ATV TEST: 2016 Yamaha Grizzly 700

Over the last two decades we have watched the Yamaha Grizzly 4×4 ATV transform from the largest-displacement monster to a refined animal. In the late 1990s, Yamaha dominated the market by having the biggest 4×4 you could buy with a whopping 600cc. Fast-forward over time and that number has increased by Yamaha and has been surpassed by everyone else. The displacement numbers game didn’t seem to attract Yamaha; it was sales numbers that were counted, and Yamaha has continued to have the best in the category. Concentrating on aspects like ergonomics, handling, durability and price helped keep the Grizzly at the top of the food chain. For 2016 Yamaha has continued to tweak the Grizzly chassis and powerplant in hopes of keeping that lead on the competition.

Yamaha designed a new 700cc engine with dual overhead cams and fuel injection. The same motor is used in the smaller Kodiak 4×4 and the Wolverine UTV. It’s quieter than the old powerplant and offers 10 percent more torque.

ALL-NEW ENGINE
This new powerplant marks the fourth generation of the big-bore Grizzly engine. It started out as an air-cooled 600 in 1998, switched to a liquid-cooled 660 in 2001, then to a 700 EFI in 2006. The current engine jumps from 686cc to 708cc and now boasts a dual-overhead-cam, fourvalve, electronically fuel-injected (44mm) single-cylinder mated to a CVT transmission. Yamaha claims peak horsepower is up 6 percent, and the torque increase is a full 10. To get the power to the ground, the Grizzly uses Yamaha’s Ultramatic CVT system, which still uses a centrifugal clutch to keep constant belt tension at idle, and a sprag clutch always produces great engine braking. As always this Grizzly is super easy to service, with access panels to check the oil and a tool-less foam air filter access that has been moved to under the seat. To keep an eye on engine operation, a new digital instrument panel holds all the warning lights, fuel level, speed, distance and diagnostics.

Between the engine and the tires, Yamaha’s On-Command 4WD provides a selectable 2WD/4WD system with front diff-lock only when you think you need it. For 2016 the CV joints have been beefed up for even more strength, although we have never heard of one breaking during normal use. For traction, the Grizzly is equipped with 26/12-inch Maxxis tires exclusively spec’d by the Yamaha R&D team.

On smooth trails the Grizzly 700, with its new DOHC engine, rips as fast as we want to go on any 4×4. Steering is more precise and body roll is reduced over last year’s model.

BIG CHASSIS CHANGES
To house the larger engine Yamaha built a new frame mount, incorporating last year’s great new suspension system, and covered it all with more aggressive bodywork. Again, the suspension system uses independent A-arms on all four corners. Up front 7.6 inches of travel is provided via five-way preload-adjustable shocks. Out back wheel travel is increased to 9.1 inches, and again five preload settings are provided depending on your specific needs. At the outer edge of those A-arms disc brakes are used. Ground clearance measures 11.3 inches, and the curb weight jumps slightly to 692 pounds.

Three separate storage opportunities are found on the Grizzly. The most convenient is the center box just in front of the rider. It’s large enough for a small jacket or even a pair of shoes.

Overall the center of gravity stays low thanks to relocating the fuel tank to under the seat with the intake in front of that. There is also a handy storage box up front where the gas cap used to sit. Another storage compartment is found in the front fender, and a third area exists under the rear taillight. In front of the rider a new center-mounted headlight pod in the handlebars should add a lot of additional light paired with the two solid-mounted LEDs below the front rack. That way, no matter if you are riding in a straight line or sawing back and forth on the bars through the trees, there will always be light where you are looking. The center light only comes on when high beam is on.

Yamaha’s 2016 Grizzly 700 has an allnew DOHC, 708cc engine. Bodywork is also new and comes in green, blue, red and Realtree Camo color choices.

TEST RIDE
Hopping on the new Grizzly you instantly feel like it’s a new machine. The seat is very comfortable, and you notice the new handlebar-mounted headlight, but it does not block the rider’s view. The naked handlebars always looked a little unfinished in the past. Now, you get the quick impression you are on a bigger machine. Aggressive fenders are higher than before, as is seat height. The riding position is still perfect, and the rider doesn’t have to hunch over or reach for anything. The controls are well placed, and the storage compartment between your legs is super convenient for items like trail maps, extra gloves or goggles. You could even stuff a small jacket through its wide opening. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t want to store water or other cold fluids in there as the engine heat keeps the cubby a little warm. On the good side, winter beverages would probably stay warm. The right fender-mounted cooking-jar-style box is just as convenient, doesn’t capture heat, nor does the third box under the taillight.

On smooth trails the Grizzly 700, with its new DOHC engine, rips as fast as we want to go on any 4×4. Steering is more precise and body roll is reduced over last year’s model.

