ROCKS, RATTLE SNAKES & GRIZZLIES

Thanks to Yamaha USA, I’m becoming an aficionado on the mountains of San Bernadino in southeast California. I was recently invited back as a guest of Yamaha USA to stay at the beautiful Lake Arrowhead Resort and ride the 2012 Grizzly 700 EPS along some of the most challenging and scenic trails on the continent – I’m not exaggerating.

I’m no stranger to this neck of the woods having ridden here several times over the past few years, but each visit brings new experiences and always leaves me wanting more. Yamaha USA is extremely involved in the upkeep of the trails here too, giving back with trail clean-up initiatives, tree-planting projects and cash.

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After an early arrival (sans my luggage) and a long day of travel from the east coast, I found YAM USA’s ATV/SxS Marketing Manager, Steve Nessl, waiting for me as promised at the airport to take me up – way up – to the resort.

It can take up to two hours in traffic but time always flies whenever Nessl and I get together. We’re both about the same age with young families and have a passion for doing anything that will keep us young… like running marathons and going on insane four-wheeler adventures. This time was no different either.

We would be hitting the trails early the next morning and testing the limits of the 2012 Grizzly 700 EPS on trails that can wreak havoc on even the most experienced riders.

Our riding team was a motley crew of magazine editors and Yamaha personnel sharing a common enthusiasm for ATVs and adventure. Led by one of most skilled and technically proficient OEM test-riders, Patrick Biolsi, I knew we were in good hands.

Not 20 minutes into the ride though we had our first casualty. Even with the new Grizz’s tire upgrade for 2012 with custom MAXXIS meats, the trails here are unforgiving at best. Rocks of every size stick out like daggers and if you lose concentration for even a second, they’ll carve your side-walls like turkey dinner. Six plugs, some tire-flat filler, a half-hour behind schedule and we were off again with a fresh dose of reality.

The Grizzly’s EPS system worked flawlessly along the rocky terrain and as I weaved and darted my way through the tight twisties I wondered how we ever rode here without EPS.

For those who haven’t tried Yamaha’s electric power steering system, I’ll do my best to describe the feeling but you really need to get yourself on a Grizzly 700 EPS to experience it for yourself.

Anyone who has logged serious miles on an ATV has suffered the inevitable handlebar-whip. Tree roots, rocks, stumps and trail junk can catch you off guard and turn your bars into your gut (or worse) at high speed with force that’ll leave you crying for Mommy.

The Yamaha EPS system (as experienced on the Grizzly) literally soaks up these hits, turning gut-wrenching jolts into minor nudges. Yamaha was first to introduce power steering to the ATV business, and for that we are all truly grateful. Without it, many of us would be singing soprano on too many occasions to count.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this adventure to see how the 2012 Grizzly 700 EPS handles the rest of this 75 mile drama-filled expedition.

Visit yamaha-motor.com for more information about the Grizzly.

Matt Lester
Matt Lester
Matt Lester is an Account Manager for Dirt Trax TV. He is also a Contributing Editor and Guest Correspondent on the show focusing on tourism & adventure segments.

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