Trip Reports UTV Product Reviews Yamaha

Yamaha YXZ1000R Review

Yamaha YXZ1000R

By Jon Crowley, Photos by Adam Campbell and Jon Crowley

It has been a long wait, but Yamaha’s new pure sport UTV is finally a reality. For sport UTV enthusiasts, it has been tough to see Yamaha hit the utility and recreation markets first. Yamaha did their market research and hit the largest segments first with their Viking and Wolverine. Finally on September 1st 2015 Yamaha unveiled the YXZ1000R (see Yamaha YXZ1000R Unveil), and it has been the talk of the internet ever since.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
Industry First5-Speed Manual Transmission

Yamaha wasn’t satisfied with doing something like Polaris, Can-Am or Arctic Cat, they wanted to create something with unique features that would make it what they call a “Pure Sport UTV.” In their eyes, there are sport UTVs, and then there are pure sport UTVs that create a driving experience. The foundation for this principal is the UTV market’s first 5-speed manual transmission. Yamaha is so sure about this game changing technology for UTVs that they have filed a patent for it. All other sport UTVs use a CVT type transmission that is belt driven and is automatic. Giving the driver control of the transmission creates a driver-centric experience much like a rally car.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
YXZ1000R’s 3-cylinder, 12-valve, DOHC, liquid cooled, 998cc engine

Behind the transmission, Yamaha added a 3-cylinder 998cc engine, that produces the highest horsepower of any naturally aspirated UTV. This triple shares some technology with Yamaha’s snowmobile powerplant, but it has been completely tuned and packaged for the two-seat YXZ1000R. With three cylinders instead of two and lighter weight components, the engine can wind up to 10,500 RPM. The YXZ1000R has three 41mm throttle bodies for the intake and there are individual coil packs built into the spark plug wire and bolted directly over each of three cylinders. This may seem simple, but it is a very clean and durable solution.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
With a 10,500 RPM limit, tire-spinning roosts are easy

Engine and transmission make the new YXZ1000R unique to the market, but this new side x side vehicle also comes with a well engineered suspension and steering geometry. It isn’t too tough to achieve 17-inches out back in a sport UTV, but Yamaha designed the rear a-arms with minimal camber variance throughout the entire range of travel so that the vehicle tracks straight through rough terrain. The front a-arms have optimized castor, bump steer and Ackerman – throughout the travel and steering angle – to achieve the best cornering ability and positive steering feedback with light effort. Some might think this is hocus pocus, but it really does make a difference in the driving experience.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
The YXZ1000R features front and rear sway bars that do a very good job
at keeping the vehicle planted and balanced in hard corners

The fully adjustable long travel FOX 2.5 Podium Shocks feature adjustable hi- and low-speed compression, adjustable rebound, and adjustable preload settings. The rear shock utilizes a FOX Bottom Out Cup (BOC) technology that helps maintain ongoing comfort while reducing the chance for bottoming out in extreme conditions.  Yamaha and FOX did their homework and this package works very well right out of the box. Plush ride in the chop, but able to handle g-outs, jumps and whoops very well.

I got behind the wheel of the YXZ1000R at the Imperial Sand Dunes in Southern California.  Yamaha had us setup at Gordon’s Well just north of Interstate 8.  I jumped into a YXZ1000R and got situated.  Adjustable steering wheel is nice.  Adjusted seat back and found a comfortable spot for my 6′ 1″ frame. Seat was comfortable enough.  Full doors look nice and function well. There is a side bolster up by your shoulder that helps keep you situated properly in the seat in rough terrain. Fit and finish definitely has telltale signs of Yamaha quality.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
1-N-2-3-4-5 Sequential Shift Pattern

We took off on a guided ride, and I was able to make it past the first hurdle – easing the clutch out and adding the right amount of throttle so you don’t stall in front of a dozen other editors.  The clutch pedal has a short throw and feels much like an ATV-style. The clutching inside the YXZ1000R transmission is much like you would find in a Yamaha ATV, but on a larger scale. I never had a problem with stalling, but I did shift the wrong direction a few times during the day.  Nothing wrong with the shift pattern, just a matter of getting used to shifting.

