Which RMAX is right for you? By the staff of Dirt Wheels

If you are looking for a capable, reliable two-seat UTV that will give you years of use and no frustrations, the Yamaha RMAX is that. Choosing which one to get might be a harder question to answer. We’ve driven them all and will help you decide which is best for your needs.

So, you’ve decided that Yamaha’s new RMAX will be your next machine. However, with so many RMAX models and options, you are having a hard time choosing which one to get. We have tested them all in a variety of riding scenarios and will help you purchase the one that’s right for you.

Maxxis 8-ply Carnivore tires are used on the XT-R and LE models. Beadlock wheels are found on the XT-R and Sport models. A Warn winch is standard on the LE and XT-R models. A roof is standard equipment on all models for 2022.


Power and suspension are basically the same on all models, but the way you control and use these features are different. To power the model, Yamaha developed a new twin-cylinder, overhead-cam four-stroke engine and mated it with their latest Ultramatic transmission. It was during the development of the RMAX when engineers basically said, “You can’t break this belt.” So, Yamaha gave all of their CVT-equipped machines a 10-year belt-life warranty. So, it’s no different on the RMAX. Power is strong, and it moves through the drivetrain very efficiently.

Suspension-wise, they use a dual-A-arm setup on all four corners. The two-seaters all have 14.2 inches of travel up front and 16.9 inches of travel in the rear end. The four-seaters have a rear-wheel-travel reduction of 3 1/2 inches. All corners have piggyback reservoirs with preload and compression adjustments. How you go about making those compression adjustments is what sets each of the models apart. Other differences between the two- and four-seat models are tires. The four-seaters also have different-sized tires than the two-seaters. Four-seat models have 29×11-14 in the back and 29×9-14s up front. Under all the two-seaters you will find 30X10-14s on all four corners.

Yamaha uses washable foam air filters in many of their off-road products instead of disposable paper elements. When washed and oil-treated properly, they are more reliable and do a better job at stopping dirt to save you money in the long run. That small white key in the right side of the photo is the speed key. Remove it and the speed of the machine will be limited to 25 mph, which is perfect for ranch work or if you loan it to the neighbor.

In the cockpit you will find a very well-laid-out space. All models get the automotive-like styling, soft touch points and padded areas where needed. No other UTV has such a well-laid-out interior. One major difference between the various models is the GPS unit found centered in the dash of LE and XT-R models. It is $1000 in value plus installation costs. In the Sport and base R-Spec models you get a small storage pocket where the GPS would fit. The GPS, winch and D-mode throttle control can be added to every model if you wish. All models have a handful of switch cut-outs in case you want to add something like lights or whips down the road. The LE model does have an SSV Works audio system and speakers, which is a $730 value plus installation costs. All units come with a roof and center rear-view mirror, except the R-Spec that comes minus the mirror.

Yamaha machines have always been known to have great engine braking. In the machines equipped with D-Mode, the engine braking is increased when using the Crawl setting.


The RMAX has a very capable chassis under it. Full skid plates and built-in tree-kickers come standard. Its bodywork is designed to take abuse, so the lights are recessed from the edges, and you won’t get body joints catching on tree branches and getting ripped off when bushwhacking. Other manufacturers rarely consider this in their designs. As for differences between the RMAX lines, the base model doesn’t get the plastic front bumper cover that the other versions get.

Here’s how you adjust the shocks on the LE model. In this unit and the XT-R, you also get an SSV Works sound system and speakers. The switch cutouts are there, ready for you to add more accessories.
Yamaha calls this D-mode. It allows you to adjust power delivery. Crawl is super smooth and is great for rough terrain or when you get tired after a long day in the seat. Sport gives the motor an unexpected boost of performance and a sporty feel. Trail is just right and gives a 1-to-1 feeling. D-mode can be added to the base model for $299.99.

Steel braided brake lines and dual-piston hydraulic calipers clamp the disc brakes hard to slow the machine down. A separate parking brake is standard, so you don’t have to park in gear like some other manufacturers force you to do. As for tires, we are happy with any of the options. All of them are at least eight-ply (10-ply on the RMAX Sport) and work well in all types of terrain. Neither choice is bad, nor makes us feel the need to carry a spare. You can expect to get at least 2000–3000 miles out of the stock tires while you consider what tire might work better for your specific terrain. There’s room in the dump bed for a spare to lay flat, or you can stand it up and carry other cargo. Yamaha gave the dumping bed a 600-pound weight rating. In fact, they developed the RMAX with 150 pounds of “recreational load” in the bed.

Steel tree-kickers are standard on all models protecting the bodywork at its most vulnerable area down low. Yamaha does a great job designing the bodywork to withstand bumps and scrapes from trail obstacles.


Yamaha gave two of the models D-mode. D-mode means you can control how the power gets put to the ground with a twist of a dial.  Sport Mode is ideal on wide-open trails, sand or in very high altitude where you might feel some power loss. On the other end of the spectrum, Crawl mode is for technical or rock-crawling situations where you want a lazy yet more controllable throttle. Engine braking is increased in Crawl mode as well. Finally, Trail mode (our favorite) is perfect for fun riding where you want smooth throttle response and a linear power delivery. The base-model RMAX R-Spec gets this one and only throttle setting. The LE , XT-R and Sport get all three. It’s important to note that no matter what mode you are in, you still have access to all 100-plus horsepower; it’s just the delivery that is manipulated. You can add D-mode to the R-Spec for $299 at www.shopyamaha.com.

