— West Coast Test —
Several months ago we tested the 2019 YXZ in Alabama and found many of its improvements made it faster, easier to drive and more comfortable in eastern conditions than previous YXZs. Yamaha claims the new YXZ also works better out west, so we headed to Johnson Valley in Southern California, home of the King of the Hammers race, to see how each of the 2019 model’s key improvements affect how it handles whooped-out, high-speed terrain; deep sand; and brutal, rocky trails.
ARE ALL YXZ MODELS IMPROVED FOR 2019?
Yes. The YXZ1000R is available with a fully manual five-speed transmission or a Sport Shift (SS) five-speed with an automatic clutch in the base and SE versions, and all models get the most important 2019 upgrades. Here they are:
—New shift programming for Sport Shift models
—Larger tires (29 inches vs. 27 inches)
—Bigger brakes and 4/156 hubs
—Stronger, turbo-ready GYTR connecting rods.
IS ENGINE PERFORMANCE BETTER FOR WESTERN CONDITIONS?
Engine output and tuning on the naturally aspirated 998cc, 12-valve, double-overhead-cam triple is the same as in 2018, but the 2019’s new lower gearing makes the YXZ faster and easier to drive in western conditions, just like it does in eastern conditions. The west is full of ugly, low-speed obstacles, and new gear ratios give the YXZ a lower first gear, which makes tough technical terrain much easier to conquer. New shift programming in Sport Shift models also makes challenging terrain easier to conquer. The system downshifts to first automatically as before, and it will pop the automatic clutch for you in first or reverse to get you unstuck in extreme conditions.
Because the 2019 has 29-inch tires rather than 27s, the YXZ’s second through fifth gearing is effectively the same as in 2018, so top speed isn’t reduced. The YXZ can cruise at 70 mph on dirt and top out around 80 mph. Yamaha claims the new gearing and other changes more than double clutch life—a plus no matter where you drive. The YXZ’s powerful, high-revving engine is as fun as ever in dunes and in high-speed terrain. Its super-high rev ceiling gives it a longer, stronger-feeling top-end pull than other naturally aspirated UTVs. That style of power delivery, and the fun of being able to control it with a five-speed transmission, gives the YXZ a totally unique feel.
DOES THE SUSPENSION WORK BETTER OUT WEST?
Yes. Yamaha didn’t simply go to softer settings for 2019. That may have helped some drivers on tighter, slower eastern trails, but it would have hurt performance for aggressive drivers and western areas, where high-speed conditions are more common. In very simple terms, the new suspension settings use softer springs with firmer compression damping and lighter rebound to improve performance and comfort in both environments.
In Southern California’s whooped-out desert terrain, the 2019 is more relaxed at speed than previous models, and the earlier models were very good. Bottoming resistance is also excellent. The 2019 is smoother on rough, rocky trails than in the past. The suspension’s versatility is remarkable, and the SE’s Fox RC2 shocks offer adjustable high- and low-speed compression damping, adjustable rebound, adjustable spring preload and adjustable spring crossovers so you can fine-tune them to your driving style and conditions. The Fox X2 shocks on the Ultra White YXZ1000R SS SE offer adjustable high- and low-speed compression and rebound adjustments, adjustable spring preload and adjustable spring crossovers.
DO THE NEW LARGER TIRES HELP OUT WEST?
Yes. The 2019 YXZ’s 29s roll through whoops and over rocks more easily than the 2018’s 27-inch tires, which contribute to the new machine’s smoother ride. The larger tires also provide extra ground clearance, and their eight-ply construction makes them more puncture resistant than the previous YXZ’s six-ply tires.
DO THE LARGER BRAKES HELP OUT WEST?
Yes. The 2018 YXZ’s braking was among the best on any UTV, but the 2019’s larger rotors, master cylinder and calipers with larger pistons provide even more feel and stopping power, a huge plus in high-speed western conditions and on the west’s giant downhills.
DOES THE REAR-MOUNTED RADIATOR HELP OUT WEST?
Yes. The rear-mounted radiator’s most obvious benefit is ending the possibility of mud clogging the radiator. That’s a concern in eastern conditions much more often than in the west, but the rear-mounted radiator is also frequently a plus in western conditions. Since coolant lines no longer need to be routed through the driveshaft tunnel, heat in the cabin is drastically reduced. The rear-mounted radiator is also nearly a third larger than before, and new twin fans provide 300 percent more air flow. The YXZ was never hurting for cooling capacity when stock, but the oversized radiator is a bonus to anyone who heavily modifies the YXZ, especially if he or she does lots of really aggressive duning. Yamaha’s engineering and testing people tell us the cooling system can easily keep the engine cool in the most demanding conditions, even with Yamaha’s turbo kit pushing engine output to over 200 horsepower.
DO THE STRONGER CONNECTING RODS HELP OUT WEST?
They help some drivers. People who keep the YXZ stock will probably never see any benefit from the stronger connecting rods because the 2018’s rods were more than up to the task. For drivers who heavily modify the YXZ, the new rods are a huge plus, mainly because saving the rods’ installation cost is considerable, around $2000.
DOES THE NEW CAGE HELP OUT WEST?
Oh yeah, but it helps eastern drivers just as much. The new cage makes the YXZ easier to enter and exit than before, improves visibility in steep terrain, reduces the vehicle’s height slightly and looks cooler. But wait, there’s more; it has much stronger flag mounts.
WHAT IS OUR FINAL ANSWER?
Yamaha was determined to make the 2019 YXZ more fun to drive, more comfortable and faster for eastern conditions—and Yamaha succeeded. Knowing Yamaha, we’re not surprised. What amazes us is that all the machine’s changes also improve the machine’s performance in western conditions, even the suspension. If you know how different western and eastern driving is, you understand what a major accomplishment that is. After testing the 2019 YXZ back east in UTV Action’s December issue, we said, “This is the best YXZ yet.” Now we can say this is the best YXZ yet for any part of the country you want to drive in.
2019 YAMAHA YXZ1000R SS SE
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 12-valve, DOHC
Bore x stroke 80.0.0 x 66.2mm (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 Remove 5 Dzus and cover, unscrew cap
Transmission 5-speed sequential, auto-clutch
Reverse procedure Pull D-N-R range selector to “R”
Drive system Selectable 2WD/4WD w/ diff-lock & EBS
Final drives Shafts
Fuel capacity 9.0 gal.
Overall length/width/height 123.9”/64.0”/68.9”
Ground clearance 13.2”
Claimed wet weight 1,563 lb.
Bed weight limit 300 lb.
Towing limit N/A
Frame Steel round tube
Front Dual A-arms w/ prel./ hi-low comp./reb./x-over
Rear Dual L/H-arms w/ prel./hi-low comp./reb./x-over
Front Twin-piston hydraulic discs
Rear Twin-piston hydraulic discs
Parking Lever on console
Front 29x9R14 Bighorn 2.0 8-ply
Rear 29x11R14 Bighorn 2.0 8-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 Yamaha Blue, Ultra White
Minimum recommended operator age 16
Suggested retail price $20,599–$21,799
Contact Yamaha Motor Corp., (800) 962-7926