Published on October 17th, 2014 | by Joe0
Updated 2015 Yamaha Raptor 700R First Test: WITH VIDEO
Rediscovering the thrill on Yamaha’s updated 2015 Raptor 700.
Riding any sport ATV in the Oregon Dunes would be fun, but having the opportunity to ride the top selling sport ATV for nearly a decade at the Oregon Dunes, the updated 2015 Yamaha Raptor 700R is pretty epic. It was truly a great chance to experience the harmonious blending of environment, man, and machine.
Many of us who love sport ATV riding feel that nothing compares to the level of fun, thrills, and freedom provided by the sport of ATVing. Many people have flocked to the caged world that provides a more virtual reality type of experience to which we have become accustomed in our electronic screen-driven lifestyles. Anyone can push buttons, and anyone can turn a steering wheel and push a gas pedal.
Riding a sport ATV, on the other hand, requires balance, coordination, some level of strength, and a higher level of focus and concentration. Riding a sport ATV truly blends together man and machine. More than just a navigator, you function with the machine mechanically providing counterbalance to nearly every major directional change, whether it’s traversing a hill, powering through a turn, or simply accelerating and braking.
Whether you are a racer or rider, sport ATV riding is a sport. The more practice and in better shape you are, the more fun you will have. Simply riding a sport ATV correctly is a form of exercise. Having fun and riding within your means is far more healthy than sitting around all day on a couch marveling at some new phone you waited in line for three days to buy!
We recently went riding with a bunch of our friends from Yamaha at the Oregon Sand Dunes, in Oregon. These dunes are some of the most beautiful in the country, offering wide-open dune sections, plus monster, pine tree-lined hill climbs. There are also brush and pine tree-lined trails that snake through the dunes offering lots of whoops, the rollercoaster-style banked turns that allow you to lean in, whack the throttle wide open, and rocket from corner to corner. Whether you are a climber, cruiser, or moto-head, the Oregon Dunes offers something for all of the above.
Updates for 2015
Not wanting to mess too much with success, Yamaha took what made the Raptor 700 the best-selling, big-bore sport ATV on the market and went to work improving upon it for 2015. The hybrid aluminum and steel chassis is unchanged; however, Yamaha worked over the engine, suspension, and tire package looking for a well-balanced, overall improvement in performance. For 2015, Yamaha is boasting an impressive 10% increase in power, focused in the bottom end and midrange of the power. They are also claiming an 8% improvement in fuel economy, all while keeping up with more stringent EPA standards. To achieve this, Yamaha installed a new cylinder head with a single exhaust port, leading to a newly designed exhaust system featuring primarily stainless steel construction with a painted steel silencer body. A new piston and connecting rod raise compression from 9.2:1 to 10.0:1, increasing power across the RPM range while still allowing the engine to digest cheap pump gas, although we always recommend running premium fuel. The new piston is complemented by new cam profiles, designed to work with the other mods to increase power while maintaining the ultra-smooth, fast-revving power the 700 is known for. The counterbalance shafts were also tweaked for 115 to offset any vibration the engine’s higher compression might have added.
Handling final drive duties to the rear wheels, the Raptor received a new DID X ring chain for 2015. Yamaha feels that the X ring does a better job of keeping lubrication in and the elements out for longer chain life and less maintenance.
New 22-inch front Maxxis tires replaces last year’s 21s. The taller tires roll more smoothly through bumps. The new tire features a flatter profile and a 20% stiffer sidewall reducing rollover in corners. The new tire features angled knobs, compared to last year’s straighter tread pattern for improved traction in sand, which should also benefit it in other soft terrain conditions as well.
The suspension received new settings at both ends for 2015 to complement the new front tire and increased power delivery. The rear shock received 5mm more spring preload, plus slightly stiffer compression and rebound damping. The front shocks received a bit more attention. Travel was increased 2mm. The dual-rate front springs feature a slightly stiffer spring rate throughout both stages. Compression damping was slightly reduced in the first part of the stroke while rebound damping decreased.
As with all Yamaha sport ATV models, the Raptor has a plethora of performance, protective, drive, and cosmetic upgrades which will bolt right up to the machine, available through Yamaha’s GYTR catalog at your local Yamaha dealer. They offer OE quality fit and construction, plus they don’t affect the Raptor’s one-year factory warranty.
The best thing about the 2015 model is that the generous power and suspension upgrades come for the same 2014 retail price of $8,199. Of course, there will be a 700R SE model sporting special colors and graphics, plus GYTR heel guards and front grab bar for an extra $500. For riders who prefer to jump on and ride without the bother of all shoes’ fancy shock adjustments, Yamaha has brought back the base model Raptor 700, available for $500 less than the Raptor 700R at $7,699.
When it comes to hitting the dunes, the Raptor 700 has never disappointed. There’s ample power for conquering the tallest, steepest dunes, the suspension and agility to rage on whooped-out switchback trails, and the comfort to do it all day long. Heading out to Oregon Dunes on the heels of our 2014 Raptor 700R in-depth review, the increase in power wasn’t very pronounced at first. Back East where we test, the terrain is much harder, helping to hide the power advantage of the 2015 as it propelled us through the heavy sand.
When the performance upgrades became apparent, was the first time we underestimated the steepness of a 10-foot sand wall in the morning fog. With no time to downshift and not wanting to get dropped from the group, grabbing a handful of throttle, the 700 felt unstoppable as it chugged its way to the top of the hill and began rapidly picking up speed. The extra power was also noticeable in the midrange, racing through the high-banked turns of the deep, sandy trails. Lean in, crack the throttle wide open, and forget about the clutch of the possibility of overwhelming the engine with fuel. The bottom end and midrange benefitted the most from the extra horsepower this year, and the fuel injection system is still flawless once the machine has had the chance to warm up.
