2016 marks Yamaha’s 60th anniversary, so to celebrate they’ve produced a few special editions sport models in black and yellow, Yamaha’s classic racing colours, revamped their utility ATV line by encompassing their new 708cc engine with two entirely new rides in the Grizzly 700 and Kodiak 700, as well as seriously update their Raptor 90 for young riders. For Side x Side fans, better be on the lookout right now on the web for an amazing new Yamaha sport Side-by-side! By the time this issue gets to print, it should already be revealed to the world.
“This year marks one of Yamaha’s most significant new ATV and SxS model launches in history,” said Mike Martinez, Yamaha’s Recreational Vehicle (RV) vice president. “Today everyone at Yamaha is excited to introduce a number of all-new ATV and Side-by-Side models, redefine some existing categories, and celebrate the company’s 60th anniversary with classic Yamaha yellow and black special editions. And we’re not done yet.”
2016 also marks the 30th anniversary of Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America founded in Newnan, Georgia; where they’ve recently expanded production capability for Yamaha’s Side-by-Side vehicles.
Although Yamaha is doing a great job at marketing these major changes, which might sound exciting to some, in reality the picture is quite disturbing to us. The total disappearance of many ATV models, of different sizes and engine displacement choices, can’t be seen as anything positive for ATV fans in the long run. Yes we are impressed with the improvements done to Grizzly and like the fact that one can get the same engine providing the same power in a more affordable Kodiak, that’s a little more geared towards utility but can’t help but be saddened by the huge drop in the number of choices riders of different sizes, skill levels, needs and wants, will now get.
We very much like the we’re not done yet” part and it’s no secret anymore, Mr Martinez was talking about a brand new high-performance Side-by-Side coming our way but for now let’s just take a good long look at what we know for sure.
AN EVEN BETTER GRIZZLY
The Grizzly was already regarded by many as the best all-around machine ever made. The Grizzly 600 4×4 ATV with Ultramatic transmission was introduced in 1998 and the model as had many improvements over the years. A significantly more powerful Grizzly 660 was introduced in 2002. Beyond the engine, the biggest differences between the Grizzly 600 (offered from 1998 to 2001) and the Grizzly 660, was the rear suspension. The older Grizzly came with a rigid rear axle with a single shock. The newer Grizzly got independent rear suspension with dual shocks; significantly improving the handling characteristics over very rough terrain. In 2007 Yamaha came out with the Grizzly 700 with fuel injection and optional EPS (electric power steering), two of the most significant advancements in ATV manufacturing in history. The Grizzly is the very first ATV ever offered with Electric EPS. 2008 and up Grizzly units have thicker seat padding.
The Grizzly simply has the best CVT transmission available and we also think it has the best 4-wheel engine braking. Yamaha’s V-Belt Ultramatic CVT with On-Command push-button (4WD, 4WD diff-lock, 2WD) as proved to be very efficient and easy on belts thanks to its added centrifugal clutch.
We’ve yet to try this new fully updated Grizzly and already know it can’t disappoint us on those aspects. One thing is for sure; you will rarely find a person that has anything negative to say about their Grizzly. The Grizzly is a bulletproof machine that should last you a long time. So for someone who was just looking into maybe buying a Grizzly, this 2016 version just keeps dropping more cream on your cake. It looks better, illuminates the trail ahead better, we expect conquers better with its new bigger tires and is able to carry a lot more stuff.
My favourite thing about the new Grizzly is the new headlight and instrumentation filling the empty spot in the center of the handlebars, which killed the otherwise sleek look of the machine. We were able to get used to the fact that the gauges were down at the base of the bars but it’s clearly much better to have the screen up where it’s already in your field of vision and you can actually know what speed you’re going without even having to look at it directly.
With six percent more power and nine percent more torque than the previous model Grizzly 700, this new beast gets the job done, faster! Fortunately for us avid trail users, a company like Yamaha doesn’t just add power to a model without studying how it affects the handling and comfort and so they reworked almost every aspect of the machine to keep things well-balanced and safe to use. Also taken in consideration when designing and setting up the suspension was the fact that the Grizzly now rolls on 26-inch, exclusively designed Maxxis tires, to provide better traction. The independent double wishbone suspension, with 7.6” of front wheel travel and 9.1” at the rear, features nitrogen-charged shocks with new settings and 5-way adjustable preload.
We are quite pleased with this new look, which fits with the times yet still spells Yamaha. A redesigned front grill, carry bar, and front and rear fenders, plus an all-new handlebar-mounted halogen work light, as well as three large storage compartments and new, larger-diameter front and rear racks with increased load capacity, make this new Grizzly a very appealing choice for both work or play savvy ATV users. New standard LED headlights and taillights provide the best possible illumination, efficiency and service life, while a newly designed large and plush seat provides maximum comfort for all-day long exploration.
Full coverage skid plates increase the vehicle’s overall durability and off-road capability. A new longer, high-mounted air intake layout increases power and torque while providing additional room for center storage and easy “no tools” servicing of the larger new foam air filter element. The list of good reasons why you should buy one just goes on and on. They even beefed up the plastic!
A STRONGER KODIAK
The Kodiak 700 is basically the same quad as the new Grizzly but stays focused on utility and budget-minded workers by doing away with certain unnecessary features and keeping things a little bit more basic here and there to keep the price down.
