2021 YAMAHA RMAX2 1000 XT-R
For a decade Yamaha has been trying to improve on the success of the Rhino. That machine started the entire recreational UTV movement back in 2004. At the time, it was fun, fast and ultra capable in gnarly terrain. Fast-forward 17 years and owners want that capability and reliability in a bigger machine. Is the Wolverine RMAX it? We tested the 2021 Yamaha RMAX2 1000 XT-R to find out.
WHAT’S NEW FOR THE RMAX?
While the base chassis is relatively the same as the older Wolverine X2, everything surrounding it is new and improved. The engine has been bumped up 150cc. Width and wheel travel have been increased 4 inches at the shoulders and, according to the bumps, 8 inches up front and 7 inches out back. Both the wheelbase and tire size have been stretched 3 inches as well. Styling inside and out has been upgraded. Every RMAX features a cradle to hold a Magellan/Yamaha Adventure Pro GPS unit that also doubles as a better display for almost every function of the machine. There’s a timing feature as well that is super fun to play with. The glove box has ample room for supplies, and there are small cubby shelves in the dash, which are convenient for smaller items if you are driving mellow. Our only complaint with storage is that the arm rest/center console can barely hold a pair of gloves and a beanie.
HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
We are going to compare this machine directly with the Polaris General XP with a price range of $22,999–$25,999. The two-seat RMAX starts at $19,799 and goes to $23,299. The 2021 Yamaha RMAX2 1000 XT-R is $21,999. Honda’s Pioneer 1000, which has suspension travel closer to the base General and the older Wolverine X2, ranges from $15,899 $18,999.
HOW FAST IS THE RMAX 1000?
It’s quick, and faster than the KRX1000. The 108-horsepower twin pushes the RMAX down the trail at an exciting pace. It hits a top speed of 74 mph in a hurry on long, straight roads. So, if your rides are on flat, familiar power-line roads, desert trails or dry lake beds, you won’t be wound out and bouncing off the rev limiter. There are three power modes to choose from by spinning a dial on the dash. It’s actually the power delivery that gets changed. Whether you want soft, medium or abrupt power, all 108 horsepower are released in their own way as you push the throttle pedal in the different modes.
You can feel the weight of this machine on take-off. The 1,876 pounds keeps it from being super peppy. Actually, until you get used to it, when you use Crawl mode, power is so mellow that it feels like the parking brake is left on. However, when out on the trail, in super rocky sections, it’s nice and you aren’t jerking on and off the throttle to get through a section. Each mode definitely has a purpose, and we were happy to have them in every situation.
For aggressive woods riding, we loved the Sport power mode. For loading it on and off the trailer and for the rocks, Crawl mode was spot-on. Around the ranch, for chores and light exploring, Trail was our Goldilocks pick for sure. If there was a mode it stayed in most, it would be Trail.
HOW ABOUT THE DRIVETRAIN?
Yamaha SxS’ have been bulletproof since that early Rhino. The testing department at Yamaha rides as hard as you do, and they don’t sign off on a project until it’s tested strong. The 4WD system has a locking front differential that can be actuated at the turn of a dial, and new for Yamaha is that they have increased the power-steering assist when diff-lock is deployed. When sitting outside of the car listening to it go down the trail, it has a nice growl. However, in the cockpit, you can’t hear it over the engine noise. It’s not too loud when you have a helmet on. For comparison, it’s 2 decibels louder than a General at 8000 rpm and 66 mph. On the good side of this machine, Yamaha gives a standard 10-year warranty on the CVT belt, and the air filter is washable foam style. The rest of the car has a limited six-month warranty.
HOW DOES THE RMAX HANDLE?
For woods riding, it corners excellent, and traction pulls you where you point the steering wheel. There’s less dive than squat when you are hard on and off the gas. There is no rear sway bar, which helps big on the comfort level. It’s predictable in the bumps, as long as they don’t get too big. The RMAX features Fox’s IQS push button adjustable suspension or QS3 with manual adjusters. Both work great; however, for most situations we found the middle to be the best setting.
HOW STRONG ARE THE BRAKES?
They’re very strong. Since this car weighs close to 1900 pounds, Yamaha had to increase the braking force from the older X2. They borrowed similar calipers and rotors off of the YXZ to make the RMAX stop quickly and safely. Excellent engine braking keeps you from heating the brakes up on big downhills. Like the power output, the engine braking can be adjusted depending on the situation. Crawl mode gives the most EB. The Maxxis Carnivore tires seem to offer great braking traction as well. This machine has a separate parking brake, so there’s no need to worry about hurting your transmission when parking on a hill, like you do with many other brands.
IS THE LE/XT-R WORTH THE EXTRA COST?
You are paying $2000–$3000 extra for a sound system, painted bodywork, better tires, a winch, iQS shocks or for the in-dash GPS unit. For any two of those, you are getting your money’s worth. The hard part is choosing which is important to you. Although we like the blue color over all the rest, we’d rather save the $1300 and stay with the green XT-R model we are testing, and we will adjust the shocks manually. We like the middle setting most of the time anyway. We value a GPS, winch, and good skid plates over paint and music, but that may not be you.
WHAT IS OUR FINAL ANSWER?
Out West it only suffered in the big whoops, it shines everywhere else. If you avoid them anyway the RMAX should be for you. It works well in the woods, great in the rocks and perfect on any forest road. The interior is state of the art and just as good as any other machine out there. Will the RMAX be the king of the UTV world like the Rhino was? For most segments of the country, it might. We know we are going to take ours everywhere.
See UTV Action’s report on all the new RMAX models here: https://utvactionmag.com/2021-yamaha-rmax-1000/amp/
2021 YAMAHA RMAX 1000 XT-R
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 8-valve, DOHC 4-stroke
Bore x stroke 93mm x 73.5mm (x2)
Compression ratio 11.2:1
Lubrication system Dry sump
Additional cooling Auto fan
Induction 48mm EFI (x2)
Starting procedure Turn ignition switch w/ brake on
Type Washable foam, w/ paper secondary
Access Under hood, clips for airbox lid
Transmission Dual-range CVT w/ reverse
Reverse procedure Move range selector to “R”
Drive system Selectable 2WD/4WD w/ diff-lock
Final drives Shafts
Fuel capacity 9.2 gal.
Overall length/width/height 119”/66.1”/77.8”
Ground clearance 13.8”
Claimed dry weight 1,876 lb.
Bed weight limit 600 lb.
Hitch 2” square receiver
Towing limit 2000 lb.
Frame Steel rectangle & round tube
Front Dual A-arm w/ prel./comp.-adj. 2.0
Rear Dual A-arm w/ prel./comp.-adj. 2.0
Front Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Rear Hydraulic discs/left-side pedal
Parking Separate lever on console
Front 30x10R14 Maxxis Carnivore
Rear 30x10R14 Maxxis Carnivore
DC outlet DC and USB on console
Front LED hi/lo headlights
Rear LED brake/tail lights w/rev light
Instrumentation Digital speed/odo/trip/hour/rpm/
Colors Green-XT-R/ blue, grey, white (others)
Minimum recommended operator age 16