YAMAHA XT600 (1990 - 2004) Review
At a glance
|Owners' reliability rating:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£220|
Overall ratingNext up: Ride & brakes
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 & brakesNext up: Engine
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.
EngineNext up: Reliability
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…
Reliability & build qualityNext up: Value
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…
Value vs rivalsNext up: Equipment
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
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.
|Engine type||Air-cooled 4v single, 5 gears|
|Frame type||Steel tube double cradle|
|Fuel capacity||15 litres|
|Front brake||Single 282mm disc|
|Rear brake||220mm disc|
|Front tyre size||90/90 x 21|
|Rear tyre size||120/90 x 17|
Mpg, costs & insurance
|Average fuel consumption||41 mpg|
|Annual road tax||£67|
|Annual service cost||£220|
9 of 17
How much to insure?
Top speed & performance
|Max power||45 bhp|
|Max torque||35.5 ft-lb|
|Top speed||100 mph|
|1/4 mile acceleration||14.3 secs|
|Tank range||120 miles|
Model history & versions
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.
Owners' reviews for the YAMAHA XT600 (1990 - 2004)
9 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.
Summary of owners' reviews
|Ride quality & brakes:|
|Reliability & build quality:|
|Value vs rivals:|
|Annual servicing cost:||£220|
Annual servicing cost: £150
What a brilliant bike Mr Yamaha built. I bought mine in Australia in 2009 when it had about 40k miles on the clock. I had a bit of an adventure and rode it back to sunny Sheffield, it took about 3 months and the bike was 100% reliable. The best feature for me was the reliability and the fuel consumption. I honestly can't think of any bad points about the bike and would recommend one to anyone. The bike also took me around Portugal and Spain on the many off road trails these countries have to offer, again, 100% reliable. Another trip, this time to Mongolia and back, was undertaken. My planning wasn't up to scratch but the trusty xt saw me through. On one occasion we did 48 hours in the saddle only stopping for fuel, another occasion we did 1000 miles in 22 hours, another 28 hour day saw the rear inner tube overheat and burst. The only thing that broke was a wire on the starter solonoid. The seat was acceptable during the 12k miles in 3 weeks. It now has 85k miles on the clock and uses oil now and again. It hasn't retired yet, its getting prepared for a trip around the Balkans later on this year.
Brakes are adequate for the performance of the bike, I can go hours before needing a break, not very comfortable with a heavy passenger'
Power delivery is quite soft and gentle, find it very hard to spin the back wheel up on wet roads. Its a big single, it suffers from high frequency vibrations. Fifth gear on this model is soft apparently, mine Whirrs in fifth but has never got any worse, sometimes gear changing can be vague.
Been remarkably reliable, however I do have trouble with cheap solonoids. Swing arm seized completely once, but that was soon sorted with a swing arm bearing replacement kit and a bit of powder coating. I used it through winters and do quite a bit of off roaring.
It's difficult to average annual running costs as I ride 1 or 2 others bikes as well'
Siracs and tourances suit the bikes performance. The Ventura bag on the back carrier has been great as have the 21 litre giving boxes. Fitted an acerbis 22l tank for the Mongolia trip, this had the effect of being in the saddle for hours on end as it may have taken 8 hours to do 250 miles, I have a tendency to just plod on without stopping for food or drinks.
Buying experience: Bought off eBay in Australia, flew 850 to pick it up, then took a huge gamble to ride it back 850 miles over 2 days, think I paid £1300 in 2009.
Great no nonsense bike!
Fantastic experience. It's new each-time ;)
From the days before compulsory daytime lights, fly-by-wire gimmicks and sky high prices to match the running costs: an honest to goodness reliable machine that you can work on with confidence. It's fun in a way that combines grins with a clean licence...once you've wiped the mud off it.
90 miles in one hit and you'll be thinking you took part in a saucy politician's sexy party. Sticking it on a motorway will make you feel you're doing a jump to light speed - in reverse. But then that's not the point of an XT. That's like asking Peter Stringfellow to front a women's rights group. The XT is about green lanes and fun trips around town and B-roads. It's about seeing over hedges and car roofs. It's about leaving traffic lights on one wheel.
Nice grunty thumper stands the test of time, and its simplicity makes it a joy to tinker with. Parts are still freely available and there's a wealth of help and support online. It packs all its efforts into a tiny rev range befitting its role in life.
Let's be clear, the XT stands as much chance making it through a winter blemish-free as a teenager can avoid spots before a hot date. But then you can fettle, spray and coax it through the miserable months relatively intact. Plus, if you're looking at one now, well that's answered the reliability question as its made it.
Service the XT yourself. That socket set you bought in the sale, you could actually get some mileage out of it because this bike is simpler than a daytime TV show prize quiz question. Plus, at around 60mpg (no idea where the MCN figure came from) you can enjoy the punishing seat for longer.
Speedo? Check. Rev counter? Check. Main beam, indicator and neutral lights? Big ticks to them too. What do you mean "where's the lap counter and atomic synchronised clock plus iOS interface?" It's a motorbike. There's an engine, wheels (2) and a seat as well. It may surprise many to discover that this is all you need. More basic than the Happy Shopper own label range - but at least two and a half times more satisfying.
Buying experience: Dealer. £1495.
good all around bike
crap front suspension for offroad
front brake...... well it just about works !!
pulls like a train offroad and zippy if you change exhaust and adjust carb
Annual servicing cost: £300
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 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 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.
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!
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.
I do all the servicing myself. Really easy and plenty of assistance on the net if you need it.
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.
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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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