Leaping into a land of tight trails, multiple elevation changes and over 90,000 acres of pristine forest made me excited to be in the world of ATV journalism. The test of machine and man would also be the challenge set forth by our friends at Yamaha Motor Corporation in the Capitol State Forest and with the new Yamaha Grizzly 450 EPS as our valiant steed it was sure to be a great adventure.

For the model year 2011 Yamaha has added not just a revamped version of an old puddle buster, but also a totally new and fine-tuned version in the small displacement utility line up. Getting the most bang for your buck these days counts and the new Grizzly 450 4X4 EPS could possibly be the best overall performer for the discerning consumer.

Getting a facelift was not in the plans for the Grizzly 450. What lies beneath the plastic clothing was what really counted and in traditional Yamaha fashion that’s where the focus was. With a new frame, redesigned braking and the ever-popular power steering finally making its debut in the Grizzly 450 this was going to be an interesting ride.

2011 Yamaha Grizzly 450 4x4 EPS2011 Yamaha Grizzly 450 4×4 EPS

With the biggest news being the power steering one might immediately begin to dream of a stress free casual trail ride without the annoying arm pump and intimidating tough rocky sections that seem to suck the life out of the average recreational trail rider. This would surely mean longer seat time and a more enjoyable experience. Electronic power steering is no stranger to the Yamaha Grizzly line as the 550 and 700 utilize the same exact system, but the ECU has been updated specifically for the 450. This award winning set up is torque and speed sensing engineered to reduce any nasty feedback, which helps reduce fatigue at the same time. The power steering also helps absorb sudden shock from trail debris like rocks and stumps, which allows the rider to maintain control.

Thanks to power steering, handling the Grizzly in tight quarters and over rocky terrain is far less fatiguing on the rider.Thanks to power steering, handling the Grizzly in tight quarters and over rocky terrain is far less fatiguing on the rider.

Another great redesign was in the frame of the Grizzly 450 EPS. The old-style frame had a “bolt in” style independent suspension on the back end. The new skeleton has become a one-piece frame that is 10 percent lighter than the previous model and overall the new non-EPS Grizzly weights 22 pounds less than its predecessor. The addition of the EPS will bring the weight back up almost ten pounds, but the versatility and comfort it brings is well worth the small weight penalty.

Yamaha’s rear wet brake is encased in the rear differential, out of reach of water, mud, and trail debris.Yamaha’s rear wet brake is encased in the rear differential, out of reach of water, mud, and trail debris.

A few years back the forward-thinking minds at Yamaha set out to develop the ultimate braking solution for utility ATV riders everywhere. After a few years of tweaking, this design has been completed and can now be found on the new Grizzly 450. The brand new rear brake, or wet brake as Yamaha calls it, will set the mark for future generations. This system employs a sealed clutch pack set up that applies braking to the pinion shaft. This brake application is then multiplied through the gearing of the rear end, which makes stopping the machine a lot easier with less effort. Having the braking components sealed and being bathed in the rear differential fluid means they stay cool and clean. As long as the fluid in the rear end stays at the proper level and remains clean these brakes should work flawlessly.

Other notables on the Yamaha Grizzly 450 4X4 EPS ($7,499 – $6,899 for non-EPS version) for the model year 2011 include the same great Ultramatic automatic transmission that has set the bar high for our industry in reliability and durability. This automatic tranny also has engine braking for the steep descents on the trail. The front suspension has been reengineered to accommodate the new EPS and this has resulted in the addition of a rear sway bar to help level out the changes on the front.

The Grizzly 450 was right at home on the heavily wooded trails of the Capitol State Forest.The Grizzly 450 was right at home on the heavily wooded trails of the Capitol State Forest.

Storage on the light and nimble Grizzly 450 is at a premium but not forgotten as the sealed front fender storage capsule is accented by a non-sealed under seat compartment for a little more junk in the trunk. The same great digital dash will tell you what is going on with your Grizzly and a backlit display means you can even see this info in the dark. From full rack capacity on the front of 88 pounds to a hefty 176 on the rear, there should be no trouble carrying a workload on the ranch. This Grizzly will also tow up to 1,322 pounds for those who may need to.

