Conquering the sands of Glamis on the Raptor
Riding in enormous sand dunes on a regular basis is something that is a rare occurrence for this editor from Georgia. For me, sand is not something you find much of on the eastern side of these great states. So, riding in what some consider the best sand dunes in the lower 48 is always an exciting time. It is also always a pleasure to join our friends at Yamaha for any trip and a few days of RV camping in the dunes is something I will always look forward to. This February, the official Goons in the Dunes event brought me across these great states to a stretch of sand that has an incredible reputation of mystique for those who know and love it. Officially known as the Imperial Sand Dunes, our location for the week’s riding is better known as Glamis. Although we did have three different vehicles at our disposal during the few days of our trip, it was the 2019 Yamaha Raptor 700R SE that we would get saddled up with first.
This machine has changed very little over the last few years and I’m a firm believer that if it’s not broken, don’t try to fix it. For me, weighing in the 200+ range, the Raptor has never let me down when I needed torque and just lug-able power in any situation. The 2019 Yamaha Raptor’s we had at our disposal were Special Edition models and these ATVs had the GYTR front bumper and heel guards mounted on them as part of the SE package. These accessories give the Yamaha Raptor 700R SE an aggressive looks and styling as well as function. The heel guards and wide foot pegs really gave me plenty of grip as well as multiple riding positions and protection from slipping too far back on the pegs.
The 2019 Yamaha Raptor 700R SE also comes equipped with KYB fully adjustable, piggyback shocks. This suspension can be tuned to your riding style or conditions and the level of adjustability is achieved with spring preload adjustment, high and low speed compression as well as low speed rebound. It was our decision to just simply leave the shocks set like they would be from the dealer so we could see just how well they worked in the sandy conditions. Because Glamis is such a popular place to ride with all of the ATV/SXS and sand cars, the sand can get really rough and choppy. As we began our ride out into the bright white sand this was very apparent and at slower speeds the large ruts, presumably dug through the sand by some massive paddle tire, were pretty rough until we were able to pick up some speed.
The wind had been really low over the last few days before our ride and the dunes had not had a chance to smooth over, so coming into and out of camp was especially rough. Although we did have the option to adjust the shock settings, we did not tune on the Raptor. It was clear to us that the stock settings would be suitable for the average rider whether they wanted to just cruise the sand or even if they wanted to really pick up speed and dive off into the throttle. On an ATV in this environment, with many other very large vehicles tearing around in the sand, there are just some things you cannot adjust for.
The 2019 Yamaha Raptor 700R SE comes with 22-inch Maxxis front tires and 20-inch rears that do help absorb some of the light roughness in the dunes and really give the ATV good forward grip as well as plenty of traction in the sand. Obviously, you do not stop while facing up a hill as anyone could get stuck like that, but for those who think you have to have a paddle in the sand, I can attest to the fact that you do not. We have ridden both and I think the stock tires provide more of a fun ride without sucking the power out of the engine. The solid rear axle also allowed me to slide the ATV around and that sporty feeling just comes rushing in when you poke at the thumb throttle.
Once we made our way off into the center of the dunes the sand began to flow a little better and the 2019 Yamaha Raptor 700R SE began to show us what it was really made of. The 686cc fuel injected single-cylinder engine has so much bottom and mid-range torque, which makes it really easy to get the front of the ATV light in those situations that sneak up on a rider. As we made our way across to Oldsmobile Hill, the sweeping dunes were almost hypnotic. The flowy routes that our lead rider had taken us on just seemed to form a rhythm and I clicked the Raptor up into third gear where it would remain most of the time I was riding this way. The low range pull of this motor is still incredible to this day from the very first time I sat on one of these many years ago. And in case any of you haven’t heard, the Raptor does very well climbing steep dunes like Olds.
One thing that was very familiar was the large seat on the 2019 Raptor 700R. This seat is comfortable and allowed me to move around, across both sides and backwards on the ATV, while cruising the sand. The plush seating also runs up the center of the tank and if you have never been caught off guard by a g-out or rough section of trail you may not know just how appreciative you will be for that cushion in the middle of the tank!
I was riding for hours at a time and I never felt tired or stressed on the Raptor. During our rides I actually remembered just how much I like this big bore ATV and the many reasons why it fits me so well. Overall, riding the 2019 Yamaha Raptor 700R SE is like finding an old friend. There is a reason why this big bore ATV is still a very popular purchase and you will get no argument from me.
Visit YamahaMotorsports.com for more information on the Raptor.