Split personalities can be problematic in people. Machines, on the other hand, are more desirable when they’re bipolar. The 2014 Yamaha Grizzly 700 EPS is an example of a quad that pulls double its weight and can also claw its way over rocky trails.
If such a category existed, the Grizzly 700 EPS might qualify as a dual-sport/utility. It obviously isn’t street-legal like dual-sport bikes, but the new Grizzly 700 is capable of highway speeds. Sportwise, the 10.8 inches of ground clearance are more than many factory 4x4 trucks. And when work needs to be done, the ’14 Grizzly 700 has a tow rating of 1,322 pounds and a payload capacity of 286 pounds.
A class leader in the big-bore (more than 600 cc) sport segment, the Grizzly 700 retains the previous model’s body but gets mechanical refinements for 2014. A new head, redesigned pistons, and a higher compression ratio smooth the powerband while bringing emissions into compliance with the EPA.
Underneath, suspension tweaks make the new Grizzly more stable and supple. Track is slightly wider thanks to 60mm-longer A-arms and 2 mm more negative wheel offset. Progressive-rate coils and longer-stroke shocks are part of the package; a choice of five preloads is offered. Wheel travel is 7.6 inches in the front and 9.2 in the rear. This combination of clearance and travel allowed the new Grizzly to claw elegantly over the tight, rocky washes we tested it on near Big Bear Lake in Southern California’s San Bernardino Forest.
The new suspension required steering revisions. A different pitman arm is used, and Yamaha’s evolutionary Electric Power Steering (EPS)—which is speed and torque sensitive—was tuned for a lighter steering feel. (A non-EPS Grizzly is also offered.)
Yamaha admits that the steering isn’t lightest in class: Some road feel is purposely transmitted. Still, the system absorbed most of the “bar jar” during boulder bouncing. Lighter, more-isolated steering would likely give riders a false sense of invincibility. When the terrain gets choppy, the steering reminds sensible riders to stay within themselves. Steering feel in 4WD was noticeably stiffer than in 2WD, but still nimble for a 648-pound machine.
Yamaha’s Ultramatic CVT gear-reduction carries over. It uses a centrifugal clutch to maintain belt tension, reducing wear to produce award-winning durability.
For traction, the Grizzly still has Yamaha’s button-actuated On-Command drive system. In normal 2WD mode, the rear gear case splits power equally between the two wheels. In 4WD, power is also sent to the front wheels, split by a clutch-type limited-slip. This allows wheel speed variation for turning. For ultimate traction, the front end also has a button-operated/servo-actuated mechanical locker.
The verdict: The ’14 Grizzly 700 EPS makes even less-experienced urban-dwelling riders want to buy acreage, get a farm subsidy, and procure one of these quads. The Grizzly could realistically be used for ranch chores to appease the sensible part of the brain. Better yet, the sporty side of the Grizzly releases the adrenaline and endorphins.
2014 Yamaha Grizzly 700 EPS
Base eps MSRP: $9,499
Engine: 686cc 4-stroke, liquid-cooled, SOHC
Bore & Stroke (mm): 102x84
Compression Ratio: 10.0:1
Transmission: Ultramatic V-belt CVT, sprag clutch
Drive System: On-Command pushbutton 3-way
Suspension: Independent double wishbone, coilovers
Brakes: Dual hydraulic discs
Front Tire: AT25x8-12
Rear Tire: AT25x10-12
Length (in): 81.3
Width (in): 46.5
Height (in): 48.8
Wheelbase (in): 49.2
Turning Radius (in): 126
Ground Clearance (in): 10.8
Fuel Capacity (gal): 5.3
Weight (lb): 648 (wet)
Rack Capacity (lb), f/r: 99/187
Towing Capacity (lb): 1,322