Yamaha XT660R: Review

From the Archives, originally published: 13th January 2008

The Yamaha XT660R, and it’s supermoto sister the XT660X were released in 2004. The model reviewed here is a 2006 model I bought and registered in May 2007. 

Steven Cholerton

The XT660R is not a real ‘offroad’ bike. It is too heavy and unwieldy to be your first choice if you need to regularly hustle quickly through severe terrain. Having said that it is more than capable of tackling green lanes and gravel roads. In fact I think it would be the perfect bike for some overland expeditions due in no small part to its simplicity, comfort and reasonable build quality.
 
In my eyes the ‘offroad’ styling is also very attractive and looks a lot meaner and meatier than many bikes, it’s more Mad Max than World Superbike but all the better for it in my opinion. Not everybody is a fan of the styling but in my eyes, especially on the model shown, with some additional modifications fitted, it looks great.
 
Where this bike excels is as a day to day bike for commuting and generally having fun. It features a single cylinder engine which although only giving around 45 bhp, is very torquey and capable of propelling the bike up the motorway autobahn at an indicated 110 mph.

Steven Cholerton

On the motorway with the standard screen it is hard work at anything over 80 mph. The addition of a larger screen and hand-guards makes it much more bearable at speed and in wet weather conditions. 
 
Being a big single it does vibrate quite considerably but this is only really noticeable on longer trips and I don’t find it unacceptable.
 
The seat is high and the riding position is very upright giving a commanding view of the road. Even with my 6ft and 200 lbs this bike still feels quite large and comfortable, and although the seat can feel slightly hard after 50 miles or so, I have easily completed several 330 mile runs, only stopping twice for fuel.
 

Steven Cholerton

The bike shown averages around 57 mpg and around 120 miles can be done before the fuel light comes on and the digital display starts counting up the miles you are doing on your reserve fuel. Approximately another gallon is available after the fuel light comes on.
 
The instrument cluster is pretty good, especially for this type of bike, and features two trip counters as well as a digital speedometer, a clock and all the appropriate warning lights. What would be nice is a rev counter and gear indicator, it’s probably just me but I often find myself trying to kick it up into a higher gear, even when running in top !

Steven Cholerton

The single biggest fault of this bike is the low speed fuelling. At low speeds around town the throttle is very much either on or off and a lot of clutch slipping can be necessary to make smooth progress. Wet roundabouts are not much fun either. This is a well documented fault with this model and the guys and gals on www.xt660.com have come up with some simple modifications that can help with this problem. Ultimately though I think it is necessary to invest in a Power Commander and some dyno time to cure this properly.
 
Speaking of the www.xt660.com forum, this is a great, informative, international and high volume forum that is almost worth buying an XT for. Highly recommended for anyone who has either of the XT660 models.

In my opinion another area in which the XT660R suffers is the front brake. This uses standard rubber hoses mated to a single disc. It seems to stop ok although the brakes are not at all re-assuring, with a lot of lever movement and suspension that seems to sink to the floor with only the slightest pressure on the brakes, no kidding this suspension is softer than a blind man in a porn shop.

If the front suspension wasn’t so weak then the brakes would not feel so bad. Braided Hoses, decent pads and upgraded front suspension is on my list of upgrades as the bike is so much fun to ride that not having confidence in it’s stopping abilities is a bit of a downer.

Steven Cholerton

The bike is a lot of fun to ride. The high position, wide bars and responsive motor mean that it is difficult not to thrash it point to point, especially on the nice bendy B roads that are so often seen in Derbyshire. The suspension means that it will handle the worse roads without too much trouble and as long as you don’t expect sports bike cornering abilities you will have a whole lot of fun 

@stevechol