SHOOTOUT: Yamaha Raptor 700 vs. YFZ450 Special Editions

When it comes to the current state of sport-quad supremacy, Yamaha just might have the market on lockdown. The fuel-injected YFZ450R is pretty much race-ready off the showroom floor, and the EFI-fed Raptor 700 is the only other current big-bore sport quad worth mentioning. These ATVs have proven themselves in nearly every discipline of ATV riding and racing, but if your thing happens to be the sand, the Yamahas are even more of a no-brainer. While Suzuki and Kawasaki are out, and Honda is still pushing the same exact bike it brought us in 2006, Yamaha has continued to invest in improvements year after year. We recently spent a few days with Yamaha in the dunes to really compare these two machines and try to help our readers make that ultra-important decision: 450-class leader or big bore?

Which is the better all-around sport ATV for dunes, trails and tracks, the Yamaha Raptor 700R or the Yamaha YFZ450R? To find out, we compared the Special Edition of each machine at Glamis and the surrounding desert.
Which is the better all-around sport ATV for dunes, trails and tracks, the Yamaha Raptor 700R or the Yamaha YFZ450R? To find out, we compared the Special Edition of each machine at Glamis and the surrounding desert.

HOW DOES COST COMPARE?
If we’re talking apples to apples with the YFZ-R SE and the 700R SE, it’s only a 200-dollar difference in favor of the Raptor. Both machines come with EFI, upgraded aluminum parts, graphics, etc., and they both also come with truly highend, fully adjustable KYB shocks. The difference lies in the front end. If you plan on track or desert riding, you will really appreciate the wider, long-travel front end on the YFZ-R, as it will cost $1000–$2000 to replicate it on the 700. If you’re looking for a lower overall entry point, the standard Raptor 700 can be had for $1100 less than the base YFZ450R, but it is definitely stripped down in terms of suspension quality and accessories. The Raptor 700 is $7699, the 700R is $8199, and the 700R SE is $8799. The YFZ450R is $8799, and the Special Edition is $8999.

WHAT’S NEW FOR 2015?
While the YFZ450R has basically been untouched since 2014, the Raptor 700 received a laundry list of solid upgrades. Yamaha has stuck to its strategy of releasing a great product and then refining it to near perfection over the model run. Apparently, being the most powerful sport quad on the market wasn’t enough; Yamaha engineers pulled 10 percent more horsepower out of the Raptor’s 686cc engine. Compression was increased from 9.2:1 to 10:1, and the engineers completely redesigned the cylinder head. The new head features a completely new single-port exhaust design and an exhaust system to work with it. New cam timing, fuelinjection mapping and a different rod will help the Raptor rev quicker and make more power while still retaining reliability and that super-smooth all-around power curve.

On the exterior, the new Raptor gets a taller 22-inch front tire designed to shift the Raptor’s weight rearward. This improved weight bias works hand in hand with new suspension settings, optimizing traction for the power increase. Shock changes include a 5mm-longer rear spring that increases feel and comfort through the rough and the whoops. The DID T-ring chain was also replaced by the same ultra-durable DID X-ring chain that many of us have been upgrading to for years.

A much taller engine gives the Raptor 700R a roomier layout, and it has a more sedate 10.1:1 compression ratio. The long-stroke engine revs out to 9000 rpm and has dual counterbalancers for less vibration. New 22-inch Maxxis front tires help it float over dune chop and trail garbage.
A much taller engine gives the Raptor 700R a roomier layout, and it has a more sedate 10.1:1 compression ratio. The long-stroke engine revs out to 9000 rpm and has dual counterbalancers for less vibration. New 22-inch Maxxis front tires help it float over dune chop and trail garbage.

WHICH YAMAHA IS FASTER?
In an all-out drag race, the biggerbore Raptor 700 is faster. The quicker revving YFZ-R will get out of the hole quicker, but the massive torque and taller gearing of the 700 will slowly walk away from the race-ready 450. When it comes to climbing the biggest hills, the Raptor offers a similar advantage. China Wall, the biggest and steepest dune in Glamis, was chosen for the comparison. With a little run-in and a competent rider, both machines could conquer the beast with ease. The Raptor, however, could start right at the base, whereas the YFZ-R needed a little extra run at it. Climbing “The Wall” also required a bit more clutch work on the 450, while the 700 could pretty much lug up it in third and fourth. If you missed a shift and had to abort your climb, the YFZ-R was the machine you wanted to be on. The lower-slung, wider YFZ-R platform proved much easier to whip around on a steep dune face than the taller, skinnier Raptor. This can really prove advantageous when “turning around” is 500 feet up a very steep dune or hill-climb.

