Shifty Business: Yamaha’s 2017 YXZ1000R SS
Classic car enthusiasts recognize the “SS” branding on older GM cars and trucks as being Super Sport editions. This badging lets onlookers know right away that the vehicle they are looking at was a factory-upgraded model complete with premium interior and suspension options as well as a boosted performance package. Well, in the world of UTVs, the use of “SxS” means something different, especially when looking at Yamaha’s exciting new 2017 release.
For starters, the SxS denotation is simply an abbreviation for the term, side-by-side, which easily classifies any utility terrain vehicle as having two forward-facing seats. Yamaha’s latest YXZ1000R, however, adds yet another dimension to the double “S” branding into the mix. Sport Shift—this is the technological unveiling that Yamaha believes will push its name further to the top in true sport performance UTVs. And if you haven’t heard exactly what this whole Sport Shift technology is all about, you’ll want to experience it for yourself firsthand after reading this.
Yamaha revolutionized the UTV segment by offering true manual shifting in previous YXZ models. This was a huge selling point for drivers who love to drive. You may want to let that sink in for a second—manual shifting isn’t usually the choice for those looking to cruise, it’s meant for those who want to grab on and take full control of their vehicle, which not everybody has been brought up to do.
Now, what Sport Shift does is take this notion one step further by offering a high-tech paddle shifting driving experience unlike any other in this market. It takes away the clutch pedal and the having to actually know how to operate a manual transmission. It then replaces that single pedal and knowledge with an automatic clutch system, operated by pure-sport inspired paddle shifters on the steering column that help run through Yamaha’s 5-speed sequential shift manual transmission. It’s brilliant, really. Yamaha gives the driver who isn’t familiar with the excitement and handling ability the ability to take a firmer grip on a much more sporty experience.
“You probably can’t even begin to fathom how fun Yamaha’s latest UTV is to drive until you take it out for a rip, but trust—once you give one a go—you’ll be hooked.”
Although the Sport Shift does open a new experience to traditional non-manual transmission drivers, it does still appeal to seasoned clutch jockeys as well. The Sport Shift sequence works like this: shift up with the right paddle, and down with the left. It’s so simple and comes natural and becomes familiar rather quickly even for those who have coasted on auto all of their lives. A built-in automatic downshift function takes the sequence back down to first gear after stopping. Of course, this can be done manually, but if the driver chooses not to, or if it isn’t in his own driving style, it’s totally ok—the system has been designed to accommodate drivers of all levels. Oh, and Yamaha has even added a “launch” function that goes right along with the Sport Shift technology. Even without a clutch, drivers can still experience high-acceleration starts that could actually even roast some rubber (if done on so on pavement, that is).
But Yamaha’s 2017 edition of the YXZ delivers much more than the groundbreaking SS functionality. While it does offer the same 3-cylinder 998cc powerplant as in previous models, the SS model does come with standard Fox 2.5 16-inch front and 17-inch rear travel Podium Shocks with piggyback absorbers for ultimate dune enjoyment. The SE (Special Edition) model, however, jacks up the stakes with exclusive twin-wall Fox 2.5 Podium X2 shocks, which are fully adjustable for all types of terrain and driving styles for optimal personal tuning. Bringing all this power and handling to a halt comes quick with Yamaha’s Electric Power Steering (EPS) system and four-wheel hydraulic brakes complete with twin piston calipers. Sometimes, a vehicle’s stopping ability is just as impressive as it’s power-making features, especially when it comes to off-road applications such as this.
Now, car guys might feel safe in considering Yamaha’s 2017 YXZ1000R to be a Super Sport edition of sorts in their eyes (especially the SE model), but this “SS” stands alone in offering an exclusive and unmatched drivability in the UTV sector. Off-road drivers of all levels are sure to embrace Yamaha’s Sport Shift breakthrough, as it will open the doors of manual shift driving to those not currently familiar to it, as well as offer more experienced drivers with a new dose of behind-the-wheel adrenaline. You probably can’t even begin to fathom how fun Yamaha’s latest UTV is to drive until you take it out for a rip, but trust us—once you give one a go—you’ll be hooked.
- Special edition matte black finish and red graphics
- Removable black sun top
- Twin-wall 16.2” front FOX 2.5 Podium X2 shocks
- Twin-wall 17” rear FOX 2.5 Podium X2 shocks
- 998cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline three-cylinder engine
- Yamaha Sport Shift 5-speed sequential shift transmission
- Paddle shifters on transmission column
- 27 x 9.00R-14 Maxxis MU09 front tires
- 27 x 11.00R-14 Maxxis MU10 rear tires
- All-wheel dual hydraulic disc brakes
- Supersport-style dashboard complete with integrated digital-analog instruments
- Cast aluminum 14” beadlock wheels
- Full under-frame composite underbody skid plate
- High-back seats with extra lateral support and outside bolsters
- Optimized pure sport chassis
Editor’s Note: A version of this article first appeared in the Fall 2016 print issue of Tread Magazine.