Trip Reports Yamaha

Yamaha YXZ1000R Unveil

Yamaha YXZ1000R

First Look at the 2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R at the Live Unveiling in Long Beach, CA

By Jon Crowley

I was fortunate enough to be invited along with other off-road journalists and select Yamaha dealers to Long Beach, CA for the unveiling of Yamaha entry into the pure sport Side-by-Side market on September 1, 2015.

When Yamaha pioneered the Rhino more than a decade ago, I don’t think anyone envisioned where the market is today. Side-by-Side vehicles (UTVs) are now the fastest-growing powersport  market. And although the market is made up of everything from pure-utility Gators used on the construction site to Vikings used on a deer hunt,  to sporty UTVs that can barrel through the desert at 70+ MPH, it is the sport market that gets the most attention.

Yamaha announced a few years back, that we would see many new vehicles over the next five years, and each year sport UTV enthusiasts had hoped that it was the year. But the marketing folks at Yamaha knew that the sport UTV market is a small piece of the total market, and focused in first with the Viking, then Viking VI and then the Wolverine.

Then early this summer, Yamaha began teasing us with carefully planned videos, that got our hopes up again. The videos didn’t really show much, but enough so we knew the new vehicle wasn’t going to be used on the farm or work site.

The teaser videos sent the internet into a frenzy with all sorts of speculation of what it would be, and then the different camps would bash each others brand.  The banter is pretty silly but sometimes entertaining with claims of “my brother’s cousin is tight with Yamaha, and he says ….” or “I was deep in the desert and came up on a group of vehicles that I couldn’t recognize …” I know that everything I read on the internet is true.

Fast forward to August 31 and I was on a plane headed for LAX.Although a few spy photos had been posted, enthusiast were hungry for more details. After a cocktail party, editors were separate from the dealers for dinner and a presentation. I figured that we would get details of the new unit to prepare for launch the following day, but Yamaha was tight lipped and we only heard about changes to the 2016 Viking lineup.

Yamaha YXZ1000R Launch
On the boat headed to YXZ1000R Launch

On September 1, 2015, we were all boarded on a boat in Long Beach harbor, not knowing where we were going.  Some thoughts were tossed out that we may be headed to Catalina Island, but after a slow start and a few course changes, it was obvious our destination was more local.  The worldwide unveil was scheduled for 10AM PST, and after 15 minutes on the boat, it was obvious that Yamaha was going to torture us with a “scenic tour” of Long Beach Harbor before dropping us off at the super secret unveil location.

The secret location was at the end of one of the fingers in Long Beach Harbor. As you can see by the video below, Yamaha put quite a bit of effort into creating a track with very little real estate.

At exactly 10AM, the show started not only for us at the unveil, but also live over the internet. Three different colors of YXZ1000R shot through the smoke and launched Yamaha into a new era.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
Moments after the Global Launch of the 2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R

We were treated to a video showing off the capabilities of the new Yamaha YXZ100R in the desert and dunes the same time as it was shown on the internet.

It was clear that sport UTV enthusiasts had a new option. Boasting a high-performance 3-cylinder 998cc engine with a class-defining 5-speed sequential shift manual transmission, the two-seat Yamaha YXZ1000R surely turned some heads on September 1.

After the video, the three YXZ1000Rs tore around the track.  Other that the sound of the triple-cylinder engine winding up to 10,500 RPM, the thing that impressed me the most was the suspension as they hammered through the whoops. I tossed my phone to photographer Adam Campbell and he shot a quick video of the YXZ1000R through the whoops section:

The YXZ1000R comes with long travel FOX 2.5 Podium Shocks with 16-inches of travel in front and 17-inches out back.   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. The fully adjustable front and rear FOX shocks feature adjustable hi- and low-speed compression, adjustable rebound, and adjustable preload settings.

One other thing that is quite noticeable is the front shocks protrude upward through the hood of the vehicle unlike other UTVs currently on the market. While some say the line of the hood isn’t very attractive, Yamaha engineers told us that it not only gives the YXZ1000R and aggressive look, but it also provides for better visibility. What the naysayers are missing is the potential in the car once the aftermarket has time to create new cages, etc.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
Editors and Dealers swarm over the new YXZ1000R

After we crawled through the new YXZ1000Rs, we headed into a tent for a presentation from Yamaha marketing and engineering staff. At this point, we finally were given the specs, press release and photos for the new unit.  Although Yamaha provided WIFI for us, it wasn’t enough for all of us editors hungry to upload details so we were at a bit of a disadvantage to media outlets not at the event.

Yamaha YXZ1000R
Riding in the passenger seat of the YXZ1000R

After our presentation and we had a chance to ride passenger in the YXZ1000R on the track.  I am typically not a good passenger, but this was our only opportunity to experience the YXZ1000R under power so I buckled in and went for a ride.  The track was small, but we were able to get up to I think third gear.  We rolled through the whoops section slow the first lap then hit them hard the next few laps. Over all, I was impressed with the suspension in the YXZ1000R.  It handled the whoops as well as, if not better than any other stock sport UTV currently on the market.

The 998cc engine can wind up to 10,500 RPM so that was a completely different sensation. And shifting the 5-speed sequential transmission will be interesting.  I think that many will enjoy the thrill of banging gears and also be happy to be rid of CVT belts.  Others might find shifting more work than they think.

I am a bit concerned with the YXZ1000R for slow-speed activities like rock crawling. For one, I don’t think a 30-inch tire will clear up front, and I also think that first gear is geared higher than I would like for rock crawling.  There is no high/low range in the transmission, so first gear will be it.  A Rekluse Clutch kit is available from Yamaha for the YXZ1000R and this eliminates the need to use the clutch pedal in most operating conditions.  I think this will be a high demand option, and something that will be a necessity if used in any rock crawling type terrain.

These are exciting times for the sport UTV market.  Suspension and performance continue to excel and the dunes and desert are now dominated by UTVs. I can’t wait for the 2015 Sand Sports Super Show to see what some of the aftermarket companies have done with the YXZ1000R in just a few short weeks.

Stay tuned as we will hunt down the new YXZ1000R builds at the Sand Sports Super Show.  And be ready for a full ride review after our media event in October.

More Resources:

More Yamaha YXZ1000R Global Launch Photos:

Yamaha YXZ1000R
YXZ1000R in the Whoops

Yamaha YXZ1000R
YXZ1000R Blast past the Main Stage

More Yamaha YXZ1000R Videos:

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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