All Tests – The first civilized supermotard – Used YAMAHA

The first civilized supermotard

All Tests - The first civilized supermotard - Used YAMAHA

In accordance with the initial trail philosophy, the Yamaha XT 660 wants to offer sensations and fun without the fuss, far from the sometimes sulphurous image of sports cars. Has she found the magic formula or is she just a bogus compromise ? Test.

XT: two mythical letters which not only designate a motorcycle, but are above all the symbol of the "trail" philosophy made of relaxation and freedom, far from the search for performance or identification with a tribe. The trail, inspired by English scramblers, is just as comfortable in the city as it is on the roads. Simple and reliable, it adapts to traffic jams around the corner as well as to trips to the end of the world.

When the first XT 500 appeared in 1976, the road motorcycle conveyed a rather rebellious image and the off-road motorcycle was still in its infancy. Substituting escape for rebellion, it sticks to the aspirations of the post-sixty-eight generation: success is immediate and will greatly contribute to Yamaha’s "cool" image.

The other Japanese manufacturers then rushed into this niche with the DR, XLS and other KLs. But Yamaha takes the concept to a new level with the XT 550, a more civilized model more suited to everyday and road use. Fatal error: the bikers dream then of escape and African tracks and the Paris Dakar is at the height of its glory … The manufacturer with three tuning forks corrects the situation with the XT 600Z Tenere, a replica of the prototypes of the Dakar which will be long lasting at the top of sales and will be emulated by the competition.

Paradoxically, bikers go to work with machines capable of crossing the Sahara: considered to be off-road motorcycles, trails have long benefited from very favorable insurance rates. But this situation changed in the early 90s and bikers suddenly rediscovered the virtues of the basic road bike with the Diversion, Suzuki Bandit and other Kawasaki Zephyrs..

Trails are no longer a dream and only their simplicity and their economy in use still retain the attention of some, especially as the practice of off-road motorcycles has become a matter for specialists. The XT 600 adopts a small tank and simplified equipment suitable for use now essentially urban. However, Yamaha remains faithful to the original concept by simultaneously presenting a final avatar of the Tenere: the XTZ 660. It is a more sophisticated motorcycle, typed big raid and equipped with a 5-valve engine. Dear, heavy and lacking in character, she will not be successful.

Meanwhile, the basic XT 600 continues its honorable career, supported by the new supermoto fashion: more and more trail owners are taking inspiration from this discipline to transform their machine. With a 17-inch front wheel, sport tires and a big front brake, you get at little cost an ideal "fun" machine in town or in small mountain regions..

However, when the Euro2 emission standards came into force in 2003, the category ran out of steam and Japanese manufacturers did not see too much interest in investing in the necessary upgrading of the often old engines that power these machines. Thus Suzuki did not hesitate to sacrifice its DR 650. But for Yamaha, the question is a little different: the XT is not only a model of the range, it is a myth carrying the founding values ​​of the brand! Marketing surveys quickly show that a majority of bikers want an evolution of the XT 600, but above all that they want a Supermotard version…

Yamaha therefore offers today, with the XT 660, an evolution of its favorite model, combining "modernism and tradition", now available in two versions: the traditional trail XT 660R and the supermoto XT 660X. It is of course this second version that commands attention, because it is the first "civilized" supermotard: until now, supermotards were magnificent machines but expensive and unsuitable for everyday use, like the KTM Duke or the Husqvarna SMR. This Yamaha attempts to reconcile the supermotard spirit, based on fun and performance, with the practicalities and reliability of a civilized motorcycle.

In accordance with the initial trail philosophy, the XT 660 aims to offer sensations and fun without the fuss, far from the now sulphurous image of sportswomen. So, has she found the magic bullet or is it just a bogus compromise ?

Modernity and tradition

The XT 660 is truly a new bike, although Yamaha has retained some typical XT features like the oil reservoir in the frame. The low engine is still from the 1983 XT 550: dry sump lubrication, one-piece connecting rod and assembled crankshaft, balance shaft driven by a pinion behind the crankshaft. It has undergone few upgrades over the years, apart from the adoption of an electric starter in 1986. This time it gets a lightweight alternator rotor – no luxury! – a separate clutch cover for easy maintenance and optimized gearbox control.

