By Lance Schwartz photos by Frank Hoppen
In the United States, one of the most feared animals in the woods is the mighty Ursus Arctos, better known as the Grizzly bear. On the track and trail, Yamaha riders have similarly been feared by their peers. A few years ago, Yamaha decided to name their new arrival to the big bore utility ranks the Grizzly. In my school of thought, when you name your quad after one of the meanest animals in the woods, you better have the product to back the name. We’ve liked the past Grizzlies, especially the 2nd generation model that we took to the 6 Hours of Pennsylvania’s Utility Expert class championship back in 2004. But, as the other manufacturers updated their premier machines, the old Grizzly had become just another animal in the woods. With plenty of fierce utility choices to choose from, we were thrilled to hear that Yamaha redesign their Grizzly from the ground up.
We took our first look and ride on Yamaha’s new heavyweight contender at the Paw’s Up Ranch and Resort in Montana. As you’ll read in the report below, Yamaha has shocked the world with its 2007 Grizzly 700FI, which features one of the most ingenious and industry-changing-enhancements of all time, electric power steering!
What’s the skinny on the Grizzly?
The new Grizzly is a completely different machine than the previous model. Yamaha has focused on every imaginable detail and the changes are pretty incredible. For starters, the engineers have designed a new 686cc Electronic Fuel Injected engine adapted from their potent Raptor 700R. Four wheel disk brakes now stop the Grizzly compared to the usual three disks used by the competition. A newly designed air intake system and a fuel tank mounted mostly under the seat help lower the center of gravity. The front A-arms now have an arc design similar to a set of made-for-racing Roll Design/ARS-FX arms. This design greatly aids in increased ground clearance. A newly designed gauge pod is featured with a self diagnostic mode that allows the rider or repair shop to diagnose electrical problems without the need to purchase tools, or test the continuity of wiring. New Dunlop tires that are incredibly durable and offer good traction have made their way to this machine as well. Two much needed storage boxes, one in the front right fender and one under the seat, have also been incorporated into this impressive machine. The seat on the 2007 Grizzly is the most comfortable one we’ve ever ridden and it rivals sitting in your favorite chair. And the best part for last, Yamaha has added power steering to their new big bore entry. Yes, you read that correctly – power steering!
An ATV First — EPS Power Steering! Yamaha has shocked the ATV industry by becoming the first manufacture to incorporate EPS, or Electric Power Steering. The 2007 Grizzly 700FI becomes the first ATV equipped with such an incredible feature. We could hardly believe it ourselves until we saw it. Our initial thoughts before riding an EPS equipped machine was- gimmick. But, after throwing a leg over the bright blue Grizzly and driving it up, over and through anything in its path — we can assure you that the EPS is for real! The power steering is nearly invisible to the rider when cruising around the trails or working the ranch. In fact, if you didn’t know the Grizzly had EPS, you would just assume the Yamaha engineers nailed the steering geometry. This 602 pound machine has the best steering feel and feedback of any utility machine, bar none! The EPS system allows the rider to tackle the most gnarly, toughest terrain with the least amount of effort or rider fatigue, all while providing superior comfort. Plus, it works equally well for the ranch hand, the typical trail rider, or the ATV Scene junkie who rides it like he stole it.
Here’s a look at the ATV industry’s first-ever power steering unit! Yamaha’s EPS (Electric Power Steering) is innovative to say the least. One ride on a new Grizzly and you’ll agree, this is no gimmick.
So, how in the world did Yamaha make Electric Power Steering (EPS) work and blow us all away with their new invention? We’ll give it to you in plain English…. As the rider turns the handlebars, the electric motor kicks in and assists in the turn. The harder you turn, the more the EPS assists the rider. The torque-sensing EPS system senses the twisting force put on the handlebars and wheels, at which point the electric motor jumps in to work its magic. If the Grizzly 700FI is not running or is idling but sitting still, the rider gets no power assist to help turn the bars. But, as you begin to move, the assist is introduced variably, decreasing as the quad’s speed increases. The reasoning for a variable speed sensitive assist is because it is easier to steer a machine going 50 mph than one going 5mph, so more assist is needed at slower speeds.