The YFZ450R has a 449cc displacement with 95mm piston, 63.4mm stroke and massive 11.8:1 compression ratio. It’s 48.8 inches wide, has a low center of gravity and sports a steering stem with our positioned handlebar mounts to suit a wide variety of riders. Plastic is designed for maximum body English.
The YFZ450R has a 449cc displacement with 95mm piston, 63.4mm stroke and massive 11.8:1 compression ratio. It’s 48.8 inches wide, has a low center of gravity and sports a steering stem with our positioned handlebar mounts to suit a wide variety of riders. Plastic is designed for maximum body English.

WHICH HAS BETTER DELIVERY?
Power delivery is great with both machines. The harder-hitting YFZ-R power curve is very easy to ride aggressively, but the big torque and super-smooth power curve on the Raptor make it easy to ride in any circumstance. As for overall jetting or “tuning,” we noticed a slight hiccup off the bottom on the YFZ-R, but the Raptor performed flawlessly throughout the entire curve. Tighter emissions standards have called for leaner and leaner fuel mapping. The Raptor seemed unfazed, but we noticed it on the YFZ-R. It exhibited a slightly lean condition at basically zero elevation, but it will undoubtedly be less noticeable or go away at higher elevations.

The YFZ450R is 3.3 inches wider than the Raptor, and the seat height is 0.8 inch lower at 31.9 inches. Both Special Editions have high-end KYB piggyback shocks with separate high- and lowspeed compression adjusters and rebound and ring preload for the progressive-rate springs. The YFZ also has a quick-adjust clutch perch and Dzus fasteners for quick plastic removal
The YFZ450R is 3.3 inches wider than the Raptor, and the seat height is 0.8 inch lower at 31.9 inches. Both Special Editions have high-end KYB piggyback shocks with separate high- and lowspeed compression adjusters and rebound and ring preload for the progressive-rate springs. The YFZ also has a quick-adjust clutch perch and Dzus fasteners for quick plastic removal
Out back the two sport Yamahas look alike, although the YFZ has almost an inch more rear travel and a wider axle. The YFZ also has a more track-ready, lower-profile, 20x10-9 rear Maxxis. The Raptor SE has black powdercoated aluminum heel guards, and the shock is re-tuned with slower rebound and more progressive compression damping.
Out back the two sport Yamahas look alike, although the YFZ has almost an inch more rear travel and a wider axle. The YFZ also has a more track-ready, lower-profile, 20×10-9 rear Maxxis. The Raptor SE has black powdercoated aluminum heel guards, and the shock is re-tuned with slower rebound and more progressive compression damping.

WHAT ABOUT HANDLING?
The Raptor is the lazy man’s ride of choice. Everything happens at a little slower pace. Steering is a little slower and less abrupt, as is the slightly easier
to-ride power curve. The YFZ450R, on the other hand, handles better than any other stock machine we’ve ever ridden. Back in ’08–’09, the YFZ-R had the track-ready LT450R as a solid competitor for the overall best-handling sport machine, and shootouts between the two machines were very close and even closer in the handling department. It was a very tough call to pick a winner back then, but the YFZ-R has continued to progress and is a much better machine than it was in 2009. If you want the best-handling sport ATV you can buy off the showroom floor, buy a YFZ450R.

Both Yamahas have strong brakes with two-piston hydraulic front calipers, aggressive serrated footpegs and blacked-out rims. The YFZ450R has square-profile Maxxis meats for aggressive cornering, while the Raptor’s new 22-inch front tire is designed more for comfort and cruising.
Both Yamahas have strong brakes with two-piston hydraulic front calipers, aggressive serrated footpegs and blacked-out rims. The YFZ450R has square-profile Maxxis meats for aggressive cornering, while the Raptor’s new 22-inch front tire is designed more for comfort and cruising.

WHICH HAS BETTER SUSPENSION?
Once again, the Raptor suspension is amazing for a lazier ride through the dunes or trails, but the performance of the YFZ-R is over the top. The Raptor, especially the 700R SE model, comes with very adjustable suspension that can be fine-tuned to please just about any rider. It’s plush and forgiving, yet will still soak up the bigger hits like G-outs and big jumps. Riding the YFZ450R is like riding a completely built race bike that doesn’t require the additional maintenance and extremely deep pockets of a full-aftermarket setup. The slightly stiffer spring setup will make slowspeed riding a little more abusive than on the Raptor, but you just can’t beat it when it comes to aggressive play riding or racing. The YFZ-R’s wider MX-track-width front end is an improvement in just about any type of riding. The wider platform increases stability, improves corner speed and also gives the machine more suspension travel. Unless you are riding in extremely tight woods, we can’t think of a situation where you would prefer the narrower front end and its handling characteristics over the wider YFZ450R’s front end.

