YAMAHA XT600 (1990-2004) Review

Published: 24 November 2006

"About as straightforward, reliable and solid as an old school trail bike gets"

Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Riding

"About as straightforward, reliable and solid as an old school trail bike gets"

  • At a glance
  • 595cc  -  45 bhp
  • 41 mpg  -  120 miles range
  • Insurance group: 9 of 17
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  • High seat height (855mm)

Overall Rating 3 out of 5

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.

Ride Quality & Brakes 2 out of 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.

Engine 4 out of 5

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…

Build Quality & Reliability 3 out of 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…

Insurance, running costs & value 3 out of 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 – compare motorcycle insurance quotes now.

Equipment 1 out of 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.

Owners' Reviews

3 owners have reviewed their YAMAHA XT600 (1990-2004) and rated it in a number of areas. Read what they have to say and what they like and dislike about the bike below.

Review your YAMAHA XT600 (1990-2004)
Summary of Owners' Reviews
Overall Rating 4.3 out of 5
Ride Quality & Brakes 4.3 out of 5
Engine 4 out of 5
Build Quality & Reliability 4 out of 5
Value & Running Costs 4.7 out of 5
Equipment 3.3 out of 5
4 out of 5

20 August 2015 by Elblado

Jack of all trades master of none...and thats the way I like it. I purchased mine cheaply 2nd hand and it already had 45,000kms. It had been in storage for years and was running a little rough. I've since did a few maintenance jobs that were long... Read more overdue and it's running like new. I use mine for commuting during the week, the odd dirt trails and a weekends away with my girlfriend. I ditched the original exhaust for an arrow paris/dakar slip on, the true 'thumper' sound and a ferocious bark has emerged. It gave me noticeable performance improvements as well especially in the top revs. where it tended to die at around 4-4500rpm it's now got some extra puff. I've ridden this bike 600 kms in one day from Brisbane out through Western Queensland to Manar Park, I did 3 days on the trails and then rode home again.

Ride Quality & Brakes
3 out of 5
Ride quality is average but that's across all terrains! There are improvements you could make to make it better suited to one terrain or another but that takes away from the bikes real ability in that it will do it all. There are suspension changes, gearing changes, tyre choices etc that will take the bike one way or another. If I purchase a more dedicated road bike I'll set up the XT for more of the dirt roads. First thing to change is the sprokets, then add better progressive springs on the front and a new spring for the rear. The current standard setup is very soft and the gearing will allow me to tackle the open dirt trails around Brisbane (the gearing is not great for the tougher stuff) but also comfortably sit on 110kms hr on the highway for long periods.
Engine
4 out of 5
The engine is simple. It doesn't have a lot of power but can still be a blast to ride. I've ridden 2 up with luggage at 100kms/hr for a weekend away. It was a slug up some of the bigger hills around the Sunshine Coast hinterland near Kenilworth and didn't like to over take but it did the job and wasn't overly frustrating. The engine has now done 53,000kms and runs well. I'm thinking I will rebuild when the time comes and give it a new lease of life. But there's no signs of it going any time soon!
Build Quality & Reliability
3 out of 5
The plastic fairings around the tank are a bit flimsy. If you remove the tank and rest on the ground they are likely to crack over time. Simple fix is to replace the tank with an acerbis 23 litre which I'll do at some point...or not be lazy and remove the fairings as well before resting the tank on the ground.
Value & Running Costs
4 out of 5
I do all the servicing myself. Really easy and plenty of assistance on the net if you need it.
Equipment
3 out of 5
I went for michelin MT60s for tyres. Good all terrain choice for my use. I'd love a second set of wheels to fit dunlop 606's for weekend trails. The MT60s in mud are bit loose.
Buying experience

I bought the bike 2nd hand for $2000. I then put some time and about $300AUS to do a proper service and fix a few issues from it sitting unused for too long.

4 out of 5

Xt600E - Diehard All Year Bike

23 February 2012 by Anonymous

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... Read more 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 Dakar......you 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 xt@ocdracing.com

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
3 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
4 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
3 out of 5
-
5 out of 5

xt600e

20 July 2010 by al64

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... Read more sell them for something else more dramatic! mine a wolf in sheeps clothes is a proper alrounder

Ride Quality & Brakes
5 out of 5
-
Engine
5 out of 5
-
Build Quality & Reliability
5 out of 5
-
Value & Running Costs
5 out of 5
-
Equipment
4 out of 5
-
Read all 3 owners' reviews in full

Facts & Figures

Model info
Year introduced 1990
Year discontinued 2004
Original price -
Used price -
Warranty term (when new) Two year unlimited mileage
Running costs
Insurance group 9 of 17
Annual road tax £59
Annual service cost -
Performance
Max power 45 bhp
Max torque 35.5 ft-lb
Top speed 100 mph
1/4-mile acceleration 14.3 secs
Average fuel consumption 41 mpg
Tank range 120 miles
Specification
Engine size 595cc
Engine type Air-cooled 4v single, 5 gears
Frame type Steel tube double cradle
Fuel capacity 15 litres
Seat height 855mm
Bike weight 156kg
Front suspension None
Rear suspension Preload
Front brake Single 282mm disc
Rear brake 220mm disc
Front tyre size 90/90 x 21
Rear tyre size 120/90 x 17

History & Versions

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

None.

Photo Gallery

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  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Engine
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Side view
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Front view
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Engine
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Front view
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Top view
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Riding
  • Yamaha XT600E motorcycle review - Side view
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