Improving an already great ATV
It has been a solid 15 years since the first Yamaha Grizzly ATV made its way into garages all over America. For the 2014 model year Yamaha decided to make some significant changes to the Grizzly 700 keep the reliable 4×4 looking fresh.
We recently had a chance to take the new Grizzly 700 for a spin at a press ride through the mountainous region of Big Bear, Calif.
The Yamaha Grizzly 700 has been on the market now since 2007, replacing the Grizzly 600 first introduced in 1998. With the bigger 700-class engine came fuel injection and electronic power steering. While the Grizzly 700 has seen modest updates since then, it’s the 2014 updates that really stand out.
Although the changes to the 2014 Yamaha Grizzly 700 may not seem like much on the surface, it’s the core buried within those changes that make this machine refined to add an even bigger smile to the rider’s face. Most will just be thrilled to know that these improvements were all made without increasing the price of the big machine even one cent!
Getting fuel injection refined to a point, through the 44mm Mikuni throttle body, was key for Yamaha for the selection of internal engine modifications that have taken place. And with power steering becoming increasingly evident on many utility ATV models it was also important that steering geometry revisions be made to suit the machine as well as its driver.
This 686cc engine has undergone not only a compression increase due to the modified piston design, but it gets a totally redesigned head assembly. The four valves are operated by a single overhead cam that is tuned for throttle response as well as higher horsepower. Getting air through the engine is also increased by the new induction system by Yamaha. This helps feed the fuel and fire with optimal oxygen for greater performance. This entire package of changes will give the big Grizzly the additional torque for grunting through the workday and power to enjoy on the weekend ride. Getting the increased power and torque to the ground is still the reliable Ultramatic automatic transmission.
As we mentioned earlier, the electronic power steering on the Grizzly has had a few updates for 2014. The steering in general has been refined to increase rider comfort and feel on the trail. Refined electronic power steering gives a lighter feel in 4WD and uses data such as rider input, torque and speed to determine the optimal assist for the rider. This should make the slow speed crawling trail a lot more enjoyable and keep the stress of heavy steering off of the rider.
Yamaha also upgraded the suspension on the 2014 Grizzly 700. This machine gets longer front and rear A-arms, making the Grizzly 60mm wider overall. Combine this with the additional stroke of the front and rear five-way pre-load adjustable shocks and you have a more comfortable ride in rough terrain.
Our ride location had been strategically picked to give us the most versatile terrain possible to test out the new 2014 Yamaha Grizzly 700. This was to be in the small town of Big Bear high in the mountains just outside of Ontario, Calif. Getting on the trail early in the morning we were anxious to feel the performance and handling changes to the new machine. The fuel injection helped fire the big bore quickly and we made our way into the trails.
It took a few minutes to get comfortable on the machine, but it was not long before we had picked up our pace and started really noticing the great features that we have come to appreciate on the Grizzly. The power steering gave the feeling of control in the rocky technical areas and steering seemed to be a slight bit lighter than normal. Switching into 4WD or even locking all four wheels we noticed that the steering still felt comfortable and in control.
As the pace picked up even more the Grizzly was covering ground and obstacles surprisingly well, making full use of the suspension improvements. At the faster pace the rocks seemed bigger and bigger, but the Grizzly swept right over the top of them with no issue at all. The power of the newly redesigned engine was evident, yet at the higher altitude in Big Bear it was also being held back a bit.
Perhaps the most impressive change on the 2014 Yamaha Grizzly 700 are its redesigned tires. These Maxxis tires were developed specifically for this machine and seemed to be invincible. The sharp edges of the many rocks in the trails should have destroyed the tires on this machine, but it just wasn’t going to happen. It actually took several direct hits bending the rims to get the air out of the tire! This was not in any way part of our test nor was it the goal for the day, but to see how well the tire itself held up was just incredible.
After a long day on the trail filled with many fast runs through the loop and off into the wild areas of our ride, we fell in love with the Grizzly all over again. This machine is tough, reliable and with 15 years under its belt it seems to be a staple in this industry as well.
With our very own 2014 Grizzly 700 waiting for us at home it’s time to plan some serious adventures on Yamaha’s flagship Utility ATV.