The novelties are at the level of the high engine: forged piston and composite ceramic cylinder instead of the traditional steel jacket. The distribution with single overhead camshaft and rockers in the cylinder head cover actuates four valves and not five as on the old XTZ 660. On the other hand, the cooling is always by liquid and the TCI ignition by induction (and not by CDI ). The big news is the adoption of injection with a 44 mm throttle body, and the exhaust catalyst to meet the Euro2 standard.

Exactly, the exhaust is original with two separate lines (one per valve) which pass under the engine and go up behind the driver‘s footrests. While this layout gives the bike a distinctive look and showcases both mufflers, it leaves the exhaust lines very exposed. Which does not seem very logical on a trail, but on a supermotard why not ?

All this does not save power or torque, which always come out respectively at 48 horsepower and 9.5 mkg. But Yamaha assures that the curves could be worked thanks to the injection to obtain an engine at the same time fuller and livelier..

On the chassis side, the frame is of the interrupted cradle type as on the legendary XT600Z. The engine therefore has a load-bearing function, but to improve overall rigidity, the backbone of the frame is split. So we almost have a steel perimeter frame and it is this that acts as an oil reservoir. The geometry of the frame is identical to the trail version, but with the small 17-inch wheel the caster angle is only 25 ° (instead of 28) and the bike is more loaded on the front.

For suspensions and brakes, the XT660X went to Italy to dress: Paioli 43mm fork, Brembo calipers. The front disc, which has a respectable diameter of 320 mm, is bitten by a double piston caliper fitted with aviation hose: Yamaha has not forgotten the distinctive signs of the Supermoto genre! The pneumatic ride is also generous, maybe too much: 120/60 at the front and 160/60 at the rear.

Finally, the practical aspects have not been forgotten: coded key immobilizer, projector with a complex surface, windscreen, storage space under the saddle (enough to place a U). However, Yamaha has renounced the luggage carrier, too utilitarian, while the tank offers a rather limited capacity of 15 liters. In the end, however, the dry weight is 173 kg, or about twenty kilos more than the old XT 600. A very disappointing result which makes fear the worst for the validity of the concept of civilized supermotard….

Easy and safe

The grip is very easy: the seat height is reasonable and the bike is very narrow at the seat and knees. With a rather forward stance and wide handlebars that fall well in the hand, the stance is definitely that of a supermoto. No difficulty in maneuvering at low speed: you do not feel the weight of the machine at all. So much so that it’s hard to believe this XT600X is so heavy !

The engine is also a good surprise. It vibrates little, but the exhausts let out a typical single-cylinder poum-poum quite pleasing. Above all, it does not knock or suffer jerks in low revs. The injection management is remarkable, especially as the engine revs with very little inertia. In these conditions, city traffic is a real pleasure. You squeeze into the smallest spaces and the instantaneous response of the engine allows you to escape the flood of cars at any time. Braking is powerful and progressive.

No doubt: this supermotard is really the prince of the city, especially since it also provides a certain comfort even if the instrumentation is reduced to its simplest expression: no water temperature, no account- towers…

It may come as a surprise, but it is true that a single cylinder primarily drives by ear. What is more annoying is that the digital dashboard is blocked by the front brake hose which passes just in front … Suffice to say that the information is practically unreadable, which is not very practical when you pass in front of it. a radar !

Direction Normandy, to see what beauty gives on real roads. On a portion of the motorway that is compulsory to leave the Paris region, the XT660X still surprises with the endurance of its engine, which is clearly a success. It is very easy to maintain a cruising speed of 150 km / h and the engine still keeps the extension if necessary. At these speeds we feel very little vibration in the feet and hands, which is rare for a mono. The bike is very stable even in strong side winds, which is rather surprising given the reduced head angle, and provides very good comfort in both the saddle and the suspensions. The only weak point is the protection of the small windscreen which becomes clearly insufficient above 140 km / h. But that’s not bad for a supermotard! Finally, the lighting is remarkable and there are even hazard lights, never seen on a motorcycle of this type. !

Comfortable in the city, efficient on the motorway, this bike already fulfills its utility role perfectly. What about on the road ?

For the ride but not for the race

From the first turns, we always appreciate the availability of the engine, well supported by an impeccable gearbox: the gear changes are smooth and fast, we are far from the traditional recalcitrant Yamaha gearboxes! When cornering, on a trickle of gas, sequential fuel injection produces a fairly pleasant gusting noise. Then it’s a real pleasure to go around and shift gears to come out of the turn with the boom of mono. Yamaha must also be congratulated for having continued to offer this type of engine despite the antipollution standards: the gromono is the basis of the motorcycle. !