The quick-revving, short-stroke engine has five titanium valves and tuning to produce a fun, fast and furious hit, along with strong mid and top power. It has a trick assist and slipper clutch that locks under power for better acceleration and helps the suspension soak up braking bumps.
The quick-revving, short-stroke engine has five titanium valves and tuning to produce a fun, fast and furious hit, along with strong mid and top power. It has a trick assist and slipper clutch that locks under power for better acceleration and helps the suspension soak up braking bumps.

WHICH IS BETTER IN DUNES?
The big-bore, big-power Raptor is a great overall duning machine, but it really depends on whom you ask. If your ideal trip to the dunes involves being in the saddle from sun up to sun down, the Raptor’s roomy chassis, smooth power curve and forgiving suspension will undoubtedly win you over. If your dune trips revolve around racing your buddies around worm tracks, jumping the biggest hits you can find, and all-around hauling the mail in every direction, then the YFZ-R is your machine. Once again, the YFZ-R is by far the most race-ready machine you can purchase, and all those traits are valuable to an aggressive dune rider. Rider height and overall body size might also have a lot to do with this decision. The Raptor is a big machine, and it truly fits the plus-size rider.

Anyone over 6-foot-1 might feel a little cramped on the YFZ-R, but the Raptor is incredibly roomy. A good friend, who happens to be a 6-foot-4, 330-pound ex-NFL lineman, rides the wheels off of his Raptor 700 but makes the YFZ-R look like a circus toy.

WHAT ABOUT TRACKS AND TRAILS?
Both machines are surprisingly good on tracks and trails. The Raptor may never use all its massive horsepower and taller gearing on an average trail ride, but it’s still very smooth and ridable off the bottom end. The 46-inch width is great on tighter trails, and the reverse gear can really come in handy. The big-bore Raptor is also surprisingly good on an MX track. While not really a match for the race-ready YFZ-R, it’s truly impressive. Jumping the Raptor is easier than you would think, and the smooth, massive power curve can get you over the biggest jumps with ease. As we’ve already stated, the race ready YFZ-R is the best track machine you can buy. It offers quality, low-slung, wider suspension; great power that revs to the moon; and the best overall MX handling in the business. All this track ready performance doesn’t necessarily ruin it for the trail, though. The YFZ-R comes with an all-around 21-inch and 20-inch tire setup that is decent on any track but gives you the clearance you need down the trail. The motor is snappy and a bit more aggressive than the Raptor’s, but its EFI system still keeps it manageable and rideable. If the trails are not too narrow, the YFZ-R is a blast to trail ride on, but it doesn’t have reverse and can be a handful when the trails get really tight.

Power is increased on the 700R by 10 percent with a new singleport exhaust, cam timing, higher-compression piston, connecting rod, balancer shaft, air-injection system and head work. Reverse gives the Raptor a big advantage in tight spots, but it doesn’t have a quickchange clutch cover like the YFZ.
Power is increased on the 700R by 10 percent with a new singleport exhaust, cam timing, higher-compression piston, connecting rod, balancer shaft, air-injection system and head work. Reverse gives the Raptor a big advantage in tight spots, but it doesn’t have a quickchange clutch cover like the YFZ.

WHAT ABOUT WRENCHING AND DURABILITY?
Both the Raptor and YFZ-R have proven to be very reliable. The earlier YFZ-Rs suffered from a few slight electrical gremlins, but they are about as solid as you can get now. The YFZ-R has also been designed around ease of maintenance, including easily removable plastic panels, a quick-change clutch cover, and rear fenders that can be removed without completely unhooking the battery and wiring. The Raptor does not have a quick-change clutch cover, and while its clutch has proven pretty durable, it is right at the heart of a whole lot of power transfer.

WHICH HAS STRONGER BRAKES?
The two Yamahas both have excellent brakes. While it would be hard to fault either of them, if we were required to pick a braking performance winner, it would have to be the lighter weight 450R. Both have excellent lever feel, can stop on a dime and share the super-trick, removable Yamaha parking brake lever.

