What we would like to see from Yamaha
Once upon a time, Yamaha was at the forefront of the side-by-side (SxS) world. The Yamaha Rhino was the vehicle to own if you wanted to have fun with a passenger. An entire industry was born out of the desire of Rhino owners to go faster, carry more passengers and otherwise suit any number of specific needs.
Other manufactures, mainly Polaris, saw the potential to expand the SxS class and in a few short years changed the off-road landscape completely. Yamaha, however, was dealing (successfully) with some legal issues surrounding the safety of the Rhino (click here and here for some examples) and the progression of the much-loved machine stalled. Sure, Yamaha has made some minor tweaks and offered some nice Limited Edition models, but Rhino fans have been eagerly awaiting a revamped Yamaha SxS that’s more 2014 than 2004.
Rumors are swirling that a new Rhino is on the way and some self proclaimed “well connected” peeps in the forum world claim a new breed of SxS from Yamaha’s Newnan Georgia plant will be emerging at any moment. Of course, just because something is written in a forum doesn’t mean it’s true. We’ve also seen some futuristic looking photos floating around the Internet that seem to suggest a newly revised Rhino is in the works. But will Yamaha even keep the Rhino name when it comes out with a new machine?
Truthfully, we don’t know exactly what to believe. However, some things are certainly pointing in the right direction for Rhino fans. Topping that list was Yamaha’s 2012 year-end presentation, in which Yamaha shows it is planning to introduce a lot of new ATV/SxS models in the next two years – about 20 new and updated models in 2014-15.
So what will the new Rhino look like when it does come out? One forum participant made this crazy statement: “my very credible source said that it’ll be a 1,000cc V-Twin available in 4 and 2 seat configuration. EPS, EFI, about 58″ wide with a ‘mid-travel’ stance that still accommodates trail riding and such. MSRP is going to be around 15-17k depending on model choice. Also, they’ll keep producing 700 rhino. Top speed estimated around 70+ with potential for a bit more.” Seems like he has his story and he is sticking to it, but you can color us skeptical.
Speculation, though, is always fun and we’ve got some guesses/wishes of our own. We’d imagine Yamaha would build a UTV that has a more racked rearward seat system that makes the riders feel like they are in a car rather than sitting on a porch bench. Lowering the seats and adding a center console more like a low-slung sports car would be attractive as well.
What would be a good level playing field for the motor, though? Do you really want all the weight that comes with a 1000cc engine? Most cannot even use what they have and giving out more could be trouble – not that it has stopped several other manufacturers.
The single-cylinder powerplant in the 700 Rhino has forever been dependable and easily tuned with many available aftermarket parts. Yet the V-Twin world of our SxS industry seems to build a bit more torque and overall out-of-the-box performance. If we had a choice we would say V-Twin, as the perks that come with those style motors could be endless. Fuel injection would be a no brainer and it would also be great if oxygen sensors were added to help with an “Autotune” style configuration for optimal performance.
How would the travel of the suspension change? Do you think the engineers at Yamaha really want to get into the 14+ inches of travel game that has taken our industry by storm these last few years? I would hope they may go at least to the 12+ inches of travel arena just to make the Rhino a little more versatile. Although suspension travel is a big concern, we would love to see the guys at Yamaha introduce a unit with an aftermarket shock like the Fox or Walker Evans brands that seem to be on every other machine – something that is a lot more tunable than the standard preload adjustments on the stock shocks.
We can speculate on passenger allotment as well as rumors spread years ago of a four-seat or crew style Rhino in prototype form being spotted from time to time. You can even see a Yamaha patent here. There have also been prototype “new age” photos lurking around on-line, but who knows if this is just a hoax or not.
While we dream of a day when the powers that be at Yamaha headquarters trickle a little snippet of information our way on what Big Blue has up its sleeve, we’re not sure it will be done anytime soon. It could happen tomorrow, but Yamaha will undoubtedly take its time developing a machine that is ready for all challengers.
Whether Yamaha stays in the same category of more work than play or whether it goes all out and builds the next revolutionary machine, you can bet the Yamaha faithful will be rejoicing as they line up for a chance to own it – whatever it may be.
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