Driving the Special Edition for the first time By the staff of Dirt Wheels

Yamaha’s YXZ1000R model has been a big hit since it first came out in 2015. And, by now we all know that in 2017 Yamaha will have the new YXZ1000R SS (Sport Shift) model with the paddle-shift design. Dirt Wheels has already tested the paddle-shift model, but we still had a big item on our to-do list—driving the new special-edition YXZ models. Not only do the YXZ SE models look great with the Flat Black and Metallic Red accents, but they also have one very important feature that the standard models don’t—Fox X2 shocks! Both the manual and paddle-shift SE versions come with the X2s from the factory. Having these shocks for a production machine is something that the powersports industry hasn’t seen before, and Yamaha has the exclusive rights to these Fox X2 shocks.


The YXZ does well in the rocks. Of the two Special Editions, the Sport Shift Model works the best. Its low-speed drivability makes it fun to rock crawl.



We’ve been aching to drive the 2017 YXZ1000R SE model since we first saw photos in June 2016. The reason for that excitement was the combination of paddle shifting, beadlock wheels and the new Fox X2 shocks. Since we have driven the standard model with paddle shifting, the Fox X2 shocks were our main focus. The Fox 2.5 Podium X2 shocks have more adjustability than any shock on the market. They feature high-/low-speed compression, internal bypass, preload adjustment and, the big news, high-/low-speed rebound adjustment.


The 2017 Yamaha YXZ1000R Special Edition models come in either the manual or Sport Shift (paddle shifter) versions.


The X2s have a large, piggyback, twin-wall design that helps keep the shocks cool and has compression and rebound adjustment knobs. The X2s feature dual springs with crossover adjustment,  which provide 16.2 inches of travel in the front and 17 inches in the rear. These travel numbers are comparable to the Arctic Cat Wildcat or the high-end Polaris RZR, but they don’t have the full range of adjustability that the YXZ SE models do. Yamaha and Fox went a step further by color-matching these shocks to match the Flat Black and Metallic Red colorway.


Fast dune sections are no match for the YXZ. It redlines at 10,500 rpm, and that’s exactly where it likes to be driven.



Yamaha brought us to Sand Hollow in southern Utah for a full test of the SE units. Sand Hollow offers a unique mix of terrain that includes sand, red slickrock and hardpack dirt that makes for a great testing ground. Fox was also on site to help us dial in the X2s and show us how simple it was to do so. There were six YXZs, and each one was set up with different suspension adjustments so we could test how each setting handled. The settings went from a comfort setting with zero damping to a very aggressive, stiff-feeling setup, with the others falling between those two extremes.


Two adjustment knobs allow you to adjust the high-/low-speed compression and high-/low-speed rebound. A half turn goes a long way with these shocks.


We started early in the day with a small, easily repeatable loop, which consisted of slow-speed sand and rock sections. The comfort setting wasn’t our favorite during this loop, but once we switched to the more aggressive settings, we felt the YXZ worked better in that section. After we had time with every shock setting, we switched to a bigger loop that was much faster and rougher. This is where we could really stretch the YXZ SE’s legs and hammer the suspension.


The most exciting news on the Special Edition YXZ models is the new Fox 2.5 Podium X2 shocks. They’re fully adjustable with high-/low-speed compression, high-/low-speed rebound, preload adjustment and even crossover adjustment.


At some points during the longer test loop we were reaching speeds of 60-plus in the sand. During all of this testing, we kept it in all-wheel drive for better handling. We kept rotating in and out of the different shock setups, and our favorite was the comfort setting on the rougher loop. The comfort setting gave the YXZ better traction, and it performed much better in the rough, choppy stuff compared to a more aggressive setting. We would take the car to the Fox technicians so we could fine-tune a given setting even further. Fox would adjust either the compression or rebound settings by going a half turn only. With that simple half-turn adjustment, you could really tell that the shocks had been changed. That makes these X2 shocks incredibly easy to work on for the average Joe.


We’re very impressed with the YXZ1000R Special Editions. They tamed the rough terrain of southern Utah with ease. The Fox X2 suspension is very easy to tune. Whether you’re an average Joe or an avid racer, you will love this UTV.



As we kept pounding the test loop, it deteriorated, and a giant two-lane rut had emerged with acceleration and braking bumps at the bottom. In some areas we were dragging the skid plate from how deep the ruts were. The YXZs handled these rougher sections like a champ. We were actually making quicker lap times when the course became worse. The YXZ has been known to actually work better when driven hard, and the SE models are the same way, but the X2 shocks most certainly helped with low-speed driving. The SE model comes with Yamaha’s own beadlock wheels that are painted to match the car’s colorway. They are wrapped with Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 tires on each corner. That setup allowed us to run lower tire pressure, which created more traction. We were impressed that not one YXZ suffered a flat throughout the entire eight-hour test session.


Yamaha’s YXZ1000R Special Editions have Flat Black plastic where the chassis has a Metallic Red paint that really makes it pop. It also comes stock with beadlock wheels, a black plastic roof and Maxxis Big Horn 2.0 tires.



After spending time in both the standard and SE models of the YXZ, it’s fair to say that the SE model is our favorite. The factor that determined that decision are the new X2 shocks. The range of adjustability is immense, and they made them very simple to adjust for a full-blown racer or the average consumer. Obviously, with better options, the price is going to go up. The manual SE model retails for $21,599, whereas the standard manual model retails for $19,999. The Sport Shift SE model retails for $22,399, while the standard Sport Shift model retails for $20,599 for the white version and $20,799 for the orange version. The best part is, if you already own a YXZ, you can purchase the SE shocks from Yamaha by using these part numbers:

Front Fox X2 shocks (part number 2HC-F350A-00-00): $824.17 per shock (two needed)

Rear Fox X2 shocks (part number 2HC-F220T-00-00): $894.67 per shock (two needed)

If you get the chance to drive a YXZ SE model, we highly suggest you do. It will be hard to hide your mile-long smile.


Engine Liquid-cooled DOHC inline three-cylinder, 12 valves

Displacement 998cc

Fuel system Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI); three 41mm Mikuni throttle bodies

Fuel capacity 9.0 gal.

Starting system Electric

Final drive On-Command; 3-way locking differential; selectable 2WD and 4WD w/ diff-lock; shaft drive

Transmission Manual foot clutch; 5-speed sequential w/ reverse/Yamaha Sport Shift, paddle shift w/ auto clutch; 5-speed sequential w/ reverse


Front Independent  double wishbone w/ anti-sway bar, fully adjustable Fox 2.5 Podium X2 shocks/16.2”

Rear Independent double wishbone w/anti-sway bar, fully adjustable Fox 2.5 Podium X2 shocks, 17”


Front 27x9R-14 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0

Rear 27x11R-14 Maxxis Bighorn 2.0

Wheels Yamaha aluminum beadlocks


Front Dual hydraulic disc brakes

Rear Dual hydraulic disc brakes

Wheelbase 90.5”

Length/width/height 122.8”/64.0”/72.2”

Ground clearance 12.9”

Payload capacity 300 lb.

Wet weight 1560 lb.

Colors Matte Black/Metallic Red

Warranty 6 months (limited factory warranty)

MSRP Starting at $21,599