New version expected to grow sales volume
There’s a sizable chunk of consumers who don’t like the clutch-driven manual transmission on the Yamaha YXZ1000R. They aren’t familiar with concept and don’t have much interest in learning. Alas, they couldn’t be convinced to purchase the machine.
It’s with those potential customers in mind that Yamaha unveiled the 2017 YXZ1000R SS, the world’s first pure sport side-by-side with paddle shifting. Enthusiast and trade media members were on hand in June for the reveal in Greenville, South Carolina, to see the drape pulled off the entire 2017 Yamaha side-by-side and ATV lineup. About two dozen dealers followed the media launch by taking the new units for a spin at the nearby Big Buck GNCC trail.
“When we came out with the original manual transmission, we knew that was going to be more for the enthusiast,” said Mike Martinez, Yamaha’s vice president of ATV/side-by-side operations. “The YXZ1000R SS is taking that enthusiast vehicle and providing the capability to bring in more customers who don’t necessarily want the foot clutch. I believe we could be looking at least double if not triple the volume of the enthusiast.”
Dealers report that the 2016 YXZ1000R has never been known as a hot seller on showroom floors, but the 2017 YXZ1000R SS figures to make significant gains in that department.
“From a dealer’s standpoint, customers had been used to having only automatics, which we started with the Rhino,” Martinez added. “That’s all that was available in this category. And that customer mentality was a little bit of a challenge to change them over to the idea that fully manual is more fun. I do think there are more customers who would appreciate a fully manual, but they’re just in automatic mode. That’s what they’ve been driving for 10 years now. I think the YXZ1000R SS helps bridge that gap and brings that customer in.”
With Yamaha firmly entrenched in the utility (Viking and Viking VI), recreational (Wolverine) and sport (YXZ1000R) segments, its growth has not gone unnoticed. Now with 10 models to offer, it’s a far cry from just a handful less than three years ago. Also in that short time, Yamaha has created its own category of product.
“The YXZ1000R is not like any other side-by-side out there,” said Travis Hollins, Yamaha’s ATV/side-by-side senior product planning manager. “Yamaha stepped outside the box to create a totally new driving experience.”
The SS, or Sport Shift, technology has been nearly a decade in the making. The 2017 YXZ1000R SS offers the same industry-first 3-cylinder 998cc engine and direct-connection feeling as the original YXZ. The SS technology is defined by a 5-speed sequential shift manual transmission boasting an advanced automatic clutch system and pure-sport inspired paddle shifters — eliminating the need for both a clutch pedal and taking your foot off the gas during shifting.
“The YXZ1000R redefined the sport side-by-side category last year, solidifying Yamaha as the leader in powersports performance,” Martinez said. “The new YXZ1000R SS, equipped with the Yamaha exclusive Sport Shift technology, delivers the unequaled direct-connection sport performance of the YXZ1000R to a wide range of enthusiasts.”
The new Sport Shift features pure-sport inspired paddle shifters mounted to the steering column for ultimate driver control and connection. The paddle shifters are synced to Yamaha Chip Controlled Shift (YCC-S) technology, an advanced automatic clutch system, eliminating the need for the clutch pedal. This allows a wide range of enthusiasts on a variety of off-road terrain to enjoy the pure sport performance and direct connection of the YXZ manual transmission.
The shift sequence — shift up with the right paddle and shift down with the left paddle — is designed to be highly intuitive for drivers, even if they are not familiar with operating a manual transmission. The Sport Shift system incorporates features that complement the paddle shifting variation and overall pure sport experience. An automatic downshift feature assists by automatically downshifting to first gear when the vehicle comes to a stop, even if the driver has not done so manually.
Similar to the way in which Yamaha has dominated the sport ATV market for decades, Martinez believes the YXZ1000R SS will help the product take another step forward.
“We’d like more volume; that’s the reality,” he said. “We expect more volume, and that’s the purpose of this launch, to increase the volume. We know that historically for sport ATV Yamaha has always been No. 1 in market share, for 20-something years, and at one point with 60-70 percent of the market. We know the sport market, and it’s a core market for us. We know we can be No. 1 in pure sport; there’s no doubt about it. And of course now we’re expanding and meeting those customer needs that we didn’t meet with the original YXZ1000R.”
“When we look at the buyer of the YXZ1000R, the No. 1 reason they gave for buying it is because they prefer the manual transmission,” Hollins said. “This is the core motorcycle rider who never even would have considered buying a UTV with a CVT. These guys love the machine, and they love the ride. But we know that segment of the market is not for everybody, so with the launch of the YXZ1000R SS, we’re looking to expand the category, and to expand the ability of others to experience the pure sport side-by-side world.”
Martinez says all it takes is a few minutes in the driver’s seat for the YXZ10000R SS to makes its mark. And it performs in such a way that it’s set up for success.
Another exciting and innovative feature on the YXZ1000R SS is the all-new “Launch System,” which is exclusive to the Sport Shift experience and provides an exciting high-acceleration feeling from stop — similar to “dropping the clutch” in a manual vehicle with a clutch pedal.
The YXZ1000R SS models boast fully adjustable long travel FOX 2.5 Podium Shocks with 16 inches of travel in front and 17 inches out back. The piggyback reservoir shock absorbers provide confidence and comfort through tough terrain, over deep whoops and throughout all-day off-road punishment.
New for 2017, the Special Edition (SE) YXZ1000R and YXZ1000R SS acquire industry-first twin-wall FOX 2.5 Podium X2 Shocks. They were developed in tandem with Yamaha specifically and exclusively for the new Special Edition YXZ models, providing ultimate slow speed comfort without sacrificing performance during aggressive driving situations combined with unprecedented adjustability to suit a variety of driving types and preferences.
A new level of performance and comfort are achieved by creating completely independent high and low speed compression and rebound adjustment, combined with huge 16.2 inches of front and 17.0 inches of rear travel. Additional features of the X2 shocks include dual adjusters on the upper cap and twin tube structure, dual springs with coupling and crossover adjustment, position sensitive damping and more.
The other new Yamaha 2017 side-by-side models include the YXZ1000R SS Special Edition (SE) and new YXZ1000R SE in Matte Black, new Midnight Blue Metallic SE Viking and Viking VI, new Matte Silver Wolverine R-Spec SE, new Yamaha Blue Wolverine R-Spec and new Wolverine with electric power steering (EPS). Add it up and the 2017 ATV/side-by-side lineup from Yamaha figures to introduce more customers to powersports.
“Now we have a core, solid model in every category,” Martinez said. “Our real focus now is in those other key categories. We know they’re out there, and we get those requests. We do have a very solid 3-to-5-year plan of categories that we’re going to go after and continue to expand into. And we’re certainly not done with the YXZ1000R, either.”