Yamaha’s Raptor had such great success that this new 700R 2009 edition barely has any changes to it. Its coming changed the face of the sports quads’ world with amazing looks that truly transcended its raw power. In 2001, Yamaha introduced the 660R Raptor, which was rocketed by the largest engine ever placed in a sport ATV, with the first 5-valve cylinder head in ATV history. This outstanding engine, along state-of-the-art chassis and race-inspired suspension, made the Raptor a tough machine to improve on since that first version.
New for 2009
But where there is a will, there is a way. It seems Yamaha still had a few tricks up their sleeves again for the new 2009 Yamaha Raptor 700R. The most noticeable improvement is the digital display up front. Seamlessly incorporated into the slightly changed front cowl, this practical addition displays plenty of information available at a glance, including speedometer, dual trip meters, odometer, clock and engine warning indicators, plus neutral and reverse indicators. Also new this time around are SOQI piggyback shocks, which have 5mm longer stroke for excellent sport-riding comfort, with high and low-speed compression adjustability, rebound and preload adjustability, and 9.1 inch travel. The thumb throttle lever has also been redesigned with a smoother shape for a better feel riders will appreciate when riding for long periods of time. America’s best selling sport ATV is now better than ever. Its Special Edition version includes wave-style rear brake disc, dealer-installed GYTR® front grab bar and heel guards, plus special graphics and colors.
What makes it tick?
The 686cc engine is a masterpiece of engineering. Squeeze the clutch and push that electric start button in any gear and it fires up before the starter can turn around merely one revolution. With light and strong forged piston, connecting rod and crankshaft, it purrs at idle, then screams up to a whopping 9,000 rpm! You get big torque right off idle that stays on through the mid-range and stays with you to the top end. This creates a very smooth feel to the -power, which is always there for you to use throughout all five gears. You might expect such a powerful and big single cylinder 4-stroke to somewhat vibrate, but dual counter-balancers keep it running nice and smooth.
It is fuel injected, which means consistent engine perform-ance whatever the conditions, elevations and temperatures. A Digital TCI 16-bit electronic control unit controls the fuel injection, as well as the ignition system for amazing throttle response. I have never experienced anything else like it, smooth and powerful at any point and in any gear. This makes the Raptor a dream machine for those more experienced riders, super fun to ride in tight trails as you can place the back end where you want it, by getting power to the rear wheels on demand, at any time, all the time. The five-speed transmission with reverse was flawless. I even caught myself dropping gears without the clutch (wet multi-plate type clutch) with ease and no apparent complaint from the unit. Better reliability on that end can be expected now. Early versions of the Raptor had been known to falter quickly at the transmission, but that’s history now.
I would have liked to be able to keep my hands on the bars to engage reverse in a quicker manner, but the knob for its engagement is on the right front fender. To create a very strong structure, the chassis is built of a combination of steel for the front section, aluminium for the rear section and a detachable sub-frame. It is designed compact to offer the ideal wheelbase for light, quick and accurate steering. At 46 inches wide, this does make it a tad easier to tip over than many other 450 sport quads, but the suspension is so soft and well balanced from front to back that lifting up on two wheels in a turn isn’t scary and doesn’t happen too quickly without warning. Not to mention that it turns on a dime. Although I thought the suspension to be excellent in most conditions, riding the Raptor through some big and long series of whoops was a bit tricky, the extra plush of the long travel suspension made it bouncy a little and it would quickly become a challenge to stay seated. On the other hand, it made landings super smooth, even the not so perfect ones.
Still room for improvement?
I’m almost feeling bad about finding faults on this machine which is definitely one of my favourites to ride. Ergonomically, it’s perfect. Power wise, it is more than perfect. Suspension? Awesome. Tires?…They did the job. Comfortable? Most definitely. However, we still noticed a few things that were a bit off. The rear brake pedal is way too close to the inside. A small metal protector that runs a few inches along the crankcase cover keeps your boot away towards the exterior, so, most of the time, you are only managing to use the very tip of the lever and sometimes slipping off. You need to twist your ankle in to really get a good grip on it. The park brake lever mounted on the handlebar works great, but I don’t get why it squeezes at the rear. Parking it in first gear would do the trick for the back and I would have liked to see the front brakes lockable, so that all four wheels can be locked.
The experienced rider’s dream
Riding the 2009 Yamaha Raptor 700R is a constant thrill ride. The power is not only high in quantity but also in quality. The way it is delivered is even more impressive than the amount. The rider really has total control of its fury through incredibly precise throttle response. It really is on demand and it never lacks throughout the entire powerband. Add to this its plush long travel suspension and killer looks and you’ve got everything you need to blast by just about anything, anytime and anywhere, in true style. For experienced people who have gone thru all the steps, gradually upgrading onto bigger, meaner, faster machines through the years, this one is at the top of the progression. It’s a dream come true, for the wheelie -popping, power sliding and high flying animal in you!
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Yamaha Motor Website