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We test Yamaha’s 2016 Grizzly and Kodiak 700 ATVs

Posted in Vehicle Reviews on March 31, 2016
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Most of the time we go four-wheeling there’s a steering wheel in our hands and we’re looking through a windshield. However, once in a blue moon we get to off-road something totally different. This four-wheeling adventure had us looking through goggles and gripping a handlebar, and it was every bit as challenging and exciting as any Jeep trail we’ve tackled. Believe us when we say a powerful ATV with four-wheel-drive and a locking front differential can be a smokin’ good time on the trail.

Good times perfectly describe our recent experience with the new Yamaha ATVs. We had the chance to spend two days at Windrock Park just outside of Knoxville, Tennessee, testing out the latest entries in the ATV market from Yamaha–the 2016 Grizzly and Kodiak 700. Windrock Park contains 72,000 acres of mountains, valleys, meadows, and streams crisscrossed with 300 miles of off-road trails, and it has a very nice campground. According to the owners of this massive chunk of land, it’s the largest privately held off-road park in the country.


A powerful 700cc four-cycle, four-valve, fuel-injected engine with assistance from the On-Command 4WD system and a locking front differential helps the 2016 Yamaha Grizzly EPS conquer a rocky trail.


Grizzly
The two new rides are very similar, yet offer nuanced differences, and are targeted to different customers. We’ll begin with the new Grizzly, a powerful ATV aimed accurately at the sport-riding customer. First of all, the 2016 Grizzly features an all-new DOHC, 708cc, four-valve, four-stroke, fuel-injected engine that has been tuned for aggressive recreational riding. Its power output is up 6 and 9 percent in horsepower and torque, respectively, over the previous model.

These power gains are primarily due to some major modifications in significant areas of the engine. The new engine offers a DOHC design, where as the 2015 model was a SOHC. A newly redesigned air intake system is longer, wider, and straighter for a greater and more free-flowing volume of airflow, and is located at a higher point now for better water-fording ability. The filter is larger, and is now located under the seat for easier maintenance. The Mikuni fuel-injection system with its 44mm bore and throttle position sensor helps to provide more power, uninhibited fuel delivery on any terrain or in any conditions, and makes for easier cold starts.


The Grizzly’s fully independent suspension offers five-way adjustable coilover shock absorbers for a nimble-footed ride. The optional Warn winch makes removing trail obstacles a breeze, and comes in handy for extricating other stuck machines.


Riding is made easy with the addition of the Yamaha Ultramatic automatic transmission. It features a gated shifter with a positive and sure feel when engaged in Park, Reverse, Neutral, Hi or Lo. The CVT system has an automatic centrifugal clutch that keeps constant belt tension to reduce wear and tear on the belt. It also features a sprag clutch that delivers all-wheel engine braking that’s nice and smooth–very helpful on steep descents. New gear ratios in the transmission (a lower high gear and a lower middle gear) are part of the “recreational tune” on the Grizzly.

In addition to the revamped transmission, the 2016 Grizzly also offers a locking front differential and part-time four-wheel-drive that can be instantly engaged with the touch of a button mounted on the right-hand side of the handlebar. Larger and stouter front and rear driveshafts were also part of the upgrade and redesign of the new Grizzly.

The chassis underwent a complete redesign for 2016 as well. In order to best take advantage of its choice to run 26-inch Maxxis tires, Yamaha knew it had to rework the frame and suspension of the new Grizzly. It’s an all-new build that delivers a fully independent suspension with high-arc lower arms for increased ground clearance, and five-way preload adjustable nitrogen-charged coilover shocks with new damping curves and a longer stroke. Wheel travel on the new ride is 7.6 inches in front and 9.1 inches in the rear. The new chassis when combined with the 26-inch tires (AT26x8-12 in rear and AT26x8-10 in front) provides an overall ground clearance gain of 13mm over the previous model, bringing the 2016 Grizzly to a total of 11.3 inches. Four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes are mounted to new forged hubs.


The rearend of the Grizzly features a limited slip and an independent suspension with five-way adjustable coil shocks. One of three storage compartments sits just below the seat, and is a good place for a few tools.


The pitman arm was redesigned to match the new chassis design, and the all-new Grizzly now comes with Yamaha’s electronic power steering (EPS) system. The EPS ECU offers assist based on speed and steering torque. It was remarkable how much of a difference the new power steering system made when we were ‘wheeling this machine through rocky sections of trail. It took most of work out that arm-wrestling match we normally have with large rocks and boulders, and made riding rock-pocked trails a real joy.

Another new feature making the 2016 Grizzly a ton of fun (although it really weighs just 679 pounds wet) to ride is the full-digital instrumentation imbedded in a center pod integrated into the handlebar. The package features a multifunction LCD with a speedometer, dual trip meter, hour meter, fuel gauge, and clock. Status indicators for the 4WD system and transmission mode position are also included.

