Testing the best-selling sport ATV of all time

By the staff of Dirt Wheels


Yamaha has so much love for sport ATVs that they keep the best-selling ATV in the category on dealer floors for you to buy today! It’s no secret, the struggle of the economic downfall in 2008 hindered the market and kick-started the decline of sport quads. Compounded with the rise in UTV technology, the sport ATV category had its heyday.

Now we consider certain 4×4 machines sport models. Honestly, those 4x4s are very sporty in our opinion, and we have a blast riding them, but we still love a straight-axle, lightweight sport quad. Fortunately, Yamaha still sees a lot of value and sales in the Raptor 700, so they continue to produce it with new color schemes each year and fairly routine upgrades.

For 2019 we got a chance to test the Yamaha Raptor 700R Special Edition in one of its favorite habitats—sand dunes. There was only a color change for this year, but we still wanted to experience why the Raptor 700 is Yamaha’s proclaimed “king” of their ATV lineup. Another year of riding the best big-bore straight-axle quad on the market and we couldn’t be happier!

There is enough power on tap in every gear, but our riders tended to utilize third most often. There is plenty of grunt in third for the dunes.

The engine remains a 686cc, single-cylinder, SOHC four-stroke that is liquid-cooled and fed fuel through a 44mm electronic fuel-injection system. A strong push of the thumb throttle can spin the engine up as high as 9000 rpm.

In 2015 the compression ratio was bumped up from 9.2:1 to 10.0:1, where it remains today. The compression ratio accompanied a redesigned cylinder head that converted the Raptor 700 from a dual-exhaust port to a single-exhaust port. That and a few other enhancements smoothed out the power output and increased it by roughly 10 percent.

The cylinder has a bore of 102mm and an 84mm stroke. Those numbers mean it is a short-stroke design, but the massive torque has a feel more like a long-stroke configuration. A transistor-controlled ignition runs and helps fire up the mill in conjunction with (thankfully) an electric starting system.

Power is transferred to the chain-driven rear axle by a sequentially shifted, clutch-operated five-speed transmission. A reverse gear is designed for the transmission. It is easy to engage and quite pleasant to have available on trails.

GYTR heel guards come standard on the Special Edition.




Yamaha’s Raptor 700 is very well-liked, and not just because it has the bragging rights of a big motor. The suspension is smooth and forgiving for the average rider. The front end supplies 9.1 inches of wheel travel with dual-A-arm suspension. Most all ATVs utilize this setup because it is strong and simple in its design while maintaining lightweight. The rear end of the Raptor wields a swingarm and linkage combination that offers 10.1 inches of wheel travel. A straight axle holds the rear wheels and allows the 700 to slide easily while cornering.

The solid-axle, swingarm-style rear suspension utilizes a linkage to provide 10.1 inches of wheel travel.


There are three different Raptor 700 models. The base-model 700 utilizes basic gas-charged coil-over shocks that have only spring preload adjustment. The ride is a bit rough on this model, but a starting price of $7999 is comfortable to cope with. We suggest this model if you plan to add aftermarket suspension.

The next step is the 700R, which gets upgraded shocks that have high- and low-speed compression adjustability, along with spring preload and rebound adjustments for $8599. The model we tested here starts at $9199, has the same shocks as the R, but gets Special Edition color schemes and GYTR’s heel guards and front bumper.

Maxxis tires come stock on the 700R, and they work well. The rears wear somewhat quickly on dirt but hook up well.

We enjoy the Raptor due to its all-around capability and handling characteristics. It is very capable at most everything the 700 is meant to ride through. The powerplant produces a bottom-end grunt and torque curve that excites as strongly as it pulls, while it remains potent through the rest of the range.

On the opposite side of the coin, the 686cc engine is calm enough to be easily controlled, and it moves out smartly with an all-day-comfortable lope that doesn’t demand high rpm or wide-open throttle to keep things interesting. A smooth-operating clutch and strong hydraulic disc brakes help conduct the big-bore ATV through the tightest or most wide-open trails.

The rider position feels most comfortable in a sitting position. The handlebar could use reduced sweep for stand-up riding.


The rider compartment is geared towards a sitting position, but it is roomy enough for the tallest pilots. The handlebar sweeps back pretty far, which enhances the turning ability of the Yamaha while seated, but we would be happier with a bar similar to the YFZ450R for standing and spirited riding.

The tall 32.7-inch seat height, tall engine, and width of 45.5 inches mean the Raptor is top-heavy when compared to a YFZ450R. Cornering the machine is smooth and simple, but we take care to add a bit more body English, so the outside wheels push and slide instead of catch and tilt the brute.

We do notice that the Raptor likes to dive into corners when riding aggressively, but that is easily manageable. The seat is supple for long rides in the saddle, and moving around the machine while riding is quite easy.

Suspension travel is healthy in stock form, and a 22-inch-tall front tire aids in soaking up the chop and rolling over obstacles. The solid rear axle allows the machine to slide with ease, but over rough chop, it can provide a rougher ride (similar to all straight-axle sport quads). The tire size in the rear remains 20 inches tall. Yamaha’s piggyback-reservoir coil-over shocks found on the 700R and SE are a worthy upgrade.

The dual-A-arm suspension comes standard with 9.1 inches of wheel travel, and for our SE, compression, rebound, and spring preload adjustability.


Our opinion on Yamaha’s Raptor 700 rarely falls from high approval, and it still hasn’t changed. Out of the box the Raptor can be ridden on trails, hit the track or blast up big sand dunes. Power is plentiful, and it handles quite well on most terrain. We applaud Yamaha for continuing to support sport quad fanatics with the Raptor 700 and YFZ450R. Go to www.yamahamotorsports.com to check out their full ATV and UTV lineups!


The 2019 Raptor 700R Special Edition comes in Armor Grey or a Brilliant Red color scheme with a GYTR front grab bar.


Engine Single, SOHC, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke

Displacement 686cc

Starter Electric 

Fuel system EFI

Fuel Capacity 2.9 gal.

Transmission 5-speed sequential

Final drive Chain

Suspension/wheel travel:

Front Dual A-arms w/ 9.1”

Rear Swingarm w/ 10.1”


Front Dual hydraulic discs

Rear Hydraulic disc


Front 22×7-10

Rear 20×10-9

Length/width/height 72.6”/45.5”/43.9”

Ground clearance 9.5”

Wheelbase 50.4”

Curb weight 422 lb.

Colors Armor Grey and Brilliant Red

Price $9199

Contact www.yamahamotorsports.com, local dealer

To subscribe to Dirt Wheels Magazine in print or digital form click here https://hi-torque.com/product/dirtwheels


Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.