Yamaha XT 600 Tenere – XT 660 Z Tenere – Brands, Myths and Engines


Yamaha XT 600 Tenere - XT 660 Z Tenere - Brands, Myths and Engines

Comparison test: Yamaha XT 600 Tenere / XT 660 Z Tenere

Generation comparison: brands, myths and engines

They quit their jobs, prematurely terminated their home loan and savings contracts, and only wanted one thing: away. Scattered all over the world, the adventurous wind faces dared the hot ride through deserts and savannas with the Yamaha Tenere. The best travel insurance here: the fat XT single-cylinder engine.

There it was, 1983. Painted white / red in a rally look, long spring travel, on top a mighty fuel barrel and in the middle the black painted four-valve engine with its brushed cooling fins. A gem! Before XT specialists (see www.xt600.de) raise their fingers: Yes, the engine actually made its debut a year earlier in the XT 550, a more sporty enduro with an identical engine design with a three-millimeter smaller bore.

With the XT 600 Tenere in 1983, Yamaha wanted to tackle the global motorcycle boom with heads. Especially since the brand with its two-valve half-liter twins XT 500 and SR 500 has celebrated terrific sales successes since 1976 and 1978 and sparked legends. The technicians clamped the robust four-valve engine into a chassis that, with high-quality spring elements and 255 or 235 millimeters of spring travel, knocked even hardcore crossers out of their boots.

Because Yamaha knows its way around hardcore crossers. The first Yamaha model YA-1 with a 125-cubic two-stroke engine, a cheeky copy of the DKW RT 125, won the legendary Asamo Highland Race in 1955, where a mixture of hill climb and dusty enduro competition was ridden on studded tires. In 1973, the Swede Håkan Andersson won the first of 26 motocross world championship titles for the Japanese motorcycle company, which was able to convince fans of coarse knobs and wide handlebars with scramblers and enduros from the DT series in the early 1970s.

S.o as with the Tenere 600. Made for all those who wanted to quench their curiosity about the big wide world, the desert ship came at exactly the right time, because not everyone could get a BMW R 80 G / S, which cost almost 9,000 marks, into the yard put. In contrast, the Tenere cost an affordable 6665 marks in 1983 from the friendly Yamaha dealer. The 44 hp were enough to whiz across the track at almost 150 km / h or to sprint quickly over passes and peaks while enjoying high alpine fun. Much more important, however, was the entire construction of the Yamaha, consisting of a robust chassis suitable for travel and the relatively economical and powerful engine.

If you have won the fight against the 95 millimeter piston – electric starters were frowned upon on enduros at the time – you are still happy today about the smooth and load change-free start of the XT engine. The trick: each of the two inlet valves, which do not open synchronously, but complement each other steplessly depending on the speed and throttle position, is supplied by a carburetor (IDYS, Yamaha Duo Intake System).

Within a very short time, the Tenere, together with the XT and TT models, became synonymous with reliability and robustness and became the best-selling motorcycle in Europe. Yamaha was once again firmly established in the enduro sector.

Which was dramatically jeopardized when the model was changed in 1986 out of negligence. Countless engine damage from overheating, sloppy workmanship, cheap components. The new Tenere – abbreviation: 1VJ – ruined the image like sand in the engine the pistons. Long-distance travelers had no choice but to revise the engine of the new ones and to eliminate the problem of leaking head gaskets with modified stud bolt threads.

Big appearance then in 1991: water-cooled, 660 cubic centimeters in size and with five valves, completely in line with the Yamaha philosophy, the modern XT-Z 660 did the honors. The 195 kilogram travel enduro was a high-flyer anyway, or perhaps because of it not. The elaborate five-valve cylinder head (see sketch on page 55) brought no advantage at all. Why, if the three valve disks stand in each other’s way in terms of flow and, despite theoretically larger free valve cross-sections, there is no better filling. The completely renovated engine put just 45 hp on the test bench. A value that conventional but cleverly designed four-valve engines easily trump. In 1998, the Tenere temporarily disappeared from the Yamaha range. The water-cooled five-valve engine installed at the time, however, continued to work in all XT-Z enduros (with a small tank), supermotos and the SZR 660 street sports car.

Long-legged, with a long range, at a moderate price – that’s how a Tenere goes with you through thick and thin to this day.

In the best tradition, even if – owing to modern times – with a higher weight and a new design, the Tenere 660 has been inspiring since 2008 with virtues that are revealed when you make off with it in a species-appropriate manner.

