Yamaha understands that many of the adults buying minis aren’t giving them to junior, that’s why it releases the TT-R50 with a full array of components to deck it out for pit-bike racing.
It’s finally happened. And quite frankly, we don’t know why it took so darn long. A Japanese manufacturer has stepped up to the plate to challenge and steal a portion of the huge market share of Honda’s massively popular CRF50. The bike that single handedly started a pit-bike-racing revolution now has a real nemesis: the Yamaha TT-R50E.
Yamaha didn’t just make a clone, either. While the bike may look identical in design to the Honda CRF50, it’s not – it’s blue. Just kidding, in all seriousness Yamaha has taken three major steps to set the TT-R50E apart from Honda’s CRF50: a user-friendly electric start, a retail price $150 less than the CRF50, and a slew of bolt-on accessories designed by GYTR (Yamaha’s in-house aftermarket accessory department) to increase power, performance, and make the bike fit bigger riders. Yes, Yamaha actually acknowledges that some “bigger kids/adults” might be riding the bikes. Boy, the Yamaha corporate lawyers must have been out to lunch when the accessory catalog came down the line.
MotorcycleUSA recently spent a day out at Starwest Motocross Park for the bike’s formal press introduction, including several hours of saddle time on the mini track. The really cool thing was Yamaha brought out a bunch of heavily GYTR modified TT-R50Es for us “big boys” to test along with several stock models. Also on hand were a bunch of kids and their families, who got to spend the morning doing what the bikes were really designed to do – making it as painless as possible for youngsters to learn how to ride.
Yamaha’s Terry Beal made his presentation short and sweet, pointing out that the 2006 TT-R50E fills the gap between the diminutive PW50 (for the youngest riders, 4-6 years old) and the PW80 and TT-R 90E (for 8-10 year olds). Essentially, with a seat height of 21.9 inches, Yamaha feels the TT-R50E is the perfect bike for the 7- to 8-year-old crowd, with a few years to fudge either way.
The TT-R50 has a couple of features to help parents supervise the riding experience, including a key-type ignition to control when the bike is ridden and a throttle-stop screw to limit how fast.
In a nutshell, the bike is a carbon copy of the Honda CRF50, which is a good thing. The main difference is the electric start, which can be found on the entire TT-R lineup. Yamaha feels that the TT-Rs are designed for learning to ride and having fun, and the “magic button” makes this that much easier. We know that not even a pro likes starting a freshly dropped bike under the hot sun.
Propelling Yamaha’s smallest TT-R is an air-cooled, 49cc, SOHC, 4-stroke motor mated to a three-speed gearbox and an automatic centrifugal clutch. An 11mm Mikuni VM-type carburetor with automatic electric heater meters the fuel, and the choke is handlebar mounted to maintain the “user-friendly” theme. An automatic cam-chain tensioner reduces maintenance, and the exhaust system contains a quiet, WR-type USFS-approved spark arrestor.
As for the chassis, the curved steel backbone frame on the TT-R50E uses the motor as a stressed member. Up front, an inverted fork with 22mm sliders provides 3.8 inches of wheel travel, while the Monocross-style rear suspension is controlled by a single coil-over shock with 2.8 inches of rear-wheel travel. Front and rear 80mm drum brakes handle the stopping chores.
Like the other bike in its class, the TT-R50 E has a few more specific features that make it great for younger riders. A key type ignition switch deters unauthorized riding, and a throttle-stop screw lets the adult supervisor restrict speed while beginners are learning. A standard side stand tucks up out of the way when not in use.
The biggest difference between the TT-R50 and its Honda rival is the electric start, meant to make the learning curve a little easier for the beginning youngster.
Here’s where the plot thickens. Yamaha didn’t just stop with the design and production of the bike. Not even. They realized that something like half of these bikes will be purchased by adults who want to take up the biggest craze that’s sweeping the motocross nation – pit bike racing. That’s right, big boys on tiny toys.
With that in mind, Yamaha’s GYTR jumped way ahead of the aftermarket accessory industry and created just about every part anyone could desire to primp, personalize, and pump up their pit racer and make it fit them better. Among the accessories available from the GYTR catalog include: 84cc big-bore kit, tall handlebar kit and seat, heavy-duty fork and shock springs, glide plate, kick-start kits, brake and shift levers, engine covers, and YZ-style chain guide.
The 84cc big-bore kit is a complete kit that comes with everything needed to make your TT-R faster while maintaining its reliability. For $899.95, the kit includes an 84cc cylinder and piston, large-valve head, 26% larger intake, 20% larger exhaust, high performance camshaft, high flow air-filter and intake, larger 16mm carburetor, high volume oil pump with 30% more flow, and high performance clutch plates.