WOLVERINE POWER
Yamaha’s new, DOHC, 700cc engine is similar to what is found in the YFZ450 and is exactly what powers the Wolverine UTV. You can read more about this machine on our site and at www.yamaha-motor.com. The new engine rumbles to life quickly but doesn’t provide any noticeable vibration through the bars and to the rider. It idles smooth and revs smoother. The exhaust has a nice, mild tone. When you take off, the clutch engages smoothly and will get you going slow or fast depending on how you stab the throttle. We rolled down some easy trails at first, getting used to the new size of the machine and the added power. The Grizzly is easy to ride and super plush over the bumps at low to medium speeds. If there is a rock or ledge you need to get over, just stab the throttle and jerk the bars and the front end is over it. We noticed the steering effort to be slightly more than the old machine, but Yamaha’s EPS still gives the best rider active feel instead of a numb or super-loose action you get with other brand EPS systems.

At a faster pace the Grizzly comes to life even more. It has near arm-jerking power on flat ground that thrills the rider. Mid- to high-end power is as good as low range. For a 700-pound machine, the Grizzly goes plenty fast and tops out around 70 mph, which is plenty fast. Over the high-speed bumps the Grizzly is plush. It’s really predictable over the small ones. When you hit the big bumps the suspension soaks it up better than expected every time. The 9 inches of travel in the back keeps the quad from bucking and sort of pushes the big 4×4 forward instead.

TRACTION
Another noticeable difference felt when riding the new Grizzly is increased traction. The new Yamaha Spec Maxxis tires seem to glue themselves to the ground even in slippery situations. Whether it’s over wet rocks or slick ruts, the tires stay planted and go where you point them. There were several rutted trails on our test loop that we were very surprised when the machine would straddle, like skinny ledges or side hills, and not slip down.

Arched, lower, front A-arms help provide ground clearance, while the preload-adjustable shock mounted on the upper A-arm allows for 7.6 inches of predictable movement.
Out back the A-arm provides a wide-stump clearing stance with 9.1 inches of travel and an impressive 11.3 inches of ground clearance at full extension. About the only thing we could ask for on the new Grizzly is a stronger center skid plate. Companies like Ricochet will handle that, so will Yamaha’s accessory division.

The extra 1-inch diameter over last year’s 25-inch tires give the new meats less rolling resistance over sharp ledges and big rocks. However, if you do hit something abrupt, the tire flexes very predictably without too much bounce. We tried to abuse the tires and failed. Our complete day-long initial test ride produced zero tire failures. We hammered the four-wheel disc brake system all day and it, too, was flawless. About the only upgrade we would consider for this machine is thicker plastic or perhaps an aluminum underbelly skid plate. The stock one works well for the occasional trail obstacle, but could be stronger for severe rock crawling like we do with our 4×4 ATVs.

LED lights have been added to the front end of the Grizzly 700 under the front rack. The center handlebar pod-mounted headlight is also new. It is a halogen light that works by selecting your high beam.

TOTAL TEST
After the full torture test we put the 2016 Grizzly through the machine still looked great and was ready for more. The way Yamaha designed its body, brushing against trees and scraping against rocks doesn’t hurt it. There are no side lights or a taillight to rip off, and the floorboards are recessed inside the fenders as well to prevent damage.

While we have liked every version of Yamaha’s Grizzly, this one impresses us even more. It has a bigger, bulkier feeling, but is still noble and handles great. No matter if you want to slap on some big mud tires and snorkels or load it with hunting gear, it’s going to perform very well.

We plan on strapping on some camping gear and heading out for a weekend ride with its competition, the Honda Rincon, the Polaris and CanAm 850 really soon.

2016 YAMAHA GRIZZLY 700 EPS
Engine…………..Liquid cooled, DOHC,
single-cylinder, 4-valve, 4 stroke
Displacement……………………………708cc
Bore & stroke………………..103mmx 85m
Compression ratio…………………….10.1:1
Starting………………………………….Electric
Fuel delivery…………………….44mm EFI
Fuel capacity……………………….4.76 gal
Transmission…………….Fully auto CVT
Final drive………………………………..Shaft
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front……………….Dual A-arms w/ 7.6”
Rear……………….Dual A-arms w/ 9.1”
Brakes:
Front………………..Dual hydraulic disc
Rear………………..Dual hydraulic disc
Tires:
Front…………………………………….26×8-12
Rear…………………………………..26×10-12
Length/width/height..81.5”/46.4”/49.3”
Seat height………………………………..36.1”
Turning radius…………………………137.8”
Ground clearance……………………..11.3”
Mfg. claimed weight……..692 lb. (wet)
Rack capacity: f/r………..110 lb./198 lb.
Colors…………………….Green, blue, red,
Realtree Xtra Camo
Price………………………………………….$9699
Contact…….www.yamaha-motor.com

2016 Yamaha Grizzly 700ATVATV TestDirt WheelsFuel InjectedGrizzly 700Trail QuadUtility ATVYamaha