We rip up the dunes with Yamaha's SE models
Yamaha recently invited us down to Southern California for a fun filled weekend of riding the 2010 YFZ450R and Raptor 700R special editions. The trip consisted of three days riding in the biggest and most infamous dunes in the United States – the Imperial Sand Dunes – better known as Glamis.
As always, Yamaha came up with unique styling of each special edition model that set these units apart from their base model brothers. Both the YFZ and the Raptor received facelifts including plastic, graphics and accessories to become special editions.
The YFZ450R SE is dressed up in a number of ways. First, Yamaha chose to go with a new color plastic called Midnight Blue. Although it’s not the familiar Yamaha blue, we were happy with the looks of the Midnight blue and the effect of the contrasting blues of the plastic, seat, and frame. The 2010 YFZ SE also features a black GYTR front bumper and heel guards. These not only look good, but they also help protect you from obstacles along the way. On the rear, a black swing arm and a wave brake rotor were installed. This wave rotor helps eliminate brake fading that may occur when breaking heavily under hard riding conditions.
From its Bill Ballance edition YFZ450X, Yamaha chose to borrow the quick release fender fasteners. These fasteners allow you to quickly and easily remove the plastic in a matter of minutes. This is something we would love to put on all of our projects because it’s so easy to use.
The 2010 YFZ450R SE was also given the YFZ450X model mapping system. Yamaha feels the “X” model mapping system works well in both trail and MX riding conditions. The new mapping was also implemented on the regular 2010 YFZ450R models this year.
Although the Raptor 700R SE was given a host of changes in the looks department, it did not receive as many updates as the YFZ. The graphics were the first thing we noticed about the Raptor. We think the black and white graphics flow nicely into the seat cover, giving the quad just a bit more style. Just like the YFZ SE, the Raptor also features a GYTR front bumper, heel guards, and a rear brake wave rotor.
Being that I have never ridden actual sand dunes before, the trip out to Glamis was an experience I won’t soon forget. I have raced motocross and GNCC for the past three years on a YFZ450 so I was fairly familiar with the units. But let me tell you, riding the biggest sand dunes in the United States for the first time was pretty intimidating. I didn’t think it would be much different than riding on any other terrain, but I was wrong! Riding dunes felt so much different – I felt like a total newb! Only after following behind some of the other editors that have dune experience did I start to get the hang of things.
A number of differences between the two models stood out while riding the dunes. First, you really notice the difference the width of the units – it makes a major difference when cornering hard. The YFZ450R SE with its 48.8-inch width fit my riding style a little more than the Raptor 700R SE and its 46.1-inch stance. I loved carving into corners and sending a huge roost up behind me. With the Raptor this was certainly possible, but it didn’t happen as naturally as on the YFZ. Also, the Raptor felt a little top heavy when cornering fast, but that’s really not what it was built for.
If speed is your game and you are not as concerned about hard cornering, the Raptor 700R SE starts to show its teeth. With its 686cc fuel injected engine, the Raptor can flat out haul through the dunes. In some sections I had the Raptor in fifth gear pinned and I still felt like it never lost power. To be fair, both machines pack more than enough ponies to climb all of the dunes at Glamis I attempted – the YFZ did just fine anywhere I wanted it to go. In fact, I climbed the biggest dune accessible to the public at Glamis called China Wall while aboard the YFZ450R SE.
Although I am a huge fan of the YFZ450R SE, by the end of the three days riding the Raptor 700R SE was much easier and more comfortable to ride. The suspension soaks up just about everything with its 9.1 inches of front travel and 10.1 inches of rear suspension. Even though the Raptor weighs 16 pounds more than the YFZ, it’s still capable of getting some big air.
Both the YFZ450R SE (MSRP $8,999) and the Raptor 700R SE (MSRP $8,799) proved very adept at handling everything offered by the dunes. If I had to chose just one for riding the dunes, I would choose the Raptor 700R SE. This surprised me a little because I’ve long been a fan of the YFZ, but the Raptor wins because of its versatility, power, and smooth ride in the sand.
I had a blast riding at Glamis – it was honestly a dream of mine to one-day ride here and I’m very thankful to have had the opportunity to fulfill that dream.