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Yamaha YXZ1000R: ‘Most buzz I’ve seen in 19 years’

By By Dave McMahon

First-of-its-kind 5-speed manual starts at $19,799

Mike Goff, co-owner of Snake River Yamaha, a single-line dealer in Meridian, Idaho, didn’t need to think twice when asked when he last anticipated a product launch with such excitement.

“It’s the most buzz I’ve seen in 19 years in the business,” Goff said.

The all-new 2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R left dealers smiling at the global launch in Long Beach.

The all-new 2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R left dealers smiling at the global launch in Long Beach.

Goff had not yet witnessed the memorable launch of the all-new sport side-by-side from Yamaha, the YXZ1000R. That would come the following day in Long Beach, Calif. But he had a hunch about what was coming, and he — like all of the other dealers who were invited to the exclusive event (store owners only, thanks) — can’t wait to get his first product shipment

Yamaha Motors Corp., USA, officials outdid themselves with the global launch production, placing bleachers, a stadium-style video board and a dirt demo track — complete with about 300 feet of whoops that were the talk of the ride — on a swath of an undeveloped pier at the Port of Long Beach. “Transportation” to the event included a double-decker bus or trolley to a marina. Upon boarding a Harbor Breeze Cruises charter at Rainbow Harbor, a two-hour tour of the ports ensued.

With Yamaha tents spotted in the distance, attendees finally realized that the hush-hush location for the launch would not be on Catalina Island as some had suggested, but rather at the second-busiest container port in the country.

Minutes later, with a live video feed prepared to be broadcast across the world, three drivers drove the latest machines to take the industry by storm out from behind a makeshift wall below the video board. Hoots and hollers ensued, and all in attendees bounded to the staging area to take a closer look.

“Our customers want know the weight, the transmission, the horsepower — just what it is,” Goff said. “Nobody really knows. A lot of people are holding out on their purchases, waiting to see what this is and what it will do. It’s creating a lot of buzz. I think it’ll change the way manufacturers build UTVs.”

While Wolverine and Viking sales have been formidable at Snake River, “they’re not sport UTVs,” Goff said.

Rob Smith, president and GM of Outdoor Sports Center, in Prescott Valley, Ariz., has been in the industry 29 years, all as a Yamaha dealer.

“This is the biggest release from Yamaha I’ve ever seen,” Smith said. “Since the Rhino went away, there’s been a big void in our business, and it’s coming back with this launch. It’s a big buzz with the blogs; everyone’s calling the store wanting to know what’s going on. In my opinion, Yamaha’s back in the game.”

 Double-decker bus rides were an ideal mode of transportation for Yamaha dealers and sales staff at the YXZ1000R launch in Long Beach.

Double-decker bus rides were an ideal mode of transportation for Yamaha dealers and sales staff at the YXZ1000R launch in Long Beach.

Meanwhile, Bill Nash, chief operating officer of RideNow Powersports, the country’s largest dealership group, plans to take advantage of the opportunity to stock as many YZX1000R new models as possible.

“It’s extremely important for us to have it as an offering in the showroom. It brings a new level of performance to the industry. Shifting vs. non-shifting is going to bring motocross guys and sport quad guys into the market that probably were reluctant because they felt like they were just mashing the throttle before vs. having a lot more input into what they’re doing,” Nash said. “We’re excited, because the majority of our stores that have Yamaha are in Arizona and Nevada. Because of the width of the unit, 64 inches vs. 68 or 70 inches like some of the competitors, it’s going to be a little better all-around unit trail-wise than some of the other stuff that’s out there, for sure.

“I was shocked at how well it went through the whoops, and surprised that it got around the corners on those flat turns as well as it did. It seemed to not push. It’s going to be cool. Those guys grabbing gears when we went into the whoops was pretty impressive. It’s a damn cool rig.”

The specifics

The YXZ1000R boasts a high-performance 3-cylinder 998cc engine with a class-defining 5-speed sequential shift manual transmission. The two-seater provides a superior driver-connected experience in the dunes, desert or on the trail.

“The YXZ1000R redefines the sport side-by-side category and solidifies Yamaha as the leader in powersports performance,” Mike Martinez, Yamaha’s Recreational Vehicle (RV) group vice president, said in a press release. “In the YXZ1000R, Yamaha has combined industry-first technology and performance with the durability and fit-and-finish side-by-side enthusiasts have been craving, and we’re confident the YXZ1000R will exceed all expectations.”

 The staging area in Long Beach provided an ideal setting for the 2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R sport side-by-side.

The staging area in Long Beach provided an ideal setting for the 2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R sport side-by-side.

The YXZ1000R is powered by a 3-cylinder, 12-valve, DOHC, liquid cooled, 998cc engine. As the industry’s first sport 3-cylinder engine, it boasts an aggressive 11.3:1 compression ratio and 10,500 rpm redline to provide a true sport side-by-side experience.

With broad, linear torque, the YXZ1000R responds to driver input with sport performance power from low- to high-rpm range, and the triple throttle bodies provide a more direct connection between driver throttle input and engine response.

  A high-mounted, high-volume clean air inlet provides maximum airflow, while dual air filters — one oiled foam and one wet pleated paper type — provide maximum filtration and superior engine performance in even the harshest riding environments. The durable and reusable foam filter features tool-free access for simplified maintenance.

The YXZ1000R features the industry’s first fully manual 5-speed sequential shift transmission in a side-by-side vehicle, delivering a direct connection between driver and machine for superior performance and confidence.

A stop at the Rockin Ice Hawaiian Shave Ice truck was an ideal spot to cool down after a demo ride for West Virginia dealers Buster Jones Jr. of Bub’s Cycle Center Inc. (Beckley), Eric Barrett of Lemon & Barrett’s Powersports (Parkersburg) and Tim Dohm of Dohm’s Cycles (Charleston). Truck owner Thom Uber joined them for the photo op. The Rockin Ice truck counts Justin Bieber and Sophia Vergara among its fans.

A stop at the Rockin Ice Hawaiian Shave Ice truck was an ideal spot to cool down after a demo ride for West Virginia dealers Buster Jones Jr. of Bub’s Cycle Center Inc. (Beckley), Eric Barrett of Lemon & Barrett’s Powersports (Parkersburg) and Tim Dohm of Dohm’s Cycles (Charleston). Truck owner Thom Uber joined them for the photo op. The Rockin Ice truck counts Justin Bieber and Sophia Vergara among its fans.

  The all-new YXZ1000R is assembled at Yamaha’s U.S. factory in Newnan, Ga., for worldwide distribution. MSRP starts at $19,799, and color options include Yamaha Racing Blue/White, Blaze Orange/Black and Yamaha’s 60th anniversary celebration Yellow-and-Black. Arriving at dealerships first, the 60th anniversary Special Edition (SE) model adopts Yamaha’s heritage color and graphic scheme and a true bead lock rim.

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