Last year Yamaha introduced the Grizzly 450 with EPS and we were impressed. The new Grizzly fit in perfectly with its larger brothers which are still sales leaders, offering many of the same features in a slightly smaller, more affordable package.
To keep weight down, Yamaha redesigned the chassis but it’s still got the mandatory basics such as dual A-arms up front, Independent Rear Suspension, and plenty of ground clearance. Front disc brakes are used on the Grizzly 450 but at the rear is a sealed brake system. Thankfully, in addition to the tough, underbody composite skid plate, the CV boots have been given a new protective shield also. That’s great because nothing destroys a CV joint quicker than a ripped boot.
The engine on the Grizzly 450 EPS is a reliable, 4-stroke, 421cc liquid-cooled, SOHC design. Rather than EFI, Yamaha uses a 33mm Mikuni carb on this engine to help control costs. Electric start is standard and a gear-driven crankshaft balancer and rubber mounts keep vibration to a minimum. Even the CVT air intake was designed to keep grit out, and the engine gets a large capacity radiator as well as a stainless steel exhaust. The CVT is Yamaha’s Ultramatic system which uses a centrifugal clutch paired with a one-way sprag clutch to control engine braking. The advantage is constant belt tension and longer belt life. The most noticeable mechanical feature, though, is the Electronic Power Steering which makes all day rides a breeze!
On the trail, the new Grizzly 450 EPS feels nimble and confidence inspiring. It was easy to maneuver through the trees and the suspension feels good for normal riding. Only when we really pushed it did the suspension get a little bouncy, and the Maxxis tires are a good match for the available power. The slightly smaller chassis is comfortable, and the engine is predictable yet has enough power to conquer hills or tow a trailer, and it’s well matched to the chassis. We think the Yamaha Grizzly 450 EPS offers a lot of comfort, usability, rideability, and value whether for the homeowner, the trail rider, or the sportsman. It’s our pick as Best 450cc Class Utility ATV of 2011.