Blurring the Line Between Work and Play
Many of us rely on our trucks to do a little of everything. You know: the mundane weekday commute, obligatory trips to the lumberyard, and, if everything else goes well, playing on the weekend. If we had our druthers, we'd spend more time playing and exploring and less time on the mundane stuff.
Yamaha's Grizzly 700 EPS lives in a similar, yet better, world. Most riders use it to explore trails. Smaller chunks of the Grizzly's rider population use it for work, hunting, and other assorted purposes. In short, the Grizzly gets to live in a world that would make our trucks jealous.
Seven hundred CCs sounds like a big engine—and it is. However, the liquid-cooled, fuel-injected, electric-started four-stroke is easy to manage. Engine power is fed into Yamaha's Ultramatic CVT transmission, which never needs shifting and is configured so the internal drive belt never slips. Just push the thumb throttle as far as you dare and the machine will put its power to the ground.
For the 2014 model year, Yamaha has made several key upgrades to the Grizzly 700 EPS. The track width was increased 30mm (about 1 1⁄4 inches) per side to provide extra lateral stability and to increase suspension travel. The steering geometry was revised to reduce steering effort and create a lighter steering feel. The engine now burns cleaner without a penalty in horsepower output. Perhaps the best part of the upgrades is what didn't get upgraded: the price. The MSRP of the 2014 Grizzly 700 EPS is the same as the 2013 Grizzly 700 EPS.
Yamaha is confident in this machine, enough to invite a bunch of journalists out for a day of riding. Groomed closed course? Nope. We pointed our handlebars at the same trail system Yamaha uses for some of its product testing. This was the real stuff.
Yamaha's confidence was well placed. The drivetrain modes are rider-selectable and you can ride the Grizzly 700 EPS the way you prefer. From the saddle it was easy to engage 2WD, 4WD-limited slip, 4WD with a locked-up center differential, and 4WD low range on command. One rocky section called for the Grizzly's full traction arsenal: 4WD, low range, and locked center differential.
Steering effort, even in the rock garden, was easy thanks to Yamaha's Electric Power Steering. Admittedly, a few rock hits were harsher than expected, and the handlebars jolted when a front wheel took a rock at an angle. As hard as these jolts were, they would've been more jarring on a non-EPS machine. Though the EPS is an extra-cost option it is worth the price of admission. Yamaha reports most Grizzly 700 customers opt for the EPS version.
What's it like to use the Grizzly for work? Given the engine power, the all-conditions performance of the EFI system, the no-slip CVT transmission, and the multi-mode 4WD system, it's easy to envision the Grizzly as a workhorse when playtime is over.
Many of us call on our trucks for a little of everything. If you need your ATV to serve you in a similar fashion, check out the 2014 Grizzly 700 EPS. It's blurring the line between work and play.