PROJECT MACHINE: A BETTER-HANDLING YAMAHA GRIZZLY
Upgrading a 2016 Yamaha Grizzly 700 By the staff of Dirt Wheels
Watch the full video HERE!
Utility quads are used for a lot more than hard work around the ranch. Modern 4x4s easily surpass the power and suspension performance of the sport quads of the past but with superior ground clearance, and many feature four-wheel independent suspension. Those traits make them great machines for traversing trails in the mountains or climbing through rocks and river beds. But, like most off-road machinery, they could use improvements to make the ride nicer. For this project we chose a 2016 Yamaha Grizzly 700. Our aim was to allow the machine to ride more comfortably so the rider could stay out on the trail longer while riding with greater control and safety.
The Yamaha Grizzly 700 is a powerful 4×4 quad with a strong reputation for durability and good handling. The 2016 Grizzly has a 708cc, four-stroke powerplant with dual overhead camshafts and electronic fuel injection. It is no slouch on the trail, but adding a bit of extra grunt to this bear is never a bad idea. We went to HMF Racing for a quality slip-on muffler, along with the Gen 3.5 Optimizer to program the mapping of the fuel-injected system. The muffler comes from HMF’s Performance series. It has a great tone and provides more power throughout the whole rpm range with a proper tune.
One of the first steps to improve the handling of any machine is to upgrade the wheels and tires. The stock Grizzly tires were chosen for good traction in a lot of different terrain, but we wanted tires that have a more aggressive bite for the conditions we typically encounter. We went to DWT (Douglas Wheel & Tire) for a set of four of their 26×9-14 six-ply Moapa tires. The original front tires are 26×7-12 and the rears are 26×11-12. We utilized a tire width that was in between the front and rear stock tire sizes, so we can keep a spare at camp that fits any corner of the machine. Paired with the Moapa tires are a set of 14-inch DWT Stealth-Lok beadlock wheels with orange rings. The rims have an offset of 4+3, which is close to stock. We didn’t want the wheels and tires to get too wide for tight trails. We plan to do a lot of technical trail riding where stock tires could be punctured by rocks, sticks and other trail debris, so a set of six-ply tires with rims that will hold a flat tire on for miles of riding will ensure that we can make it back to camp.
Suspension is a crucial component for any machine, and having shocks that ride rough or are worn out won’t help you go fast and have a smooth ride. In our April 2016 issue we had a comprehensive test of Elka’s Stage 4 shocks that performed very well, so we decided to mount the shocks on our Grizzly. The Stage 4 Elkas come with spring preload, rebound and low-speed compression adjustments. The coil-over reservoir suspension comes with dual-rate springs, and the shocks are tuned for aggressive trail riding and cross-country racing.
The Grizzly’s stock handlebar is quite comfortable for seated riding. When standing to ride more aggressively, we felt our wrists were turned inward, and that made controlling the big 4×4 difficult. The handlebar is also susceptible to bending on really hard impacts. Rox Speed FX built a combo kit for the Yamaha that comes with risers, an instrument-gauge relocation plate, a new mounting bracket for the stock headlight pod, and fat bars that are strong and have less sweep than the stock handlebar. The kit did take some time but was easy to install. Instantly, the riding position felt more comfortable in all the terrain we subjected the Yamaha to.
We installed Torc 1 lock-on grips on the new bar. There is no grip glue needed for these grips, and they are soft for good hand traction yet last well. We have used these grips on many different machines and are always impressed by their performance.
Rox Speed FX also sent us a pair of their Universal ATV footpegs that are much wider under your feet with more aggressive teeth for traction. The pegs are designed only for 4×4 ATVs and mount up to the stock running boards of your machine. The ends of the pegs have a kick-up, which helps keep your feet in place. The final Rox product we installed was a set of their MX handguards to keep our hands protected from roost, bushes, trees and other trail debris.
Yamaha offers a lot of accessories for their machines, so it was a no-brainer to order parts directly from them for this project Grizzly 700. During our original testing of the Yamaha we managed to destroy one of the stock belly skid plates on the machine and had sticks stuck in odd places. In order to prevent this from happening again and further protect the machine, we installed a full under-body skid-plate kit. We installed front and rear A-arm skids and full-belly skids starting from the front bash plate to the rear of the Grizzly. The skid plates are aluminum instead of plastic like the stockers and are heavy duty.
Finally, we wanted to ensure that we could get the Yamaha out of sticky situations if need be, so we ordered a Warn winch kit from Yamaha. The kit includes the 2500-pound winch, handlebar-mounted switch, winch mounting brackets and hardware. When you are out exploring in rough conditions, a buddy or yourself could get stuck, and a winch is a helpful tool to pull you out of trouble.
The most noticeable change we noticed while piloting the improved Grizzly was the wheels and tires. The tires grip very well over rocks, through mud and even sand; however, the heavier 14-inch beadlock wheels with six-ply tires add a lot of weight to the machine, and you can feel it in the acceleration and handling. A 12-inch wheel would have suited the Grizzly a bit better in the handling department by weighing less.
The power increase with the HMF exhaust and power programmer is a nice touch for this project. We didn’t need a whole lot more power, and the system provided enough to increase the low-, mid- and top-end range. Our only complaint about HMF’s system is that it is louder than stock, so we rode even more sedately when around other people. You can tune the fuel-injection system mapping straight through the controller, and it is easy to do out on the trail.
The Elka Stage 4 suspension was the most noticeable change aside from the tires. The shocks smoothed out the ride of the Yamaha greatly over stock. You can hit terrain faster with more precision and feel comfortable riding at higher speeds. The shocks soak up chop with ease and make the machine feel more stable in turns.
The Rox Speed FX handlebar and riser combo system provides a much more comfortable and aggressive riding position for going fast or just cruising down the trail. The handlebars feel better in a standing riding position, and the Torc 1 grips allow you to hold onto the bars without leaving your hands sore after a few hours of riding. The Rox footpegs provide great traction and do a good job at keeping our feet in place. Their handguards are sturdy and protect from the elements and bushes hitting you.
This Yamaha Grizzly 700 is now built to take on the toughest of trails we can find in a much more comfortable fashion. Each component we installed improved the overall handling and performance of the machine and makes riding the big bear even more fun than before.
ROX SPEED FX
MX Handguard Kit: $59.95
Grizzly Combo Kit: $169.95
Universal ATV Footpegs: $89.95
DWT 14-inch Stealth-Lok w/ Orange Beadlock Rings: $198.95 each 26x9x14 Moapa Tires: $129.95 each
Stage 4 Shocks: $999.99 pair
Grizzly 700 Front Bash Plate: $124.99
Frame Skid: $133.95
Rear Bash Plate: $105.95
Front A-arm Skids: $145.95
Rear A-arm Skids: $140.95
Yamaha Pro Vantage 2500-lb. Warn Winch: $359.99
Yamaha Warn Winch Mount: $114.99
TORC 1 RACING
Lock-on Grips: $24.99
Exhaust System with Custom Orange Performance Series: $299.95
Power Programmer Gen 3.5 Optimizer: $269.95
DOUGLAS WHEEL & TIRE (DWT): www.dwtracing.com, (800) 722-3746
ELKA SUSPENSION: www.elkasuspension.com, (800) 557-0552
HMF RACING: www.hmfracing.com, (216) 631-6980
ROX SPEED FX: www.roxspeedfx.com, (218) 326-1794
TORC 1 RACING: www.torc1racing.com, (661) 505-7114
YAMAHA ACCESSORIES: www.shopyamaha.com, (800) 962-7926