Click for Coverage
  • JP Magazine
  • Dirt Sports + Off-Road
  • 4-Wheel & Off-Road
  • Four Wheeler
Subscribe to the Free
Newsletter

Does the Yamaha YXZ1000R SE Change The Meaning Of What A Sport UTV Really Is?

Posted in Events on December 6, 2015
Share this
Photographers: Courtesy Of Yamaha

If parting is sweet sorrow, then waiting is sheer agony. For years now, we’ve been waiting for someone to take on the Polaris RZR XP1000. Thankfully, our long (inter)national nightmare is over as Yamaha delivered big with their new YXZ1000R and its 5-speed manual gearbox.

We’d heard rumors of a few Japanese manufactures who were working on something that would not only match the RZR in terms of suspension and handling, but would go them one better. We all knew what we wanted and not only what we were hoping for but what we were frankly expecting. We wanted a sport UTV that had it all. And by all, we mean that it would have a manual transmission.

The Yamaha YXZ1000R gave us what we all wanted. Anyone who’s ever rode a motorcycle knows that the shifting pattern is one-down/four-up, and the YXZ uses this same pattern. That means that the shifting is “sequential” in that it’s throw is a forward and back pattern, not an H-pattern. But unlike motorcycles, there is a reverse and the transmission on the YXZ is not part of the engine.

That’s right; the transmission and transfer case is one unit and it’s mounted slightly forward of the engine, between the seats, and is connected to the engine with a shaft. That means that its weight is centralized and low, which can only help with handling. Drive shafts then run from it to the front and rear differentials. The YXZ features an On-Command, 3 way locking setup that is selectable in either 2 or 4WD.

A hydraulic clutch is used and the pedal throw is very short, maybe 4-5-inches, meaning that there will be quick shifts made once the driver gets the hang of it. Though the clutch uses the usual for a motorcycle multiple wet plates, word is that a Rekluse clutch is available for YXZ. That means it would be virtually impossible to stall the YXZ, no matter how low an unseasoned driver lets the RPM’s go.

You may be wondering how is a shaft capable of connecting the engine to the transmission if the trans is in front of the engine? Easy, the engine is mounted sideways and the shaft is essentially connected to the crank. Measuring out to 998cc, the 3-cylinder engine is equipped with a fuel injection system that features a trio of 41mm Mikuni throttle bodies. The air filter system actually uses two filters: the one that the dust hits first is a cleanable oiled foam unit while the second is oiled paper. The foam unit is easily accessed without the need of tools.

The engine utilizes an 11.3:1 compression ratio, 4-valves per cylinder for increased flow and redlines at 10,500rpm. Put those specs together, and you get an engine that is apparently happy running at a high RPM as the YXZ engine seems like a 2-stroke in that it likes to be “on the pipe” and makes its power up high. That pipe is a 3 into 1 header that exits via a center-mounted muffler.

That means the driver will be kept busy with that shifter to keep the engine in its powerband, though there is an external flywheel to help with keeping the engine turning over at lower RPM’s.

The suspension is a double wishbone design front and rear and features 2.5 Fox Podium RC2 shocks. The front suspension is rated at 16.2-inches of travel while the rear measures out to a full 17-inches. The front wishbones are slightly different than an A-arm system in that they are identical and the shock mounts to the lower unit. The rear is slightly different than a trailing arm system in that while the lower wishbones leading arm is longer and attaches to a pivot point near the center of the frame, the upper rear wishbone is a standard wishbone design. Yamaha has used this design because with it, the tires remain vertical throughout its entire arc. Up and down, not up an in.

On all 4 wheels, one will find disc brakes as twin-piston calipers that clamp to 245mm rotors adorn the Yamaha, and high-quality Maxxis Bighorn tires (MU09 27x11.00R-14-Front, Mu10 27x1100R-14-Rear) are the tires of choice. Know that the special YXZ 1000R SE (the cool throwback yellow one) comes with beadlock wheels while the standard model (blue and orange) do not.

