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Yamaha Viking receives mixed reviews

Viking Day 2

June 13, 2013
Filed under News, Top Stories

When the Yamaha Viking was unveiled in front of an audience of 2,200, consisting mostly of dealers, there wasn’t the raucous cheering and applause that can often come from a consumer launch, but what followed was a lot of shifting and neck craning as dealers tried to get a better look at the UTV soon to hit their showrooms.

When the dealers got a better look in the display area at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the reviews were mostly positive, though some were disappointed the reveal wasn’t of a more groundbreaking machine. What stuck with dealers, though, was the fact that Yamaha is moving forward, as the company is not only going with a new model in 2014, but plans one for each of the next five years.

The Viking, with its 686cc powerplant and three-person seating, is aimed at the farming community, as well as hunters and other side-by-side enthusiasts.

“It’s exactly what Yamaha needs. It is going to probably do what the Rhino did for us years ago,” Chris Creel of Laurel Yamaha in Laurel, Miss., said about the Viking.

The facets that resonated with the dealers were the three-person cab, the versatility of a utility/recreation model and the $11,499 price point, unchanged from the base 2013 Rhino.

“I think between the price, and they added features to it, it’s going to be a good machine, it really will,” said Arlen Mickelsen of Superior Outdoor Power in Superior, Neb.

Yamaha developed a combination utility and recreation side-by-side meant to go head-to-head with the likes of the Rhino because that’s where they see the market growing most.

“If you look at the side-by-side industry, and you look at the size of the industry, still the biggest market is more that utility-type customer, but they’re not just using it for utility, they also use it to go hunting and recreation riding, so we’re trying to make a product that’s going to cover all the hunting aspects, all the recreation and do the utility as well,” Mike Martinez, vice president of Yamah’s ATV/SxS Group told Powersports Business.

Though dealers overall seemed happy with the new model, online reviews from consumers were more mixed. Since the Tuesday night release, Yamaha has gotten a bitter taste from some enthusiasts who panned the new model in enthusiast forums and on the Yamaha Outdoors Facebook page.

In a forum discussing the new Yamaha Viking on utvunderground.com, one participant said, “I understand their position, but thought they would have built something a little closer to both sides of the industry. At least put something in it other than that tired Raptor motor … very disappointed.”

While many comments are critical of the Viking, some were thrilled by the initial details of the new UTV.

“Very excited about seeing this,” wrote one Rhino owner. “Definitely built to stomp the [competition]! Can’t wait to test drive … it will be nice having my wife and boy all up front with proper leg and headroom!”

From the middle of the road, another commented, “The sport market is dead. If you guys actually saw the market shares you would see for yourselves that, yeah, they are cool, but aren’t huge sellers. I would take this same power plant that is reliable over any Polaris any day … I am disappointed they didn’t come out with a bigger [engine], but that is the only downside to this machine.”

With a new chassis, styling and features — including an industry-exclusive third bucket seat — the Georgia-built 2014 Viking “was designed and engineered as a robust and high-capacity utility vehicle” according to the Yamaha press release.

With some modifications that claim added power mimicking some 800-class engines, the 686cc single-cylinder four-stroke that powered the Rhino throughout its production run is the Viking’s sole engine choice. Other changes over the Rhino include a more powerful cooling system, adjustable handholds, optional power steering and four-wheel drive controlled by an automotive-style rotary dial selector.

While it remains to be seen what the consumer and dealer reaction will be to the Viking, Yamaha is getting a first-hand taste of what can happen on social media and website forums where everybody has a voice, and the loudest often rise to the top.

For more on the Viking, read Yamaha’s release here, and check out the upcoming, UTV-themed print issue of Powersports Business.

Comments

41 Responses to “Yamaha Viking receives mixed reviews”

  1. Joe on June 13th, 2013 5:40 pm

    “The sport market is dead. If you guys actually saw the market shares you would see for yourselves that, yeah, they are cool, but aren’t huge sellers.”

    Uhhhh, maybe if you are talking about the ATV market, but the sport UTV market is the fastest growing segment. Just step into my dealership and see how many RZR XP I sell.

