I thought the idea of a motard would be great, and reading the description on Yamaha’s website makes it sound awesome! (See the end for a copy of the page)
I have it on loan for a day or so while the 2000 model ZZR-250 RMB is buying is in for a roadworthy. The bike is an excellent height for me - nearly too high in fact for me to comfortably stand on it in traffic. Considering I’m 6’9″ tall, that is quite an effort!
The riding position is very comfortable, with my arms bent at about 90 degrees and my back nearly straight. Under acceleration I have the urge to lean forward lest I be thrown from the bike because of the way the suspension shifts.
The handling takes a bit of getting used to, going from my normal heavy old ZZR-600 to what is effectively a trail bike which weighs half as much. It is very manoeuvrable due to the light weight, trailbike suspension and very wide handlebars.
I have not had a chance to really test the handling due to the fact I only have it for a short time - not to mention throwing a loaner bike around in peak hour highway traffic while it is raining probably should be avoided. The general feeling that I get of the bike is that it is well settled and useful on the road, tight tracks or on fire trails where sticky mud and traction are not an issue.
The engine is very different to what I have ridden with before. The smooth carby-fed inline four cylinder ZZR-600, the thumping SV-650’s V-Twin and the ZZR-250’s wheezy but rev-happy two cylinder inline engine all have different characteristics, but they are still sports bikes at the core. The XTX’s engine, with its single piston and small useful rev range is a totally different beast. It definitely lives up to the “thumper” moniker such engines receive, roaring during acceleration and sounding like a burbling Harley-Davidson when you back off.
Without a tachometer on the bike it is hard to tell what you are doing at any point in time, but the feeling through the seat is that if you fail to choose the right gear you are heading for rattly-stallsville on the low end and it runs out of puff on the top end. There is a relatively tight range in the middle that it is quite happy to cruise in and pull away from under normal riding conditions.
The controls are easy to find and use as one would expect, all the switches and buttons are in the normal places and easy to feel for when you are first on the bike. The gearbox is reassuringly smooth and accurate, never leaving one to question whether it went into the gear I wanted. The levers aren’t adjustable, which makes me think that riders with smaller hands could be left over-reaching ont hsi bike. Clutch actuation is smooth and light which is nice.
The brakes I am still deciding about. The front sports a big single 320mm disc with four Brembo aluminium pistons doing the grabbing, and the rear has a not-too-shabby 245mm rear single disc. There is no question that if I was to grab the brakes that the bike would stop quickly, but under road use it seems to require more than the usual two-finger grab to pull the bike up. I’m not sure if this is another case of the motard-road bike comparison but it makes me feel a little nervous grabbing so hard on the lever to pull myself up.
Obviously after an hour or so on the bike in traffic it’s never going to be the most exhaustive of reviews, but it certainly is an interesting bike. Easy to ride and a good height, with a complete minimum of features leaves the bike in the normal motard position. Good for those that haven’t got a ute and want to ride their bike to the trail or for a fun bike which covers a lot of simple bases.
For me though, I’m going to be happy to be back on the dedicated sports bikes 😉
Supermotard - the Yamaha way
The XTX’s 660cc liquid-cooled, 4-stroke single is built to last, but it’s also built to perform. It boasts a specially designed SOHC 4-valve cylinder head with high intake efficiency and a 10:1 compression ratio.
Inside the lightweight cylinder head, rocker arms with roller bearings are fitted (the first Yamaha motorcycle so fitted), reducing friction-related power loss (50% less than without bearings).
Inside that formidable cylinder lives a lightweight aluminium forged piston, with an anodised head surface treated to reduce oil consumption and increase heat resistance.
The aluminium XTX cylinder is ceramic composite plated to improve heat radiation and reduce oil consumption, while a cylinder skirt cutaway reduces pumping loss.
Throw in a light crankshaft for low reciprocating mass, and a return-less fuel injection system with 44m bigbore throttle bodies and you’re looking at a smooth, crisp delivery, instant grunt and an exhilarating mid-range when you need it.
A lot of lightweight dirt bikes might feel nervous on the road, but remember, this is your road bike that just happens to be your supermotard…
While the steering might be pleasantly quick, the strong, diamond frame and steel swing arm boasts plenty of torsional and lateral rigidity.
The lightweight 17-inch Excel front wheel carries a 320mm floating front disc gripped by four Brembo aluminium piston calipers, while a plush Kayaba shock with five step preload adjuster and beefy 43mm Paioli fork with generous 200mm travel cope easily with rough secondary roads.