The really exciting part of our adventure wasn’t left in the plush dining hall but rather in a much more suitable surrounding and a proper home for a Grizzly, the Capitol State Forest. This ride area is home to tight trails and extreme elevation but for a brief time in my life it was my home with the new Grizzly 450 4X4 EPS.

Taking the Grizzly into the thick tree line we began to feel at home. The seating on the Grizzly 450 is plush and comfortable. We seemed to have plenty of room, even though we do fall a bit on the larger side. The controls on the handlebar fit directly into our ergonomic needs and with a quick look around the cockpit it was time to unleash this 450cc powerplant. While the Grizzly 450 is no great powerhouse, it’s certainly no slouch either. This machine can be opened up and really gives even the experienced rider a great trail ride.

Handling is as good as can be expected from a utility. Our Grizzly 450 stuck to the trail and remained stable in fast cornering situations. Power steering was very welcomed at low speeds and with the trees in the Capitol State Forest jumping around in front of us it really makes the brushes with bark a little less dramatic. Rocky sections in this forest are intense and this is yet another area where the electronic power steering would shine.

With almost 11 inches of ground clearance, the Grizzly 450 is able to safely pass over most obstacles.With almost 11 inches of ground clearance, the Grizzly 450 is able to safely pass over most obstacles.

We noticed only a couple of things we’d change on the Grizzly 450 and one was more grip in the peg area. The stock pegs just didn’t seem to be aggressive enough for our style and a kick up on the end would also be nice. We would probably move the rear brake lever down and out just a bit as well so we could find it when we really needed to get the ride stopped. The only other requirement would be more seat time to enjoy the best-kept secret in the utility market!

Riding for over four hours straight and not feeling beat to death was refreshing and this machine lets you take it to the edge with your buddies while maintaining its workaholic roots.

If first impressions mean anything, the newest Grizzly is a winner!If first impressions mean anything, the newest Grizzly is a winner!

Comparable Vehicles: Honda FourTrax Rancher AT with Power Steering, Arctic Cat 450 H1 EFI 4×4, Can-Am Outlander 400 EFI, Suzuki KingQuad 500 AXi 4×4 Power Steering

2011 Yamaha Grizzly 450 4×4 EPS Specs
Type 421cc, 4-stroke, liquid-cooled single; SOHC, 4 valves
Bore x Stroke 84.5 x 75.0mm
Compression Ratio 10.0:1
Carburetion Mikuni 33mm BSR
Ignition DC-CDI
Starting System Electric
Transmission Yamaha Ultramatic V-belt with all-wheel engine braking/H, L, N, R, P
Drive Train Yamaha On-Command pushbutton; 3-way locking differential; 2WD, 4WD, locked 4WD; shaft drive
Front Suspension Independent double wishbone; 6.3-in travel
Rear Suspension Independent double wishbone; 7.1-in travel
Front Brakes Dual hydraulic disc
Rear Brakes Sealed oil bathed, multi disc
Front Tires AT25 x 8-12
Rear Tires AT25 x 10-12
Length/Width/Height 78.5 x 43.0 x 44.1 in
Seat Height 33.1 in
Wheelbase 48.5 in
Turning Radius 118 in
Ground Clearance 10.8 in
Fuel Capacity 4.0 gal
Wet Weight 620 lb
Rack Capacity 88 lb Fr./176 lb Rr.
Towing Capacity 1322 lb
Instrumentation Digital LCD multifunction display: speedometer, odometer, dual tripmeter, hour meter, clock, gear position and fuel gauge
Lighting Dual 30W Krypton multireflector headlights & 21W/5W brakelight
Warranty 6 Month Limited Factory Warranty
Colors Steel Blue; Hunter Green; Realtree AP Camouflage
MSRP $7,499 ($6,899 for non EPS)

Related Reading 2011 Yamaha ATV Lineup Unveiled 2009 Yamaha Grizzly 550 FI EPS Review Yamaha Grizzly 550 Project 2008 Yamaha Grizzly 700 FI Auto 4×4 EPS Review All Things Yamaha on ATV.com



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