As we stated earlier, in most cases you’ll never even notice the power steering because Yamaha has done such an excellent job of making the function of the system work seamlessly and invisibly with the rest of the quad. You will instantly be reminded that your new Grizzly is equipped with power steering the moment you unexpectedly drill a rock or a stump. I purposely hit a rock the size of Rosie O’Donnell’s head with the right front tire over and over in hopes of finding the limits of the EPS system. I continually blasted that rock as hard as I could with one front tire to the point that the impact literally lifted all four tires off the ground. This eventually made our photographer, Frank Hoppen, a little nervous. He warned, “you’re on the edge Lance!” Frank may have been a little uneasy, but I’m hear to say I never once had the bars ripped from my hands or felt like I was going to lose control. In fact, I felt like I would have been able to hit that rock even harder. I can only explain the sensation of having EPS to that of a machine with an aftermarket steering stabilizer, which helps slow the bars down from rapid movement after impacting large objects. It is my opinion that the EPS is better than a stabilizer though, because the EPS doesn’t give the negative effect of stiffening the steering like a stabilizer does. To sum it up, Yamaha’s never-been-done-before EPS is bad ass! In the future we predict other manufacturers will surely try to create something similar to this absolute must have feature, but for now, it’s reserved for Yamaha Grizzly riders only.
The new EPS power steering gave us the confidence to blast gnarly rocks and take wicked shots like this!
All-New More Powerful Engine The new Grizzly 700FI gets a bump in displacement from 660cc to 686cc. The power improvement comes directly from Yamaha’s potent Raptor 700R engine. However, Yamaha didn’t bolt a Raptor engine in, and as such, you shouldn’t expect the same type of power delivery found in the Raptor. Instead, Yamaha built a more mannerly engine with a very linear power curve that feels much like the smooth delivery found on the Suzuki King Quad 700. The increase of 26cc’s along with Yamaha’s fuel injection system makes this engine much better than its predecessor. The addition of fuel injection makes for very easy starts and adjusts itself automatically to compensate for changes in elevation and temperature. We can attest to that! We ran it at elevations ranging from 3,000 feet to 7,300 feet and the jetting was spot on wherever we went. After logging nearly 90 miles on this machine during a one day excursion, I feel Yamaha built the type of engine I would have requested, had I been given that opportunity. The Grizzly has lots of power. But, it won’t blow the tires off every time you hit the gas. In other words, it doesn’t feel like it wants to rip your arms off, and it won’t flip over off the line if you give it too much juice. To be completely honest I did think it lagged a tad on the very bottom like most of the big bore machines on the market. But, after the initial lag, it pulls hard all the way up to top speed, which should be somewhere near the 70 mph range. One other point worth mentioning is that all of our testing was done at 3,000 feet or higher, so more performance should be expected if you live outside of the Rocky Mountains.
Transmission I’ll cut right to the chase and say that the 2007 Grizzly 700FI has the most natural feeling engine braking in the business! I loved it on the old Grizzly and I’m happy to say it’s more of the same good news for the ’07 model. There have been some gearing changes made to capitalize on the new engine’s power characteristics. New Grizzly riders will also have the ability to select between High, Low, Neutral, Reverse, and Park with the newly designed gated shifter. Most of the machines on the market have engine brakes that are either too aggressive or too passive. Yamaha’s UltraMatic transmission is ultra fantastic as far as I’m concerned. Perceptive riders will notice a bit of noise coming from the mechanical clutch when it first engages. But, just tell yourself that the noise is just the melody of the new tranny internals doing their job in harmony. On a big bore utility that can be used for work and play, the advantages of having an automatic with all of these features is key.
One of the changes Yamaha is proud about on the new Grizzly is that they have both front and rear drive shafts perfectly aligned with one another in a straight line. That equates to no CV joints and, ultimately, a more efficient drive line that doesn’t rob power from the machine. Four wheel drive is also a no nonsense issue. Activating four wheel drive mode can be done with the click of a button and because of the activators mechanical nature, it will lock whether the Grizzly is moving or not. That is an awesome feature that should be available on all of the big bore utilities. It’s not, so hats off to Yamaha for incorporating it. With the addition of the EPS, steering effort in 4×4 mode is without question the best in the business! Even with the front differential locked, the EPS is able to cancel out most of the feedback that a 4×4 system will naturally provide to the rider. In fact, when climbing with it, I had to keep checking if I had it in 4×4 mode because it wasn’t giving me the feedback through the bars that I’m used to.