On The Track
The bikes perform as you might expect – very well. The stock version is indeed perfect for a kid of any age who can at least put their feet on the ground while seated. The electric start is what really separates this bike from the CRF50. If a child drops the bike, as long as they can pick it up, they are on their way with a push of the button. Some kids simply don’t have the strength or technique to kick-start a 50cc 4-stroke. The electric start does come with a small caveat, however, and that’s the fact that it makes the bike about 15 pounds heavier than the Honda CRF50 (104 vs. 119 pounds dry). The throttle stop comes in very handy for regulating just how fast Junior can go, and the three-speed automatic transmission makes shifting a breeze.
Beefing up the TT-R50 with aftermarket accessories allows the big boys to be more aggressive when facing obstacles on the track.
The TT-R50E’s power delivery and handling feel right on par with the little red bike. Since the overall dimensions, seat height and controls are essentially the same as those of the CRF50, we would wager that most kids couldn’t tell the difference in what bike they were riding if they both had the same color plastic.
Like the Honda CRF50, a full-size adult can’t comfortably ride the TT-R50E with much control due to the small handlebars and controls. Our knees and legs simply won’t fit under the bars, and our hands are too big for the controls. That’s where GYTR steps in with the goodies. We got the chance to ride some TT-Rs fully decked out in every conceivable accessory from GYTR, and they were a blast.
The fully accessorized TT-Rs flat-out smoke and they handle well. The 84cc motor kits give the bike that grunt that these minis need to make them more fun for adults and faster kids. The kit is said to double the power output of the stock units, and we believe it since the bikes pulled much harder and actually wheelied if you wanted.
The burlier suspension springs, which are roughly twice as stiff in the fork and 2.5 times stiffer on the shock, allow “big boys” to attack obstacles with more confidence on the track. The larger handlebars, controls, seat, shift and brake levers, and footpegs make the bike more durable and accommodating for adults. These accessorized TT-Rs perform as well as any similarly modified CRF, save for the ones with 124cc motor kits or aftermarket fork and shocks.
All in all, we think that Yamaha has hit the nail right on the head with the 2006 TT-R50E. Not only is it cheaper ($1149 vs. $1299) and more user-friendly than the competition, with the GYTR accessory line, it might begin to drive that same nail into the aftermarket companies’ coffins when it comes accessory design and sales for this particular model. Yamaha did its homework on the TT-R50E.
2006 TT-R50E Specifications:
Type: 49cc, air-cooled, SOHC, four-stroke, single
Starting: Electric Start
Bore x Stroke: 36mm x 48.6mm
Compression Ratio: 9.5:1
Carburetion: 11mm Mikuni VM with electric heater
Transmission: 3-speed automatic centrifugal clutch
Final Drive: Chain
Suspension/Front: Inverted fork with 22mm sliders
Suspension/Rear: Monocross, single coil-over shock absorber
Brakes/Front: 80mm drum
Brakes/Rear: 80mm drum
The TT-R50 courts nearly half of all mini purchases by acknowledging the adult market. Add on the fact that it has an electric start but still rings in at $150 less than the CRF50, and you can picture a Honda exec somewhere getting grilled in the boardroom.
Seat Height: 21.9″
Ground Clearance: 5.3″
Dry Weight: 119 lbs.
Fuel Capacity: 0.8 gallon
GYTR TT-R50E Accessory Price List:
84cc Big Bore Kit: $899.95
Performance Exhaust (50cc/84cc): $249.95
Replacement Spark Arrestor: $11.95
Magnetic Drain Plug: $18.95
Oversized Billet Foot Pegs – Blue/Clear: $109.95
Graphic Kits – Flame/Factory/GYTR: $54.95
Air Filter (50cc/84cc): $18.95
Carburetor Jet Kit: $29.95
Billet Cam Cover: $39.95
Billet Valve Cap Covers: $42.95
Billet Brake Pedal: $99.95
Chain Guide: $64.95
Heavy Duty Fork Springs: $49.95
Heavy Duty Shock Spring: $59.95
Tall Bar Kit: $229.95
Tall Seat Foam and Cover: $94.95
Replacement Seat Cover: $39.95
Folding Shift Lever: $29.95
Heavy-Duty Peg Bracket: $89.95
Glide Plate: $69.95
Kick Start Kit: $399.95
Mini Stand: $74.95
Let us know what you think about the 2006 Yamaha TT-R50E in the MCUSA Forum.