As we touched down in Greenville, South Carolina, we were wondering what Yamaha could do to improve their revolutionary 2016 YXZ1000R.
As you probably know, the YXZ is the first “shifter” SxS, in that it has a five-speed manual transmission. That means a clutch. It’s a really nice clutch, being hydraulic and all, but unless one has expensive time with a clutch-based performance vehicle, they can be tricky in the heat of battle. That’s why Trophy Trucks don’t use them; instead, they essentially use an automatic with a manual shift body.
The new Yamaha YXZ1000RSS now has one too. The “SS” stands for Sport Shift, and there’s no clutch pedal to be seen, but there are paddle shifters mounted to the back of the steering wheel. Yep, the SS is a five-speed manually shifted transmission that doesn’t require clutching even off the line or when stopping (two situations where stalling is common). The paddle shifters are synched to Yamaha Chip Controlled Shift (YCC-S) technology, an advanced automatic clutch system, eliminating the need for the clutch pedal.
The trans is shifted up with the right paddle and shifted down with the left paddle, and for the truly lazy, there’s an automatic downshift feature that will automatically downshift to First gear when the vehicle comes to a stop, even if the driver has not done so manually.
But our favorite feature is the “Launch System.” Picture this: You’re on the starting line, you can pull in both paddles at the same time, release the brakes, and pin the throttle … and the YXZ won’t budge until you drop both paddles. Then, you launch. Get it? We’re pretty sure that Yamaha has messed with the ignition curve at that point to aid in traction, but what a cool idea. We can’t wait to try that one out.
Yamaha has also improved the suspension for the SS with the addition of Fox 2.5 Podium X2 Shocks. The Fox units have dual “clickers” so the compression and rebound are fully adjustable, and they have a dual spring setup to give even more tuning possibilities. With 16 inches of travel in front and 17 inches out back, the Yamaha is good to go.
The SS still has Yamaha’s On-Command system that provides 2WD, 4WD, and 4WD full diff-lock options and also employs Yamaha’s Electric Power Steering (EPS) system.
Yamaha admits that the SS may give a few horsepower away to their fully manual shift 1000R, but the 1000R SS brings the performance with its three-cylinder, 12-valve, DOHC, liquid cooled, 998cc engine, which boasts a 11.3:1 compression ratio and 10,500-rpm redline. The 1000R is quick, so even if the SS lost 5 to 10 percent of horsepower to the new tranny, we’d be OK with it. We think. We’ll know more when we get to drive one.
All YXZ1000R SS models come with a suntop and now feature colored seat stitching and embroidered seats at an MSRP starting at $20,599. Color options include Team Yamaha Blue/White with a color-matched Team Yamaha Blue suntop and race-inspired decals, Blaze Orange/Black, and the new special edition Matte Black featuring painted bodywork, cast-aluminum beadlock wheels, and all-new FOX 2.5 Podium X2 Shocks designed exclusively for YXZ SE models. The new 2017 YXZ1000R SS is assembled at Yamaha’s U.S. factory in Newnan, Georgia, for worldwide distribution.
We were excited when we heard about the 2016 YXZ 1000R and that it would be a shifter, thus changing the “sport” SxS market forever. And we had a blast driving it. Having raced dirt bikes for years, we had no problem with the clutch (OK, we stalled it a few times), but loved being able to drop a gear and hit the throttle to get the engine instantly back up on the pipe.
But there are downsides with a clutch, and tight or uphill, rocky or sandy terrain (like a KOH course) would seemingly be a better place for a CVT type of trans.
With the YXZ 1000RSS, that weak spot has been taken away while still giving drivers the choice of what gear they want to be in during any given situation. We see the SS outselling the manual shift 1000R, and for good reason; it’s the 2017 YXZ 1000RSS that is going to truly revolutionize the SxS industry.
This was our first view of the new Yamaha, though we didn’t know what trickery was hidden within. Yamaha’s very theatrical like that.
Once the veil had been pulled, the first thing we saw was a cool flat black paint scheme with red accents. Then, we looked closer.
Looking like a Ferrari, the paddles on the steering wheel shift up on the right side (+), and down (-) on the left. Simple, yet effective.
They’re also big enough so there will be no missing them.
The wishbone front suspension hasn’t changed, but the addition of the Fox 2.5 Podium X2 shocks are enough to upgrade the system by themselves.
The Fox Podium X2’s have compression and rebound “clickers” that, along with the dual springs, give the driver nearly unlimited tuning opportunities.
Power comes from the 998cc, three-cylinder, 12-valve, DOHC, liquid-cooled engine, which boasts an 11.3:1 compression ratio and 10,500-rpm redline.
Decked out in flat black with red accents, the Special Edition YXZ1000RSS is a fine-looking machine.