Yamaha TT-R110E Motorcycle Test
When evaluating youth motorcycles, we have some very specific standards. For the 2012 Yamaha TT-R110E to be a success, it has to be durable, reliable, and easy to use. The subtleties of suspension and handling are important, of course, but this is a motorcycle for young learners, not racers.
Liam Fahey, our primary test rider, definitely took care of testing the crash-worthiness of the TT-R110E. Tossing it away on jumps, flipping it over on a hillclimb, banging the skidplate into rocks, or tumbling it to the bottom of a rocky downhill-Liam was relentless (and well-protected with his HJC CL-XY helmet, Axo gear, Scott goggles, and Alpinestars boots-we are happy to report no injuries).
The damage was restricted to some scratched up plastic, and not much else. Yamaha builds the TT-R110E to take a beating. At 158 pounds ready-to-ride, it’s not light. There is definitely extra metal there to make sure vulnerable controls don’t break easily.
The gear shifter, especially, came under attack and didn’t pretzel. Adults also took the TT-R110E out for a few hard spins. With tallish bars and a bit of space between the 26.4-inch high seat and the grippy folding pegs, knee-to-bar conflicts are minimal. So, the big guys hit jumps, did some sliding, and had fun on some highly technical trails, when Liam wasn’t doing the same thing.
Nothing bent or drooped after the men rode it. That means the TT-R110E works for a tweener such as Liam, as well as small-to-medium sized adults. For that to work, you do need power. The TT-R110E’s long-stroke motor is all about torque. The 110cc mill produces maximum torque at an early 4000 rpm, and peak horsepower at 7500 rpm.
This means it pulls adults smartly, and accelerates well for youngsters. Response off idle with the fully automatic centrifugal clutch was excellent, and the 16mm Mikuni VM carburets flawlessly.
This is a very mature motor that is seriously under-stressed, and there’s a low-maintenance automatic cam tensioner. It should last through a few generations of kids growing up, and the rest of the chassis is equally reliable and simple.
Yamaha gives the TT-R110E a key, which we think is a great idea. It discourages youngsters from taking an undocumented spin on the bike, and it makes it more likely you turn the bike completely off, so the battery doesn’t run down unexpected (a common problem for us on unkeyed kids bikes).
Ease of use couldn’t be better. Shift down into neutral and push the start button. The choke actuator is easily accessible first thing in the morning, even though it’s not on the handlebars. In case the battery dies, there’s a back-up kickstarter.
This is also a feature sometimes absent from a youth motorcycle, and we like to see it. Operating the four-speed gearbox is as easy as manipulating the shift lever. There’s no clutch lever, so just shift and go.
When the youngster gets taller and more accomplished, he can trade up to a manual clutch bike and learn that skill with a strong bedrock of abilities. Maintenance is a breeze. Any youngster can learn how to change the oil on the TT-R110E, and he can access the air filter without tools-a nice plus.
The nut/bolt drive chain tension adjuster is also very basic and effective. Along with riding, kids should learn the bedrock of mechanical knowledge about the bike and learn to do basic tasks themselves (under the supervision of an adult).
So, the 2012 Yamaha TT-R110E has proven itself to hit the trifecta- durable, reliable, and easy to use. That makes it a winner, yet it still has more to offer.
Liam took the bike out on some pretty tough technical trails, with lots of rocks-as well as on wide-open dirt roads. The TT-R110E is stable up to its top speed (no speedo, of course) in fourth gear. The suspension is fairly stiff, with a generous 4+ inches of travel at both ends.
If your child is bottoming this suspension regularly, consider moving him up to a race bike. Otherwise, he won’t notice that it’s plush, and it’s there to defend him from mistake. The TT-R110E’s suspension can take a hard hit and deal with it effectively.
The Cheng Shin tires are cheapies. They worked okay, but they seemed to dig more holes than we’d like. If you plan on taking it on tougher trails, there are tire upgrades available from Dunlop, Bridgestone and Maxxis (Cheng Shin’s upscale brand). As you’d expect, the 42.5-inch wheelbase makes the TT-R110E easy to maneuver in tight spots, and the 7+ inches of ground clearance is decent.
The 14-inch front and 12-inch rear tires are small and susceptible to potholes, so keep this in mind when choosing trails. We were satisfied with the 2012 Yamaha TT-R110E’s drum brakes. They have a very soft actuation, so nothing happens quickly on them.
Compression braking is good, so the drums don’t have all that much to do in the hands of most riders. Yamaha could get away with doing less with the TT-R110E and still have a quality machine. Again, the durability, reliability, and ease of use are top notch, and that’s what we look for in a youth motorcycle. The bonus of usability by adults and a good chassis make the 2012 Yamaha TT-R110E an outstanding way to get the right-sized youngster off to a good start in the dirt.
2012 Yamaha TT-R110E Specs:
- Engine Type: SOHC air-cooled 4-stroke
- Displacement: 110cc
- Bore x Stroke: 51.0 x 54.0mm
- Compression Ratio: 9.3:1
- Fuel Delivery: 16mm Mikuni VM
- Ignition: CDI
- Clutch: Automatic centrifugal
- Transmission: 4-speed (neutral at bottom)
- Suspension/Front: Telescopic fork, coil spring/oil damper, 4.5″ travel
- Suspension/Rear: Swingarm Monocross, coil spring/gas-oil damper, 4.3″ travel
- Brakes: Drum
- Front tire: Cheng Shin 2.50 x 14
- Rear tire: Cheng Shin 3.00 x 12
- L x W x H: 61.6″ x 26″ x 36.3″
- Seat Height: 26.4″
- Wheelbase: 42.5″
- Ground Clearance: 7.1″
- Fuel Capacity: 1 gallon
- Wet Weight: 158 pounds
- Color: Team Yamaha Blue/White
- Price: $2199
- Helmet: HJC CL-XY
- Goggles: Scott Sports
- Jersey and pants: Axo Scatter
- Gloves: Axo Ride Jr
- Boots: Alpinestars Tech 3
Photography by Don Williams