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Yamaha TRX850

Profile: Yamaha TRX850

(by Guy 'Guido' Allen, May 2021)

Yamaha TRX850

Terrific Twin

Yamaha’s TRX850 was never a roaring success in the sales charts, though it probably deserved to be

Back in the mid to late 1990s, there was a real movement for the Japanase makers to have a crack at the twin-cylinder performance bike market, then dominated by Ducati. Honda’s effort was the VTR1000, while Suzuki chimed in with the TL1000 series.

ducati 900ss

Kawasaki sat this one out, while Yamaha beat the lot of them to the punch in 1995 with a machine aimed squarely at the market enjoyed by Ducati’s 900SS. Note we’re not talking Ducati’s then performance leader, in the form of the 916. No, we’re talking one step back and a more affordable class.

To that end Yamaha pulled together the TRX850, which could have been acused of being a parts bin special. It did share some FZ/FZR series running gear, and the engine was developed from the Super Tenere and TDM series. However there were some key differences.

Most obvious,was the steel trellis frame – styled very much along Ducati lines. That carried a conventional 41mm fork up front with preload and rebound adjustment, plus a full-adjustable rear shock. That lot was pulled up by twin four-spotter front discs and a basic single rear.

Yamaha TRX850

In the engine department, the five-valve parallel twin ran a 270 degree crank throw for a slightly ‘lumpy’ feel to mimic a V-twin. This variant was also used in the TDM. The dry-sump unit ran twin 38mm carburettors and was tuned for a claimed 80 horses. Not earth-shattering perhaps, but it moved the claimed 190kg (dry) along at a decent pace.

Yamaha TRX850

In many respects this was an ‘old school’ motorcycle. Sports touring ride position, lumpy twin-cylinder engine, five-speed transmission, with a longish wheelbase and fairly conservative steering geometry. It was also narrow, making it feel smaller than it actually was, and generally unintimidating.

Power delivery is all about the low and midrange. It pulls away from low revs with a lot of authority, and encourages relatively minimal use of the transmission. It’s one of those motorcycles where you pick a gear for a set of curves and just surf the torque.

Yamaha TRX850

We recently got to re-acquant ourselves with this model, thanks to long-time industry identity Don Stafford. He acquired a low miler, which had been advertised at Au$6950. The only apparent modification was a set of Staintune mufflers.

Our lasting impressions were confirmed. This is a delightfully-neutral motorcycle ith a grunty powerplant and respectable handling. You’re never going to win a race with it, and a truly quick rider will eventually overwhelm the chassis. But it’s pretty hard to beat as ann easy-going proposition for a Sunday strop through the hills.

Long term, these things have a decent reputation. The oil level needs to be watched, as they will use up to a litre per 1000km. We’re told the carburettors can use a chack and service at the 50,000km mark.

Yamaha TRX850

Also, there are some benefits in servicing and upgrading the suspension. Standard it was okay, though it erred on the side of soft up front.

Pay attention to the frame, which can develop rust. That’s easily neutralised and touched up with fresh paint.

Because even a 600 class sports bike could wipe the floor with them on a racetrack, these bikes tended to be overlooked by buyers looking for something with a bit of sporting ability. That however, was probably a mistake, as the TRX was a very capable and less frenetic ride.

Yamaha R7 2022

You could argue Yamaha hasn’t completely given up on the idea of a more accessible sports bike, when you look at the recent release of the R7 twin.

Even today, a good TRX850 is a thoroughly enjoyable machine. The trick will be finding one!


Yamaha TRX850

Easy to ride
A bit of character

Not so good
Not the quickest thing out there
Not a lot available

Yamaha TRX850

Yamaha TRX850 1995-2000


TYPE: Liquid-cooled, five valves per cylinder, 270-degree parallel twin

BORE & STROKE: 89.5 x 67.5mm


FUEL SYSTEM: 2 x Mikuni BDST38


TYPE: Five-speed, constant-mesh, 



FRAME TYPE: Steel trellis
FRONT SUSPENSION: telescopic fork, 41mm, preload and rebound adjustment
REAR SUSPENSION: Monoshock, full adjustment 

FRONT BRAKE: 298mm discs with four-piston calipers

REAR BRAKE: 248mm disc


DRY/WET WEIGHT: 190/202kg



FRONT: 120/60 ZR17
REAR: 160/60 ZR17


POWER: 80hp/58kW @ 7500rpm

TORQUE: 84Nm @ 6000rpm

PRICE NEW (1996) $12,000 plus on road costs

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