Yamaha YXZ1000R Review- A True Game Changer

Yamaha YXZ1000R Review- A True Game Changer Hot

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Yamaha YXZ1000R Review  

Yamaha’s big announcement about the YXZ1000R on September 1st captured the industry’s attention, imagination, and heart, similar to a kid on Christmas Eve waiting to unwrap the big gift under the tree.  Yamaha has always been a sport company, and the unveiling of the YXZ1000R once again reminded the world that they do “sport” with the best of them. What was clear at the unveiling was the different pure sport experience that was in store for drivers of this new pure sport side-by-side. With a 5-speed manual transmission and a three-cylinder 112 horsepower engine leading the list of unique features on the YXZ100R, I simply didn’t know what to expect behind the wheel, and couldn’t wait to find out! After a month and a half of wondering, dreaming, and drooling, my plane took off with me aboard, chomping at the bit to get into the driver’s seat. Several questions bounced around in my mind like a racket ball. Is the YXZ1000R really a game changer the way I have thought, and is it worth all the hype? Time would find me not only answering those questions but also not being disappointed in any way!

Yamaha YXZ1000R Review

The YXZ1000R is designed for one thing and one thing only: hauling butt.

Where It Calls Home

The Yamaha YXZ1000R is a true pure sport side-by-side in every respect from the high horsepower to the suspension travel. Pure sport is in its DNA from top to bottom. It is designed to run at “11” all the time. This side-by-side is engineered to go mach 3 with its hair on fire, in the desert, on the dunes, and on open roads. This is where it calls “home”. Just looking at it you know what it is for: fast! I admit the first time I saw it on September 1, I wasn’t sure what I thought about the way it looks, but it has grown on me and I now like the way it looks. Every line, slope, and bend is placed for a purpose like ingredients in a great cake, and I like cake (except with coconut in it). The YXZ1000R takes on looks like a fighter jet which is a perfect synonym for this side-by-side, and a simple look at it stirs in your core that speed is what the YXZ1000R is for. Heck, the shocks bulging out of the front of it lets you know how serious it is about what it is built to do. 

Yamaha YXZ1000R Review

With the manual transmission at my disposal, the YXZ1000R is unlike any side-by-side I have every driven.

Getting Ready

I didn’t sleep the night before our group was going to be sitting behind wheel of the YXZ1000R. When morning dawned with the sun sparkling across the sand, I found myself so anxious to get out to the dunes and experience this “completely new driver experience” hyped by Yamaha and my own heart. Standing before the group of lined up YXZ1000Rs with my eyes taking it all in, I felt something stirring in the depths of my soul. Here I am staring at a jet fighter with a manual transmission and 112 horsepower pointed directly at sand dunes for as far as the eye can see, and the key is it! The “kid in the candy store” analogy cannot even begin to do this feeling justice. After some brief, yet what seemed like an eternity, preflight instructions, my helmet came on, the door was opened and closed, and I was set with access to both the key and the ability to see if this side-by-side was worth the hype.

Yamaha YXZ1000R manual tranmission shifter

The shifter and clutch pedal gives the YXZ1000R a unique experience among pure sport side-by-sides. In fact, it redefines the experience, and I love it!

The Key Item- A Manual Transmission

The thing staring me in the face in the center console was a shifter coupled with a third pedal on the floorboard to contend with. Neither of these items is found on any other sport side-by-side on the market made by a major manufacturer. Many people would look at these items and say “what is up with these?”, but what should be said is “freakin awesome”. The 5 speed sequential-shift manual transmission is what changes the driving experience to something not found on ANY other pure sport side-by-side experience. For the pure sport fan nothing makes you “one with the machine” more than an actual manual transmission allowing you to bang out the gears to fully control the side-by-side. If I had to choose the one item that makes the YXZ1000R a completely different experience to drive, then this would be it….and I LOVE IT! Sequential shift means the shifter throws straight up and straight down to go up or down in gears, and that makes shifting happen fast. The shifter returns itself back to its original position, ready to be shifted again. So shift, and let go…that is how it works. Did I mention I LOVE IT, since the fun factor goes through the roof with this transmission. More on that later…

Yamaha YXZ1000R 3-cylinder, 112 horsepower engine

The 3-cylinder, 112 horsepower engine is the magic sauce that makes the YXZ1000R feel like driving a jet fighter.

