— Testing Yamaha’s 180 horsepower kit —
By the staff of Dirt Wheels, Photos by Adam Campbell
The exhilaration of speed is an addiction off-road addicts just can’t seem to shake. Yamaha is one manufacturer that fuels our passion for going fast with their pure-sport lineup of machines. They also have a dedicated team of engineers that keep the fire burning with go-fast parts under the title GYTR (Genuine Yamaha Technology Racing). We recently spent time in the vast Imperial Sand Dunes riding area known as Glamis in the far east corner of Southern California to test one of Yamaha’s impressive new products.
The 2019 Yamaha YXZ1000R saw some great changes for the model year. The radiator was moved to the rear of the machine to gain more air flow, keep the cab cooler inside and resist the possibility of mud clogging up the cooling system. The gearing on the pure-sport machine was reduced, and first gear is lower than last year’s model. In this case the most important 2019 upgrade is the addition of high-strength connecting rods in the engine.
Engine internals can be fragile, and most companies design them to work in stock form. If you start raising the horsepower output, most stock engines won’t be able to keep up with the stress and end up failing. In a new world of sport UTVs rolling off the showroom floor with turbo induction, Yamaha needed to stay competitive. They released the GYTR Turbo kit for their prized YXZ1000R, and the strengthened connecting rods in the engine were part of the reason why they could make this kit more obtainable for the average YXZ pilot.
The GYTR Turbo kit was released prior to 2019; however, the stock YXZ engine had to be removed from the UTV and torn apart to add stronger connecting rods that connect the pistons to the crank. This brought costs up too far for a lot of consumers that wanted more power. After spending around $20,000 at a dealership for a new YXZ, another $6000 on a turbo kit, the addition of a few more thousand dollars for installation was not a comfortable thought, and certainly hard on the wallet just to keep up with Polaris and Can-Am Turbo models.
Fortunately, the 2019 model comes with the strengthened engine components, the new Turbo kit goes for $5499.99, and since the engine doesn’t need to be removed or torn open, labor costs dropped dramatically. So, do you want a claimed 60-percent power increase? The answer should be yes!
The ingredients of the GYTR Turbo kit are as follows: a custom TIG-welded aluminum air-box (with a CNC-machined base) that has equal runners to allow 6 psi of boost to the stock throttle bodies, silicone hoses, stainless steel braided lines and AN fittings, a hand TIG-welded header, Donaldson air filter assembly, and a replacement Yamaha ECU. Let’s not forget the water-cooled, ball-bearing Garret GT2860RS turbo and water-to-air intercooler with an electric water pump to push the coolant.
This kit has some stipulations to it. If you are an experienced mechanic, then you should be able to knock this install out of the park, but it will be quite time-consuming. However, if you don’t have a Yamaha dealer install it, you void the factory warranty. You can only order it through your Yamaha dealer, and if your car is still under warranty, having them install it for you is the smart choice. The parts are all designed or picked out by the GYTR engineers at Yamaha to fit perfectly; otherwise, they would have never released it, and we put a lot of trust in that fact. Yamaha takes their design and quality assurance extremely seriously, which is why their vehicles work so well and last a long time.
In stock trim, the Yamaha YXZ1000R is nothing to scoff at. The new gearing for 2019 offers low-rpm response that we felt was missing in previous years, and the power keeps climbing until it’s screaming at high rpm. Normal trail explorers might not want or, honestly, need the power increase the Turbo kit provides. For the rest of us, however, who doesn’t love going fast or getting to speed in a hurry!
We had the chance to take out a stock 2019 YXZ1000 and another one with the GYTR Turbo kit installed. The GYTR-equipped Yamaha takes off and ends up at the same speed in each gear, but once you shift out of first gear, the ride gets far more exhilarating. We planted our foot on the pedal during every shift, and the stock YXZ could not compete with the Turbo upgrade version.
Power came on a lot stronger in the midrange, and soared to the tip of the top end. It feels like you become one with the seat when you mash the throttle. The acceleration forces suck you back into the upholstery, and the power rockets the Yamaha forward. We felt far more confident when pointing the nose of the YXZ towards big dune faces or at tricky transitions, and while drag racing down sand straights. Once the boost kicks in, the output is smooth and doesn’t give you much of that turbo lag feeling that other kits may have. Why Yamaha doesn’t just build a Special Edition Turbo model from factory, we don’t know. They would have topped the power output of any OEM turbo UTV.
We also believe that with some customization, you could get even more power out of the kit. However, Yamaha would not recommend this, and we certainly wouldn’t either if you want your engine to stay strong and last long. If you are a closed-course racer, though, the kit has potential to offer even more ponies.
If you are on the edge or making a decision between purchasing a Yamaha, having the GYTR kit installed or going with the competition, we can provide some details. A base-model YXZ1000R goes for $18,999, adding the kit before labor costs would up that to roughly $25,000. This is a stick-shift manual clutch model YXZ. The Polaris RZR XP Turbo goes for $20,999, and the Can-Am Maverick X3 Turbo is offered at $19,999. The Polaris has 168 horsepower, Can-Am is at 120 (unless you pay an extra $3000 for the 172-horsepower version), and the Yamaha equates to roughly 180 horsepower with the GYTR kit installed, which has the largest turbo of any OEM.
If you love the Yamaha’s characteristics and are happy not relying on CVT belts, then it is a no-brainer to select the GYTR setup. The 24-hour install and ability to finance the whole package through your dealer is a great benefit, too. Go to your local Yamaha dealer to check out their lineup of YXZ1000Rs, order one with the GYTR Turbo kit, and enjoy excellent power in an already great-handling machine. YamahaMotorsports.com will lead you to Yamaha’s line of ATVs, UTVs, motorcycles and more.