June 8, 2012
Cypress, CA - Industry News From Yamaha
Yamaha has a great thing going with its Raptor 700R sport ATV. The current market has nothing that matches up head-to-head with its big-bore engine, performance suspension and straight-axle rear end. MotoUSA knows firsthand how popular this quad is with recreational riders. We regularly see the big Yammie roaming trails and strafing the sand dunes – both of which are its natural environments. Yamaha tweaked its big-bore sport ATV for 2013 to keep the Raptor 700R at the top of the sport segment, and we headed to Central Oregon for a trail ride on the updated quad.
The primary changes for MY13 are styling and ergonomics. The front end of the ATV looks and feels different. Yamaha’s recognizable Raptor grill retains its traditional styling but has a few tweaks. Its front fenders have been moved forward 50mm to allow more room in the saddle, and our 6’0” test rider never felt his knees come into contact regardless of body position or level of aggressive riding. Yamaha made this adjustment in response to rider surveys which identified typical Raptor pilots as larger, heavier and desiring additional comfort. The seat is extremely comfortable. We’d like it to have the same flared shape as the YFZ450R as it is possible to feel the edge of the seat base at extreme leans, but the foam density is suitable for all-day riding.
One thing riders won’t notice on the front end is the digital speedometer. Yamaha removed the computer system this year in order to cut down on costs. We never noticed it missing during our ride and the only time we really used it in the past anyway was for the trip meter function. There are still warning lights in front of the handlebars, but this is one of the reasons that the MSRP dropped $300 ($8099) for the 700R and $200 ($8799) for the 700R SE – a worthy tradeoff in our minds.
gone and a new set of Maxxis tires provides traction. The steel and aluminum chassis is powdercoated a silver/gray color which matches the engine. The frame makes use of aluminum rear sections and a steel front section for balanced rigidity and weight. Yamaha shod its big straight-axle quad with new tires. It traded out the old Dunlops for a new set of Maxxis tires. The tread pattern provides excellent traction and a stiffer sidewall limits roll and maintains predictable sliding.
We rode the Raptor on dry Oregon trails and sharp volcanic rocks and never had an issue with the front end pushing or the chassis getting unsettled. The front end is so responsive that it takes a bit of care when lofting the front end through whoops and then setting it down at speed. If the handlebars are angled then the ATV is going to immediately follow them. This makes it very easy to be precise when navigating tight trees. The rear tires have great bite on acceleration and braking, but the front treads were our favorite upgrade.
A twin-piston rear brake caliper comes straight off the YFZ450R, replacing the old single-pot binder and providing plenty of power. Yamaha claims the new brake is targeted at enhancing the rider’s feel at the lever more than boosting outright braking power. After riding the 700R on dry, slippery terrain, we have to agree that the caliper does allow a great deal of control, even when traction is minimal. Yamaha also gets the benefit of sharing common parts between models for quality control and price reduction.
The 700R still uses its proven fuel-injected single cylinder engine, the powerplant completely unchanged for 2013. The big piston thumps inside the 102 x 84mm bore and stroke with a 9.2:1 compression ratio. It’s anything but a slow-revving big-bore. Yamaha introduced needle bearing rocker arms in 2006 which helped drop friction by 50% over the previous model. What we have today is a smooth but quick-revving powerplant that oozes torque across the rpm range. Dual counterbalancers keep it smooth and riding the Raptor is a pleasant experience. It’s more than willing to chug along lazily or wick up the pace and do work with its five-speed transmission. The trails at our ride location were nearly perfect for third gear all day long. A few long stretches allowed fourth and heading for gravel roads maxed top speed in fifth. The tranny shifts without issue and gearing is pretty good. The gap between third and fourth is a bit tall at times, but the powerful engine is more than capable of pulling a tall cog. Having reverse in the gearbox is a nice addition as well. At a claimed 422 pounds (wet), having to muscle the 700R in a bind isn’t ideal.
Fuel injection takes the hassle out of fueling at any altitude. Our ride site at East Fort Rock OHV area outside of Bend, Oregon ranged from approximately 4400-6400 feet of elevation. We never had to worry about the altitude with convenient fuel injection. Having the ability to jaunt over to the coast and shred the dunes without swapping jets is priceless, and the EFI system is one of the most important things to Raptor owners, according to a Yamaha study.
In addition to the blue/white Raptor 700R and Special Edition, Yamaha also offers a Raptor 700. This machine is a more affordable version of the 700R which is made possible by using lower-spec suspension. The front shocks are non-piggyback designs without compression or rebound adjustment. The rear is the same shock as used on the R model but without the compression and rebound adjustment. Another difference is the front brake lever which is fixed-position. Buyers will get two sets of graphics to choose from and a very palatable pricetag of $7699. Yamaha only let us saddle up the R model, but the 2013 Raptors are heavy-duty fun and offer unique performance in the sport quad market. Another budget-friendly option creates an even wider spread of Yamaha sport ATVs. Families can choose from the Raptor 90, 125, 250, 350, 700, 700R and 700R SE, plus the YFZ450 and YFZ450R. These models provide something for everyone with pricetags ranging from $2699 to $8799.
There haven’t been a huge amount of changes to the Raptor, but the ones that were made for ’13 are important for several reasons. First off, it demonstrates Yamaha’s ongoing dedication to the big-bore sport ATV. In challenging economic times, seeing smart upgrades is important for consumers. Also, the Raptor 700 and 700R are now assembled in the USA., which shows the Japanese giant’s emphasis on the American market. Plenty of OEMs are moving production facilities outside of the US, but Yamaha has been investing in the Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corp of America (YMMC), located in Newnan, Georgia, for the past decade. The Rhino UTV and many utility ATVs have been assembled in Georgia for years, but since 2010 Yamaha has been implementing the ATV Production Transfer Strategy. Now all of the 4x4 quads and SxS production are at YMCC, and the Raptor 700R is the first sport ATV built in America. And finally, the introduction of the Raptor 700 and the cost-saving moves with the 700R and SE models is proof that the move to YMMC has helped Yamaha connect to American riders, listening to what they value and implementing that with new model designs.
The Raptor 700R is as amazing as ever. Yamaha has every right to be proud of its new production strategy and has found a way to offer improved performance for less price. We’re looking forward to a chance to sample the new 700, but the king of the Raptor family is still one of the best all-around sport ATVs available in any shape or size.