Ever since its introduction in 2001, Yamaha’s Raptor has been a long-standing favorite with ATV enthusiasts. Maybe it is the torquey thumper engine, the solid rear axle, or the long-travel suspension, but whatever it is, it has been a formula that Yamaha got right early on and has only had to refine over the years.
We were recently invited out to Bend, Oregon to sample Yamaha’s latest version of the Raptor, the ’13 Raptor 700R, which Yamaha now proudly assembles in the USA. The ’13 model features aggressive new bodywork with 50mm of additional legroom for taller riders, in white (700), blue/white (700R), and black/red (700R Special Edition) bodywork.
Making up the foundation of the Raptor is a hybrid frame consisting of a cast-aluminum rear section bolted to a steel front section, which, according to Yamaha, provides the optimum balance between chassis rigidity and weight.
The water-cooled, all-aluminum 686cc single-cylinder engine is quick-revving thanks to needle bearing rocker arms housed in a compact head and a forged piston. Yamaha’s 16-bit ignition system works with the 44mm Yamaha Fuel Injection to ensure smooth and linear power delivery and the low-mounted engine decreases the center of gravity for greater stability. A five-speed transmission doles out the power and even has a useful reverse gear.
Among the major changes for ’13 are a new Maxxis tire package that was developed exclusively for Yamaha. When compared to the outgoing tires, the new Maxxis fronts provide lighter steering effort in the front, more precise steering, and increased traction. In the rear, traction has improved, while still maintaining the Raptor sliding character. Rear brake feel is also enhanced, thanks to a new twin-piston caliper.
With all of these improvements, one would expect the price to increase, but it has actually gone down significantly for 2013. The entry-level Raptor 700 model, which we consider the best bang-for-the-buck if you plan on modifying, is now $700 less than the model it replaces at $7,699. The high-volume 700R model adds reservoir shocks, an adjustable brake lever, and comes in at $300 less than the ’12 Raptor 700R at $8,099. The top-line 700R Special Edition comes with al the upgrades of the 700R in addition to unique black/red bodywork and adds some GYTR accessories, such as grab and heel guards, and is priced $200 less at $8,799. One of the biggest differences in equipment that makes the price drop possible is the elimination of the digital meter that can be found on the ’12 Raptors.
After learning about the new Raptor line-up on paper it was time don our riding gear and hit the trails of Oregon’s East Fort Rock OHV area, which is an amazing riding region featuring 110,000 acres of land with 318-miles of trails for all skill levels. Over the course of a day we put over 50 miles on our 700R tester and found it to be playful and tossable, easily soaking up trail imperfections at speed.
The suspension tuning is well thought out and with 9.1 inches of front travel and 10.1inches of rear travel, the Raptor made easy work of Oregon’s best riding terrain. Despite the suspension working overtime, we never once found ourselves experiencing shock fade from the piggyback dampers. The broad torque curve and big-bore power delivery allows the engine to pull in almost any gear, making gear selection less important than on other high-performance ATVs, a positive for new riders. We were also impressed by the handling and found the Raptor to be very comfortable and easy to ride.
To us, the Raptor was most fun when we were hanging the rear out sideways, but it also proved adept at blasting through whoops at high velocities and jumping berms. At the end of the day, we couldn’t believe the ground we had covered, everything from tight and technical uphill sections, to wide-open fire roads approaching the machine’s top speed and our bodies were no worse for the wear.
With the ’13 Raptor 700R, Yamaha has a compelling product for any skill level, and with the new lower price and assembled in the U.S.A status, there is more reason than ever to consider the Yamaha Raptor.
Model: 2013 Yamaha Raptor 700R
Engine type: 686cc single cylinder liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, SOHC, 4 valves
Bore x stroke (mm): 102.0 x 84.0
Compression ratio: 9.2:1
Fuel delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 44mm
Ignition: 16 Bit ECU
Starting system: Electric
Transmission: 5-speed w/reverse; wet multi-plate clutch
Drivetrain: 2WD; sealed O-ring chain, eccentric adjustment
Suspension, front: Independent double-wishbone w/piggyback, High-/Lo-speed compression, rebound and threaded preload adjustment, 9.1-in travel
Suspension, rear: Cast-aluminum swing arm w/rebound, High-/Lo-speed compression and threaded preload adjustment, 10.1-in travel
Brakes, front: Dual ventilated hydraulic disc, twin-piston
Brake, rear: Ventilated hydraulic disc, twin-piston
Tires, front: AT21 x 7-10
Tires, rear: AT20 x 10-9
L x W x H (in): 72.6 x 45.5 x 43.9
Seat height (in): 32.7
Wheelbase (in): 50.4
Ground clearance (in): 4.4
Fuel capacity (gal): 2.9
Wet weight (lbs): 422
Lighting: Dual 30W Krypton multi-reflector headlights & LED brakelight
Color: Team Yamaha Blue/White