Yamaha’s new suspension settings didn’t feel all that much different than the 2014 suspension after we finished tuning them. Softening the initial part of the front shocks’ compression while stiffening the front spring helped keep the front end from feeling harsher over small chatter, in spite of the front tires’ flatter profile. The combination of the flatter profile front tires and stiffer springs may have mildly decreased front end roll. The difference should be more apparent in hard-packed dirt. The rear end felt flawless on small bumps and large hits. Our 225-pound test rider, while admittedly heavier than average, felt that the rear end sometimes stepped out a bit when attacking whoops. With very adjustable shocks, speeding up the rear shocks’ rebound by backing out a couple of clicks on the rebound damping adjustment will settle the rear end down beautifully.
Handling on the big 700 remains quick and aggressive. There’s just a hint of twitchiness at super high speeds; however, that’s the price you pay for super responsive steering in the tight stuff. As a machine that will see everything from tight woods to high-speed wide-open fields, we think Yamaha continues to hit the mark balancing quick cornering manners with high-speed stability.
Braking performance is among the very best on any sport ATV, thanks to dual piston hydraulic disc brakes front and rear. Both ends offer tremendous power and excellent feel. Of course, the braking is assisted by the big engine’s compression breaking on long downhills or entering turns, assuring you ride your four-stroke like a four-stroke and not a two-stroke with the clutch pulled in all the time.
Over the years, the Raptor has proven to be a very reliable machine. Its engine produces its best power low enough in the RPM range that there’s no need to spin the engine apart revving the guts out of it. Easy to maintain features like tool-less air filter removal, a round housing style chain adjustment system, and grease fittings throughout the chassis let you spend more time on the trail and less time in the garage.
For the Whiners
For the crybabies on YouTube who say we aren’t critical enough and accuse us of producing Yamaha commercials, we feel that this machine could benefit from a mild growth in dimensions. Gone are the days of ATV riders running on dirt bike trails. Today’s trails for ATVs are being cut at 50-inches wide almost everywhere. With the growing popularity UTVs, many ride areas are cutting 60-inch trails. Most trail riders were purchasing the 48.5-inch wide YFZ450R for trail riding back in 2010, when Yamaha was producing a 46-inch wide YFZ450X. Given the choice, ATV riders prefer wider machines, unless they are GNCC racers. Since the Raptor isn’t a GNCC race machine, we think it would serve most riders even better if it were stretched to 48.5 or 49-inches wide. As a machine that will see its share of mud in its lifetime, we wish Yamaha would outfit it with the same quick release fasteners, which make removing the plastic on the YFZ450R a one to two minute process. This makes working on and detailing a machine easier.
The Bottom Line
The Raptor 700R’s dominance in the open class, and throughout the entire sport quad market are testament to the machine’s outstanding performance. We think it’s perhaps the best all-around sport ATV ever produced. This year’s subtle improvements in handling and 10% horsepower increase have made arguably the best even better. Our favorite thing about this year’s model has to be that the extra power has taken nothing away from the machine’s rider-friendly power delivery, and comes without the additional noise of adding a louder exhaust system. Faster, cleaner, and just as quiet is a sure fire recipe for the long-term survival of the sport.
If you’ve been thinking about stepping up to the Raptor 700R, Yamaha has given you 10% more reason to do so! I f you haven’t noticed, it’s a model we highly endorse and recommend.
|MSRP*||$8,199 – Team Yamaha Blue/White – Available from October 2014|
|Engine Type||686cc liquid-cooled w/fan, 4-stroke; SOHC, 4 valves|
|Bore x Stroke||102.0mm x 84.0mm|
|Fuel Delivery||Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 44mm|
|Ignition||32 Bit ECU|
|Transmission||5-speed w/reverse; wet multiplate clutch|
|Drive Train||2WD; sealed O-ring chain, eccentric adjustment|
|Suspension / Front||Independent double wishbone w/piggyback High-/Lo-speed compression, rebound and threaded preload adjustment, 9.1-in travel|
|Suspension / Rear||Cast aluminum swing arm w/rebound, High-/Lo-speed compression and threaded preload adjustment, 10.1-in travel|
|Brakes / Front||Dual ventilated hydraulic disc, twin piston|
|Brakes / Rear||Ventilated hydraulic disc, twin piston|
|Tires / Front||Maxxis® AT22 x 7-10|
|Tires / Rear||Maxxis® AT20 x 10-9|
|L x W x H||72.6 x 45.5 x 43.9 in|
|Seat Height||32.7 in|
|Ground Clearance||9.5 in|
|Fuel Capacity||2.9 gal|
|Wet Weight||422 lb|
|Lighting||Dual 30W Krypton multireflector headlights & 3.9/0.5W LED brakelight|
|Warranty||6 Month (Limited Factory Warranty)|
2015 Yamaha Raptor 700R Test Ratings
Summary: This year’s subtle improvements in handling and 10% horsepower increase have made arguably the best even better. Our favorite thing about this year’s model has to be that the extra power has taken nothing away from the machine’s rider-friendly power delivery, and comes without the additional noise of adding a louder exhaust system. Faster, cleaner, and just as quiet is a sure fire recipe for the long-term survival of the sport.If you’ve been thinking about stepping up to the Raptor 700R, Yamaha has given you 10% more reason to do so! I f you haven’t noticed, it’s a model we highly endorse and recommend.