Getting With It

I pushed the clutch in and turned the key to hear the wonderful exhaust note reverberate in my ear, as the engine came to life. The three-cylinder 998cc engine produces 112 horsepower, all under the control of your right foot. Using my right foot, I pushed, and let the clutch out to get the “jet fighter” moving. Sand was thrown around as the tires hooked up and I grabbed a handful of shifter and second gear. Grabbing second gear was the point where the light bulb went on for me as to how the YXZ1000R offers such a different driving experience, and right away I realizing how this side-by-side raises the level the fun to “11” on a 1 to 10 scale. With the desert under the wheels and dunes in the distance, I began to bang out gears like the snare drummer in a college drum line. Shifting became addictive really really quick, and before long I was looking for a reason to grab different gears just to shift! This engine revs to an amazing 10,500 RPM, and is happiest at 7-10k. That takes some getting used to. You have to remember that you have such high rev ability, so that you will use it. The engine delivers smooth power with a side of torque on the low end, but also has the high end for speed and power. You can run it at those higher RPMs all day long, or you can find a gear and cruise around at lower RPMs. The choice is totally up to you. Within a few minutes of driving the YXZ1000R, I had the engine and transmission feel figured out to thoroughly enjoy and appreciate what Yamaha has built. Within a short amount of time I flat out became addicted to this completely new driving experience exactly as Yamaha said I would. 

Yamaha YXZ1000R suspension

Driving the YXZ1000R makes you appreciate what the suspension is capable of handling, and it shows when you are running the desert with the throttle pinned. 

Suspension Prowess  

The desert and dunes have much to offer a suspension to push its limits, and this can make it a great day for the driver or a bad day depending on what those limits are. The good news is the YXZ1000R is made for the most extreme terrain with a suspension designed to take the abuse and enjoy it.  The suspension numbers fall in line with the other big boys of the pure sport market, with completely adjustable FOX Podium 2.5 RC2 piggy-back reservoir shocks complete with 16.2 inches of travel in the front and 17-inches in the rear. The suspension setup is on the extreme side of the market, and that is a good thing. Zooming through the desert and the dunes both provided me with the opportunity to appreciate the smooth ride the YXZ1000R provides. I hit a whoops section at 50-55 MPH, and the suspension seemed to mock at this as gentle. Hitting the bottom of dunes didn’t seem to phase it much either, though sooner of later extreme drivers will bottom it out. That’s ok because Yamaha has designed into the suspension control of that last little bit of shock stroke to make the landing not feel as though the world has ended. Though I didn’t get any serious “air” in the YXZ1000R, I watched several others turn it into the jet fighter it looks like, and the YXZ1000R seemed to be just fine being aired out. I found the ride to be pleasant and controlled even in the rough terrain.  The dual a-arm suspension with anti-sway bars keeps things in check, giving the driver confidence to go fast and have fun. It certainly allowed me to do just that. I also found it to be extremely predictable in its performance, and cornered very very well. I didn’t sense any body role at all. The suspension is tuned to give the driver an excellent “feel” for what the machine is doing, and I found that to be true the entire day I was in the driver’s seat feeling the joy of the ride.

Yamaha YXZ1000R Review

When all the systems come together on the YXZ1000R, it allows you to just have fun driving this rocket knowing it can handle it.

The Other Important Stuff

Yamaha is an expert with the details, and that is evident with the other systems of the YXZ1000R. The EPS system was excellent and offered a connected feel to the machine and the terrain as though the YXZ1000R was a part of me. I know that sounds cliche`, but it was true. Steering on the YXZ1000R had a perfect feel to it, with the perfect amount of assist at all different speeds. The EPS was completely transparent to me as I flew across the desert, and turned through the sides of dunes. When it was time to bring the “jet fighter” back down to earth, the brakes with twin-piston calipers on all four wheels did an excellent job getting things stopped in a hurry. To make sure all four wheels pull when you want them to, the OnCommand 4WD can be set by the driver from 2WD to 4WD to 4WD-Diff Lock. I spent the day in 4WD to give that extra level of “point and go” to my driving that gives me comfort when going up a dune. I more or less forgot even to try driving in 2WD and drifting a little, though I know this side-by-side will do that. One thing to note is that Yamaha has fitted Over-Torque protection to the driveline for the front-diff so that high torque spikes to the front diff doesn’t damage anything. An example would be landing a jump with the throttle open. The tires are a Yamaha-spec custom version of the Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 on a 14-inch wheel. The sand proved to be no match for these tires in gaining traction, and offering excellent performance. The bed has a 300 lb capacity, and Yamaha already has accessories available for storage and carrying a spare tire in the cargo bed. LED headlights and taillights are standard, and look particularly sharp. I think it is safe to say that the YXZ1000R has everything it needs to be an impressive pure sport side-by-side, and I can attest to the fact it performs that purpose very well. 

