While stressing the Yamaha XT660X is no competition machine, the men at Yamaha are also at pains to portray it as an urban weapon of the highest order. A glance through the press pack confirms this, with mean and moody urban action shots of riders backing the bike into corners, fully sideways and cool as you like. And image is what this bike is about. After all, it’s not vastly different to Yamaha’s XT660R – the mid-sized thumper road-based trailie that has sold by the bucketload over the last two decades. But who’d buy one of those? It’s solid and mildly entertaining, but you’d never call it cool. However, give it a supermoto makeover and shazam! The mild-mannered XTR is transformed into the XTX. A bike that gives you just enough supermoto attitude without the pain and impracticality of either building your own, or going down the more focused European ready-made road. Climb aboard the XTX and you’ll find it’s pretty tall, thanks to the raised ride height over the XTR that was lofty enough as it was. No problem if you’re over six foot, but Stephané Chambon lookalikes may want a stepladder. Once onboard, the riding position is perfectly natural and a welcome respite from sportsbike backache. You’re also pitched slightly forwards over that smaller 17-inch front wheel, thanks to the extra ride height the XTX runs over the XTR at the back end – all slightly aggressive and ready for attack. Now let’s find something to attack. In my case, being in Sydney, the first thing was a series of urban back roads that wound their way up the sloping hillside away from the base of the Harbour Bridge and the XTX dispatched these perfectly. The motor isn’t the sharpest tool in the box, betraying its age-old heritage with a rather lazy throttle response should you ask for anything too sharply (quick throttle blips on downchanges often had the motor stuttering rather than revving), but then this isn’t a competition bike. Treat it right with a slightly more relaxed hand, ride the midrange and you’ll be rewarded with clean, punchy progress. One thing the bike could do with is some more noise, as the most sound you’ll get out of the XTX is mechanical clatter from the motor, but then that’s emissions regs for you. A set of race pipes will work wonders. Once up the hill, it was time to enter Sydney’s rush hour melee for real, and here the XTX was spot on. Charging away from the lights, I was perched high and lofty, so I could spot gaps in the traffic a mile away. There was stacks of leverage to throw the bike through the spaces as they appeared, and it also packed loads of suspension travel which acquitted itself perfectly; hopping up pavements when necessary, leaping potholes and, on one occasion, riding through a building site I mistook for a shortcut. The only real glitch was the lowdown motor response, which can be very agricultural and makes finding a handy ratio for sustained smooth progress anywhere below 20mph tricky. It’s not a problem if you’re accelerating, but otherwise keep a hand on the clutch and be prepared to slip it to avoid lurching about too much on the slow stuff. This isn’t a problem, but isn’t ideal on a town bike. Next up: the motorway. Not the XTX’s natural habitat, but as it’s supposed to be usable as a day-to-day tool it should perform here too. And it does. The five-speed box feels out of date and I was constantly looking for a sixth that didn’t exist, but the bike happily plodded along at 80-odd mph with a pleasant absence of nasty vibes, enough comfort for an hour at a time, and even a hint of wind protection from that weeny nosecone. Back into town and night was falling. I went to explore the urban playground before me.Although the XTX motor’s milder rather than wilder nature means you’ll need a bit of clutch to get matters airborne, wheelies are a very natural part of the bike’s repertoire, so show-offs are catered for and as long as you get her nice and high in first, making the move into second, third and off into the sunset is as simple as it should be on all good trailies. Elsewhere, the suspension got a thorough testing when I tried riding through part of Sydney’s subway network and discovered the relatively soft suspenders and weight of the bike conspire against easy descents down flights of stairs, although it can be done. I even took it off-roading in a deserted park, where it turns out the XTX behaves much like an XTR without the knobblies. No surprise there then. Back onto the roads, and a nice empty sweeping stretch showed the XTX was perfectly agile and surefooted. There weren’t sportsbike levels of feedback from the tyres and springs, but there was plenty there to push hard enough to raise a good grin without any fear of slithering into the gutter. The XTX looks like a bad-assed supermoto nutter machine, but the reality is somewhat different. Fortunately, the XTX is a cool looking bike that’ll raise a smile every time you ride it, but can also cope with everything the urban rider could ask for and more in the shape of B-road antics and moderate motorway blats. It’s unlikely XTX buyers will be asking for their money back…
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