Yamaha’s YXZ 1000R sits at a significant horsepower disadvantage to others in the pure sport category.
However, its gear-on-gear manual transmission makes sure all 115 ponies produced by the 998cc 3-cylinder engine go to the back wheels. Simply put, measured at the back wheels, the YXZ is pushing power results that are very close to a Maverick or a RZR.
The YXZ stands out from the rest in a number of interesting ways but the most obvious is its 5-speed sequential manual transmission. To be honest, this is something you’ll either love or hate about the YXZ depending on how and where you ride.
A CVT makes life easy. Just jam your foot to the floor and go. There’s very little thinking involved and it requires less skill to keep that engine spinning at its power peak. With a manual shifting transmission you have to not only be good with a clutch and understand how to power shift, but you need to understand when and where to shift or not shift.
It requires thought and skill to ride the YXZ really fast. However, this is precisely what makes it such a blast to ride.
Another interesting aspect of the YXZ is its non-turbocharged inline 3-cylinder EFI engine. Some would argue a triple is heavier, and therefore, a less optimal choice for a SxS than a twin. Our experience with the YXZ has been that due to its extremely well-thought-out layout of the engine and transmission, combined with that truly awesome 3-cylinder power, the YXZ feels light, nimble and fast. It really just highlights why Yamaha defines itself as a motor company first. This company knows how to build a darn good motor.
In terms of the chassis and suspension, the YXZ needs to make no excuses. Travel feels endless and incredibly plush, handling is excellent in all conditions and its unique rear suspension system with its lower trailing A-arm, supported by the biggest ball joints we’ve ever seen, is incredibly tough. Mega-quality Fox Podium 2.5 RC-2 gassers (rebound adjustable) are used front and rear.
Ergonomically, the YXZ feels right. The seats are comfortable, well bolstered and laid back at a nicely reclined angle. The driver’s seat is adjustable as is the steering wheel and the pedals and shift lever are perfectly laid out. The only complaints anyone has with the interior of the YXZ are that the outside shoulder bolsters are too intrusive and, in hot climates, the interior can get almost unbearably hot.
Style is a completely subjective topic. There is no right or wrong and what tickles one person’s fancy may cause another to gag. The YXZ looks aggressive and fast. The tall swooping fenders leave no question about the YXZ’s YFZ450 and Raptor ATV bloodlines.
The only area we’re not 100-percent sold on is the concave hood. Yes, the shocks do look cool sticking through and we understand that the nose was shaped this way to give the driver a steeper view of the ground in front of the vehicle, but to us, it looks weird. We don’t hate it, but we don’t love it and it’s definitely livable.