Driving report Yamaha TT 600 R
One still works
In its twentieth year of service, Yamaha’s field horse TT 600 is once again subjected to a fitness regimen and completely renovated. The result is called the TT 600 R.
The motto is back. Back to the original spirit of the TT, to virtues such as low weight, uncompromising off-road capability and simple and robust technology.
However, it was not Japanese engineers who took care of the implementation of the good intentions, but the Italian importer Belgarda was responsible for the TT 600 R, which was manufactured in Italy. Only the engine comes from Japan, the rest is entirely European. The Italians wanted to build the best TT that ever existed: it should be lighter, more manageable, stronger, and at the same time inexpensive to buy and maintain.
In order to achieve these goals, the four-year-old TT 600 S, the sportiest version in the range to date, had to be completely renovated. The Italians put the main focus on improving handling. By rotating the motor four degrees backwards, the new frame could be kept shorter and the steering head was made steeper from 62 to 63.7 degrees.
But it’s not just a sporty geometry that ensures good handling, a balanced weight distribution is also important. In order to concentrate the weight of the empty athlete, who weighs only 131 kilograms, in the center of the machine as much as possible, the suspension strut on its upper mount moved far forward. The oil tank has also been banned from its classic position in the frame tube behind the steering head and placed below the left rear frame strut. The fact that the oil volume could be increased by 0.5 to 2.6 liters is particularly positive from a thermal point of view.
In terms of the engine, however, the effort is limited. Except for a few changes, it corresponds to the familiar TT version. Only the diameter of the carburettor grew from 26 to 30 millimeters, the flywheel mass on the alternator was 600 grams lighter and the crankshaft 30 millimeters narrower. In addition, the Japanese donated a longer geared first gear to close the gap between the first two gear steps.
The southernmost tip of Sardinia offers the right backdrop for the standard large-tread tires Yamaha – endless kilometers of unpaved roads. The TT starts at the first step, immediately takes up the gas and surprises with an unusually courageous start even from low engine speeds. No more trace of the tired characteristics of the well-known TT engines, not even in the upper speed range. On the short road stage, the four-valve engine happily turns into the limiter in sixth gear.
After a few kilometers it gets serious. Steep driveways with loose ground alternate with sandy curve passages. Rocky ravines and gravel runs try to make life difficult for the TT. But it takes it easy, turns easily around slippery switchbacks, drifts through wide curves in a controlled manner and digests even the worst hits on the rocky sections.
It is particularly pleasing that, despite the respectable spring travel of 280 millimeters each, the seat height has been kept relatively low. This makes it easy to help out with your feet in tricky passages. The TT feels like a nimble 350 with the thump of a 600.
The only downer is the poor starting behavior when the engine is hot. It is only too easily slowed down because of the snappy rear brake. And if you are not lucky for the first time, you can step on the Kickstarter twenty times before the stew resumes its service. And that at 38 degrees in the shade – long live the electric starter.
Back to the positive things. The Paioli fork is fully adjustable, responds sensitively and won’t take even the hardest landings. The new rear suspension with Öhlins strut is in no way inferior to the fork. The new TT does not spoil the details either. The air filter can be changed in seconds thanks to quick-release fasteners, the engine guard is stable, and the rear frame, which is at risk of falling, is no longer welded on, but screwed on.
OWhether the TT 600 R can save all its virtues as far as Germany remains to be seen. Mitsui Germany cautiously speaks of 42 hp that should remain after the homologation, while the Italian demonstration machines have a good 45.
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