2010 Yamaha Raptor 700R

All of the high-performance talk these days has been too 450 heavy. “YFZ this,” or “TRX, KFX, DS and KTM that.” Has the world forgotten about the true high-performance class? For years, ATVs like Yamaha’s Raptor 700 have ruled the high-performance class from the dunes to desert dust and woods trails. This month, we threw a leg over the 2010 Raptor 700R, and it quickly reminded us why it’s held the high-performance crown for all these years.

The 21×7-10 (front) and 20×10-9 (rear) Dunlop treads are good stock tires. You can go straight from the track to the dunes without changing.

There are many trail riders out there who will immediately look beyond the Raptor 700 side of the showroom and head straight to the YFZ450. Compared to the YFZ, some might think the Raptor looks big and bulky and won’t be the better machine for them. If you’re a trail junky who will spend minimal time on the track and prefer a smooth-revving, yet ultra-powerful machine, the Raptor 700 will be a great addition to your garage. Heavy? No. In fact, the Raptor, at 422 pounds wet weight, is a mere 17 pounds heavier than the YFZ450R (405) and 22 pounds heavier than the new YFZ450X.

A 686cc, liquid-cooled, four-stroke powerplant pulls its weight effortlessly, too. This SOHC four-valve is light, strong, and hits smooth but hard from low revs all the way to 9000 rpm.

The Raptor was even equipped with fuel injection (YFI) before the YFZ450. It starts with ease and runs in a wide range of conditions, elevations and temperatures. To make room for two machines in our F-150, We loaded the Raptor 700 in a vertical stance, resting on the rear grab bar. With the carbureted ATVs, it would be a problem starting after you unload. The Raptor fired right up and does so in any gear as long as the clutch lever is pulled in.

Throttle response is quick and smooth, and the Raptor’s large throttle is plush on the thumb. Its five-speed transmission is still one of the best we have ever tested. Each gear is appropriately placed. Whether lugging around tight trails or blitzing sand, it was in the right spot every time. Unlike the YFZ models, the Raptor transmission has a reverse feature. Clutch in, turn the right plastic-mounted knob, and it shifts down past first gear into reverse, then shifts right back into first gear with a quick upshift.

The Raptor 700 is equipped with a 686cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC, four-valve, four-stroke and five-speed manual transmission with reverse.

The Raptor 700’s chassis combines a steel front section with an aluminum rear section. The rear is also equipped with an aluminum detachable sub-frame. Bolted to the chassis are large 45mm serrated footpegs that provided us with great traction in the mud and good room for aggressive riding as well.

The front of the Raptor 700 features double A-arms. The piggyback shocks are stellar quality and offer high/low-speed compression, rebound and threaded preload adjustments. They provided a plush trail and dune ride with 9.1 inches of travel.

A cast aluminum swingarm picks up the slack in the rear. The single rear shock matches the dual fronts with rebound, high-/low-speed compression and threaded preload adjustments. The rear end has 10.1 inches of wheel travel. Each shock is adjustable with convenient knobs to fine-tune the ride.
21×7-10 front and 20×10-9 rear Dunlop treads deliver predictable handling and solid traction in a variety of terrain and conditions. Even in the dunes, the Raptor hooked up well. We preferred the handling of the Raptor with its stock tires to sand paddles. Plus, the rolled aluminum wheels felt light and took a tough rock pounding away from the dunes.

Bringing the Dunlop treads to a halt up front are dual-ventilated hydraulic discs. The rear uses a single ventilated hydraulic disc, and is equipped with a self-adjusting park brake function that runs to the left side of the handlebars. The parking brake is solid and designed well, leaving the clutch lever free and clear.

The front of the Raptor 700 features double A-arms and piggyback shocks. The shocks offer high/low-speed compression, and rebound and threaded preload adjustments that offer the front end 9.1 inches of wheel travel.

The last big change Yamaha made to their Raptor 700 a year ago is adding a trick digital meter. This sleek green-lit display offers plenty of information available at a glance, including speedometer, dual-trip meters, odometer, clock and engine warning indicators, plus neutral and reverse indicators. Other lighting features include dual 30W Krypton multi-reflector headlights up front and a 3.9/0.5W LED brakelight. The brakelight is built into the rear plastic bodywork. It looks great and doesn’t dangle below the rear grab bar like most sport ATVs.

Other good features include a large-capacity, 2.9-gallon fuel tank, which means more time on the trail between fill-ups, as well as an easy-to-reach oil filter and tool-free air filter. So easy a caveman can do it.

A single rear shock is matched to a cast aluminum swingarm in the rear. It offers the same adjustability as the front with 10.1 inches of wheel travel.

At $8099, the Yamaha Raptor 700R is a top high-performance ATV. We prefer it to Yamaha’s YFZ450R on the trails, and it is one of the best in the dunes. The 686cc powerplant is fast and runs smoothly with its five-speed transmission with reverse.

The Raptor 700 compares with Can-Am’s Renegade series of 500 and 800s, Honda’s 700XX, the Polaris Outlaw 525s and Kawasaki’s KFX700. The Renegades weigh over 600 pounds, and  are shaft-driven with an independent rear suspension. Honda’s 700XX with its matching 686cc, liquid-cooled, SOHC, four-stroke powerplant has 9.3 inches of front and 10.6 inches of rear wheel travel packed in a 508-pound chassis. The Polaris Outlaws are available in an IRS or swingarm version and offer Fox Podium shocks and KTM’s hotrod SOHC powerplant.

Yamaha offers the Raptor 700 in an $8799 Special Edition model in addition to the standard unit, which includes a cool red frame, white plastic and flame graphics. The Raptor 700R Special Edition includes wave-style rear brake discs, a dealer-installed GYT-R front grab bar and aluminum heel guards, plus special graphics and colors.

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