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If the ’90s saw the reign of two-strokes, the turn of the millennia saw the golden era of radical four-wheelers. Unlike ATVs and UTVs of old, these 4x4s no longer had a singular functionality. These hybrid machines adeptly catered to both utility as well as sport-minded folks. And one such vehicle is the 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660.
The 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 is the 3rd installment of the said series, first launched by Yamaha in 2004. Often compared to the Grizzly, the quad shares the latter’s front and rear differentials, selectable On-Command™ driveline modes, all-wheel engine braking, and engine layout.
Despite sharing many components, the 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 is an entirely different beast from the Grizzly and has proven that it can hold its own. So much so that its success inspired other OEMs to follow suit.
Shortly after its inception, Polaris released its RZR 800, Arctic Cat its Wildcat, and Can-Am its Maverick X3. And thanks to these groundbreaking four-wheelers, there are a lot more capable and sportier machines for us riders to enjoy.
Beauty and Brawn
A cross between a full-fledged ATV and a golf cart, the 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 does not make the top 10 list of the most stylish utility terrain vehicles. But for those who can appreciate it, the four-wheeler marries the right dose of ruggedness and charm.
If likened to a Walt Disney classic, the film that would come closest to describing it is Beauty and the Beast — its qualities are both the male and female protagonists of the film rolled into one.
Produced from 2003 to 2012, the 660-cc Rhino traces its roots to a military vehicle project based on the same-displacement Yamaha Grizzly.
Later, it was marketed as an ROV (Recreational Off-highway Vehicle) specially designed for off-roading activities. If the Grizzly pioneered sport quads, the Rhino was the forerunner of sport UTVs.
A Bad Mix?
The Rhino would have been 100% effective being such a vehicle had it not been for some design flaws and capacity miscalculations. The midweight quad, for instance, lacked crucial safety features present in its same-class counterparts.
Similarly, its payload limit, estimated at 498.95 Kg (1,100 lbs.) by some online sources, did not pair well with the quad’s heavy build and narrow width, making for increased rollover propensity and directional instability (more on this topic later).
2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 Specs & Features
The 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 is brought to life by a liquid-cooled, 4-stroke single-cylinder SOHC engine and electric starter. The power mill has a piston displacement of 660 c3 (40.3 in3), a compression ratio of 9.10:1, and a wet-sump lubrication system.
Bore-stroke ratio is 100 × 84 mm (3.94 × 3.31 inches), similar to the same-displacement, sport-oriented Raptor.
The air-fuel mixture is handled by a BSR42 Mikuni carburetor and a wet-type air filtration system.
Overall, this power mill configuration lends to the following performance figures:
|2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 Top Speed*||52–64 mph (83.7–103 km/h, unofficial)|
|Horsepower (at crankshaft 95/1/EC)||23–31 hp (17.1–23.1 kW, unofficial)|
|Fuel Economy (combined average)||18.7 mpg (12.6 L/100 km)|
|Approximate Tank Range||approximately 90–110 miles for a full fuel tank|
Fuel & Lubrication
The fuel tank capacity is 30 L (7.93 USgal) of unleaded gasoline. For EU units, regular unleaded gasoline with a RON 91 Octane rating is advised. Other same-spec fuel variants are permissible, provided they meet JASO T903 MA/MB standards and contain no more than 15% MBTE, 10% ethanol, or 5% methanol.
Lubrication-wise, the ’06 Rhino has the following requirements:
|Without filter replacement||1.9 L (2.01 US qts.)|
|With filter cartridge replacement||2.0 L (2.11 US qts.)|
|At disassembly/overhaul||2.8 L (2.96 US qts.)|
|Final gear case oil||250–280 ml (8.45–9.47 oz.)|
|Differential gear case oil||320–330 ml (10.82–11.16 oz.)|
Recommended engine oil for the Rhino is SAE 10W-40 Yamalube 4 Motor Oil. Other multigrade oils such as SAE 5W-30, 10W-30, 15W-40, 20W-40, or 20W-50 (as specified in the owner’s manual) are allowed should availability be an issue. Just ensure the engine oil has an API service classification of SJ or higher and with no “Energy Conserving II” or CD diesel engine oil labels.
Power comes from a single-speed, right-hand-operated UltraMatic™ transmission and wet centrifugal automatic clutch assembly (including reverse). Its secondary reduction system is a left-foot-operated shaft drive.
According to UTV Guide, the Rhino essentially borrowed its transmission layout from Yamaha’s very own Grizzly (alongside its power mill, all-wheel engine braking, front and rear differentials, and selectable driveline modes).
Here are the stock gear ratios for the 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660:
|Secondary Reduction Ratio||41/21 x 24/18 x 33/9 (9.544)|
|Reverse Gear Ratio||25/17 (1.471)|
|Sub Transmission Ratio – Low||35/17 (2.058)|
|Sub Transmission Ratio – High||28/19 (1.473)|
The Rhino comes to life via a DC-CDI (Capacitative Discharge Ignition) system with an ignition timing of 12° BTDC @ 1,450–1,550 RPM.