WHAT’S OUR FINAL ANSWER?
With riders having different riding styles and body sizes, it is nearly impossible to pick an outright winner between these two machines. Our expert-level and younger test riders would opt for the YFZ-R every time, yet they couldn’t complain about its bigger brother, the Raptor 700R. The more experienced in our group felt the same way about the smoother and plusher ride of the Raptor. Both machines are great in the dunes, super fun on the trails and will surprise you on the track. If the track is your main venue, the choice is easily the raceready YFZ450R. But, if all-around riding enjoyment is more your thing, the choice is going to be a little more difficult.

R700vYFZ10_DY5T0005_2_

2015 YAMAHA 2015 YAMAHA
RAPTOR 700R SE YFZ450R SE
ENGINE/TRANSMISSION
Engine type Liquid-cooled, 4-valve, SOHC 4-stroke single ……………………..Liquid/oil-cooled, Ti 5-valve, DOHC 4-stroke
Displacement ………………………………………….686cc …………………………………………………………………. 449cc
Bore x stroke …………………………… 102.0 x 84.0mm ……………………………………………………95mm x 63.4mm
Compression ratio ……………………………….. 10.0:1:1 ………………………………………………………………….11.8:1
Lubrication system ……………………………… Dry sump ………………………………………………………………Dry sump
Induction ….EFI w/position sensor, 44mm throttle body …………………………………………………….42mm Mikuni EFI
Starting/back-up ………………Electric push-button/none ………………………………………… Electric push-button/none
Starting procedure ………… Engage clutch, push button ………………………………………… Turn on key and hit button
Air filter:
Type ………………………………… Washable oiled foam ……………………………………………………………………Foam
Access ….Remove seat, airbox lid (4 clips) & wingnut ……………. Release seat and 4 quick release; remove 1 bolt
Transmission ………………… Manual 5-speed w/reverse ………………………………………………. Fully manual 5-speed
Reverse procedure..1st gear, engage clutch, turn knob ………………………………………………………………….. None
on right fender, downshift
Transmission pattern …………………….. R-1-N-2-3-4-5 …………………………………………………………..1-N-2-3-4-5
Drive system …………………………………………….2WD ……………………………………………………………………2WD
Final drive …………………………………520 O-ring chain ……………………………………………………………………Chain
DIMENSIONS/CAPACITIES/WEIGHTS
Fuel capacity ………………………………………… 2.9 gal. ……………………………………………………………….. 2.6 gal.
Wheelbase ……………………………………………… 50.4” …………………………………………………………………….. 50”
Overall length/width/height …………..72.6”/45.5”/43.9” ………………………………………………….. 70.7”/48.8”/41.9”
Seat height …………………………………………….. 32.7” ………………………………………………………………….. 31.9”
Ground clearance ……………………………………….. 4.4” ……………………………………………………………………. 4.5”
Claimed wet weight ………………………………….422 lb. ……………………………………………….. 403 lb.; SE, 405 lb.
ROLLING CHASSIS
Frame …………………………… Hybrid aluminum & steel ……………………………………………… Steel/aluminum hybrid
Suspension/wheel travel:
Front ………….. Dual A-arms w/ prel.-adj. shocks/9.1” ……………………..Dual A-arms w/ adj. hi/lo comp./reb./prel.
piggyback shocks/9.8”
Rear ……………. Swingarm reb./prel.-adj. shock/10.1” …………………………Swingarm w/ adj. hi/lo comp./reb./prel.
piggyback shock/11.0”
Brakes/actuation:
Front ……. Two-piston hydraulic discs/right-hand lever …………………..Twin-piston hydraulic discs/ right-hand lever
Rear ……………………. Hydraulic disc, right-foot pedal …………………………………….Hydraulic disc/right-foot pedal
Parking ……………………… Lever lock on left-hand lever ………………………………………………….Left-hand lever/lock
Tires:
Front ……………………….AT 22×7-10 Maxxis M971Y ……………………………………………………..21×7-10 Maxxis
Rear ………………………..AT 20×10-9 Maxxis M976Y ……………………………………………………..21×7-10 Maxxis
DETAILS
Battery capacity …………………………………..8 amp/hr …………………………………………………………………….. N/A
Instruments … Neutral, reverse, coolant temp, low fuel …………………………………………………….Temp/fuel/neutral
Lighting:
Front ………..Two removable 30W Krypton headlights ……………………………………..Two 30W Krypton headlights
Rear ………………….. LED 0.5W/3.9W tail/brake light …………………………………….3.9/0.5W LED tail/brake light
Colors …………………………….Blue/white; SE black/red ………………………Blue, white w/ graphics kit; SE black/red
Minimum recommended operator age ……………….. 16 ……………………………………………………………………….16

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