Yamaha YXZ1000R Tires
27-inch Maxxis Bighorn Tires

One thing I noticed right out of the gate is first gear is very tall.  I was able to run at 30MPH and still had room to go.  We were in the dunes, so I wasn’t able to try any rock crawling, but I would assume that the gearing would not be conducive to any hard core, super slow speed stuff. And this line of question got me thinking about larger tires transmission tuning for mud or rocks.  With a traditional CVT transmission, this is a fairly easy change with weights and springs.  But with the YXZ1000R transmission, it would require a full gear change if one was available (see YAMAHA GYTR TORQUE ASSIST GEAR KIT FOR THE YXZ1000R).  So the plus is your don’t have a belt anymore, and that is big.  One minus for me though is clutch tuning.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
When the Tach and Shift Light are this Prominent, You Know that this is a Performance UTV

After getting through the valley floor, we ended up on a ride through the dunes for about an hour. These dunes have some steep hill climbs typically situated next to valley floors that are spaced apart by mostly tight, technical dunes. We spent quite a bit of time in the tight stuff. This was mostly 2nd gear type terrain, with some quick shifts to 3rd when it opened up and even some downshifts to 1st when it was slow and steep. In my opinion, this type of terrain did not show off the YXZ1000R. I typically avoid the tight dunes in anything but an ATV because it just isn’t as much fun in any UTV.  But in the YXZ1000R, I didn’t like having to downshift in tough spots from 2nd to 1st.  It is too easy to mess up and all of a sudden you are stuck and having to back down a hill. Part of my hesitance is easily attributed to the newness of the whole shifting experience, but before UTVs, I had several sand cars and ATVs so shifting isn’t an altogether new experience in the dunes for me. To be fair, I would tend to avoid this type of dune terrain if I was in a RZR, Wildcat or Maverick as well, but the additional task of shifting made it less desirable.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
YXZ1000R Excels in Open Dunes

The triple really likes to be ridden hard and the shift light is a big help here.  Unless you are used to racing SR1’s or riding street bikes, your tendency is to shift too early, missing the sweet spot in the power band. I think there will be a lot of people that will love the rush of banging through the gears, but it will be interesting to see how the high revs and shifting is accepted to the masses. We did get into some open valley floors, some longer hill climbs and also along sand highway and this is where the YXZ1000R was more fun for me.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
High Speed G-Out

Most everything in our automotive world has been moving towards automatics. Yamaha has put a hold on that in the sport UTV segment with the new YXZ1000R. The YXZ1000R is truly a driver centric UTV that requires your input. If you love the thought of having control of your transmission, and winding up a triple to 10,500 RPM gives you goose bumps, this may just be the UTV for you. I would really like the opportunity to get behind the wheel of the YXZ1000R again in the desert hardpack or even up in Glamis where the dunes are more open for a higher speed ride.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
The YXZ1000R Flies Well and FOX 2.5″ Shocks Soak up Landings

My favorite features of the YXZ1000R are the suspension and steering.  The vehicle is well balanced, tracks straight, does not push in the turns, has a plush ride in the chop, handles the whoops well, and has great bottom-out resistance in hard g-outs and landings.

I love that Yamaha didn’t just follow along with current trends in the sport UTV market when they designed the YXZ1000R.  While the 5-speed manual transmission might not be for everyone, it will appeal to many, and it also pushes the market forward with new options to make the overall UTV market stronger.

Yamaha YXZ1000R External Flywheel
YXZ1000R External Flywheel

Yamaha YXZ1000R Radiator
Radiator Blows Hot Air Through the Tunnel and Definitely Heats up the Cab

Yanaha YXZ1000R Dry Sump Oil Tank
YXZ1000R Dry Sump Oil Tank

Yamaha YXZ1000R
Electronics and Air Intake Are Tucked Away High in the Center Console

Yamaha YXZ1000R
Fuel Tank is Mounted Low Under Passenger Seat Next to Transmission

Yamaha YXZ1000R Videos:

More Resources:

About Yamaha Motor Corp., U.S.A.

Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A., (YMUS), a leader in the motorsports market, makes the toughest, most capable and versatile ATV and Side-by-Side vehicles. The company’s ever expanding product offerings also include motorcycles, outboard motors, personal watercraft, snowmobiles, boats, outdoor power equipment, accessories, apparel and much more. YMUS products are sold through a nationwide network of dealers in the United States.

Headquartered in Cypress, Calif., since its incorporation in 1976, Yamaha also has facilities in Wisconsin and Georgia, as well as factory operations in Tennessee and Georgia. For more information on Yamaha, visit

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