-cooled 4v single, 5 gears
Frame Steel tube double cradle
Front suspension adjustment None
Rear suspension adjustment Preload
Front brakes Single 282mm disc
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 90/90 x 21
Rear tyre size 120/90 x 17

Owners' Overall Rating rating is 4(2 reviews)

  • Xt600E - Diehard All Year Bike


    Average rating rating is 4

    Show Details

    Ride and Handling
    Quality and Reliabilty

    I have owned my XT600e (2001) for 1 year now, the bike was bougth second hand with 22,000k on the clock. So far I have covered 15,000Km (9,300 miles Approx). Current K's 37,000 Today the bike has gone in for service - total parts needed: new brake discs and pads (front and back) oil filter + oil change air filter instrument lights (both popped during -14 winter riding) chain and sprokets, plus its time to have the valve clearence checked. THE GOOD............ This bike is a real work horse, it has never let me down and has survived a freezing winter, galons of rain and a blistererinlgy hot summer. I have owned all kinds of bikes from XL125V's, GSF's and CB900's and this is in my top 5 - riding this bike is easy, confidence building and good fun. It does exaclty what a big traile bike should do and if your a gravel man or a tarmac junkie the XT600 will tackle both with ease. Maintenance is low, just keep the bike clean and well oiled (engine and chain) and you'll have no problems. I have toured extensivly with this bike and with my 100 kilos plus luggage it still a beast and delivers good low and mid range power no matter the conditions. On one memorable occasion I did St Davids Pemborkeshire to Thetford Norfolk on B roads (500k) in the pouring rain with not even a moan or a grumble from the XT..................only from me. THE BAD........... Motorways can be a problem in Europe it will do the 120kph speed ( I even got my one up to 149kph) but overtakes need to be carefully planned, but anyway if your going touring why would you take the motorway anyway???? stick to B roads I say!!!. Vibration is everywhere on this bike but try to find a 600 sinlge that doesnt rattle....... after a bit of time you get used to it and when it gets to much you can always stand on the pegs. If its boiling hot and your stuck at a set of lights its a good idea to kill the power to the engine or it could over heat, but thats what you get with air cooled engines, I have the E model so a push of a button and im on my way again. Same appies to the K model as long as you dont mind kicking!! THE UGULY.......... Change the exhaust can, the original is a big and heavy and looks like it belongs on a Russian tank, I have fitted a Quill exhaust and the performance / sound is greatly improved!! Protection, the hand guards are made from soft plastic this may stop the odd bug from hitting your hands but in the event of an off they will do little to help you, I have fitted some Acerbis hand guards they look just the job and are practical too. Headlight, I changed the factory standard bulb to a Philips Super F***king bright one, it makes the differnce between seeing and being seen on those dark winter mornings. Rust..... change the header pipes for stainless the originals look like they are made from old bean cans and the salt just eats them away, this is the next change on my list, as are a 23ltr Acerbis tank and CRD sump guard. All in all... whether your looking for you first bike, a good commuter or the bike that will get you to Mongolia via cant go wrong with an XT600, Oh and one last thing..........heated grips are a god send!!! Hope this review helps any questions about the bike and you can e-mail me at

    23 February 2012

  • xt600e


    Average rating rating is 4.5

    Show Details

    Ride and Handling
    Quality and Reliabilty

    one of the best going cant fault it .ive had mine for 2 years and its a joy to ride. doint take my word for it see the reviews on the net.people seem to buy all these big bikes that can do this that and the other ? keep them for a year or so then sell them for something else more dramatic! mine a wolf in sheeps clothes is a proper alrounder

    20 July 2010


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