Just to be sure we werent jumping the gun declaring our high praise for the 2019 Yamaha YXZ1000R SS, we thought we should put the industrys newest Sport SxS to the test in a completely different environment… in the desert. It was actually Yamahas idea to bring us out West to see just how versatile the new YXZ was and to demonstrate how it performs in a variety of situations and terrain.
In our recent review of the YXZ SS, after beating it up on the arduous Alabama red clay trails, youll recall we put the Yammer “through its paces and pretty much beat the crap out of it”. This was not an understatement. However, as tough as the conditions were in Alabama, the terrain at Johnson Valley OHV in southern California where the infamous “King of the Hammers” off-road race takes place, is in a league of its own. Johnson Valley OHV has some of the gnarliest terrain imaginable while mixing in sandy dune areas, massive inclines, aggressive whoops and hard packed wide-open stretches. In terms of testing an off-road vehicle, you really cant find a better place to see what its made of.
Rubber Meats the Road
As mentioned in the previous article, Yamaha upgraded the 2019 YXZ SS with specially designed 29-inch Bighorn Original tires. We found they worked just as well in the desert, especially when we needed extra ground clearance navigating over some of the ridiculously big rocks and ruts.
In combination with top-notch FOX gas shocks, the Bighorn Originals deserve serious kudos as there wasnt a single sidewall puncture or issue among the dozen or so riders pounding rubber into dagger-like, rock edges all day long.
Yamaha also let us ride a YXZ equipped with EFX Moto Hammer tires on KMC wheels. These slightly larger and squarer, 8-ply beauties with bead locks offer even more durability and work nicely with stock gearing. Although there was a noticeable difference in feel between the two types of tires in this terrain (not better, just different), for the significant price bump to purchase the Moto Hammers and rims, our recommendation is to save the cash and stick with the Bighorn Originals the YXZ SS comes with.
Just like our testing in Alabama, we were tickled with the SSs low-end torque for traversing the more challenging terrain and when the path was clear to let ‘er rip, flicking the paddle through the gears was silky smooth and provided white-knuckled acceleration.
As promised, we were able to wind it out on a short stretch of smoother, hard-packed soil and it didnt take long to get to 70-mph! If there had been more room on the horizon, we can confidently say 80-mph would have easily been reachable. However, the sandy composition of the terrain and regular jarring surprises in the sand left this test pilot a little uneasy at that velocity.
Weve already discussed the changes to the 2019 YXZ SS: A new gauge cluster relocation, reduced cabin heat and the relocation of the radiator to the rear of the vehicle.
Another thing we appreciated after putting in some serious seat time is the overall roominess of the interior. This YXZ can comfortably accommodate larger and taller riders as there is plenty of legroom even with the seat moved just half way back. Feeling cramped or pinned-in during a long haul can take away from the riding experience, especially when the landscape is as challenging as this and the climate so unforgiving.
Youll also appreciate improved visibility over the front end of the YXZ SS. When you can see the ground in front of you clearly, you ride with more confidence and experience less fatigue.
Riding the Yamaha YXZ1000R SS on both sides of the United States not only gave us the chance to test the vehicle in two very different environments but it further demonstrated the exceptional ruggedness of this Yamaha. Riding the King of the Hammers route aggressively for hours at a time in a fleet of stock YXZ1000R SSs without a single mechanical issue speaks volumes. Durability is just one more area Yamaha claims the advantage in the Sport SxS market. When youre dishing out big dollars, knowing youll be spending more time in the seat and less time wrenching should be music to your ears.