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Kid Bike Chronicles: The Yamaha TTR50E



This is a continuation of the kid-bike posts I decided to write while setting up for the next evaluation ride of King Moon Racer #1.  Pictures will be added to galleries for these posts as soon as possible.

After selling my son’s JR50, we decided to pick up the same bike used as a base trainer by the staff at Little Speedsters.  We set out to find a good deal on a Yamaha TTR50.  It took a while to find something I was willing to buy, but after a few weeks of combing ads I had the right opportunity pop up.  It was a fairly neglected 2006 model.  No aftermarket modifications, and almost no work done to it.  White-creased plastics, with scratches and destroyed graphics from multiple drops and goofs, flat tires, dead battery, torn grips, rusted chain…everything you’d expect from an unloved…or not-respected…kid bike. 

It went in the van for $500.

I was glad it was a 2006.  The single-cable carb was simpler, and nothing else had really changed, though the seller didn’t know that.  I used the model year of the bike as a leverage point in our negotiations without mentioning the evergreen status of the model.

This one was a piece of cake to bring back to life.  Of course, like with all used bikes, there was the mandatory strip to the frame and thorough cleaning/greasing during re-assembly.  The shopping list included new tubes, tires, chain, sprockets, battery, grips and a front brake lever.  For cool-factor, and to avoid breaks on future drops, I added a folding-tip Tusk shift lever.  The exhaust got blasted and re-painted with high-temp black.  I added a billet end-cap for $10 of bling, but left the stock baffle in…no reason for the noise with a beginner who isn’t racing.

With the plastics, I only had to replace the front fender.  All other pieces sanded down nicely and were covered with a great graphics package from Senge (sengegraphics.com).  The motor got fresh fluids, a valve clearance check, a replacement air filter, a complete electrical system clean-up and a good carburetor cleaning. 

The only real questionable addition I made was putting on a blue-anodized BBR skid plate.  I wasn’t sold on the protection from the stocker.  The BBR keeps the bottom of the bike cleaner as well, as the swiss-cheese-holes in the stock steel let everything get where you don’t want it.

Once again, as with the JR50, it caught the eye of other kids and other dads, which my son loved.  A few thought it was a 2019 model, and were flabbergasted to know it was just an ‘06 that was treated properly.

Our thoughts on the bike itself?  The TTR is a bit heavy in the eyes of my son, after having the JR and swinging a leg over the CRF.  The electric start is nice, but I don’t like losing a backup kick start, and I don’t like fishing for neutral if my kids drop and stall in the middle of a track/trail.  Sure a dad can bump/spin start in gear, but that is more time/effort/inconvenience in the middle of a ride.

The bike is as stone-axe reliable and simple as anything I’ve ever ridden or worked on, but making it “better/faster” for my kids to grow with becomes a bit limited compared to something like the CRF.  The pit-bike industry around that model means more options in bars, grips, wheels, plastics, graphics, seats…all the stuff that would give it a longer “life” with non-racing kids.  The TTR is best kept relatively stock and sold to the next eager owner when your kid outgrows it.

Right now, my daughter has sort of commandeered this bike as hers after getting started with a TaoTao DB10 (my next post), and my son is asking for the CRF due to his size and the lighter weight/stature of the Honda.

Regardless of which way we go in the future, I have to give the TTR50E a solid thumbs-up as a child bike.  The local school uses them for a reason, and I can see why well-kept units basically never depreciate below the thousand-dollar mark.




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