Yamaha rewrote the UTV rules with the 2016 YXZ1000R, the first three-cylinder, extreme-performance UTV with a five-speed, sequential-shift transmission and hydraulic manual clutch. For 2017, Yamaha created the YXZ1000R Sport Shift (SS) with an automatic clutch and paddle shifters, and we tested the Sport Shift model in the December 2016 issue at the Big Buck GNCC course. We also spent time in the YXZ1000R SS Special Edition at Sand Hollow State Park’s dunes and rock-crawling trails. At $1600 more than the blue-and-white YXZ SS, the Special Edition is worth another look with its industry-exclusive Fox 2.5 Podium X2 shocks, beadlock wheels, and black-painted bodywork with a red frame, suspension and beadlock rings.
WHAT’S NEW FOR 2017?
CV boot durability is increased with a new clamp, and CV size was reduced by 9mm. The L-shaped rear A-arms get a CV guard, like the front A-arms, to prevent boot pinpricks from cross roost. New console heat shields lower console heat by 15 percent. The Special Editions get an all-new Matte Black paint scheme with a red frame, cage, bumpers, shock springs and beadlock rings. The Special Editions also come with industry-exclusive Fox 2.5 Podium X2 shocks with separate high- and low-speed compression and rebound adjusters, plus adjustable preload and crossover rings for the dual shock springs. The X2 shocks have next-level technology, including Internal-ByPass (IBP) and Bottom-Out Control (BOC), which allows new levels of shock tuning to eliminate harsh wheel-hop chop and resist bottoming in the dunes and in short-course racing, all without having to re-valve. Massive amounts of shock oil are pushed by the piston, while dual ports on the piggyback meter compression and rebound. To offset the extra weight of the all-new X2 shocks, special-edition YXZ1000Rs and Sport Shifts get new aluminum rear knuckles that are 9 pounds lighter than standard steel knuckles.
HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
Yamaha’s brand-new YXZ1000R Sport Shift costs $20,599 (Blaze Orange), $20,799 (blue/white) and $22,399 (SE), while the manual-shift YXZs are $19,999 and $21,599 for the Special Edition. Arctic Cat’s Wildcat 1000X RG Pro is $18,499, while the RG Pro LTD is $19,499. Can-Am’s Maverick 1000R DPS is $17,599. The 1000X XC is $18,599, and the 1000R Turbo is $20,499. Maverick X3 Turbos are $20,999 to $26,899. The Polaris RZR XP 1000 EPS is $19,499.
HOW FAST IS THE YXZ1000R?
Super fast. The Yamaha Chip-Controlled Shift (YCC-S) program includes a launch mode that can have the average joe launching like Dustin Nelson does in a manual-shift YXZ. Winding out each gear makes serious speed in a hurry, and the YXZ tops out around 80 mph. Owners can also program the shift warning light to their desired rpm and hit the upshift paddle when the light says to maximize acceleration. Other YCC-S programs will downshift for you if you’re in too high a gear for conditions or come to a complete stop. With the paddle shifters, the YXZ1000R SS delivers the best of both worlds—top-level performance and ease-of-driving convenience.
HOW IS THE DELIVERY?
It’s top-shelf. YCC-S goes into a half-clutch mode below 5 mph and fully engages the hydraulic clutch above 5 mph via an electronic slave cylinder. It also provides engine braking with some slip for downhills. Full-throttle shifts are the norm with the ignition retarded for a millisecond when a paddle is engaged, so the pilot gets the direct-connection feeling like with a sport ATV. It even has a “spike clutch” mode for starting on technical uphills, and going to 4WD delivers four-wheel engine braking on downhills, unlike RZRs. The electronic D-N-R range selector is designed so it can’t be knocked out of gear and has to be purposely shifted into reverse, and the paddle shifters have a very light touch. The 2WD/4WD/diff-lock switch is very handy and carries out your wishes instantly. For a five-speed, the Sport Shift seems as seamless as a CVT-driven UTV.
WHAT ABOUT THE HIGH-END X2 SUSPENSION?
The Fox X2 shocks are awesome. Standard is two turns out (of four) on HSC, LSC, HSR and LSR, with 19.06 inches of preload (range 18.56-19.56 inch) in front and two turns out on HSC, LSC and HSR and 1.5 turns out on LSR with 16.36 inches of preload (range 15.86-16.86) and rear cross-overs set at 4.25 inches. For more comfort and plushness, go out 1.5 turns on HSC, 2.0 turns on LSC, in 1.0 turn on LSR up front, and out 1.0 turn on both LSC and HSC in back. Aggressive drivers will want to tighten rear action, going to 0.5 turns out on HSR and LSR, 2.0 turns out on HSC and 1.5 turns out on LSC. It may sound confusing, but the owner’s manual explains the adjustments.
HOW DOES THE YXZ1000R HANDLE?
