UTV TEST: 2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R

Is the Yamaha YXZ1000R played out? There have been rumors circulating for years, teasers for months and reports for weeks now. However, nothing is more important than getting behind the wheel and trying the machine for ourselves. We did just that and have some very strong opinions about Yamaha’s “pure-sport SxS.” If you are interested about this machine, we know you have already studied the specs, read the blogs on the Internet and talked to your neighbor until he was blue in the face about it. Well, we appreciate you looking into what Dirt Wheels says about it.

We played with the suspension a lot on the YXZ. It is set up stiff to handle aggressive driving. With the clickers at full soft, we found it was much more comfortable to drive and was still very capable in the whoops and over jumps.
We played with the suspension a lot on the YXZ. It is set up stiff to handle aggressive driving. With the clickers at full soft, we found it was much more comfortable to drive and was still very capable in the whoops and over jumps.

BODYWORK
Some people love it and some hate it. If you are coming from a quad background, you will appreciate the sharp lines and ATV-styled rear fenders. If not, you can wait for some body kits to be developed for the YXZ and go that route. Or, you can easily do some trimming of your own to give it a unique look. Our only complaint about the bodywork is that the yellow body is painted over black, so trimming is not recommended. Additionally, chips from rocks can turn the yellow ugly quicker than the other colors. On the good side, the bodywork is a huge asset to the whole driving experience. At the front, especially, you can see over the nose of the car better than in any other UTV out there. So no matter if you are carving the dunes or knifing through the woods, having a better view is a positive point. Out back, the small cargo bed has a complete floor, so tied-in items should stay put. There is no back on the bed, and at least the floor is full coverage, unlike what you will find in the Maverick.

The first thing we noticed about the YXZ1000R is how it likes to be revved. After 6000 rpm, it accelerates very hard. You can find that excitement in every gear.
The first thing we noticed about the YXZ1000R is how it likes to be revved. After 6000 rpm, it accelerates very hard. You can find that excitement in every gear.

Furthermore, when accessing the air filter, all you have to do is pop a few quick-turn tool-less fasteners and you have revealed the airbox. The filter then is found behind a big plastic hand screw and removed. The doors work perfectly. Fender protection from roost and water splash is best in its class, and the standard roof is a very welcome addition. The fenders are large enough to accept a 30-inch tire mounted on a wider 3+4-offset wheel. However, a big tire like this will affect gearing for the worse, unless you only drive on wide-open fast trails.

It’s a revving machine. The motor loves to be driven between 6000 and 10,000 rpm. Yamaha claims it was developed and tested to run at that level, so durability shouldn’t be an issue. It can also chug around as low as 1000 rpm without the risk of stalling.
It’s a revving machine. The motor loves to be driven between 6000 and 10,000 rpm. Yamaha claims it was developed and tested to run at that level, so durability shouldn’t be an issue. It can also chug around as low as 1000 rpm without the risk of stalling.

ENGINE
By far the most unique aspect of this machine is the engine. It’s a three-cylinder snowmobile motor tuned for even more torque with a transmission added. You can bet there are some snowmobile guys out there wondering how they could put a transmission on their sled. However, for the people Yamaha targeted this machine for—the Southwest dune and desert rider—they are looking to add turbochargers and exhaust systems for sure.

It’s been a long time coming for us to actually look forward to the sound an aftermarket system will make on a UTV. You see, with a conventional CVT, the exhaust note doesn’t change very much, except it gets louder. Putting an aftermarket exhaust on this machine will turn some heads. The tone building, then dropping, then building again is what high-performance-minded people hear in their dreams if they are lucky. The YXZ doesn’t necessarily need an exhaust; it will help free it up a little and, again, turn a lot of heads. You can bet there will be a flood of aftermarket pipes available for this machine by the time you finish reading this article.

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As far as stock power goes, the YXZ has plenty of it. You can use all 100-plus horsepower in every gear; in fact, you almost have to. The YXZ likes to be revved. It works fine down at 1000–5000 rpm, but really wakes up above six grand. Here, the engine starts screaming and pushes you back into the seat. If the trail dictates it, you can keep the engine in that rpm range easily.

In the higher revs is where your heart pounds faster. It’s an odd feeling since all UTVs before this one have never been able to rev that high on demand. A typical RZR will run between 7000-8000 rpm.

Being the first major UTV with a manual shifter, the YXZ brings a whole new level of excitement to the industry. Just the fact that you can hear a machine shifting as it goes by will turn many heads.
Being the first major UTV with a manual shifter, the YXZ brings a whole new level of excitement to the industry. Just the fact that you can hear a machine shifting as it goes by will turn many heads.

