Yamaha’s latest off-roaders offer extra punch.
Story By Bruce McMahon
Good, fun workers
Yamaha has been in the business of four-wheelers – quad bikes or All Terrain Vehicles – since the mid-1980s. By 1989 Yamaha had seen these quads were useful tools for farmers, explorers and utility companies for accessing rough country without the need for wide and chopped-up tracks. So Yamaha added a tray – a utility bed – to a quad. And these four-wheelers became workmates as well as playthings.
Now Yamaha has refreshed its range of ATVs with a couple of new and improved machines, including new ‘bears’ for the bush in the shape of the workman-like Kodiak and its sharper sibling, the Grizzly EPS.
This time around, Yamaha’s Kodiak 700 runs a more powerful 708cc engine driving the quad through a Constantly Variable Transmission. There’s high, low and reverse, plus a handlebar lever for two or four-wheel drive. It’ll tow 600 kilograms and carry 50kg on the front rack plus a 90kg load on the rear.
There’s also a Kodiak EPS with electric power steering and then a Kodiak EPS SE with push-button selection for two or four-wheel drive plus differential lock. That SE model also scores aluminium wheels, a special paint job and a tow hitch as part of the deal.
The more-focussed Grizzly EPS 700 runs the same engine and transmission, tweaked a tad, and rides on 26-inch wheels rather than the Kodiak’s 25-inch wheels.
Both models have a redesigned seat and refreshed bodywork, among other updates for the new season. The 18-litre fuel tank has been moved back in the chassis and now sits under the seat.
The base model Kodiak is going to suit any number of users. The electric steering option makes lighter work of manoeuvring the quad in tight spots – say chasing stock through a stand of timber – but the standard Kodiak has little steering fight-back through the handlebars and is easy enough to control in open country.
Engine and transmission performance is quite adequate with a 100kg rider on board and the Yamaha will go a long way before 4WD may be needed.
The Grizzly EPS 700 is more of the same – plus a bit more. The ride quality and traction here is pretty similar but this Yamaha ATV boasts quicker throttle response, which will appeal to riders chasing a more sporting ride. It’s more expensive than the Kodiak and more likely to be sought out by the recreational rider, or maybe the younger farmer with wide open paddocks and tracks.
While this pair of Yamaha ATVs remain top machines for work or play, it is the 2016 Wolverine that impresses with its ability to conquer rough country – rocks, sand and tree logs – while carrying two full-sized Australians and a load of gear.
The Wolverine R-Spec adds a deal of sportiness to this ROV, until now more the agricultural helpmate. It will still help around the farm, no doubt, but there’s also a bigger element of play here, too.
For starters there’s more aggressive-styled bodywork, which aids clearance angles plus high-backed bucket seats for two, a cage-protected ‘cabin’ and instrumentation. The steering wheel remains on the left-hand side of the Yamaha.
With this latest Wolverine running the same 708cc engine and CVT transmission as the Kodiaks and Grizzlies, there’s no drama about power or traction. The motor now has an air-cooled oil cooler, sits further forward than before for a better-balanced vehicle and drives 26-inch wheels.
There is a dashboard dial for two-wheel drive, 4WD and differential lock – plus a high and low mode for the transmission – but it will take a mountain of troubled track before the Wolverine will need anything but two-wheel drive. It can be a fun machine but it’s also capable of carrying 136kg in the tray and towing 680kg.
So the Yamaha family of ATVs and ROVs, which begins back at Grizzly 350s, has a couple of new heroes to consider. These new models remain good workers but there’s that added fun factor these days with the Grizzly 700 and the Wolverine R-Spec a pair of top machines for work and play.
Yamaha Kodiak 700 from $11,999 to $13,599; Yamaha Grizzly EPS from $13,999 to $14,599; Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec from $19,599 to $21,599. For more information phone (03) 9699 2332 or go to www.yamaha-motor.com.au.
This Story is from Issue #104
Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2016