Brakes This machine has it all. Another favorite feature on our list is the Grizzly’s new brakes. In addition to the fairly common usage of front disks, Yamaha went with dual rear disks mounted on each rear axle, much the same way that the automotive industry has done. It seems like a logical decision, but so far, the Yamaha’s Grizzly 700FI is the only machine with this feature. To compliment the four disks, beefed up brake reservoirs for both the front and rear are mounted on the handlebars, which gives the rider instant two finger braking power. The brakes work so well the machine is more than capable of doing stoppies. The Grizzly 700FI unequivocally has the best brakes on any 4×4 ATV. Even during a high speed 4,000 foot ascent and descent through a section of the Rocky Mountains where my editor compadres and I did our best to create a reenactment of the Pikes Peak Hill Challenge, the brakes never faded the slightest bit on any of our test units. When you need to stop, the brakes provide unmatched confidence and handle abuse without fading.
Suspension Featuring 7.1 inches of travel up front and a class-leading 9.5 inches in the rear, the Grizzly 700FI is capable of tackling just about any terrain imaginable. Rocks? What rocks? Its 11.8 inches of ground clearance makes the Grizzly an outstanding trail performer. The most noticeable change in suspension is a redesign to the shape of the front and rear A-arms.
This slightly rounded new shape that actually resembles the look of aftermarket Roll Design or ARS-FX arms, was chosen because it adds additional ground clearance while maintaining a low center of gravity. In addition to looking cool, the shape creates an extra tunnel space of 2.5” on each side. This means there is a much smaller chance of damaging the A-arms by coming in contact with rocks or logs. Finally, both front and rear shocks are now mounted to the bottom A arm, providing the opportunity to use longer shocks that run cooler and provide a better ride.
We love the Grizzle ‘Fa Shizzle! The new 2007 Yamaha Grizzly 700FI is an outstanding piece of machinery. This machine will serve farmers, trail riders, or utility-class racers a healthy portion of big bore utility fun at a very competitive price tag of $7,999. With improvements like EFI and EPS, your boss may find you MIA while you capitalize on some R&R with the company’s new 700FI. The 2007 Yamaha Grizzly 700FI is on a short list of ATVs that have the characteristic of not doing anything wrong, which is an incredible compliment to the engineers who designed it. There are no weird handling characteristics and the machine has all of the amenities that we have come to expect in this modern day big bore class.
We are looking forward to doing some side by side comparisons of the 2007 Grizzly 700FI against its competition in the near future. In doing so, we predict that this will be an even better indicator of just how impressive this new machine really is. Yamaha had a plan when designing this new model. Their goals were to build a machine that was the most durable, the most terrainable, the most comfortable and the easiest to use. From an engineering and enthusiast’s standpoint, we feel that Yamaha hit the nail on the head. The next generation Grizzly 700FI is certainly a force to be reckoned with in the ultra-competitive big bore utility quad segment. With its fine lineage, vast mechanical and cosmetic improvements and industry-first-technological-enhancements like EPS, Yamaha’s 2007 Grizzly 700FI has raised the bar to an all-time high and set the standard for other manufacturers to attempt to parallel.
ENGINE Engine Type 686cc, 4-Stroke Single, Liquid Cooled w/ Fan, SOHC Bore x Stroke 102mm x 84mm Compression Ratio 9.2:1 Carburetion<span style=’mso-spacerun:yes’> Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 44mm Starting System Electric Transmission<span style=’mso-spacerun:yes’> Yamaha Ultramatic V-Belt / H,L,N,R,P featuring all-wheel engine braking Drive Train Yamaha On-Command push button 3-way locking differential, 2WD, 4WD, locked 4WD; Shaft SUSPENSION Front Independent Double Wishbone, 7.1” w/ 5-way Preload Adjustment. Rear<span style=’mso-spacerun:yes’> Independent Double Wishbone, 9.5” w/ 5-way Preload Adjustment. BRAKES Front Dual Hydraulic Disc Rear Dual Hydraulic Disc TIRES Front<span style=’mso-spacerun:yes’> AT25x8-12 w/ Aluminum Wheels Rear<span style=’mso-spacerun:yes’> AT25x10-12 w/Aluminum Wheels DIMENSIONS LxWxH<span style=’mso-spacerun:yes’> 81.3”x46.5”x48.8” Seat Height 35.6” Wheel Base 49.2” Turning Radius 126” Ground Clearance 11.8” Fuel Capacity 5.3 Gallons Dry Weight 602 Lbs Rack Capacity 99 Lbs.Fr. / 187 Lbs. Rr. Towing Capacity 1,212 Lbs. OTHER Instrumentation Digital LCD Multi-function display. Speedo, Odo, Dual Trip, Hour, Clock, Fuel, and Gear Position Lighting Dual 35W Halogen Multi-reflector Headlights & 21/5W Brake light
More at yamaha-motor.com
Tags: <?php the_tags(”,’, ‘); ?>