SHIFTING
In the Yamaha, you can scream from gear to gear without reservation. You actually want to shift early because you’re not used to revving this high. Yamaha claims the motor was tested for months at high rpm on the dyno and drivers have nothing to worry about running it near redline, so during our 100-mile initial test we did just that.

Shifting is a blast. It only takes a little extra brain function to remember to shift straight back instead of in an H pattern like most cars. In fact, you spend very little time with your hand on the shifter. A quick movement and you get your right hand back on the wheel.

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Using the clutch doesn’t feel foreign at all. The pedal is perfectly placed and very easy to push. What catches some people off-guard is that your left leg can get tired moving from the dead pedal over to the clutch. The machine is so fun to shift and feel rev that you want to shift. If you have the timing right, you can shift without using the clutch, but Yamaha does not recommend it. The Rekluse autoclutch option will allow you to forget using the clutch when starting and coming to a stop, but it is still needed just like normal when going from gear to gear at speed.

We settled on two turns from full soft on the low-speed compression up front and liked the high-speed adjusters at full soft. We put the rebound centered in the middle.
We settled on two turns from full soft on the low-speed compression up front and liked the high-speed adjusters at full soft. We put the rebound centered in the middle.

SUSPENSION
The YXZ’s suspension is part form and part function. Dual A-arms up front are typical of every other SXS on the market. They work well clearing obstacles and going over big bumps. Steering is precise and the wheel is sturdy. We softened the shocks up from the factory settings and settled on just a two turns of both hi and low speed compression. Rebound was about neutral.

Elka Suspension already has a much softer and more comfortable set of shocks available for the YXZ1000R. Their shocks also have more initial adjustment and are completely tunable like the stockers.
Elka Suspension already has a much softer and more comfortable set of shocks available for the YXZ1000R. Their shocks also have more initial adjustment and are completely tunable like the stockers.

Out back, the YXZ is different than any other UTV out there. To get the most travel without sacrificing strength, Yamaha came up with a hybrid setup, which is part trailing arm and part A-arm below the hub. The upper link arm is an H-pattern setup. The whole system moves 17 inches. This setup takes the worry out of vulnerable radius rods or finicky rear tie-rods. It may give up an inch of travel to some of the competition, but the reward of strength should be worth it to most.

We had no problem getting stuck in the sand using the stock Maxxis Big Horn tires. They hook up well in the dunes and have good clean-out in the mud. When we get a chance to ride on hard-pack, however, we will be changing to something with a little more flat protection.
We had no problem getting stuck in the sand using the stock Maxxis Big Horn tires. They hook up well in the dunes and have good clean-out in the mud. When we get a chance to ride on hard-pack, however, we will be changing to something with a little more flat protection.

It was out back where we found any harshness during our test. Only big dune transitions or G-outs would bother the test driver at the stock settings. With the full soft setup we chose in the back, the G-outs were much smoother. When we get the YXZ side by side with its competition, suspension action will be compared closely. Over the consistent whoops the YXZ skipped right over them. There was a slight kick on some of the bigger, spread-apart ones, but the smaller ones created and ridden by quads and UTVs were no problem to skim across. In fact, during our shock tuning session, we were up-shifting from third to fourth, then to fifth, going wide open over the 2-foot rollers.

CONCLUSIONS
Since around 2008 we have been waiting for Yamaha to jump back into the sport UTV game with a competitive machine. They kept us waiting and somewhat disappointed all that time. That all changed when we finally got to get behind the wheel of the most thrilling-to-drive SxS on the market. It might not be the fastest thing out there, but it does give you more grins for your money. And if what Yamaha says is true about its durability, they won’t have any trouble keeping customers happy.

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YAMAHA YXZ1000R
Engine……..Liquid-cooled, 3-cylinder,
DOHC, 12 valve, 4-stroke
Displacement……………………………998cc
Bore x stroke…………….80mmx 66.2mm
Fuel system…………………..(3) 41mm EFI
Fuel capacity…………………………9.8 gal
Starting system……………………..Electric
Final drive…………….Four wheel shaft
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front……………..Dual A-arms w/ 16.2”
Rear………………..Dual A-arms w/ 17”
Tires:
Front…………………………………….27×9-14
Rear…………………………………..27×11-14
Brakes:
Front……………….Dual hydraulic discs
Rear……………Dual hydraulic disc w/
separate parking disc
Wheelbase…………………………………90.6”
Length/width/height…122.8”/64”/72.2”
Ground clearance……………………..12.9”
Total cargo capacity……………….300 lb.
Curb weight………………………….1510 lb.
Colors……………….Blue, yellow, orange
MSRP……………………………………..$19,799

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