Second Impressions Of The Yamaha YXZ1000R

If at first you don’t have enough fun …

June 2016 Reviews, Feature Steve Janes Web Exclusive

If you read the July 2016 issue of Dirt Toys Magazine, you noticed another article praising the new Yamaha YXZ1000R. Dirt Toys editor Lane Lindstrom has been our point guy in testing the YXZ throughout its introduction. And he’s certainly been sharing his impressions of this new model side-by-side around the office.

Now more of the Dirt Toys staff has had a chance to rip it up on the YXZ. And as it did for Lindstrom, it’s also leaving a positive impression on us.

Yamaha likes to refer to the YXZ as a “Pure Sport Side-By-Side.” Up 'til now Yamaha has produced dual purpose side-by-sides—designed to be fun on the trail and functional around the farm; something that you can use for hunting, fishing or feeding the cows.

But apparently the engineers got tired of just building the “one-size-fits-all” type of UTV. And rather than looking around at the competition and making some tweaks to the chassis, suspension and gear ratio to create another performance oriented side-by-side, Yamaha decided to go all out and design a 3-cylinder, 5-speed sequential manual transmission with reverse … and with a manual foot-operated clutch, that would turn your trail experience into a baja race.

Dirt Toys Staff Review    

First, the clutch shift is very simple: A bump-type shift with five speeds plus reverse. For Reverse you have to push in the clutch, pull a lever located next to the steering wheel with your left hand as you bump the gear shift forward with your right hand and release the clutch as you give it a little gas.

From there, you just press in the clutch and bump the shifter back each time you shift from gears 1-5. If you need to down-shift along the way, press the clutch and bump the shifter forward each step.

We found the YXZ’s happy speed on a gravel road is about 55 mph, cruising in fifth gear. There is a lot more power to go faster … but with such a lightweight vehicle (just over 1,500 pounds), you can break your tires free, losing your road grip real quickly at higher speeds making the handling a little loose. That’s great for those who love to live on the edge power-sliding through the bends … but for those who want to maintain total control, it’s best to slow down a little to maintain tire grip.

We did notice that with the clutch and shifter, there was little need for a brake. Any time you needed to slow down for corners you just down-shifted. Most corners that you could see around could be managed in fourth gear. Real sharp corners required down-shifting to third gear. The only time the brake came into play was when a range cow decided to jump out in front of the vehicle … and for that the brakes worked great.   

The cruising gear depended on the type of trail. On a forest service road or something you could drive an automobile on, fifth gear worked great (operating rpm at 5,000 and above). Once rpm dropped blow 5,000, it was probably time to down-shift to fourth (and below 3,500 rpm down to third … sort of a feel thing).

On a 2-track unmaintained trail, third gear worked well unless the trail got tight. Then you would look at second gear. For steep climbing, first or second came into play. But regardless, up-shifting or down-shifting was quick and simple. It seemed that if the trail was tight with twists, you were better off staying in first. Even when it felt the engine was starting to rev, it was still way below redline. When you tried to run in second on a twisty trail, the YXZ’s rpm would sometimes drop to the point of causing the engine to stutter. It just made more sense to run in first.

On tight, twisty trails the YXZ turning can be challenged. It’s not the tightest turning side-by-side out there. Don’t get us wrong, it turns easily as far as handling … it just needs its radius space.         

One downside with the YXZ in a tight trail with brush crowding both sides is that there is a lot of plastic that gets slapped with branches and bushes. Also, the front tires on the YXZ are not totally enclosed with mud guards and when you go through mud the tires tend to throw clumps up and into your path of travel.           

As for using the brake, again it was easy to use the down-shift to slow you down for most corners, and even using engine drag to slow you for downhill grades.          

One nice thing is that the rpm gauge gear indicator is right in front of you and easy to read. The gear indicator has a large digital numeral so it’s easy to tell what gear you’re in and match it to your rpm.           

When it comes to shifting, that can be some of the fun. It’s easy to bump it up or down for shifting. There is a distinct sound when you shift so there’s no question whether you changed gears.

Feature Specifics

Cockpit — One thing we did notice is that the YXZ cockpit is enclosed from your midsection down and you do notice some trapped heat (Lindstrom also pointed this out). Now this is nice when riding in cooler temperatures … but on a hot dusty day the heat can get a little uncomfortable around your legs. Since the center console separates the rider from the passenger, there’s no moving air down by your feet. In fact, your right foot is up against the console all the time.        

Windshield — The small wind deflector we installed doesn’t seem like much … but it’s surprising how much it deflects the air up over you. Even when riding with a ball cap on my head at 55 mph down the road, it never even threatened to fly off. Also, we didn’t notice many bugs bouncing off our faces or sunglasses … a pleasant surprise. We’ve grown to accustom eating a bunch of bugs during a normal ride so it was nice once to not have them stuck in our teeth.

Suspension — Cruising down the trail is a dream with the YXZ. The suspension handles the road bumps with easy, turning the ride of a gravel road into the feel of a paved road. The independent double wishbone suspension with anti-sway bar and adjustable Fox Podium shocks provide over 16 inches of travel. You can pound the bumps just as hard as your heart desires. The YXZ is 64 inches wide … which does eliminate some of the narrow trails designed for 50-inch maximum width restrictions.

Final Notes

Although the cockpit is very comfortable, it is also somewhat confining. You have plenty of room, yet you are up against the console on the right side and do feel totally closed in.

The brake is designed to where you can just slide your foot from the throttle over to the brake. But then, you don’t really use the brake much. Most foot action is with the clutch. But here, from the left foot rest to the clutch requires you to lift your leg to step on the clutch. So you do work your right leg a lot. (There is a YXZ version—the YXZ1000R SS SE—that features an automatic clutch (Yamaha Chip Controlled Shift) that replaces the manual clutch with sporty paddle shifters mounted to the steering column.)          

The door design is great for exiting. But for getting in you have to search for your door release. Also, it can be awkward (no room to swing open) when loaded into an enclosed trailer.        

The 9-gallon fuel capacity provides a huge advantage in your driving range. You seldom will worry about running out of gas on a day ride.           

We will continue to test the YXZ throughout the summer in various types of trails and terrain. (The editors of Dirt Toys work hard when we play … and play hard when we work.) And we will continue to provide exclusive web updates on how the YXZ holds up the tests. 

For an audio clip of the ride, click here

Photos by Baylee Colton

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