    What a stupid quote to publish.

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    Adam Reply:

    You are spot on. Rzr sales are blowing Yamaha out of the water. This guy is an idiot , and this new side by side from Yamaha is pathetic.

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    Hawk! Reply:

    For the price of a pretty darn good used pickup truck Idon’t get this market at all. These things are overpriced and minimumally utilitarian.

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  2. Glenn S. on June 14th, 2013 2:05 am

    Not impressed. I am on my second Rhino since 2008 and will be buying a different brand for my third UTV probably by next season. Yamaha Rhino (This is basically a Rhino) are notorious for overheating and this looks to be no exception. (Not overheating in just summer, I’ve had them overheat plowing snow and alomst always while in 4 low ) They should learn a few things from Polaris and John Deere. Yamaha improves the DOOR LATCHES? Nobody uses the stupid door latches I’m sorry. Yamaha installs a stupid useless safety bar in front of the passengers? They improve the emissions and MPG? Ugh. Sorry, that’s a warm fuzzy but I would prefer a machine that can work hard in low range, not overheat and rarely breaks down.
    My buisness entails using UTVs to eradicate Salt Cedar with herbicide, plant trees, repair riparian areas and other forestry work for the US government in very very remote areas of the western US, and all of us on our crew use (Or at least used too) use Rhinos. They are being phased out as they aren’t powerful enough, (looks like they are keeping the same old tired engine), and overheat horribly. Not to mention electrical issues, low clearence and poor tow ratings. Just my humble opinion but I make money with these UTVs and I am kinda passionate about the shortcomings because they cost me money when they fail.
    Having said that, I haven’t test driven it or talked to an actual owner, so my comments may be slightly premature, but I am leary just the same.
    PS…The optional Power Steering is a good step forward, however I think it should be standard.

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    Viking owner Reply:

    After a test drive I traded in my ranger hd 800 for the new viking, even though the cc’s are less the viking feels more powerful. Went on first trail ride today and I have to say the viking traversed several places I had to winch out the ranger. Cab room and driver comfort blow any other UTV on the market away, before purchasing I test drove ranger 900xp, RZR 800 and 900(which is a death trap unless your only purpose is racing) can-am, and Kawasaki’s whatever it’s called and none can match overall to the Viking. Just my thoughts as an owner of a viking but it disappoints me at all this hate blogging going on from people who have done nothing but read articles and looked at pictures.

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    Jonny Reply:

    I ordered the new Viking 10 minutes after I test drove it. The machine is built solid and rides like a dream. I drove the Polaris and was disappointed in the low end torque and comfort. The Viking is just a better machine period.

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    Hami Reply:

    Wow sorry you feel that way about Yamaha Viking without even trying it out , just FYI I just drove my new Viking with tracks in snow over 60 km of travel through deep snow and drifts and not once did it over heat , maybe you should give it a try before you make the wrong purchase on your next side by side and yamaha did modify the cooling system on the Viking .

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  3. Darris whitley on June 15th, 2013 10:53 am

    What in the world was Yamaha thinking. If they want to put this gator with a Yamaha sticker on it out in the market to fail, fine. But why take away the rhino and hurt all the companies that make accessories for it. If who ever at yamaha got paid to think this up should be a used car sales man at a buy here pay here place. They should have just widened it out a couple inches and made it a four place. Crazy choice for the folks at Yamaha!!!!!

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    Jonny Reply:

    Don’t knock it until you tried it!

