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Sand Mountain Recreation Area

By Jon Crowley

We have had a YXZ1000R SE SS with GYTR Torque Assist Gear Kit and several other GYTR accessories for a few months now. After the initial test at Stoney Lonesome in Alabama (see YAMAHA YXZ1000R SS SE WITH GYTR TORQUE ASSIST GEAR REVIEW), I took it up to the Rubicon Trail for some rock crawling (see YAMAHA YXZ1000R SS ROCK CRAWLING REVIEW). While the lower gears made the YXZ much more capable in the rocks, I was still searching for more low end control.

Yamaha YXZ1000R SS

YXZ1000R Special Edition with Sport Shift, FOX Podium X2 , GYTR Tag Kit and 30-inch tires

I decided that it would be great to take it out to Sand Mountain Nevada for a weekend to see how it would do. The GYTR Torque Assist Gear (TAG) Kit  lowers first gear by 70% and second – fifth gears by 30%. I left the YXZ1000R exactly how I received it for this trip, mostly because I didn’t have a set of dune tires/wheels ready to go. The 30x10R14″ radial EFX MotoClaw tires are a bit tall and heavy for dune duty on any vehicle, but with the lower gearing, I figured it would be a good test, plus we wanted to do a desert ride and that way I could be lazy and just run what I had everywhere.

Sand Mountain Nevada

Sand Mountain Recreation Area is located in Northwestern Nevada, 85 miles east of Reno on Highway 50

Sand Mountain is a bit different from the Imperial Sand Dunes in that it is much smaller, but the hill climbs are longer and often very steep. It wasn’t too many years ago that UTVs had a tough time just getting to the top of the mountain without some creative driving, and now turbo UTVs fly up it with ease.

Since our YXZ1000R is not a turbo, and I was running these heavy dirt tires, I had my fingers crossed that I was going to be able to make it! We set off on our first ride with my YXZ1000R, two RZR XP Turbos, a RZR XP 900 and several ATVs in our mix. This group of friends likes me to lead even though I didn’t have the fastest vehicle.

Sand Mountain Nevada

“End of the World” at Sand Mountain Nevada

Our first ride we ended up on the east end of the Sand Mountain Recreation Area at a location know as “End of the World”. This is where the dunes end and the desert begins and along the way, the trail has a few sections of rocks that are so nice to paddle tires.  It was nice to not worry about those spots with the 30-inch EFX MotoClaws!

While not the fastest in the group, the YXZ1000R made it everywhere I pointed it and I felt I kept a fast enough pace so the guys in the turbos were not bored by any means.

Sand Mountain Nevada

Up on “Monument Point” looking back west on Sand Mountain

Throughout the next two days we hit the dunes on multiple rides, with me in the lead most of the time. I wish I would have had a set of dune tires or at least a smaller set of Bighorns for a better comparison, but it was only when climbing the face did the turbos pass me.  

Sand Mountain Nevada

View of “Super Bowl” and a good chuck of Sand Mountain.

I did take a quick GoPro video taking a spin around “Super Bowl” in the YXZ1000R.  You can see how easy it is to click through the gears with the Sport Shift model. You can also notice if you look at the gauges that the power band on the YXZ1000R is way up over 7000 RPM and redlines up about 10,500!

Super Bowl is pretty steep, and you will notice that I lose momentum fairly quick.  I think smaller and lighter tires would have been a huge help here.

Sand Mountain Recreation Area

Pony Express Station

On Saturday we did head out to check out the Pony Express Station. The Sand Springs Pony Express Station was built in March of 1860  and was used by the Pony Express until November 1861. It must have been wild to see the big mountain of sand back then.

 After visiting the Pony Express Station we then headed into the desert for a nice 25 mile desert loop. Just south of Sand Mountain Recreation Area is the location where the US government exploded an atomic bomb below the surface back in 1963. 

Project Shoal

Project Shoal

There isn’t much to see other than an historic monument, but the ride getting there is fun and a great destination. Project Shoal GPS Coordinates: 39° 12′ 00″N, 118° 22′ 49″W

The YXZ1000R really shined out in the desert.  The FOX shocks soaked up the rough terrain and the 30-inch tires were right at home (and much more appropriate) in the desert. With the GYTR TAG kit, I was interested to see how the top speed was impacted.  In 5th gear, I was able to hit 65MPH with a little more RPMs in the bank before hitting the redline. For my liking, I tap out at about 75MPH in a UTV.  Call me a wuss, but I’m not racing and that is plenty fast for me with a stock three-point seat belt. The TAG Kit will allow you to probably hit about 70MPH, but that triple cylinder is screaming!

After leaving Project Shoal, we headed east down into Dixie Valley, then north across Highway 50.  Then we left the desert hardpack behind and headed back into the dunes via “End of the World” before heading back to camp.

Sand Mountain

Enjoying the campfire after some great riding at Sand Mountain

After experiencing the YXZ1000R in the dunes and rocks, I am really impressed with how solid the vehicle feels.  Visibility to the ground is superior (very nice for rock crawling).  Power steering felt appropriate in all circumstances and there is decent room in the cockpit for my 6′ 1″ frame. The Sport Shift suits my style of driving much better than the manual shift.  I think the YXZ1000R would have struggled quite a bit with the 30-inch tires in the dunes without the GYTR Torque Assist Gear (TAG) Kit.  The gearing felt about right for the tires that were on it in the dunes. I did find it fun banging through the gears as well. It makes the experience more sporty and exhilarating. 

On the flip-side, I would prefer the the engine and drivetrain to be quieter.  Definitely some gear whine going on, plus the engine is pretty loud especially up where the power band is. All this noise doesn’t bother me so much in the dunes, but on the desert ride with a passenger it was more that I prefer.

I would also like to have more torque in the lower RPMs with this engine.  To me, the YXZ1000R feels like a 2-stroke ATV that needs to be shifted often to maintain power. That may be ideal for Lucas Oil Off Road Racing and even OK for the dunes, but on trail rides I want an engine that has more of a V8 feel than a two-stroke. I certainly would like to see a Rock and Trail Special Edition YXZ1000R SS with lower gearing, more torque in the lower RPM range and a redline at 9000RPM.


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