When comparing spec sheets we find many dimensions to be a bit different, mainly just because of the smaller 25-inch Maxxis tires. The Kodiak is a little narrower, has a bit less ground clearance, lower seat height, which all do make it a more logical choice for work. It is easier to quickly straddle or get off of, rolls into tight places a bit better but can still perform like a champ when you take it out for a bit of fun in the trails. There are just a few other differences with the Grizzly like the lever operated 4WD instead of push-button, it has the sealed rear brake protected from dirt, rocks and mud instead of disc brakes with twin-piston calipers like the front.
Both the Grizzly and Kodiak offer the choice of left hand and/or right foot operation for the rear brakes. I personally don’t agree with anything that doesn’t stay within certain unwritten rules about the standardization, which resulted from what all manufacturers stayed within for so many years and on so many models of different classes. At least you get to control them separately but imagine a beginning rider taking a liking to the hand control and getting used to that and then finding himself on another ride which almost certainly won’t have it and only the pedal. It is much better than all-wheel braking though, which just gives all of us here at ATV Trail Rider, the heebie-jeebies.
60TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION RAPTOR 700R SE AND YFZ450R SE
If you are in need of big torque right off idle, transitioning into a fat mid-range and monstrous top-end, the mighty Raptor 700R SE is ready to go hit the dunes, the trails or the track in great style. With its added features like a GYTR front grab bar and heel guards to match its unique race-inspired yellow and black graphics package, you’re sure to make a lot of heads turn.
Powered by Yamaha’s most potent big-bore Raptor engine ever, a 686cc liquid-cooled and fuel-injected engine, the Raptor 700R SE feels amazingly lightweight thanks to its hybrid steel aluminum frame and controlled-fill aluminum sub-frame and cast aluminum swingarm combining to produce a super-strong structure.
Electric starting, and reverse makes things easy on the rider so he or she can concentrate on keeping the fun factor up high. A thick comfortable seat provides excellent comfort while the dual counterbalancers avoid annoying vibrations.
Its advanced suspension is YFZ inspired to give the Raptor 700R the best handling possible. It is an incredibly fun to ride quad while blasting through all sorts of different terrain types. This machine has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
We strongly suggest Canadians equip theirs with snow-specific tires when the snow comes and keep enjoying this masterpiece all year long!
Racers or aspiring competitors might be interested to know that the YFZ450R also got many changes recently to further improve an already very solid package for victory. They stepped it up with a host of improvements like a slipper clutch and new air induction system. The engine offers even more top end pull and a revised FI mapping increases fuel economy by 10%. For 2016, the YFZ450R is also available in SE form with the awesome-looking yellow and black classic Yamaha racing graphics.
GET YOUR LITTLE ONE STARTED
The new sporty looks and high fenders of the 2016 Raptor 90, are unmistakably inspired by the powerful Raptor 700R. Built to bring maximum fun to the youth ATV class for riders 10 and older, the all-new Raptor 90 is also graced with a host of new features aiming to please both young users and their parents. Air-cooled for simplicity, performance and long engine life, using ultra-reliable wet-sump lubrication, the 90cc four-stroke SOHC engine is tuned to develop excellent low-to-mid-range performance.
Servicing is easy thanks to features like the tool-less quick-access air filter element and a handlebar-mounted parking brake, a fully automatic CVT transmission with reverse, gated shifter and electric start with a back-up kick-start, all come standard.
BRING PEOPLE ALONG
To navigate tight, technical trails and challenging terrain in good company, Yamaha also offers an ever-growing number of models in the Side-by-Side category. Up to five passengers can accompany you in the Viking VI, or two in the Viking all sharing a front row view of the beautiful spectacle that is nature ahead. Now a more nimble and surprisingly more efficient rough terrain conqueror is also available from Yamaha, for you and just one trail-riding companion. The new Wolverine R-Spec EPS (also available in a base Wolverine without EPS and Piggyback shocks at a low $12,999) is designed to be the most capable off-road recreation side-by-side. The KYB ultra-long-stroke nitrogen gas charged piggyback shocks that provide a very high quality damping and excellent bottoming resistance to the R-Spec, enable owners to adjust it to fit a wide range of riding styles, loads, and terrain. Simply put, you get all of the adjustments a professional racer would expect. Also aiding the Wolverine to conquer better are wide-arc A-arms maximizing ground clearance. On top of that, the front and rear of the chassis are tapered on the sides and bottom of the vehicle to reduce potential contact with obstacles on the ground. With an 81” wheelbase and 11.4” of ground clearance the Wolverine R-Spec is designed for maximum terrainability and the body design with the low hood gives drivers great visibility to navigate tight, technical trails and challenging terrain. We also love how the frame flares outwards just front of the rear wheels and keeps large obstacles from hitting the rear tires. Here in Canada the Wolverine comes in three forms: Wolverine (only in Green), Wolverine R-Spec EPS (only in Blue) and Wolverine R-Spec EPS Camo. Viking and Viking VI will be available in basic (Blue only) or EPS (Red only) models, as well as new SE versions painted Silver and adding a roof and nicer wheels.
For more information on the above mentioned models, please visit the Yamaha Motor Website