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    KEVIN Reply:

    I have a fairly unbiased opinion. I’m a 24 year tech for shops, aftermarket, suspension tuner, OEM engineer tech/test rider (not for Yamaha) and owner of all the big 4 import manufacturers, Polaris, Indian, BMW and H-D. They all have their niches they do well in. If you were in the engineering tech’s shoes, you’d find yourself making compromises to meet a market share or often time budget; however you will not find any compromises here. All aspects were well done. You can’t judge a book by its cover, this one MUST be driven to get the full picture. A lot of people made comments and haven’t ridden one. I had a chance to test ride the current year Viking, Rhino, RZR, Ranger and Mules plus about every 650-1000cc quad. I can say the Viking power plant feels most like the Can Am 800 in (quad form,) which is a powerhouse of a motor, understated by most. You get a little harder of a hit on the Can Am but, it weighs 400lbs less than the Viking. Yamaha did a great job getting the volumetric efficiency, power band and clutching perfect. The Viking motor has great torque and is responsive. Based on my history with the Rhino’s, it should be more reliable than earlier models due to their cooling and “gearing” or clutch ratio updates. Overheating shouldn’t be a problem. If you look at the tech updates they added another cooling fan on the secondary clutch and dramatically changed the location, and volume of air flow past the clutch. Chassis was amazing. They won the gold ribbon here. I have never felt a more accurate, stable, comfortable setup with 2 finger turning on the steering wheel. One turning hand turning with diff lock 4WD and very little steering whip with the new power steering setup. I hit stuff I thought for sure was going to high center, deflect or smoke the clutch and it just rolled over like butter, no slip or shudder stall etc. Yamaha did a great job here. Try one out, then make some comments. I think you will be surprised. Just my 2 cents :)

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  4. Tim on July 2nd, 2013 11:28 am

    A wolf in sheeps clothing is still a wolf. Sure, they gave it a bed like a ranger, a nose job like a commander, and a hood like a Teryx. but under all that its all just the same old Rhino….

    Maybe its wider, and has a child seat in the middle, but its still the same old under powered rhino. Sport use aside, this “new” car is no match for just about any vehicle in its segment?

    Yamaha should have taken from the original vikings. This one is doomed to fail.

    Hopefully we see some life in the next release and hopefully for yamaha all the bleed blue loyal fans havent already moved on after 5 plus years of the same old story….

    Meanwhile, over at Polaris, Arctic Cat, and BRP they are setting sales records with pure sport products aimed at a “dead” section of the market with vehicles that “the majority” of UTV owners don’t want.

    OK, thanks.

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  5. Marcus White on July 2nd, 2013 10:29 pm

    For all of you that are bashing Yamaha , let me tell you I have an ATV and UTV repair shop , I work on every brand and model made . Yamaha is the least one I work on . If you want to go spend your hard earned money on something that doesn’t last just because it has 80 horsepower or does this and that , so be it . But if you want reliability for years to come , buy Yamaha . The overheating issue is only because someone doesn’t know how to burp the cooling system ( get the air out ) . There are 2 bleeders on the rhino , mine has never ran hot and it has 8200 miles on it and only thing been done to it is only wear items ( brakes , wheel bearings – from having big tires on it ) . I do agree that they should have put a bigger engine in it , but Yamaha has plans to do something awesome . If you want to see for your self go to all of the UTV dealers and see which one has the most utv’s in the shop to be worked on . Yamaha is tough and reliable , and if I was stranded in a desert and could chose which one would get me back , I would be rhino . Period

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    T K Reply:

    I agree 100% – I was in the market for a side by side and asked the I independent service guy I used and he said Rhino
    . I duck hunt in Arkansas in rice fields and can truthfully say that the machines takes a lot of punishment. the only other machine that can navigate the gumbo is the Ranger and they have constant problems with the bearings, boots, belts etc.

    Go Yamaha!

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  6. Brian P. on August 22nd, 2013 1:37 am

    The reason you don’t work on yamaha stuff as much is because people are not buying them as much. It isn’t that Yamaha can’t make a quality product… They make a fairly decent product that nobody really wants. You can listen to the industry magazines or you can pay attention to forums with real people. But, then you also have to execute that plan. I do want a utility type of side by side but I do also want to be able to play, hunt, and trail ride. Yamaha recognized a bonanza fide market segment with a windfall potential, but rather than building a machine to do both, they built one that isn’t going to be very good at either. And that friends, in a nutshell, is why I am about to purchase a Honda Pioneer 700-4! Mon-Fri it will have 1000lbs of bed capacity, 1500lbs of towing, real gears and 4×4, but come weekend it will have seats for four adults (not the tiny fellas from the Viking brochures), a cooler full of refreshments in back, and some great big grins on some muddy faces.

