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All-new Yamaha Grizzly offers gains galore

By By Dave McMahon

Aggressive styling only the start for all-model

The cover barely had been pulled off the all-new 2016 Yamaha Grizzly, and media in attendance at the OEM’s model year 2016 ATV/Side-by-Side Press Unveil in Stone Mountain, Ga., were already agreeing with the upgrade.

After all, there’s a lot to like about the 2016 Grizzly, starting with the aggressive new look, which is meant to appeal to the more recreation-focused consumer. But it’s what on the inside that counts with most consumers, since the Grizzly 700 is the top-selling big bore utility ATV in the U.S. marketplace (models over 650cc). The 6 percent increase in maximum power and 9 percent increase in max torque compared to the 2015 Grizzly 700 are ideal starting points. The same reliable 708cc engine that can be found in the base Yamaha Wolverine, and the newly-announced R-Spec, gives the new Grizzly an edge in durability and reliability, not to mention off-road capability, that Grizzly consumers are seeking.

The all-new 2016 Yamaha Grizzly brings added power and torque with its all-new 708cc engine.

The all-new 2016 Yamaha Grizzly brings added power and torque with its all-new 708cc engine.

The Grizzly 4x4 was part of an impressive 2016 Yamaha off-road lineup that was revealed at the Georgia event, including the Wolverine R-Spec SE and Wolverine side-by-sides; the 60th anniversary edition SE Raptor 700R and YFZ450R sport quads; the all-new Raptor 90 now targeted for the 10-year-old and up beginner; and the Kodiak 700 4x4. Off-road product planning manager Travis Hollins and testing supervisor Pat Biolsi provided details of the new-look Grizzly.

The Grizzly maintains the balance that has made it the top-seller in its class. It does a lot of things well, including handling, suspension, comfort and reliability. “With utility ATVs, everyone wants to talk about the engine and how important it is, but Grizzly is still the number one selling model out of all of them,” Hollins said. “It’s all put together in one solid package. The Grizzly customer is typically an enthusiast, buying the top of the top of the top. They want the best machine out there, and they’re willing to spend the money to get that high level of performance.”

Those 4-wheel-drive lovers are often recreationally based and out trail riding, although they still want the Grizzly for work. “They’re very machine-focused. It’s about how the machine handles in different situations, and that the Grizzly does so well.”

The introduction of an all-new Grizzly is simply meant to help keep Yamaha on the throttle. The new engine’s power and torque will provide a noticeable difference in performance.

“We’re focused on putting that power to the ground, and how that power comes to the ground,” Biolsi said. “More power is great, but nobody rides a dyno curve. It’s all about putting the power to the ground and what it feels like, making it responsive but not too responsive where you can’t control the tire spin. You need to know what exactly is going to happen when you give it more throttle. The torque increase is actually more important than the peak power increase. It’s the same drive system we’ve always had in Grizzly, and this new model overall benefitted greatly from that.”

The increased engine performance was boosted by a new shape, design and location of the air filter. The air intake track increased thanks to the air filter being moved to under the seat. In fact, the intake track in the 2015 model was 60mm, and it increased to 200mm.

“The air in there gets the velocity up, and the increased length gave us increased velocity at low- to mid-speed,” Biolsi said. “By moving the intake to a different position, it gave us that increased length we’re looking for.”

The foam filter switched from flat to cylindrical in shape, creating extra storage space in its previous location. It also brings more surface area than the previous filter. “The nice thing about the foam filter is it gets wet; you dry out, and you’re back on the trail. Other machines use a paper element, and that can leave you stranded on the trail if it gets wet.”

Yamaha also added 26-inch Maxxis tires, up from 25 inches on the 2015 model. A 5 percent lower gear ratio on the high range combines with the larger tires to provide an ideal response, Hollins noted.

“We’re able to push the recreational direction a little bit further with the Grizzly, so a lot of that is the overall reaction or feel in the engine or feel in the clutching system,” Hollins said. “We made the clutching system a little more sporty or aggressive.”

Similarly, Yamaha has its sights set on keeping the Grizzly as the market share leader in its segment.

“We wanted to give the customer added value, and to do that and keep the feeling of the machine, we had to make a lot of changes that seem subtle but do a big job within the total vehicle package,” Hollins said.

The Grizzly EPS SE with cast aluminum two-tone wheels, carbon metallic paint and a 2-inch receiver hitch will retail for $10,299.

The Grizzly EPS SE with cast aluminum two-tone wheels, carbon metallic paint and a 2-inch receiver hitch will retail for $10,299.

The styling features a blow-molded grab bar for added strength, compared to the injection-molded version last year. Full-length, three-piece composite skid plates allow the rider to slide over obstacles without getting hung up. Skid plate development, Biolsi said, was a priority, and the design effective design shows it.

The top storage compartment has a 9-pound capacity, and the front fender features a water-tight storage area. A third storage area has been added beneath the taillight.

Hollins describes the seat as the best utility seat Yamaha has ever had. It allows for more aggressive and active riding, while keeping a flatter profile. Wheel hubs switched from cast to forged aluminum to increase durability. The larger tires bring 13mm additional ground clearance. New LED headlights reduce power consumption and are less prone to damage. A new handlebar light has been added as well.

“We’ve added a lot of features and functional items, but the key thing is we maintained that overall Grizzly,” Hollins said. “It still does all the great things that Grizzly has always done.”

Most impressively, however, is the pricing. The Grizzly EPS retails for $9,699, with the non-EPS at $8,899.

The Grizzly SE with cast aluminum two-tone wheels, carbon metallic paint and a 2-inch receiver hitch is $10,299. The Grizzly LE, for winter climates, features the SE add-ons plus a removable windscreen, heated seat and heated grip/thumb warmer. It has an MSRP of $10,899.

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