A triple-phase A.C. magneto with a nominal output of 14V 23A @ 5,000 RPM serves as its charging system, and a 12V 28 Ah/(10 HR) battery helps power lighting and electronic accessories.
An NGK DPR8EA-9 spark plug with a 0.8–0.9 mm (0.031–0.035 inch) gap is responsible for spark ignition.
As the stock U1L-11 battery format is phased out, the recommended battery for the 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 is now a 30 Ah/(20 HR) 53030 battery (view on Amazon), with assembled dimensions of 186 x 130 x 171 mm (7.44 x 5.12 x 6.88 inches, excluding wiring harness and mounting accessories). It is not an exact fit in the Rhino and would require 10-mm spacers at the least (if not a bit of retrofitting).
See the below tables for fuse and lighting assembly details:
|Main, Reserve||30 A|
|Headlight, Reserve||15 A|
|Ignition, Auxiliary DC Jack, Carburetor Warmer, Signaling System, Reserve||10 A|
|4WD, Reserve||3 A|
|Lighting||Wattage x Quantity|
|Headlight||12V 30/30 W x 2|
|Brake/Taillight||12V 21/5 W x 2|
|Neutral, Reverse, Parking Brake, High/Low Range, Differential Gear Lock Indicator Lights, Coolant Temperature Warning Light||Special Edition Models: LED All Other Trims: 12V 1.7 W x 1|
|4WD Indicator Light||LCD|
Tires & Brakes
Tubeless AT25 × 8–12NHS front tires and AT25 × 10–12NHS rear tires are mounted on panel, cast aluminum, or steel rims. Depending on trim, the stock tire brand could be either GOODYEAR® Rawhide RS or MAXXIS M951Y/M952Y. Recommended cold-tire pressure is 70 kPa (0.70 kgf/cm2, 10 psi) and 98 kPa (0.98 kgf/cm2, 14 psi), respectively.
You may adjust the tire pressure accordingly to suit the terrain and riding conditions. However, take care not to go beyond pressure limits of 63–77 kPa (0.63–0.77 kgf/cm2, 9–11 psi) and 91–105 kPa (0.91–1.05 kgf/cm2, 13–15 psi), lest the tires will dislodge from the rims.
Similarly, stay within 250 kPa (2.5 kgf/cm2, 36 psi) when seating tire beads. In case of wear or damage, replace your stock knobbies with a full set of ITP Mud Lite 6-ply ATV Tires (view on Amazon) or just the front wheels with Carlisle All-Trail ATV Tires (view on Amazon).
As for brakes, the four-wheeler utilizes a front-and-rear unified system consisting of dual 200-mm discs at the front and a single 165-mm disc at the back (both foot-operated). Overall, this tire-and-wheel assembly provides the Yamaha Rhino 660 its stopping power.
The 660-cc quad has a long-travel suspension consisting of oil-damped double wishbones and coil spring shocks on all fours. Each suspension unit offers wheel travel of 185 mm (7.28 inches), although some sources report a more conservative figure of 108 mm (4.25 inches) at the front and 81 mm (3.19 inches) at the rear.
The minimum road clearance is 11.02 inches (280 mm), while the vehicle wheelbase is 75.2 inches (1,910 mm).
The turning radius is 3.9 m (12.8 feet) and lends to the machine’s maneuverability, which may not always be favorable when navigating tight corners and twisty trails.
Dimensions & Capacities
Overall dimensions are 113.6 x 54.5 x 73 inches (2,885 x 1,385 x 1,853 mm — L x W x H). The saddle height is 32.2 inches (818 mm) and can comfortably accommodate mid-height to taller riders.
Curb weight (inclusive of oil and a full fuel tank) is 506 Kg (1,116 lbs.), with EU releases weighing 13 Kg (28 lbs.) more than standard. Finally, the maximum load limit is set to 398 Kg (878 lbs.) for EU models and 401 Kg (884 lbs.) for the rest of the market.
Enclosing the Rhino’s engine and drivetrain components is a steel tube frame (with a 5° caster angle and 26-mm trail) and plastic body material.
These body panels were available in Hunter Green, SteelBlue (Special Edition), and Realtree High-Definition Hardwoods Camouflage. Despite the multitude of color schemes it offers, however, the four-wheeled machine is not exactly a looker (even by early 2000 standards).
Nonetheless, the quad is not without the essentials. The 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 includes passenger grab rails, front bumpers, a cargo bed, and a spacious cabin. It also has comprehensive instrumentation replete with a speedometer (view on Amazon), fuel gauge, trip/hour meter, gear indicator, clock, and odometer.