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    Jonny Reply:

    I was just like you until I test drove the Viking. I test drove the Polaris, Canam as well. The Viking won me over with better low end Torque, feel and comfort. I would’ve liked to test drive the Pioneer but the dealer never had one. Ignore the BS you read and take a Viking for a test drive, then make an intelligent comment.

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    Just A Redneck Reply:

    The reason people aren’t buying them or working on them is because they’re still driving the first one they bought that’s still running like a new one and no reason to have it worked on. Yamaha has built such a quality product that if not careful will hurt them on new sales. :)

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  7. Brian P. on August 22nd, 2013 1:49 am

    By the way, to Marcus, I am sorry if it seemed I was bashing you. I mean no disrespect to you personally. I grew up as a very VERY loyal Yamaha man. I guess I am a bit angry because now that I am getting into riding again (now with my son) I wish I could recapture that loyalty, but I can not until Yamaha goes back to what they were…brave, innovative, and exciting. Exciting is good even in a corn field. Anyway God bless a country were we can be free to express our opinions and I hope to hear more of yours.

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  8. eric b on August 22nd, 2013 10:04 pm

    i test drove a viking this week and is a total different machine then a rhino much faster higher top speed way better handling . and the motor has a lot more power then a rhino .its aperfect match of power and reliabilty.it wont run with the 1000 cc sxs .but its great for the familywho has a kid . and the dad that still wants to go on man rides.plenty of room for bigger tires and u wont have belt issues ,up grade the tires and let it eat

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  9. Tony Pearce on September 6th, 2013 5:16 am

    Yamaha have gone after the farming sector with this machine and they will sell well as a more stylish but equally capable competitor to the Gator, it will carry the load. I see the innovation in this for Yamaha and will buy one. The only concern I have is that YAMAHA are launching Five new models over the next five years and I will probably want one of each of them tooo…..

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  10. shawn on September 10th, 2013 8:46 pm

    i have a 800 xp polaris with 3300 miles on it and so far ive gone through 3 belts 6 wheel bearings two cv boots a starting soleniod and a headlight
    my buddy bought a rhino the same day in 2010 and all hes done is put a belt on it and he has more miles than i do and much harder riding! enough said yes polaris sells more of them but they are junk period!!

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  11. "DUG" on September 29th, 2013 9:41 pm

    We have had rhino since 07, put 686 kit in motor, replaced belt twice,
    Bit it has 4500 miles on it. A set of tires, put maxxis tires on, they are
    as good as the rhino has performed since we have had it. Looking at
    the viking now, won’t buy anything but YAMAHA! All the ones putting
    Yamaha down must not have owned one. Want a good one think
    YAMAHA!

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  12. Scott on October 28th, 2013 8:04 pm

    I drove the ranger 900, 900 crew, 800 ranger, 550 ranger (?), Pioneer 700-4, and the Viking. The viking has good power but not as fast as the 800 and 900 obviously. I am 6’5″ 250 and need leg room. The rangers is ok, the pioneer is tiny and the viking is awesome. The viking handles well and didn’t disappoint. When you have a good motor, you keep it. Look at the Honda XR650L enduro been around for years and rock solid as they come.

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  13. Moose on November 8th, 2013 10:34 am

    I have been shopping for a sxs for around 2 years. I have a family of five , and heat my home with wood I cut from my own property. Its rough, tight, marshy, rocky, sandy and just about any other kind of descriptive for a pain to get back on. The last three years I depended on my King Quad 750 to pull a trailer to haul the 7 cords of wood I cut a year. I was going through trailer(s) right and left and decided a vehicle with a bed would eliminate the hassle. Like someone said. A good used pickup is in the same price point as these machines. However, that’s like trying to fit an elephant in a check out lane of wally world round here. So I have test drove rhino’s, vikings, teryx, ranger, gator, can am, and the pioneer. It came down to hauling capacity, seating, and maneuverability. Last week I bought the Honda 700-4. Its not perfect, but I can squeeze in all five. I fit in it (6’7″ 277lbs), it can haul a 1/2 ton in the bed. Has a great turning radius and an overall dimensions that can get through spots a lot of the others can’t that can seat that many. The Viking couldn’t match it on any front. I’m not at all knocking Yamaha, it just lacked what I needed. It may be perfectly suited to your personal needs. I think its great that it adds more choice to the market. Especially at a lower price point.