The interior of the two-seater has everything you’d need for a good time out in the dirt. The seats are adjustable, with good lateral support and bolsters for your shoulders while the tilt on the steering wheel has 5.8 inches of up and down swing. Speaking of the steering wheel, the YXZ has speed sensitive electric power steering that is connected to a rack and pinion style steering system.

Yamaha has taken a cue from their sport bikes when designing the dash and it has a large analog tach, a speedo, and readouts for the basics: fuel level, gear position, coolant temp and even a clock. One thing it also has is a programmable shift light, something that will come in handy for drivers who aren’t used to the seat of the pants feel of keeping a high-revving engine under control.

Having a good field of vision was important to Yamaha, and the front hood slopes down to far that it was necessary to poke the front shocks up through it. Seeing is believing and when cresting a hill it’s nice to see what’s in front of you, especially if that uphill quickly becomes a steep downhill.

Fit and finish is typical Yamaha. That means the thing looks like it was assembled with care. From the earliest days of making seriously competitive dirt bikes, a Yamaha product has been put together well. While the European bikes may have been what put motocross on the map, they were a little rough around the edges. That’s not the Japanese way of thinking at all. They want their manufacturing process to be exact and the YXZ epitomizes that philosophy. The parts are cut precisely, welded precisely and then expertly finished with a deep coating of paint.

Yamaha has a long history of producing very performance oriented machines, and the YXZ 1000R is everything that we were expecting. Only time will tell, but we feel that it’s going to change the sport UTV scene as we know it. We’re sure that they’ll be turning up in at races soon, at least in the stock class, and maybe even with factory assist for major teams. With Yamaha’s history of producing high quality race vehicles, we have little worry that they’ll be capable of finishing races and expect to see them winning races soon.

We’re hoping to get our hands on one quickly, and will bring you a complete test in the very near future. It may be wishful thinking, but we’re hoping to get a new RZR XP1000 Turbo Silver, an Arctic Cat “Robbie Gordon” edition Wildcat and the Yamaha YXZ and put them head to head, so stay tuned.

With Yamaha celebrating their 60th anniversary, the SE model comes in yellow, and has upgrades that the standard blue and orange (orange?) models don’t.

Here was the big reveal of the Yamaha YXZ1000R. Yamaha really did the whole thing up right, and result is one that every journalist and shop owner won’t soon forget.

With a redline of 10,500rpm, the three cylinder engine has 4-valves per head, electronic fuel injection and Yamaha’s long history of producing powerful, long lasting engines.

Hiding behind the fuel tank is what the excitement is all about: the 5-speed manual transmission/transfer case. Notice that it’s not attached directly to the engine, but via a shaft. Notice also that there is a flywheel mounted directly to the engine.

This cutaway shows just what the YXZ1000R is all about.

The rear suspension is a combination of a wishbone upper and a modified trailing arm that produces a claimed 17-inches of wheel travel. Yamaha calls it a wishbone rear suspension system, but it’s unlike the identical dual wishbones that appear on the front suspension. The 2.5 Fox Podium RC2 shocks are fully adjustable and come standard.

The SE model comes with these cool 14-inch beadlock wheels that have been shod with high-quality Maxxis Bighorn tires. Lurking behind the wheel is a disc brake setup that consists of a twin-piston caliper and 245mm rotor.

The interior is what you’d expect and the dash has a nice big analog tachometer to keep the driver aware of the revs. Speaking of which, there is also a programmable shift light, which is a very nice touch.

The high back seats have bolsters and a shoulder restraint to keep the occupants inside and safe. There are three point belts (like in your car) but it appears that a set of 4-point harnesses can be easily adapted thanks to the cage cross member that runs right behind the seats.

Yamaha has already produced a slew of aftermarket pieces ready for the YXZ, such as the LED light bar and windshield.

They also have a spare tire carrier, which is a very good idea to have on the trails.

For those who do a lot of wood or rock driving, a Warn winch is available, and is mounted inside a Yamaha front bumper assembly.

PhotosView Slideshow

Connect With Us

Newsletter Sign Up

Subscribe to the Magazine

Browse Articles By Vehicle

See Results