Other trademark features include Krypton multi-reflector headlamps that make superior light distribution possible.
Yamaha Rhino 660 Value
|Year – Model – Trim||List Price||Retail/Trade-In Values|
|2006 YXR66FAVGR Rhino (4WD)||$9,199||$3,630 — $4,775|
|2006 YXR66FAHV Rhino (4WD, Camouflage)||$9,649||$3,760 — $4,950|
|2006 YXR66FASEV Rhino Special Edition||$9,899||$3,835 — $5,045|
|2006 YXR66FAEXGV Rhino Explorer Edition||$10,149||$3,760 — $4,945|
|2006 YXR66FAEXHV Rhino Explorer Edition (Camouflage)||$10,599||$3,945 — $5,190|
Out of all the 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 iterations, the Camouflage Explorer Edition was the most expensive and sold for $10,599 (around $15,604 if purchased brand-new today). The package was clad in Realtree High-Definition Hardwoods Camouflage trim and included a hard top, front brush guard with a winch tab, and gun scabbards mounted on the rear of the roll cage.
The rest of the models were basic, with Steel Blue, Pastel Deep Green, or Black as color options. They did not come equipped with the features above but can be easily fitted with 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 parts and accessories such as a 72-inch Denali UTV Snow Plow Kit (view on Amazon), a full set of Maxxis BigHorn Radials (view on Amazon), or overhead gun racks (view on Amazon).
Turning the Rhino into a Dune King
As underwhelming as it sometimes appears, the 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 is a capable four-wheeler, especially on the dunes. But like all other ‘specialty’ quads, some of its stock components are just not up to the task.
So whether you’re new or experienced, I highly recommend the following mods to make your Rhino more adept in the sand:
- Aftermarket suspension units better suited to handle the job
- 4- or 5-point harness restraints with angle-locking retractors to replace single-point factory seatbelts
- Padded and more durable custom roll cage
- A modular door (preferably full door), hand or arm netting, or sturdier grab rails capable of enclosing both driver and passenger inside the cabin
- Opting for a more advanced CDI box to make the machine’s timing curve slightly more aggressive
- Exhaust system, air filter, and jetting upgrades and adjustments
- A digital dash and fuel gauge for more visible readouts
- Molded roof and polycarbonate windshield for better protection against the elements
While this short list is non-encompassing, the items here are must-haves if you intend to use your Rhino as a dedicated dune buggy. For all other applications, many other upgrades are available in the market, making it easier to tailor-fit your 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 to your requirements.
Utility Terrain or Death Trap Vehicle?
For quad runners in the know, most of my recommended mods may come across as oddly familiar. And if you had guessed they have something to do with Yamaha’s product recall on the Rhino, you are absolutely right!
CSPC and Yamaha issued this particular recall in response to rollover dangers associated with the Rhino that resulted in 46 reported deaths and countless severe injuries, according to Horwitz Horwitz & Associates.
The 4×4’s propensity to tip over is the most prevalent of the 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 problems, overshadowing other issues that the four-wheeler may have.
Yes, the Rhino is also known for transmission problems (still a hot topic in many Yamie-dedicated forums). But nothing compares to the repercussions of the quad’s instability, earning it the vicious nickname “Death Trap Vehicle.”
The key complaints of affected parties are as follows:
- An open-cabin layout with no feature to prevent passenger extremities from flying out during predictable tip-overs
- Unpadded (not to mention flimsy) roll cage
- Subpar seatbelt engagement, partly due to its placement being too high above the shoulder
- The rear anti-sway bar and the absence of spacers on the rear wheels increase the likelihood of a rollover
It took roughly six years since the inception of the 660 series for Yamaha to finally attempt to address the UTV’s rollover dangers. The OEM issued a recall and offered free safety-enhancing repairs on all affected 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660s, alongside its 440-cc and 700-cc namesakes.
Expectedly, not all Rhino owners could take advantage of this retrofit offer, as many deemed the action too late a response from Yamaha.
Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd., the world’s top water vehicle manufacturer, is the maker of the 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660. Established in 1887, the firm began its journey as a piano and reed organ manufacturer.
It was not until after WWII that the Japanese company ventured into motorcycle production, and not until 1955 that it decided to part ways with its parent company.
Fast-forward to two and a half decades later, Yamaha spawned the ATV industry. The company continues to uphold its legacy through its production of life-enriching products and services and its mission of creating Kando.
Conclusion – 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 Review
Despite its setbacks, most owners have nothing but good things to say about the 2006 Yamaha Rhino 660 — and not because of their bias towards the brand. After all, the moose-hunting rig was the first of its kind.
When all the rave was 400-/450-cc sport quads, Yamaha took a step back and reintroduced consumers to what recreational riding truly was — an experience meant to be shared with free-spirited adventurers, dune lovers, and equally passionate enthusiasts.