Test Ride: Yamaha Raptor 700R SE

Real Definition of Sport ATV

Published in the May 2012 Issue May 2012 By Lane Lindstrom
It’s pretty hard to pass up an offer to ride at the sand dunes at Glamis during the winter months where the daytime temps average between 70-75 degrees F under normally bluebird skies.

It’s even harder when the offer includes riding 2012 model year Yamaha sport ATVs, which included the Raptor 250, YFZ 450R SE and Raptor 700R SE.

We couldn’t and didn’t resist. And we definitely weren’t disappointed we went.

How could we be disappointed? For two days we got to ride the famous Gla- mis Dunes, located within the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, as well

as ride the Raptors. The sky was blue both days and the temps averaged 74 degrees F.

We previously reported on a ride we had on the YFZ 450R SE at the

Oregon Dunes, which can be found on our website (www.dirttoysmag.com). Because we had spent some time at the Oregon Dunes on the YFZ 450R, we looked at the Glamis trip as an opportunity to get some quality seat time on the Raptor 700R SE.

The sand at Glamis was much drier than what we experienced at the Or- egon Dunes, which meant horsepower would be a big help in the big bowls and hills you find at these dunes in southern California.

Dialing Up The Miles

We racked up more than 130 miles of riding in the two days, covering a lot of territory, seeing firsthand just how the Raptor 700R handled in the sand. We hit all the areas most riders would experience including big bowls, hillclimbs, steep descents, racing across the open spaces and along the trails as well as negotiating tight, twisty routes. Yamaha had also set up a mini race track with hairpin turns and long straightaways, which we also took advantage of.

The wind hadn’t blown across the dunes for a few days so the sand was pretty rutted out from all the tracks and many of the smaller sand ridges were still standing strong that might have been knocked down a bit from any wind that did blow across them. While we wouldn’t necessarily call this an add- ed bonus, we’re not too disappointed the conditions were the way they were. Granted, we probably wouldn’t want to ride the rutted and washboard dunes for a week straight—especially at the pace we kept up on all our rides—but it did give us a good feel for how the Rap- tor 700R handled the bumps.

Handling and ride quality were two areas we paid a lot of attention to on the 700R, but also high on our list was power. Does the 700R feel that much stronger than the stout YFZ450R?

There can be times when too much horsepower will get you into trouble; there are other times when a healthy dose of horsepower can save your bacon, so to speak. We found ourselves appreciating the Raptor 700R’s extra ponies—compared to the YFZ450R— in some of the amazing bowls and steep hills at Glamis. The Raptor 700R climbed such famous Glamis dunes as Oldsmobile Hill and China Wall.

Yamaha points out that the 686cc fuel-injected engine makes the Raptor 700R the most powerful Yamaha sport ATV ever.

What Impressed Us Most

What really impressed us is how responsive the vehicle is, especially when transitioning from going up and down steep dunes as you crossed ridges and also coming out of tight corners and railing to the next turn. There was one area of the dunes we rode that was pretty flat but had lots of trails winding—more like twisting and turning—through the brush. Aside from riding the bowls and climbing and descending the medium-sized dunes, racing through the dunes in that area with all the trails was one of our favorite parts of the ride. We say favorite because the Raptor 700R was so responsive power-wise and handled the cornering with ease. Yes, the 700R has more power than the YFZ450R and would push more in the corners but it was manageable and never did we feel out of control.

Of course, it helps that the 700R’s engine is powering a pretty light chassis—the lightest ATV in its class, according to Yamaha—built of hybrid steel and aluminum. The controlled-fill aluminum subframe and cast aluminum swing arm combine to create a super strong structure. The chassis has a steel front section and aluminum rear section.

The Raptor 700R is equipped with YMHS piggyback shocks with high- and low-speed compression adjustability as well as rebound and threaded preload adjustment on the front and YZ-style YMHS shocks on the rear, also with high- and low-speed compression adjustability, along with preload and rebound adjustment. The front suspen- sion is an independent double wish- bone design with 9.1 inches of travel, while the rear suspension has a cast aluminum swing arm and 10.1 inches of travel. We found the stock setup fine during our two days of riding at Glamis but the easy-to-use adjustment knobs allow you to fine tune the ride to your liking. The Raptor SE has the same suspension specs as the standard model.

We admit there were a couple of times over the two days when four- wheel drive would have been handy— the Raptor 700R only has 2WD—but hey, this is a sport ATV, not a hay hauler or mud bogger. We adjusted.

The differences between the stan- dard Raptor 700R and the SE are that the SE gets a wave-style rear brake disc, dealer-installed GYTR front grab bar and heel guards. The SE also gets special graphics and colors.

When loosely comparing the Raptor 700R SE with the YFZ 450R, we find the power and handling between the two a tradeoff. The Raptor 700R may not be quite as nimble (but darn close if you ask us) and rail/turn in the corners like the smaller YFZ450R, but the horse- power advantage of the bigger engine is definitely appealing, too. The truth of it is we love riding both models and don’t see any real disadvantages in either sport ATV. And the SE versions of both mod- els are within less than a hundred bucks so a consumer’s buying decision might just come down to engine size.

There's a reason Yamaha own the sport ATV market (Yamaha has 37 percent of the market share in this segment). Actually, there are a couple of real good reasons: the Raptor 700R SE and YFZ45OR.

2012 Yamaha Raptor 700R SE

Engine: SOHC, 4-stroke, 4-valve
Displacement: 686cc
Fuel System: Yamaha Fuel Injection
Cooling: Liquid cooled with fan
Fuel Capacity: 2.9 gallons
Transmission: 5-speed w/reverse; wet multiplate clutch
Drive System: 2WD; sealed O-ring chain, eccentric adjustment
Front Suspension: Independent double wishbone w/piggyback high/
low speed compression, rebound and threaded preload adjustment, 9.1
inches travel
Rear Suspension: Cast aluminum swing arm w/rebound, high/low speed
compression and threaded preload adjustment, 10.1 inches travel
Brakes: Dual ventilated hydraulic disc, self-adjusting park brake function
Wheels: Aluminum
Front Tires: AT21x7-10 radial
Rear Tires: AT20x10-9 radial
Wheelbase: 50.4 in.
Length: 72.6 in.
Width: 46.1 in.
Height: 44.5 in.
Ground Clearance: 4.4 in.
Wet Weight: 422 lbs.
MSRP: $8,999

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