Part of the new styling on the 2016 Grizzly is a sizable headlight mounted in the center pod of the handlebar. Along with a LED taillight, new rear fender design, three generous storage compartments (tank top, right-side front fender, and under the tail), and newly designed optional front and rear racks that allow you to carry a sizeable load, the body makeover has made the new Yamaha ATV a very different looking animal.


When equipped with electronic power steering (EPS) system, the 2016 Grizzly’s handlebar features a fully instrumented LCD in the headlight pod. Switches on the side of the pod can be used to control certain functions of the LCD gauge cluster.


Kodiak
Speaking of different animals, we also rode the all-new Kodiak 700, and we hesitate to refer to it as a de-contented Grizzly, because the Kodiak is so similar that if they removed the nameplates you would have to look twice and spend some time on it in order to know the difference.

The Kodiak 700 is targeted at the utilitarian user¬–ranchers, farmers, and other work-related riders. It was no less fun to ride than the sport-tuned Grizzly, but the new 708cc engine (the Kodiak used to come with a 550cc engine) is optimized for all-day operation, the Kodiak-specific CVT settings are designed for lower engine RPM duty, and the chassis rolls on 25-inch Maxxis tires that give the Kodiak slightly less ground clearance (10.8 inches) than the Grizzly. The Kodiak also gets a different handlebar (the grips are closer and lower) and seat (lower) for a more relaxed seated riding position. Of course, the body styling is slightly more conservative (utilitarian) and the optional cargo racks are larger.

You can get the Grizzly or the Kodiak without EPS, and non-EPS versions come with a different 4WD actuator (lever-style) and no locking front differential. The Kodiak (in either version) does come with a new fully sealed wet rear brake system for durability under harsh conditions such as being slogged through water and muck all day and then left sitting all night, the sort of thing that might be routine duty in ranching or farming.


Yamaha’s On-Command 4WD system allows for switching back and forth from 2WD and 4WD on-the-fly with just the push of the red button. Once the On-Command 4WD system is switched into 4WD mode (top photo), the lever covering the front differential lock button can be flipped aside with the operator’s thumb, and then the differential lock engaged (photo below).


It was good that halfway through the second day of riding we were rained out by a swamping Tennessee downpour that had people running for cover. It hid the tear we shed having to get off of the ATVs and leave the incredible trails of Windrock Park behind. We were happy though in the thought that we had experienced nearly two days of great riding and learned a lot about the extremely capable and fun-to-ride Yamaha Grizzly and Kodiak 700.

Grizzly EPS Specifications

Engine Type: 708cc liquid-cooled DOHC 4-stroke; 4 valves
Bore x Stroke: 103.0 x 85.0mm
Compression Ratio: 10.1:1
Fuel Delivery: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 44mm
Ignition TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Starting System: Electric
Transmission: Yamaha Ultramatic V-belt with all-wheel engine braking; H, L, N, R, P
Final Drive: On-Command 3-way locking differential; 2WD, 4WD, locked 4WD; shaft
Suspension Front: Independent double wishbone; 5-way preload adjustment, 7.6-in travel
Suspension Rear: Independent double wishbone with anti-sway bar; 5-way preload adjustment, 9.1-in travel
Brakes: Front, dual hydraulic disc/Rear, dual hydraulic disc
Tires: Front, Maxxis AT26x8-12/Rear, Maxxis AT26x10-12
Overall Size: (L x W x H), 81.5 in x 48.4 in x 49.3 in
Seat Height: 36.1 in
Wheelbase: 49.2 in
Turning Radius: 137.8 in
Ground Clearance: 11.3 in
Fuel Capacity: 4.76 gals
Wet Weight: 692 lbs
Rack Capacity: Front/Rear, 110 lbs/198 lbs
Towing Capacity: 1322 lbs
Lighting: dual LED headlights, 35/36.5W auxiliary light, LED brake light
Warranty: 6 Month (Limited Factory Warranty)

Among the many options available through Yamaha to deck out the 2016 Grizzly, we think this Warn winch is probably your best money spent. After all it could get your buddy out of trouble, or you may need it to save yourself one day. It’s also protected well by a heavy duty skid plate.

On the left hand side of the tank you’ll find the shifter for the Ultramatic CVT transmission. It has five positions (Park, Reverse, Neutral, Hi, and Lo) and provides a positive and firm feeling when shifted from one setting to another. The 2016 Grizzly CVT features a lower first gear and higher top gear to optimize the increased power of the 700cc engine.

Riding rock-strewn trails was made a great deal easier because of the well-damped fully independent four-wheel suspension, new electronic power steering (EPS) system, and the 26-inch Maxxis AT tires on the 2016 Yamaha Grizzly.

The 2016 Yamaha Grizzly electronic power steering (EPS) features a bright halogen work light that turns with the handlebar to illuminate anything pointed out. This is especially convenient during night riding to help augment the two LED headlights mounted in the front body panes of the Grizzly.

The electric start and kill switch for the engine can be seen on the left end of the electronic power steering (EPS) handlebar. The largest of three storage compartments is located atop the center section, and the fuel fill is on the right-hand fender.

Sources

Yamaha Motor Company
www.yamaha-motor.com

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