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  14. Brian Haynes on November 9th, 2013 9:19 am

    I still believe this is just Yamah’s first entry back into the UTV market and they have a real sport UTV up their sleeves that will be their true answer to the Polaris RZR. Or at least I can hope!

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  15. duckman on November 11th, 2013 9:23 pm

    I have own a 2004 Yamaha grizzly 660 since new I truly love my bike I always wanted a rhino but when I seen the new Viking 700 I can wait to buy one and see what the aftermarket comes up with awesome machine good job Yamaha!!!!!!!!

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  16. Mike on November 16th, 2013 12:33 pm

    That’s fine yamaha if you want to make a utv that is too wide for mountain trails go right ahead. You could have at least kept the Rhino for those of us who want to trail ride without totally scrape the sides off our expensive toys. Oh and by the way what’s wrong with only having two seats. Consumers lose again by having choices taken from them.

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  17. Mike on November 16th, 2013 1:52 pm

    And regarding an earlier. If you think a Viking is better than a Can Am Commander you must be speaking purely with your wallet.

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  18. Russell Adkins on November 23rd, 2013 2:33 pm

    Me and my wife went to Mena Arkansas the last week in October. We road every trail in the Wolf pen gap trail complex. The new Viking rides excellent has plenty of power an the cab has more than enough room even with 3 full figured adults on board . Other than being a little to loud I’d say Yamaha is on the right track.
    Go Yamaha

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  19. Arsene Lupine on December 27th, 2013 12:43 pm

    Yamaha ad only Yamaha,, There,s no other kinds once you tasted Heinz, Yes . on trapline for 60 years nothing even comes close to a Yamaha nothing , and now a Viking well that’s King of the road, likes it so much so I bought the wife one ,then got mine on tracks its fun and unstoppable,,
    ,

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  20. perrigo family on January 12th, 2014 10:53 am

    hi i love my 2014 viking red with windshield,canvas back window, 3500lb winch, fender protectors, full front bumper, back rail, the only issue we have it is to low to the ground with factory tires so we have go with bigger tires form 25 9 12 font to 28 9 14 and the back from 25 10 12 to 28 10 14 that should lift up 2 inches. and the should do it.thx the perrigo family.

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  21. Bill C. on February 28th, 2014 2:16 pm

    I wanted a machine for the trails. I have a Kodiak 450, but wanted to move up and had my heart set on a Rhino. The Viking is too big, too heavy, and too wide. I drive a small truck, and the Viking would be right on the edge of my towing ability with the new trailer I would also have to buy.
    I can’t believe that Yamaha has simply taken themselves completely out of a market. The closest I can come to what I want will be the Snyper 600 from CFMoto. Don’t really want a Chinese machine, but it does have a 5 year warranty, Bosch Electrics, a Canadian transmission, and I can haul it with my existing trailer.. But I would STILL rather have a Rhino.. What the hell were they thinking

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    Ralph Reply:

    Cf Moto also offers an 800EX v twin that blows away an 800 rzr on utube

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  22. Jim on April 22nd, 2014 3:30 pm

    I bought a 2014 Viking with EPS Camo. The cab has a ton of room and so does the bed. I put 28’s on it with some serious tread. They clear fine unless you jump it and land in 1 front tire, then they rub a little. I also added a winch, windshield, back window, full push guards front and rear, stereo, speakers, the under seat dry storage, and the best sxs tool box I’ve ever owned.
    The windshield is 1000 times better than any other windshield on the market.
    It’s a very study machine, and very well made. It rides smoother than any other sxs in the market. It has never left me stranded in the woods. I can’t say that for the previous Polaris sxs’s I’ve owned. They are electrical nightmares and Polaris’ belt drive system is JUNK!!
    The Viking is head and shoulders above the rest!