Yamaha YXZ1000R cab

The YXZ100R's interior is excellent and has a "jet fighter" feel to to it. It is comfortable and you feel like you are planted as you drive it.

Cockpit Skinny

From the moment I climbed into the cab I realized the interior matches the exterior with its looks. If the outside looks like a fighter jet then the inside should look like the cockpit of a fighter jet, and it does. Sport is splattered across the cab like the work of one of those artist who splash paint on canvas and sell it for thousands, only in the YXZ1000R the splattering actually makes sense. The instrument cluster has an analog tachometer and digital speedometer along with a big digital readout for what gear you are using. If you dare to look, the MPH number is big and boldly staring at you in the face. There is also a digital “information” area telling you everything from the OnCommand setting to the time, and the “sport” feel is present across the entire instrument cluster with hard bold lines to everything. The dials, shifter, and dashboard have a sport look to them. The two-tone seats are sporty and very comfortable, with bolstering to help keep you planted in place, as you fly across the terrain. The steering wheel and instrument cluster can adjust with a pull of a lever and then can be moved into infinite positions you find comfortable. Speaking of adjustable, the driver seat can be adjusted with a lever as well. There is an adjustable passenger grab bar, and a glove box for storing your gear, along with a storage space in the dashboard. Did I mention the cup holders? One function of the cab of the YXZ1000R is making sure the driver and passenger stay planted in their respective positions, and that is accomplished with the seats, seat belts, and places to put your feet to gain leverage. There is even a heel stop for your driver’s foot. All I know is I was able to use all of these items to keep myself in the driving position without flailing around like a rag doll during my ride. The doors are a welcome change in that they have inside panels to make you feel safe and secure rather than looking at door framing to bang your knee on. The driving position is low in the machine with excellent visibility thanks to the sloped hood. The suntop is standard on all models. I found the cab to be sporty and comfortable with visibility better than competitive units. Yamaha has given the YXZ1000R an excellently laid out cockpit that performs like the rest of the vehicle. 

Yamaha YXZ1000R Review

Of all the pure sport side-by-sides I have driven, this one is the most fun with the manual transmission. I want a YXZ1000R for my very own.

Wrap Up

I have dreams at night about the YXZ1000R….there I said it. Since being back from driving it…I miss driving it…really. I find myself daydreaming about it and about getting behind the wheel so I can bang out the gears. In a way, driving the YXZ1000R has ruined me, and yet it has opened my eyes as to what a pure sport side-by-side driving experience can be. Yamaha could have just jumped into the competition of building a competitive machine with competitive power with a different looking body, in order to play in the pure sport segment, but they didn’t. Instead they threw away the book as to what makes a pure sport side-by-side, went their own way, and redefined what pure sport means. I can’t find anything about it to complain about or change…at all.  Though the entire machine is excellent, the sequential-shift manual transmission is what changes the dynamic of the driving experience. That is the feature that adds a completely new level of fun to sport driving, and, as I recall, fun is what it is all about. The entire day I spent driving it made me want to drive it all the time. The desert gave me the opportunity to drive the YXZ1000R fast, and the suspension made that possible. The dunes gave me a chance to experience the power, torque, and fun of shifting the transmission while the OnCommad allowed me to carve dunes like a butcher on a side of beef. What a machine. The YXZ1000R IS a game changer, and it is driver experience completely different from anything else in the market. In summary, it is worth the hype and then some. Go demo one to experience the difference, and if a “pure sport” driving experience is what you are after, then you will find it in the YXZ1000R. 


Yamaha YXZ1000R Website

ATV ESCAPE Yamaha YXZ1000R Video Review


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Being able to shift looks like a ton of fun! I want one

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