No matter what mode you drive in, the RMAX has ample power and offers a thrilling experience. It’s slightly faster than a Kawasaki KRX1000 and Can-Am’s new Commander 1000. The RMAX has a top speed of 70 mph.  

Automotive quality is found in the interior of every RMAX. From soft-touch controls and padded knee pads to the hydraulic parking brake and interior lighting, we can’t complain, and it’s super roomy, too.


Fox shocks are used exclusively on the RMAX models. What sets them apart in each version is how you make adjustments. At the simpler side of things are the base R-Spec and XT-R models. The QS3 shocks have three-position knobs to make fast damping changes. So, at the beginning of a ride or section that you know the condition of, you can set the shocks up for firm, medium or soft by hand, then jump in the car and drive. We like the simplicity of this setup, and the shocks will take whatever you throw at them except for larger whoops.

Our favorite suspension setup is the toggle-switch-adjustable iQS found in the LE version where you can make changes on the fly. You still have three shock settings to choose from, and there’s a noticeable difference between each setting. For aggressive drivers, the suspension on the Sport RMAX gets you 25-position compression adjusters for high- and low-speed compression adjustments. These require tools and are set up much stiffer than the shocks on the other models. Yamaha made it so you can hammer those bigger bumps in the Sport model without fear of bottoming or having the car buck or kick. The shock change does allow for the full potential of this car. It’s a rougher ride, but the setup works, and we feel is aimed at aggressive drivers that might be considering a YXZ but still want the usefulness of a dump bed.

The twin-cylinder, DOHC, 8-valve engine is fairly quiet and very smooth. It’s mated to a CVT transmission with a belt drive. There’s no need to worry about that belt as it comes with a 10-year warranty. In a full year of hard testing, we have yet to feel one even slip.


It wasn’t hard to choose the LE as our favorite. The fact that you don’t have to stop and get out of the car to change suspension settings is a huge convenience in our book. An on-board GPS of any kind and a standard winch are both features we would install after the fact. The Adventure Pro GPS has over 150,000 miles of trails preloaded and comes with timing and tracking features that other units do not. Furthermore, that adjustable suspension accessory would be the most costly and difficult to install after the fact. Sure, you could commission an aftermarket company like Shock Therapy or SDI to add in cab-adjustable suspension to any RMAX, but it wouldn’t be Yamaha tested and approved. That’s why we choose the brand in the first place. However, if your trails are more consistent, and you have never felt the need to adjust your suspension as the terrain changes, you should save the extra money and go with the R-Spec or XT-R. As for the Sport-model RMAX buyer, you know who you are. You set a fast pace, like to be out front and want a machine you can pound through anything, but still make it back to the truck. The new Fox shocks on this model will handle it and can be made softer if needed, but we must be spoiled and would rather pay extra and do it with a simple push of a button.

In 2021, the base model, called the R-Spec (shown), came in white and is equipped with GBC Dirt Commander 2.0 tires. For 2022, white is found on the Limited Edition RMAX. The body lines are sculpted as to not get hung up on obstacles, and the approach angles are very steep.


Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8-valve, DOHC 4-stroke twin

Displacement 999cc

Bore x stroke 93mm x 73.5mm (x2)

Compression ratio 11.2:1

Lubrication system Dry sump

Additional cooling Auto fan

Induction 48mm EFI (x2)

Starting/back-up Electric/none

Starting procedure Turn ignition switch w/ brake on

Air filter type Washable foam w/ paper secondary 

Air filter access Under hood, clips for airbox lid

Transmission Dual-range CVT w/reverse

Reverse procedure Move range selector to “R”

Drive system Selectable 2WD/4WD w/diff-lock

Final drives Shafts

Fuel capacity 9.2 gal.

Wheelbase 86.7”

Length/width/height 119”/66.1”/77.8”

Ground clearance 13.8”

Claimed dry weight 1,839 lb.

Bed weight limit 600 lb.

Hitch 2” square receiver 

Towing limit 2000 lb.

Frame Steel rectangle & round tube

Suspension/wheel travel:

Front Dual A-arm w/ prel./comp.-adj. 2.0 shocks/14.2”

Rear Dual A-arm w/ prel./comp.-adj. 2.0 shocks/16.9”


Front Hydraulic disc

Rear Hydraulic disc

Parking Separate lever on console


Front 30x10R14 GBC or Maxxis 

Rear 30x10R14 GBC or Maxxis


DC outlet DC and USB on console


Front LED hi/lo headlights

Rear LED brake/taillights w/rev light Instrumentation Digital speed/odo/trip/hour/rpm/fuel/gear/clock/2WD-4WD

Colors Blue, white, black

Minimum recommended operator age 16

Price $20,699–$24,399

Contact www.yamahamotorsports.com


RMAX LE, $24,399: SSV Works Audio, Adventure Pro GPS, Warn winch, iQS Fox shocks, Maxxis Carnivore tires

RMAX XT-R, $23,899: Adventure Pro GPS, Warn winch, QS3 Fox shocks, Maxxis Carnivore tires on beadlocks

RMAX R-SPEC, $20,699: QS3 Fox shocks, GBC Dirt Commander 2.0 tires

RMAX SPORT, $22,599: Stiffer Fox shocks with high-/low-speed adjusters, GBC Terra Master SQ tires on beadlocks

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.