Yamaha TT-R110E Review
The motorcyclists of tomorrow are the young dirt bike riders of today, and the Yamaha TT-R110E off-road motorcycle presents all the features needed to get a rider off on the right foot.
First off, the ergonomics of the Yamaha fit our 4′ 6" test rider Shaun Merritt perfectly. With a seat height of 26.4 inches, the Yamaha TT-R110E is a much shorter bike than the "L" version of the TT-R110 bike (which has larger wheels) or the Honda CRF100F (a bike that is actually in a completely different class). The only other current bike in this size range is the standard Kawasaki KLX110 (and there’s a big wheel version of that model, too).
At this point, let me reiterate my standard kid’s bike safety mantra: do not buy a motorcycle and expect the rider to "grow into it." If it’s too big on day one, it is too big. Get a smaller bike, and then replace it with the larger bike once the youngster has grown into it.
Next, the Yamaha TT-R110E has an electric starter. Yes, I was born in the days of kicking and kicking and kicking (sometimes) until the bike fired up. No, I don’t think that was a character builder. All it did was create frustration. None of us want to start our cars with a crank, so there is nothing wrong with starting a motorcycle with a starter button. Ultimately, if the youngster cannot get the bike fired up, it falls to a nearby adult to do the kicking, so we’re really helping ourselves. If you like, you can always disconnect the TT-R’s battery and rely on the kickstarter exclusively.
To get things moving, there’s an automatic clutch on the Yamaha. The young rider still shifts between the four ratios with his left foot (neutral is at the bottom of the pattern), but the centrifugal clutch eases the process of learning the proper use of a transmission. For new riders, of course, this greatly simplifies the process of getting going. Just turn the Yamaha TT-R’s throttle and off you go in first. Let the new rider cruise around in first, and then you can introduce the idea of shifting up.
The power created by the short-stroke Yamaha TT-R110E is perfect. It does not rev quickly, but if you do rev it out, decent power is to be had. Torque is king for a new rider, and the good pull from the little air-cooled, two-valve, SOHC motor makes it extremely useful. A rider can poke along at walking pace without concern, but there is enough power for attacks on hills of reasonable size. Traction from the cheap Cheng Shin tires isn’t the best, but the engine is not a big wheelspinner. The tires will eventually wear and you can slip on some high-performance racing tires (12" rear, 14" front) from Bridgestone, if the rider is demanding better tire behavior.
Sporting about four-and-a-half inches of wheel travel at both ends-non-adjustable damping, nothing fancy-the Yamaha’s suspension is well matched to the performance of the motor and simple chassis design. Small jumps are fine, as are non-whoop bumps on the trail. It isn’t plush travel, but it is not a harsh, over-sprung ride either. Our test riders never complained for a second, but they don’t have a large library of knowledge. Instead, it is all about meeting expectations, and the Yamaha TT-R exceeds them. It’s a smile factory.
This is not a race bike. The Yamaha TT-R110E is a trail bike, and it’s quite capable on even moderately tricky trails. There will be ground clearance issues (it has 7.1 inches), but at 158 pounds (claimed wet), adults can lift it over any obstacles that might come up. Long giant hills are no-go, but you would still be surprised at the capability of this little motorcycle. It certainly turns tight enough that you can take it on any trail dad can find, and it will out-turn a big bike on some nasty switchbacks.
I like to see kids learn the basics of maintenance. It’s educational, as it helps them understand a bit about how the bike works. The TT-R’s air filter cover is hidden behind the faux radiator cover, and the filter itself requires removal of only a few simple fasteners. The spark plug is in easy reach, but I do not expect that item will need to be changed all that often. Adjusting the chain is not complicated, and oil maintenance (level check, draining, and filling) is all easily done thanks to excellent accessibility.
Low-tech and unintimidating, the Yamaha TT-R110E is an outstanding starting machine for a pre-teen rider ready to embark on a lifetime of two-wheeled enjoyment.
Motocross Riding Apparel
Helmet: Shift Revolt
Goggles: ARC Corona
Jersey, gloves and pants: Shift Assault
Boots: Shift Combat
Photography by Don Williams
Photo rider: Shaun Merritt of Lewisport USA.