In big curves, the neutrality and stability of the bike are surprising. Big road tires provide a lot more grip than trail tires and you can take impressive angles and put on really big gas. The handle will most often be in the corner. The fairly flexible suspensions absorb all the small unevenness but it will then be necessary to be wary of the coatings presenting large undulations. The bike then changes its attitude on the trajectory, which is not the most reassuring … The price to pay to benefit from a certain comfort, even if plane in big curves is not either. the vocation of this type of motorcycle !

When the curves tighten, the powerful, biting, but not brutal braking, both at the front and at the rear, helps. The rear brake, so often neglected by manufacturers and drivers, is particularly successful! Powerful and progressive, it allows the motorcycle to be placed well on its path. In the sequences, the weight of the bike is always forgotten and it is very difficult to believe that it is 173 kg !

In the tight twisty, the difficulties arise when you rock the bike frankly in the corners, supermoto style: the front tends to dip and you have to beware of a sudden loss of front wheel grip. Clearly, you should not rush it too much and drive more finesse. A real limit to the "civilized supermotard" concept, undoubtedly due to the association of a flexible fork with a reduced frame and very grippy tires, or to the mass transfers linked to the heavy weight of the machine. No, this XT660X is not a Duke or Husaberg killer! We could have suspected it, but purists risk blaming it for doing what should be its strong point … Even if, well conducted, it can keep up a very good pace, its strong point is elsewhere: providing pleasure to drive on small roads with a comfortable and easy machine in all circumstances. From this point of view, Yamaha fulfills its objective perfectly and we can consider long rides without fear of having a broken back and shattered buttocks..

But conversely, the XT600X is not always very practical. We especially regret the low capacity of the tank (only 15 liters) which allows only limited autonomy: on the motorway, the reserve warning light comes on after only 170 km … The position of the exhaust silencers is not no longer ideal for the legs of a possible passenger or for securing luggage. Because anyway, it will be necessary to choose between the passenger or the luggage !

Drive without worrying

As road trails get heavier and more expensive, and supermotards remain elite machines, Yamaha does not forget that there are fans of simple and fun motorcycles, more looking for simple pleasures than ultimate performance. Because if purists may be disappointed by the limits of this XT 660X in extreme use, others will appreciate the compromise offered: an excellent engine with a real gromono character (undoubtedly the best surprise of this test), in a efficient and comfortable cycle part. A motorbike that gives you confidence and allows you to connect the terminals with happiness.

Simply, don’t be fooled by appearances: the XT660X cultivates its very flattering race bike look, but above all it’s a machine made to ride without worry. Suddenly, it could have been a little more practical and from this point of view, one can wonder if its cousin trail, the XT 660R, is not finally more coherent: not much less effective on the road while keeping the ability to leave the bitumen, it also costs 800 euros less. Even if, question mouth, the XT 660X does not play in the same court !

Technical sheet (manufacturer data)
Type 4-stroke, 4-valve, liquid-cooled single cylinder
Displacement 659 cm3
Bore x Stroke 100 x 84 mm
Compression ratio 10 to 1
Lubrication Dry sump
Carburetion Injection, 44 mm throttle body
Ignition TCI
Getting started Electric
Gearbox 5 reports
Final drive Chain
1st reduction ratio 2,083
2ary reduction ratio 3,000
1st: 2,500
2nd: 1,625
3rd: 1150
4th: 0 909
5th: 0 769
Clutch Multi-disc in oil bath
Cycle part
Frame Diamond type stainless steel tubular frame
Front wheel travel 200 mm
Rear wheel travel 191 mm
Front tire 120 / 70-17
Rear tire 160 / 60-17
Front rim 17 x MT 3.50
Rear rim 17 x MT 4.25
Socket angle 25 °
Hunt 90.2 mm
Front suspension 43 mm fork
Suspension AR Monocross swingarm
Before 320 mm floating disc
Back 245 mm disc
Overall length 2131 mm
Overall width 860 mm
Overall height 1349 mm
Wheelbase 1,485 mm
Ground clearance 200 mm
Saddle height 875 mm
Dry weight 173 kg
Fuel tank capacity 15 liters (with 3.5 l reserve)
Oil tank capacity 2.9 liters
Max power 35.3 kW (48 hp) at 6,000 rpm
Max torque 58.4 Nm (5.95 kg / m) at 5,250 rpm
Commercial information
Colors Racing Red
Racing Blue
Price 6,860 euros

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