Measured just under 50 PS with a live weight of 215 kilograms, the pure paper form contrasts with crisp dynamism and agility. In the MOTORRAD comparative test in issue 9/2011, the Tenere was only the last of six enduro bikes in terms of points. That didn’t stop the passionate touring rider and MOTORRAD editor Markus Biebricher from courting the XT 660 Z Tenere with flaming enthusiasm. “Anything goes with the Yamaha. Motorway, passes, gravel, rough terrain – a great motorcycle and in the best tradition of the Ur-Tenere. “

Anyone who fights off the 1000-point rating and paved roads learns to appreciate the enormous range of almost 500 kilometers in connection with the economical injection engine much more than this advantage is expressed by the maximum 30 points. Of course, the colleagues from the test department are right when they classify the engine, which is basically 30 years old, as sluggish and in need of modernization.

But what does this point of criticism mean when the Yamaha climbs over the scree, pulls horse and rider out of the mud in all positions and, in combination with the well-balanced chassis, almost incites them to adventurous exploration of dilapidated paths? Like the original Tenere 1983, whose qualities unfold if you take them at their word: Tenere, which in the Tuareg language means something like “land out there”. And other things count “outside” than in the asphalt jungle.

Above all, an engine that does its job reliably, but does not do any capers. Like the good old XT engine. Even if it’s now called XT-Z and has swapped the chic cooling rib dress for a boring water jacket.



Great concept, not just for the desert: as much technology as necessary, as little as possible. Innovative double carburetor, helpful dry sump lubrication.

Yamaha XT 600 engine
At the beginning of the 1980s, the four-valve engine was the logical consequence of the successes and lively popularity of the XT 500, the modern grandmother of all four-stroke enduros. The compact motor housing with gear shafts positioned diagonally one above the other shortens the distance from the crankshaft and with the rocker arm mounted in the housing. This is the only way to create space for a well-balanced enduro with a compact center of gravity and a long rear swing arm. Behind the cylinder base, a balance shaft rotates in the opposite direction to the crankshaft, which keeps the inertia forces and thus vibrations in check. The engine oil of the dry sump lubrication is stored in an oil tank and supplies the pressure pump with lubricating oil even in extreme locations (steep slopes, lateral position after falls, etc.). In all four-valve XT engines, the extracted oil is channeled through a more or less efficient oil cooler to ensure that the engine is internally cooled. At that time state of the art: 6000 inspection intervals.

Yamaha XT 660 Z engine
Basically based on the single of the XT 550 from 1982, the Italian Yamaha partner Belgarda, who also builds the XT 660 Z, brought the antiquated OHC engine up to speed. It shares a stroke of 84 millimeters with the 600 forerunner, the bore alone grew by five to a full 100 millimeters. In contrast to the 600 series, the four valves are operated by low-friction roller rocker arms. The intake tract consists of a 50 millimeter throttle valve body. With 49 measured horsepower, the water-cooled injection engine presses four more horsepower than the five-valve 660 from 1994 (MOTORCYCLE measurements), despite stricter exhaust and noise levels. The 23-liter tank, ABS as standard and long 10,000 maintenance intervals are praiseworthy. Nevertheless, Yamaha urgently needs a new, technically up-to-date single-cylinder engine in order to build on (more) successful times with competitive sport enduros and travel machines.

Technical specifications

Yamaha XT 660 Z Tenere.

Yamaha XT 600 Tenere (1984) Yamaha XT 660 Z Tenere Type of engine air-cooled single cylinder four-stroke engine water-cooled single cylinder four-stroke engine
Mixture preparation Double carburetor, Ø 26 mm Injection, Ø 50 mm
coupling Multi-disc oil bath clutch Multi-disc oil bath clutch
transmission Five-speed Five-speed
Secondary drive O-ring chain O-ring chain
Bore x stroke 95.0 x 84.0 mm 100.0 x 84.0 mm
Displacement 595 cc 660 cc
compression 8.5: 1 10.0: 1
power 31.6 kW (43 hp) at 6500 rpm 35.3 kW (48 hp) at 6000 rpm
Torque 50 Nm at 5500 rpm 58 Nm at 5500 rpm
Weight with a full tank 171 kilograms 215 kilograms
Top speed 147 km / h 160 km / h
price 7220 marks (1984) 7595 euros

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *