When it comes to motorsports, my first love is my Honda CTX700 motorcycle but when offered the opportunity to drive Yamaha’s new YXZ1000R offroad UTV/ATV, I jumped at the chance.
I’m pretty sure anyone visiting a Yamaha dealership has already seen these beasts on display and would probably be wondering what its like to drive one.
Recently I was the guest of Offroad Rush Sydney at one of their drive days. These guys are so friendly and have a brilliant operation running out at Colo Heights. I was originally there to meet the owners James & Leigh Rolton but after a quick discussion with Leigh she rightly pointed out that I can’t sell their offroad experiences without first trying one. It was a point I couldn’t argue with. So when offered a drive in a machine I was quick to choose the Yamaha YXZ. They have V8 Race Buggies and Subaru WRX rally cars, but I felt a kindred spirit with the Yamaha. If only Honda would make one!
What is a Yamaha YXZ you ask? For the tech heads it’s a liquid cooled DOHC 998cc 3 cylinder off-road sports machine or UTV. With 5 speed manual transmission and sequential shift, independent double wishbone with anti-sway bar, fully adjustable FOX 25 Podium RC2 shocks its built for speed and agility.
My instructor for the drives and hot laps was Mike Small from New Zealand, an ex motocross rider and off road champion who now races utvs. Mike really knows his stuff and his instruction was invaluable.
First there was a run down of the machine, how the gears work, clutch, brakes worked. With sequential gear shifts its straight up and down, much like a motorcycle’s gears. Straight forward you would think, but I still managed to pick the wrong gear, ride the clutch and do all the things that newbies do. We started off down the straight with Mike yelling ‘go go go’ as I accelerate through the gears. I was soon in top gear and going, what I thought, was flat out, but a glance at the speedo soon brought me back to reality. Mind you it felt like I was going as fast as my comfort zone would allow me. As we approach the first hair pin bend Mike screams ‘brake, brake, brake’. As I break, its ‘harder, harder, harder’ from Mike. Dropping back in gears to 2nd gear, then its ‘go, go, go’ again as I accelerate through the hair pin bend and out again into a straight area of the track. What a rush that was.
Now let me clarify something here. When I say a straight part of the track, its hardly straight! Small jumps, bumps and the vehicle bouncing around makes for an interesting interpretation of the concept of straight.
Before long I was into the next hairpin bend at the other end of the track preparing for the hard braking, quick drop down in gears again and all the time Mike telling me to ‘brake, brake, brake… go, go, go”. Now its at this point of the 1st lap I encounter the hill. A rise in the track of around 2 metres that would normally invite caution. No, not Mike again… “go, go, go and when you get to the top of the hill, take your foot off the accelerator”. What did he say?
I quickly learned that if you get airborne and your foot is on the accellerator still, when you land you can wreck the clutch. Ok, good point. I approach the hill, flat out again. In the back of my mind its “reach the top, foot off the accelerator”. Up the hill, Yamaha feels airborne, foot off the accelerator, down on the ground. All good! Woohoo, that was fun, can I stop now? No, its “Go, go, go”, into the straight and Mike yelling, “That was lap 1, remember to brake into the corner.”
Four more laps of this to go. I’m exhausted. But I have to admit by lap five I was getting into my groove. Braking at the right time, accelerating when I was supposed to. I even managed to get the gearing right and not slip the clutch. Note to instructor, don’t slap my wrist when I slip the clutch.
By the end of it I had a high five from Mike and it occurred to me I really wanted to keep going. What fun! I can see why these machines are taking the off road racing scene by storm, and it really helped having someone like Mike Small instructing me. Thanks Off Road Rush!
So if you want to drive the Yamaha YXZ1000R, and I thoroughly recommend it, we have two products priced very affordably in Break Loose. Check them out here…