In early June, Yamaha assembled the media in South Carolina for the unveiling of its 2017 ATV/UTV product lines. While the much-anticipated YXZ1000R SS (Sport Shift) stole the headlines, the biggest news in terms of unit sales at the dealership level, may have been the launch of the all-new YFZ50 sport ATV. A host of Limited Edition packages, strategic upgrades (including EPS power steering for all Grizzly ATVs) were sandwiched between the little YZF50 and the Sport Shift YXZ1000, giving Yamaha dealers one of the most comprehensive ATV/UTV line-ups on the market.
“Yamaha shocked the motorsports world last year with the introduction of the first pure sport Side-by-Side with manual transmission,” says Mike Martinez, VP of ATV/SxS operations. “The enthusiasm continues as we expand the category with the YXZ1000R SS with paddle shifters and automatic clutch.”
In areas where Polaris rules the roost with RZRs because of the automatic transmission, Yamaha now becomes a serious threat. Its all-new Sport Shift (SS) system is a sequential 5-speed manual transmission featuring Yamaha ChipControlled Shift (YCC-S) technology. This system combines the power, durability and efficiency of a traditional manual transmission with an advanced automatic clutch system that replaces the foot-operated clutch pedal with F1-inspired paddle shifters mounted to the steering column. Don’t forget the Launch System to really liven things up.
“The 2017 YXZ1000R SS is proof that Yamaha is the leader in powersports performance,” Martinez adds. “With a 998cc inline triple engine mated to a 5-speed sequential-shift gearbox, massive FOX Shox front and rear, and styling the competition can’t touch, the YXZ is in a class by itself… it really is the only true pure sport Side-by-Side ever developed.”
Speaking of development, the new paddle shift system was actually on the drawing board a couple years before the manual 5-speed was developed, but Yamaha made a conscious decision to create the “pure sport” niche with a true manual transmission for the “driving experience,” notes ATV/SxS Product Planning Manager Travis Hollins. “The shift points and feel are highly intuitive for drivers, even if they are not accustomed to operating a manual transmission or a foot clutch.” Maybe too intuitive… the average driver can shift as quickly as all but the top level pros with the manual set up.
Also enhancing the experience are the auto-downshift, which automatically drops the vehicle into first gear every time it comes to a stop, and the “Launch” mode. “Engage the launch control, rev it up and hit it – this adds to the direct connection experience and exhilaration,” Hollins adds.
We will have to take his word for it though… since dealers weren’t arriving until the following day, the magazine guys were not allowed to test the new Sport Shift version while we were at the home of the Big Buck GNCC. The honor of the first rides was given to RSMs and select Yamaha dealers! Great for the dealers since the Big Buck course presents the standard GNCC obstacles; everything from tight woods, to fields, creek crossings, rocks and hill climbs. It’s a fast, wide-open course, and perfect for demonstrating the capabilities of the new SS system.
The field sections get chopped up, so you need to have your suspension dialed in… another plus for the new Yamahas. The SS and the Special Edition YXZ1000R are equipped with exclusive twin-wall FOX 2.5 Podium X2 Shocks. They are said to provide ultimate slow speed comfort without sacrificing performance during aggressive driving situations. “A new level of performance and comfort are achieved by creating completely independent high and low-speed compression and rebound adjustment, combined with huge 16.2-inches of front and 17-inches of rear travel,” Hollins adds.
While all the buzz in the big magazines will be about the YXZ1000, it is the next generation of riders that will be cultivated by the introduction of the YFZ50. Looking just like the reigning MX and GNCC championship-winning YFZ450R, this entry-level Y-6 machine should bring the sport to more families and be a nice boost to dealers’ bottom line this holiday season. “Parents can feel confident introducing their 6-year-old to ATV riding with parental controls integrated into the machine, including adjustable RPM and throttle limiters as well as a tether switch capable of shutting off the engine from a pull-string if or when needed,” says Hollins.
Whether it is shocking the motorsports world with the YXZ1000R SS or rocking some kid’s world come Christmas morning, Yamaha has all the ATV and SxS bases covered. “From all-new youth ATVs to pure sport performance, Yamaha continues to lead ATV and SxS development with the most innovative and reliable models in the industry,” Martinez concludes.