2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R Review

Adding two more wheels of fun with Yamaha's first pure sport SXS, the 2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R.

Pure sport side-by-side in Glamis
Yamaha introduces the 2016 YXZ1000R, the UTV industry's first pure sport sxs.Photo by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha

While it is unique and rare that we test a machine with more than two wheels, we gladly accepted Yamaha's invite to drive its new, first ever "Pure Sport" side-by-side along with UTV Driver editor Bradley Howe. A fleet of 60th Anniversary yellow, 2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R Special Edition machines greeted the media in the hot sand dunes of Glamis, CA.

walk around yxz1000r engine
A quick walk around of the YXZ1000R engine.Photo by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha

The YXZ1000R is the first manual SXS on the market with a 5-speed sequential-shifting transmission. It makes four wheels fun, aggressive and competitive for us two-wheel enthusiasts with the ability to shift through the gears. The motor is a 998cc liquid-cooled DOHC inline three-cylinder and produces about 112 HP. The YXZ1000R engine was pulled from Yamaha’s snowmobile division, which has aftermarket turbo kits that range from 150 to 300 horsepower!

2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R transmission interior view
Interior view of the sequential manual side-by-side transmission on YXZ1000RPhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
Cutaway GIF of the YXZ1000R transmission
Cutaway of the YXZ1000R transmissionPhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha

The YXZ1000R likes to scream like a street bike and the motor is throaty and loud. Just under the 11k redline is its sweet spot (similar to a 250F motocross machine) - don't shift and the power is impeccable. There is a built in safety light that will tell you to shift when absolutely necessary. In 2nd gear you'll climb the steepest dunes, 3rd gear will lug around most open trails and 4th and 5th are for blasting whoops and racing friends. If you shift while the wheel speed is the same as the RPM, you can shift smoothly without needing the clutch petal. The transmission is located under the cockpit and is loud, but shifting is smooth and precise. It will take a moment for two-wheeled minds to switch gears, since reverse and first are up and second through fifth are down.

YXZ1000R bottomed out
The YXZ1000R comes equipped with FOX 2.5 Podium shocks. Lindsey utilizes some of the 16-inches of travel in front and 17-inches out back.Photo by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha

The wet clutch in the YXZ should make sense to dirt bike enthusiasts. You’ll change fibers and metals instead of rubber belts and spyder gears. It keeps the Yamaha standard in quality and owning a YXZ shouldn’t get you in the dog house with your dirt bike friends. Rekluse clutch fans will rejoice as there is a model available with an auto-clutch as well.

YXZ1000R throwing roost
Throwing a sizable amount of roost is simple with the YXZ1000RPhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha

Most men and women will not have a problem reaching the gas pedal especially with the stock adjustable seats but at 5’3 I did have an issue using the full pull of the pedal (although Yamaha’s SXS media man, Van, may beg to differ) and I stole a motorhome pillow to boost me closer. Engineers and designers took note of this. An aftermarket seat from PRPseats.com will easily resolve the driver height issue if need be. The clutch and brake pedals were reachable, which were key when following too closely to less experienced Glamis drivers struggling up dunes. There are disc brakes on all four wheels and a mechanical emergency brake. Downshifting with actual engine braking, gives the Yamaha a very dirt-bike-like feel.

YXZ1000R in third gear
YXZ1000R climbs sand dunes with easePhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha

The Fox Shox that comes stock on the machine are fully adjustable and compression can be set to make the ride smoother in rough terrain. We took the YXZ1000R and pinned it into the sand whoops at 70 mph and the suspension stayed consistent and the machine went straight throughout the bumps.

Starting at $19,799.00, the insanely fun sequential shifting side-by-side will cost you a pretty penny. However, the biggest downsides to this machine is that it does not have a low gear, so those who wish to play on tight, technical, and gnarly terrain may find that this isn’t the best option as a family rock-crawler. Still, this machine would make a good chase vehicle for a long-distance motorcycle ride, since it could carry water, snacks, extra fuel and spare parts in its 300 lb-capacity cargo bed. While we will never give up two-wheels for four, we wouldn’t mind adding this to our garage of off-road toys.

2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R in blue.
2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R in bluePhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R in blue.
2016 Yamaha YXZ1000RPhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R, Special Edition
2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R, Special EditionPhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R, Special Edition interior view
2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R, Special Edition interiorPhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
Yamaha 60th Anniversary badge
2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R Special Edition, 60th Anniversary badgePhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
Orange YXZ1000R
The Yamaha YXZ1000R is also available in OrangePhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
YXZ1000R front view cutaway
YXZ1000R front view cutawayPhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
YXZ1000R side view cutaway
YXZ1000R side view cutawayPhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
YXZ1000R engine
The three-cylinder, 998cc side-by-side enginePhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
YXZ1000R Special Edition model
YXZ1000R Special Edition modelPhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
YXZ1000R rear view
YXZ1000R rear view with Fox 2.5 Podium shocks.Photo by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
YXZ1000R with beadlocks
YXZ1000R Special Edition, 60th Anniversary model features bead lock rims.Photo by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R side view
2016 Yamaha YXZ1000R side viewPhoto by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
YXZ1000R front view
The YXZ1000R has an aggressive look.Photo by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
View from above the YXZ1000R
The YXZ1000R roof keeps you protected from the elements (sun, rain, snow), there are many GYTR accessories available for the machine including windshield, rear window, lights and more.Photo by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha
YXZ1000R in Glamis
After a full day of driving the YXZ1000R models in the desert heat, we still wanted more seat time in this exciting machine.Photo by Adam Campbell, Courtesy of Yamaha