The Imperial Sand Dunes Recreational Area in southern California is a great place to test the true grit of Yamaha’s big bore Raptor Sport ATV. Sand dunes are a completely different terrain than riding on a track or in the trails and conditions can vary greatly from day to day, requiring versatility and dependability.

The South Dunes of the ISDRA provided ideal conditions for what is one of the best sport class quads we’ve tested to date, as the Yamaha Raptor played king of the hill at Gordon Wells’ Test Hill. It went almost entirely unchallenged when it competed against other stock quads of all sizes. It also made quick work of just about every other ATV it ran against at the sand drags above Dune Buggy Flats. The biggest challenges seemed to come from some slightly modified 450cc race based quads.

Power for the masses

Power and reliability are a must when in the dunes, and this big Yamaha ATV provides plenty of both. With a single cylinder 686cc fuel injected 4-stroke engine providing power at all levels of RPM, the Raptor transitions between bowls with minimal gear changes, allowing you to stay between second and third gear most of the time. Adding a tooth to the front sprocket will allow even better use of the wide spread power band.

The Raptor 700R will take you anywhere you want to go, and with a reverse gear, getting stuck is virtually impossible. The clutch provides great control. We parked our quad facing upwards in deep sand several times, with Sand Shark paddles on the rear and stock knobbies on the front. We were able to get rolling every single time by creeping forward. In fact, the only time we had to use reverse was when we were backing it out of the trailer.

Suspension thriller

Aside from the obvious risks found in the dunes when dealing with thousands of moving obstacles in the form of other ATVs, dirt bikes and sand rails, you’ll find that on a big weekend like New Year’s, the tracks these paddle tire equipped beasts leave on the sand can make for an interesting if not exhausting day of riding.

The Raptor 700R Special Edition’s GYT-R suspension absorbed all but the deepest of tracks in the flats and made quick work of some unexpected encounters with hard pack spots the wind exposed from a previous rain. With more than nine inches of travel on the front and 10 in the rear, dropping in on a bowl face with the Raptor inspired confidence in all but the steepest and deepest of them, even when caught off guard.

After heavy winds blew south for two days and chased all but the most hard core sand rats away, what remained was nothing short of golden sandy bliss. The empty dunes were smooth as glass and you could ride for miles without seeing another group of people. The vast differences in the terrain during this trip provided great insight into the excellence in engineering which went in to the Raptor 700R.

Relentless wind did more than create mile after mile of virgin sand dunes; it also exposed a slight shortcoming in our otherwise perfect impression of the 2007 Yamaha Raptor 700R Special Edition. After hundreds of miles of riding in dunes, deserts fields and trails, a vibration developed in the Raptor’s front end while riding along near the lip of bowls so steep that the tracks from the lead machine were covered by falling sand before the second Raptor went over the same area. At first it only happened while at a more than 45-degree angle in super soft sand, the front tires bounced violently up and down on more than one occasion.

Then it happened again while going straight up a hill near Patton Wall, and it could be attributed to the knobbie tires on the front of this particular Raptor. The other Raptor in our group did not experience this anomoly, as it had Sand Sharks on the front as well as the rear. A small adjustment to the front suspension once we got back to camp all but eliminated the vibration on future runs.

The bottom line

All in all, the 2007 Raptor 700R SE excelled and accellerated in nearly every situation we threw at it. With absolute power everywhere and suspension that can take you right to the very edge with confidence, it’s hard to beat this Yamaha. When it comes to sport class quads, the Raptor 700R has not only raised the bar, it has turned the entire ATV world on its head as other OEMs scramble to catch up.

If you’re interested in a great performance package right out of the box that can compete with just about anything out there, the 2007 Yamaha Raptor 700R Special Edition will not dissapoint. If you want to completely own the competition, a few modifications will put you up front in comfort and style.

Type 686cc liquid cooled, SOHC 4 stroke single w/fan, 4 valve
Bore x Stroke 9.2:1
Carburetion Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 44mm
Ignition Digital TCI w/16 Bit ECU
Starting System Electric
Transmission 5 Speed manual clutch w/reverse
Drive Train 2WD; sealed o-ring chain, eccentric adjustment
Suspension/Front Independent double wishbone, 9.1” travel w/piggy back with high/low speed compression, rebound and threaded preload adjustment
Suspension/Rear Cast aluminum swing arm, 10.1” travel w/piggy back with high/low speed compression, rebound and threaded preload adjustment Brakes/Front
Brakes/Front Dual ventilated hydraulic discs, twin pistons
Brakes/Rear Ventilated hydraulic disc, self adjusting park brake function
Tires/Front AT21x7-10 radial
Tires/Rear AT20x10-9 radial
L x W x H 72.6” x 46.1” x 44.5”
Seat Height 32”
Wheelbase 50.4”
Ground Clearance 4.4”
Dry Weight 396 lb.
Lighting Dual 30W Krypton multi reflector headlights & 3.9/0.5W brake light
Warranty 6 Month (Limited Factory Warranty)

Related Reading:

2008 Yamaha Rhino 2008 ATV roundup



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