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  23. Carl on June 22nd, 2014 10:39 pm

    I test drove all the UTV’s whose dealers I could drive to within 4 hrs of home. Bobcat, Polaris, Honda and some I can’t even pronounce. I was impressed enough with the Viking that I plopped down the cash to take it home vs it’s competition. Why? Cab room – I’m a wide body with long legs and the Viking gives me plenty of room for myself, a buddy and my teenager. Power – it’s got great torque and enough top end to run with anything off the track. Design – it’s well built by a team that understands their target market (utility with a healthy dose of fun tossed in). Smooth ride, good clearance and well thought out features.

    The draw back? It’s a little loud. Engine noise seems to come right into the cab.

    I find it strange that so many post scathing comments when they clearly haven’t done the work to compare. An uninformed opinion, even when stated with conviction, doesn’t make you right… Or an interesting read. Opinions are great, but not much use to those seeking informed feedback for a potential purchase.

    If you’re considering a Viking, they’re a strong choice. I ‘me really happy with it. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed with it.

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    Josh Bullard Reply:

    I just want to say that I appreciate your comment. I’ve been reading opinions for a few days, now, considering purchasing a 2015 Viking VI EPS Camo model. I agree 100%. It’s very aggravating to read so many bias and uninvestigated comments. This will be my wife and I’s first UTV ever. We plan to mainly trail ride and the Viking sees to be the best suited candidate. We are looking for comfort, function, room for friends and camping gear. I just wanted to say thanks for your comment, because it stood out from all the others I have read so far, and it has helped me with weighing pros and cons on the Viking.

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  24. chuck hill on June 23rd, 2014 4:01 pm

    I am going out to get a wider trailer. still keeping the can am 4 wheeler and selling the harley.. I know when I see something I like. Anymore I would rather spend my time in the woods.And I know this Yamaha will bring me back to camp when its time to go.Drove my friends Viking and I want one!
    Do your home work.Then you will know to.

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  25. SXS Headquarters on July 26th, 2014 3:56 am

    To be honest I was also expecting a lot more from Yamaha with the Viking. But i guess they are being smart about it and entering into the market with a UTV that is geared towards the side by side markets largest base – the recreational utility vehicle. I truly hope they come out with a true sport side by side that puts the rest of the market to shame.

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  26. can am rules on August 24th, 2014 7:39 am

    Can am rule since yamaha driver rely on my machine to pull them out of the mud

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  27. Dennis T on September 4th, 2014 12:33 pm

    Been ATVing since 1986, had a 250 big red which between me and my two boys litterly wore it out. Since than I’ve had a yamaha big bear, a kodiak, a grizzily and presently 2014 viking. I have never had to be towed home but have towed quite a few. Yamaha may not be the fastest or the cheapest, but if you want a reliability and quality machine,stick with yamaha.

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  28. Ralph on September 8th, 2014 6:09 pm

    I myself was looking into a viking with eps or a teryx 2 seat 2014 , but don,t know if belt problems & clutch were taken care of , before buying one.

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  29. William Hackett on September 16th, 2014 12:08 pm

    I am fairly new to 4 wheeling. I’m 65 yrs old and recently moved from Sandusky Ohio to French Creek WV. Everyone here drives Rhinos. I borrowed my brother-in-laws older 700 rhino. 8 Rhinos off on a ride I will never forget. Places you would not believe. I am 310 lbs and 6’3″ and was very cramped in the Rhino. On 9-5-2014 I bought a new camo 2014 Viking. What a machine! Plenty of leg room and very comfortable with lots of power. I have 7 hrs on it now. It runs very well and for a brief time I took it up to 52 mph and then backed off. It is only 6″ wider than the Rhino, but what a difference 6″ makes. I highly recommend Yamaha and so does everyone else that lives in these mountains. My nephew has a 1000 Razzor and a 700 Rhino. He always takes the Yamaha when we trail ride.

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