Yamaha has really done it this time. They took a winning formula—electric starting on entry-level machines—and shrunk it, in the process hopping on the biggest unit sales segment, which to this point has been dominated by just one machine, the Honda CRF50. It has worked with the TT-R 125 and 90, now the 50. The electric starting is backed up with features like YZ styling, a low seat height, a three-speed semi automatic transmission, all coming in at a lower suggested MSRP than the Honda at $1149.Dirt Rider got the invite to Starwest Motocross park for a ride day on the minibike track. There were a lot of kids there to ride the bike (but it didn’t stop me from taking cuts in line) and I can tell you that pushing the button is about the best thing that can happen for the learning experience.When cold it takes just a bit of choke, operated through a handlebar lever, and it’s ready to ride. The transmission goes easily into gear in its up-up-up three-speed shifting. First gear is plenty low and won’t intimidate even a first timer. The power is very smooth but actually has a lot of torque. The bike is very resistant to stalling and the clutch is just about perfect for engaging and disengaging when it needs to. The bike revs out pretty good and can stay in a gear for a long time. It seems that Yamaha was relying on the torque as the gear spacing seemed pretty wide, most noticeable with adults on the bike. But even larger kids could get away with just riding in second gear.Beginner riders also liked riding only in second gear, as first was too low and required revving out the motor too much… I know this after talking to the one other kid who also had to sit in the corner for cutting in line. Funny how we were both lured off the bike when Yamaha representatives held out a bucket of candy.The chassis feels tight and definitely doesn’t have a cheap feel to it like a lot of the knock-off bikes do. It was even superior to the two-stroke Yamaha PW50, namely the fork. The TT-R feels like it is sprung a bit stiffer than the CRF and the suspension does a better job of damping out bumps, which is a good thing because the second thing kids learn after starting the bike is how to jump it.The bike reportedly handles great for the kids as none of them wanted to get off of it. For adults it is super cramped, but what else would you expect? The brakes worked just fine. And if learning slow is a key feature, there’s a throttle limiter to control just how much gas junior can give the bike.
The GYT-R Hop-UpYamaha also brought out some fully modified GYT-R TT-Rs and we took some laps on those, too. Modified with handlebar kits and top triple clamps, the riding position can grow with the young ones, or fit the kids-at-heart. There is also a taller seat with cushy foam available (really mushy foam). In the engine department there is a full 88cc kit availible; Yamaha has found this is the best size for power increase and durability—reportedly doubling the output. It ran really good without being too racey, giving the bike a big boost in torque and allowing it to pull gears easily without hesitation, even with heavy adults on the machine. It revs up at about the same speed but winds out farther and freer with the help of a pipe.In the strengthening department there is the footpeg bracket, footpegs and the aluminum brake pedal. There were a lot of cosmetic items on the bikes, from engine covers to graphics kits to make the bike look even faster. And for the heavier guys or kids who plan to jump the bike, there are heavier springs for the suspension. They make a noticeable difference, but they are not magic. The damping quality of the stock shock and fork need more than just springs to truly work on motocross-type obstacles.
Yamaha has a real winner on their hands largely due to the electric starter on a perfect kid bike. Though my dad used the old saying, “You can ride it when you can start it,”—like so many other fathers—this Yamaha will surely get kids riding quicker since starting is no longer a chore.The 2006 Yamaha TT-R50 and GYT-R accessories are available in dealers now… start thinking about Christmas!