2015 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Preview

Rick Sosebee
by Rick Sosebee
2015 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Beauty
We take a look at Yamaha's newest UTV

Yamaha has just announced its newest Side-by-Side – the 2015 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec.

This announcement comes just two short years after Yamaha re-entered the Side-by-Side market with the hard-working Viking. This three-seat vehicle not only signaled the end of the Rhino, but also showed Yamaha’s focus on the world of ranching and people moving. Last June the Viking VI came back to the market with three additional seats. This gave the Yamaha faithful just one more reason to load up the crew and head out to work. In both of these product releases Yamaha reminded us that it was determined to make an impact on the UTV industry for years to come.

We were on hand in Newnan, Ga. just a few short days ago to get a first look at the new two-seat Yamaha Wolverine in person. Where the Viking is designed primarily for working, the Wolverine, according to Yamaha, is intended for rough country exploring, trail riding and hunting.

The Wolverine is a sleek, long-travel suspended rig that reminds us of some of the rock crawlers running around the north Georgia mountains. A distinct front A-arm arch has been adapted from the high clearance A-arms on the Yamaha Grizzly line of ATVs. This allows for impressive ground clearance and moving the Wolverine over trail obstacles. The front of the Wolverines framework is swept upward to give the machine better approach angles, which allows the driver to get up and over rocks or other trail debris. The sides of the frame are also swept upward 60mm, similar to the Viking, to make this ride less likely to hang on anything it gets over.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Yamaha Viking 700 EPS

Speaking of suspension, Yamaha denotes this Wolverine as its R-Spec rig and there is a reason for this. This is in reference to its long travel, fully adjustable shock package and suspension geometry that allows users set it up to their liking. It was noted that in comparison to other models that fit into this same category, the Wolverine has more shock or suspension drop out as well. Yamaha says this keeps the wheels in touch with the terrain that much more and allows traction where other manufacturers’ models would simple lose touch with the ground or terrain. Yamaha notes that this design will benefit the driver in tough, off-camber situations by maintaining more contact with the trail.

2015 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Front Suspension

KYB fully adjustable piggyback shocks dole out 9.7 in. of travel up front and 10.6 in. out back.

When you look at the shocks you will notice they are long compared to others in the category ( Kawasaki Teryx and Can-Am Commander come to mind) and provide compression, rebound and pre-load dampening. The piggyback reservoir shocks are made by KYB specifically for the Wolverine.

Yamaha narrowed the cargo bed in the rear, which allows the driver to make those tight, off-camber turns in the tree line without taking off the sides of the bed in the process.

2015 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Overhead

Yamaha narrowed the cargo bed in the rear to aid in handling in tight confines.

The Wolverine’s frame has also been developed with narrow in mind and If you look closely you will notice that just in front of the rear wheels Yamaha has engineered a bump bar or glide bar to deflect hard trail obstacles away from the rear wheels.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Kawasaki Teryx LE

The wheels of the Yamaha Wolverine appear to stick out from the framework a bit more than the typical Side-by-Side, but as we understand it, it is because Yamaha wants to the machine to be as maneuverable as possible. The steep angle of the nose on this 2015 Wolverine 700 should give drivers a good view of what lays in front of the vehicle. This helps when the trail gets steep or treacherous in either direction!

2015 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Action Front

Thanks to a steep front nose angle, drivers should get a clear view of the trail ahead.

Peaking over into the cab we find the beginnings of a really nice cockpit. The twin seats are high back and plush feeling, while the sides of the seats are bolstered to help hold the riders in place on uneven ground. Yamaha placed the shift knob in a center console, much like you’d find in a car. As for storage, the Wolverine boasts a huge glove box, drink holders, small cubby in the front of the console and nice-sized cargo bed with steel tie-down points that are bolted directly off of the framework through the bed.

2015 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Cockpit Front

A center console houses the gear shifter and emergency brake, along with some storage space.

From a serviceable stand point, there is full access to the massive air filter from the center console. It is definitely a step in the right direction. A handhold for your passenger and three-point belts to keep occupants planted when the trail gets wild. Under the hood of the Wolverine you can access even more service items.

COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2013 Can-Am Commander 1000 XT

Powering the new Wolverine is a dual overhead cam, four-stroke, 708cc engine that is fuel injected and ready to ride. This liquid cooled powerplant is similar yet different to Yamaha’s Viking engine, according to Yamaha, as it has dual cams instead of a single. Steps have been taken to reduce vibration and the extra cam should help the overall performance of the machine as well.

2015 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Action Cornering

So what do we think of the looks of this new machine? We have not exactly figured that one out just yet. The huge round halogen headlights seem quite close together, but sometimes it just takes time for a machine to grow on you. We are absolutely excited to ride the latest in Yamaha engineering.

Rick Sosebee
Rick Sosebee

Whether he is in Mexico covering the Baja 1000, building ATVs for local racers, or out enjoying the trails, Rick’s passion shows in his stories. Learning to wrench his own machines from his grandfather, Rick also has an undying appreciation for the mechanics of off-road vehicles. Do not let the dirt and mud fool you, though, as Rick also has a deep love for street cars.

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