Superbly. The Sport Shift turns in easily and powers out of corners predictably. There is very little push in 4WD, and it likes to be steered with either the front wheels or rear via aggressive downshifts and drifting into turns. Yamaha put a lot of work into keeping the chassis straight when the YXZ bucks in whoops, and the X2 shocks can be tuned to handle higher trail speeds with aggressive settings. The new Robby Gordon Wildcat also stays straight in whoops and delivers a smoother ride quality. The Sport Shift Special Edition is much more predictable and precise than a RZR XP in whoops and desert chop.
HOW IS IT IN ROCKS AND MUD?
The Sport Shift is a better choice than the manual-clutch YXZ for rock crawling, but it doesn’t accept the GYT-R torque-assist gear kit…yet. The Special Edition adds X2 shocks that can be easily tuned for a plush rock ride, and articulation is good, despite front and rear torsion bars. Mudders will want Yamaha’s accessory fender extensions ($259.99), which help the standard sunroof and half doors keep mud out of the cabin. Also, the X2 shocks can be firmed up to offset mud-weight buildup.
WHERE IS THE YXZ1000R HAPPIEST?
Up on the cam and pipe! While the Sport Shift can be cruised around all day long without having to downshift, it’s designed from the ground up to be flogged and wound out like a fighter jet on afterburners. We’ve experienced the Sport Shift in wide-open desert, dunes, tight woods and rocks, and we’re happy in either setting.
HOW STRONG ARE THE BRAKES?
Super strong. At all four corners, two-puck calipers squeeze 245mm rotors, and the feel at the pedal is crisp. Strong brakes are backed up by a full-on engine-braking system and a fifth e-brake on the rear drive shaft controlled by a lever on the console. We were impressed with the brakes on the GYT-R YXZ with 30-inch EFX Motoclaw tires too.
WHAT ABOUT CREATURE COMFORTS?
They’re so fine, we feel like extending our pinkies when pulling drinks out of the cup holders. The padded console, lined half doors and roof are limo-like, and all of the controls are light yet positive. The padded passenger bar is adjustable, as are the driver’s seat, tilt wheel and instrument pod, which includes a temperature readout. Seats are comfortable, and the shoulder belts can be adjusted to prevent neck chafing. The Sport Shift got 15 percent more efficient console shielding, but it still gets hot. There is an accessory padding kit ($69.99) for the console and doors that provide more insulation from heat.
WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
Yamaha raises the performance bar even further with the YXZ1000R Sport Shift Special Edition. The Fox X2 shocks refine the ride and deliver performance to match the super-wide YXZ powerband and features of the Sport Shift YCC-S, auto-clutch, five-speed transmission. Ride quality can be tuned for a much wider range of conditions, so you can dune one day and rock-crawl the next without having to remove and re-valve the shocks. Combine this with the crisp handling, strong brakes, great creature comforts and riding position, and the YXZ1000R SS SE is a sure winner. Best yet, we like the auto downshift feature of the Yamaha Chip-Controlled Shift program; you can wind it out and paddle-shift like a rally racer or cruise it like a CVT-driven machine.
2017 YAMAHA YXZ1000R SS SE 4X4
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 12-valve, DOHC 4-stroke
Bore x stroke 80.0.0 x 66.2.0mm (x3)
Compression ratio 11.3:1
Lubrication system Dry sump
Additional cooling Auto fan
Induction Yamaha EFI w/ 3 41mm bodies
Starting procedure Turn ignition key
Choke location N/A
Type Washable foam & wet paper
Access Tool-less, remove 5 Dzus, lift center console
and unscrew cap
Transmission 5-speed sequential, auto clutch w/ reverse
Reverse procedure Brake, move range selector to
Drive system Selectable 2WD/4WD w/ diff-lock & EBS
Final drives Shafts
Fuel capacity 9.0 gal.
Overall length/width/height 122.8”/64.0”/72.2”
Ground clearance 12.9”
Claimed wet weight 1,554 lb.
Bed weight limit 300 lb.
Towing limit 1,500 lb.
Frame Steel round tube
Front Dual A-arms w/ prel./ hi-low comp./reb.
Rear Dual A-arms w/ prel./hi-low comp./reb.
Front Twin-piston hydraulic discs/center pedal
Rear Twin-piston hydraulic discs/center pedal
Parking Lever on console
Front 27x9R14 Bighorn 2.0 6-ply
Rear 27x11R14 Bighorn 2.0 6-ply
DC outlet Console
Front 4 LED headlights
Rear Single LED brake/tail light
Instrumentation Digital speedo/fuel/gear/trip &
hour meters/temp/time, analog tach
Colors Racing Blue/White, SE Black Matte/Red
Minimum recommended operator age 16
Suggested retail price $20,799; SE, $22,399
Contact Yamaha Motor Corp., (800) 962-7926