I was recently given the unique opportunity to attend a Yamaha Press Event. This is afforded to only the biggest names in the motorsports media world. I had the chance to rub elbows with guys I’ve read their stories for years, made some friends, got to talk to the top brass in Yamaha Outdoors it was an incredible experience, one that I won’t soon forget.
A veteran motorsports journalist, I am not. I will leave it up to them to write their eloquent in-depth reviews about the YXZ, that I’ve relied on every time I went to pull the trigger on purchasing a new machine.
My approach of my chance to ride these machines was a little different. I want to focus on the popular questions and misconceptions I’ve heard about the machine, before I had the chance to see it in person. I put thousands of miles a year on riding primarily the Hatfield McCoy Trail System and surrounding areas. Tight woods are my home. When they told me we would be going to Alabama, I had no idea they had the same tight windy trails that we enjoy in southern WV. I was in heaven.
We got these machines nasty with mud, following a pack of 10 machines deep, mud, dust, fast tight riding high revs, and I can count on one hand the number of times I heard the fans kick on. Overheating is a thing of the past. 20” deep mud to a dusty trail, back to splashing through puddles back to the dust would have clogged any other radiator. This is my favorite improvement by far!
Roll Over Protection System
I like the new ROPS system. Speaking with one of the guys from Yamaha, he explained to me that nothing is done without 2-3 reasons. The roof was raised 50mm in the front over the old ROPS system, but the rear was lowered. The reason for this is twofold. Makes it much easier getting in and out of the machine. When you are coming down a hill and rolling into the next one, it gives you much better vision. This combined with the hard slope of the front end ensures the best visibility of any sport machine on the planet. Yes, I asked about aftermarket cage support, the mount points are the same as the 16-18 machines, so your custom cages will fit the 2019.
Yamaha had a special Maxxis bighorn original (8 ply rated 29” staggered setup) designed for the new YXZ. The tires felt stout yet planted. I tried repeatedly to feel sidewall flex and it never gave. Put it in some side tire traction situations, where you are trying to crawl the side of a rut without sliding in, and it performed perfectly. Great choice with the tires. I prefer the staggered setup myself, but they have some great upgrades with KMC wheels and EFX tires (Motovator, Motohammer, Motoclaw) in a square setup for those of you that like the same size all around.
Going to the bigger tires, they went to a larger bolt pattern 4×156, yes this was selected for the overwhelming aftermarket support already out there for this bolt pattern.
Larger +10mm brake discs, +2mm pistons up front and +3mm rear. Went from 17.5 to 19mm on the master cylinder. Stainless steel brake lines come standard now!
One thing I heard from everyone with the previous gen YXZ was the gear change they made wasn’t enough. 23.6% in 1st gear, and 7% in the rest of the gears. The 7% basically just covers the increase in tire diameter. I will say, without a doubt the new MCU tuning combined with the 23.6% and lugging mode (which mimics an expert driver in super low RPM and high clutch force situations, like slow rock crawling) they hit it out of the park. The machine never once kicked out of gear on me, even down to 3-4 mph.
Some guys are into that ultra-slow rock crawl. For you, they still have the TAG kit, which is all new with quieter gears. This gives you an extra 46.4% in first and 23% in 2-5 (same as the 70/30 kit now) combine that with the new MCU programming and I think you will be super happy. For 90% of the east coast riders, and the trails I ride, the new stock gearing is perfect. Believe me I was just as surprised experiencing it as you are reading about it.
Sport Shift 2.0 MCU Logic
Improved low speed operation with 40% less clutch disengagement at slow speeds. 50% less half clutch timing during downshifts which improves engine breaking. Clutch durability enhanced 230% and Dynamic clutch engagement now works in reverse.
I’ve never seen a stronger spare tire rack on any machine. I mean it didn’t move at ALL. I’ll post a video on our YouTube channel showing this. It is simply amazing. The accessories are well thought out, super strong and don’t interfere with the function of the machine, or block airflow to the rear radiator.
The rear cargo box is spacious and no longer has the spot for the second battery in it, because that kit goes up front where the radiator used to go.
Auxiliary lighting is prewired and comes standard on the white SS SE version. These lights are activated when you switch to high beams, just plug and play no switch wiring! (this is how I’ve always run my small aux lights)
The suntop comes standard on the white SS SE version, although I’m sure everyone that buys one, this will be their first accessory.
Windshield, they did away with 90% of the hardware from the old design, it still locks in the closed, cracked and fully opened position, except now it has quick release pins to remove it altogether in seconds as well.
|Full doors come standard.||I wish it had reverse lights, the X2 has me spoiled!|
|Nonexistent cab heat, even with full doors.||Front bumper, an upgrade is the first thing you will do if you ride east coast.|
|Plenty of predictable power even in slow crawl situations.||I wish it had some switch cutouts, but they are releasing a center pod that will put them on top of the dash in the center.|
|Visibility is better than anything on the market.|