25 years of building the best bear By the staff of Dirt Wheels

In the beginning, the Grizzly started out as an air-cooled, big-bore 600cc machine with a straight-axle rear-suspension system. At the turn of the century, it was the biggest ATV you could buy for a few years. Over time, different engine packages have been used since and, of course, the drivetrain has been constantly updated with the latest geometry and technology. What exists in the modern machine is a well-massaged animal. 

Yamaha introduced electronic power steering on the Grizzly back in 2007. It was a game changer that every other manufacturer has added to their ATVs, too.

Over the last 25 years, Yamaha has introduced lots of innovative features on the Grizzly platform, some of which were also quickly adopted by the competition. So, for its 2023 offering, it has them all, starting with an Ultramatic CVT transmission. With it, you will find a 10-year belt warranty, and no need to use the low gear, except for those heavy loads up steep inclines. Constant tension is applied to the belt, so slipping is a non-issue. An excellent EPS system not only offers great turning assistance, but it also provides a level of steering damping in the event you hit an unexpected, tire-grabbing, trailside obstacle. Independent rear suspension was introduced back when the Grizzly grew from a 600 to a 660. 

The control center is laid out perfectly on the Grizzly. Just above the light thumb throttle, you have the true locking differential 2WD/4WD switch. On the left side, you have the starter button, light switch and reverse override button. You can operate them all without taking either hand off of the bars.
Yamaha gave this Grizzly a 110-pound front and 198-pound rear rack capacity. The Grizzly is still very rideable completely loaded down.
The Grizzly has a good-sized floorboard but a rather mild footpeg. Our test unit was equipped with Yamaha’s aftermarket peg extension. It’s a must-have for this machine.

Today, that system allows for 9.1 inches of travel at the rear with 7.1 inches up front. The shocks are pretty simple, featuring only preload adjustability. Elka Suspension offers a great set of aftermarket shocks if you’re likely to get real aggressive with the machine.

We like the comfortable nature of the Grizzly cockpit more than any other ATV. In the sitting or standing position, the ride is super comfortable.


The base Grizzly 700 is listed at $11,399. For $600 more, you will get the SE model with its larger wheels and more aggressive, mud-ready tires. The winch-equipped XT-R model will fetch another $400 and also comes pre-wired for Yamaha’s Adventure Pro GPS. 

Suzuki’s 750 AXi is $11,249 but doesn’t handle nearly as well as the Yamaha. Honda’s Rubicon 680 is only $9,599, but still is not equipped with an EPS unit. Kawasaki dropped its Brute Force 750 from its lineup altogether this year. Polaris and Can-Am both have units with much larger displacements (800–1000cc); however, that leads to a much larger price tag as well. In fact, Polaris has one of the most expensive ATVs made—the Scrambler XP 1000 S at $17,799.

Ground clearance measures 11.3 inches, and a full-coverage skid plate offers the protection underneath. Wheel-travel numbers up front measure 7.6 inches.
An impressive 9.1 inches of preload-adjustable travel is found at the rear of the Grizzly. It’s plush over the bumps yet stable in the corners.


The latest engine is a 686cc, single-cylinder, four-stroke mill producing around 50 horsepower. The machine is rather lightweight for its class at 700 pounds, so there is plenty of power on tap to have a spirited ride down the trail. That’s just what we did at Rampart Range in Colorado where the trail system winds through the trees at 6,000–9,000 feet of elevation. The Grizzly was super fun on the tight trails. Power was torquey and got us from corner to corner as quick as we wanted to go. Although our 60-mile trail ride averaged under 50 mph, the Griz’ is capable of getting closer to 70 mph on wide-open trails. The engine is pretty quiet and also provides excellent engine braking when you let off the throttle. Slowing the Grizzly down is just as positive, thanks to hydraulic discs on all four wheels and separate front and rear brake levers.

Twenty-five years ago, the air-cooled Grizzly 600 was the most powerful ATV you could buy. Now, it’s powered by a 686cc, liquid-cooled engine that still offers plenty of grunt to get down the trail quickly. Contact


We’ve always liked the handling of the Grizzly. It turns sharp without the steering being too twitchy like the Suzuki KingQuad, especially when going down high-speed trails or down hills. The cockpit area is so good, we can’t tell what we like doing more of—sitting or standing. The seat is narrower than the Honda or Polaris, and the footpegs are better positioned than the Can-Am. Ergonomically, it’s as good as it gets.

The suspension is great for typical trail riding and utility work. It’s not a jumper, but it does handle choppy terrain or rocky trails and tree roots very well. If there is a series of bumps in the trail, you can jerk up on the bars to get the front end light and avoid the next couple of logs or cross a small stream. There’s nothing bad about the chassis whatsoever.

Suspension travel numbers are respectable at 9.1 in the back and 7.6 up front, and don’t allow for too much body roll or dive under braking. Yamaha outfitted our test unit with their accessory footpegs, which are a very nice touch if you wear boots when you ride. 

The latest Grizzly is one of very few ATVs that is pre-wired for an accessory GPS unit. Yamaha had Magellan develop this unit called the Adventure Pro. It can be removed from the machine quickly for use on a hike or brought into the house.
Of the three storage bins offered on the Grizzly, this one is waterproof. The two others are forward of and behind the seat.


No, it’s not meant to. Yamaha spent the last 25 years perfecting this machine. They concentrated just as much on performance as they did on reliability, and it shows. When trail riding the Grizzly, you feel like you are riding one of the best-built off-road machines available. It doesn’t hiccup or leave you asking for more of anything. Over the years, Yamaha has created a larger accessory footpeg and added more storage, eliminating our only complaints ever. 

What stands out is the quality and the fact that you will see more Grizzlies on the trail enjoying a trouble-free day than you ever will in the shop getting repairs. If that’s your idea of standing out, head to your Yamaha dealer.

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