New Model Preview – Return of the Raptor

New Model Preview – Return of the Raptor much as we enjoy climbing up a rocky trail or slogging through a muddy pond on a utility ATV, we’ll always be sport riders at heart. The challenge of shifting up through the gears, pitching your machine around a corner, or sailing off a jump is more intense on a sport machine, and we really like how a great sport machine can challenge your skills as much as the trail. Nothing else can match the power to weight ratio and acceleration, especially if you’re on a healthy 450cc machine, or better yet, Yamaha’s Raptor 700.

Raptor Love

The Raptor has been our favorite dune machine since it was introduced, and there’s nothing better for all day rides in the sand. We’ve yet to find a hill it can’t climb, and the torque of the Raptor 700 is amazing. It simply refuses to stall and it can even make you a little lazy if you don’t feel like shifting. About all you need to do is pick your favorite gear and point it at the next challenge: the Raptor 700 engine will take care of everything else. That’s not to say it won’t rev, however, because it will build instant RPMs with every stab at the throttle thanks to a well calibrated EFI system. We’ve also found the Raptor 700 engine to be extremely reliable, and ordinary maintenance tasks such as filter cleanings and oil changes are easily done as a result of its thoughtful design. In fact, when it was introduced the Raptor set a new standard with its ground breaking design, but Yamaha has continually upgraded it along the way. For 2015 the mighty Raptor 700 gets another round of updates all aimed to increasing its performance. Changes for 2015

  • New 22” front tire with different tread pattern for more precise feel and handling, and smoother suspension reaction over bumps

  • New shock settings front and rear with slightly longer travel, stiffer spring rate, and increased compression and rebound damping

  • Redesigned head and exhaust port

  • New piston and connecting rod for increased power and higher compression ratio. Still capable of regular pump gas.

  • New stainless steel exhaust head pipe with painted steel silencer

  • New cam profiles for quick revving

  • Redesigned counterbalance shafts to match other motor changes

  • 10% power increase, most noticeable off bottom and through mid-range

  • 8% better fuel economy from more precise EFI calibration

The Fun Factor

One thing Yamaha has continually refined through the years has been the Raptors ergonomics. From the moment you climb aboard the Raptor 700R, you’re immediately won over by its excellent, natural feel. The narrow tank is perfect for sport riding, the seat offers an aggressive position for charging ahead yet is comfortable for all day trail rides, and the handlebars are exactly where they should be. Generous spacing between the foot pegs and seat means even riders over 6 feet tall won’t feel cramped, and seating position is more upright as compared to its racy stable mate, the YFZ 450R. The real pleasure from the Raptor 700 comes when you fire it up, however.2015.yamaha.raptor700.close-up.front-suspension.JPG

A throaty exhaust note lets you both hear and feel the engine which stands ready to squash any and all challengers, and there’s no mistaking the sound from the Raptors big single cylinder engine. We’ve always liked the 686cc, liquid-cooled, EFI equipped, SOHC engine. Vibration is non-existent thanks to dual, counter rotating, counter-balancers and it has gobs of power everywhere in the powerband. Even though the engine has immense torque, it’s still easy to control and you can practically run across the dunes in any gear with no fear of stalling. Yamaha gave the Raptor 700 engine a forged lightweight piston, connecting rod and crankshaft for ultimate durability and it will rev to 9000 rpms with no complaints. Our only complaint is the motor is a little heavy, but it’s still an enormously fun power plant. While the weight didn’t really change for 2015, the fun factor has been bumped up again thanks to the extra power. Yamaha knows how to throw a party and a roost, but it wouldn’t be the same without a great handling chassis!

Metal Masters

In rough sections, the Raptor 700 tracks extremely well due to a suspension geometry that is very similar to the championship winning YFZ 450R, and that suspension works! At both the front and rear of the machine the fully adjustable shocks can be dialed in for any terrain or riding style. At the rear is a cast aluminum swingarm with an eccentric-style carrier for easier chain adjustment, a familiar linkage, and a twin piston brake with a large diameter piston and an oversized pad for excellent stopping power. The main frame of the Raptor 700 is a unique hybrid of steel and aluminum members designed to flex like a steel chassis yet offer the weight saving characteristics of an aluminum frame. When it was introduced we had serious reservations about cast aluminum frame members, but Yamaha has more than proven their mastery of the casting process, and the chassis is extremely reliable. The chassis flexes where needed, and it still remains light, rideable, and not overly stiff which would beat up the rider. One feature we really like is how the bodywork fills in the void below the easy access air box and above the swing arm for a very clean look. About the only drawback to the bodywork is the rear fenders which are a little pointy at the back end and we sometimes snag our boot on it while getting on. Front suspension on the Raptor 700 relies on traditional dual A-arms but it’s the shocks that make up a major difference between the three Raptor models. The standard model Raptor shocks get threaded, 5-way preload adjustment and 9.1 inches of wheel travel, while the 700R and 700 SE get shocks with High/Lo-speed compression, rebound and threaded preload

Top of the Hill

What the great motor, its high-tech, hybrid chassis, and excellent ergonomics package all add up to is an outstanding machine that is huge fun. Just like its championship winning brother – the YFZ 450R – it’s so well designed that it feels completely natural and that makes them both easy to ride. Yamaha has one other great feature built into the 2015 Raptor 700 though; even with another round of updates the price has not been increased, and that’s a win for everybody!

When it comes time to hit the dunes or trails, we’re looking for power in a great handling package and that means the Yamaha Raptor 700R. Whether in standard trim or equipped with the Special Edition package, we’re convinced the Raptor 700R is the best ATV ever built for the dunes, desert, or for play riding. It’s been the perfect power and play machine since it was introduced, and for 2015 the Yamaha Raptor 700 just got better.
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January 20, 2015

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