Tactical Black Bear

Yamaha's Grizzly 700 Special Edition can hunt, will travel ...

I really like Yamaha’s 700 Grizzly, and its Tactical Black Special Edition is, well, truly special. I must admit I’m not sure how unbiased I am because of the great hunts and rides I’ve experienced on the Grizzly platform. Could it be that those hunts I fondly remember in Montana, the Sierra Nevadas and Texas are clouding my judgment?

Great Grizzly outings aside, this machine is the right choice for hunters who can appreciate the balance between solid construction and sophistication. It has high torque, electric power steering (EPS), steel racks, multi-function digital display, rider control and electronic fuel injection (EFI). It’s like your favorite bolt-action rifle topped with a tritium-powered Trijicon scope—solid and reliable, while making use of the latest technology.

The Grizzly employs Yamaha’s Ultramatic V-belt—a continuous variable transmission that utilizes a centrifugal clutch system that keeps belt tension constant, eliminating slipping at idle or slow speed. This means there are no worries about damaging components from leaving it in high range. The one-way sprag clutch provides all-wheel downhill engine braking in 4WD mode and reverse.

The Grizzly gives you control over how you want to brake, with a motorcycle style foot brake pedal for the rear and front brake on the right handle, plus additional rear brake control with the left handle. And the brakes are awesome. With discs at all four corners, the Griz stops like no other quad I’ve tested, but it gives you easy control over the amount of brake pressure you want to employ in a variety of riding conditions.

The Yamaha engineers also gave the rider control over how power is delivered to the wheels. You can operate the Grizzly in rear-wheel-drive only, which can be a lot of fun on the right surfaces; in four-wheel-drive, which works well for most mud and sand situations; and in four-wheel-drive with the differential gear locked for extreme conditions. Switching from two-wheel to four-wheel-drive involves a red button operated with the right thumb, which is well above the throttle lever but easy to reach. When the Grizzly is in two-wheel-drive, the button is out. You can push the button in on the fly for four-wheel-drive and then back out for two-wheel-drive as indicated on the display. This operation can be repeated as often as needed.

When conditions get extra dicey, the front differential lock is also available. Differential lock is engaged by flipping a thumb lever sideways over the red four-wheel-drive button to expose the yellow differential lock button. This prevents accidental engaging, which can diminish some steering capability because the differential is no longer differentiating and letting one wheel turn more than the other in corners. EPS helps compensate when the front differential is locked and provides another balance between assist and control. The Grizzly’s torque- and speed-sensitive

EPS provides maximum steering assist when needed, while providing less assist for better road feel and improved control at higher speeds.

Higher speeds are easy to achieve with the 686cc, four-stroke, liquid-cooled single-cylinder, single-overhead- cam engine. The power plant utilizes Yamaha’s fuel injection system, which provides excellent cold starts and adjusts for humidity, temperature and elevation up to 15,000 feet.

Hunters do a lot of riding in the dark, so the way the gear position is displayed works quite well. Illuminated letters H, L, N, R indicate which gear you’re in. These lights are also color-coded with red for reverse, green for neutral and yellow for low and high gears. Some ATVs with a similar style of shifter feel like you’re throwing gears on the old farm truck back home. Not so with the 700 Griz, which has a short shifter that’s easy to operate. The Grizzly also has a park gear position, which can be very important, especially on steep terrain. The headlights are plenty bright and operate well, but there are only two. A third headlight mounted on the handlebars would be nice for trail riding.

The steel racks on the 700 are textured powder coat on steel—straightforward and practical. There are mounting points for Yamaha accessories, but straps or ropes will work just fine for cargo and gear. The Griz also has a couple of watertight storage compartments. One has a twiston cap with gasket and is in the front right fender right next to the ignition key and 12V power point. The other is located under the seat next to the tool kit. These are handy compartments for electronics and other items you want to keep safe from water and dust.

Big torque, bulletproof drive train, tough cargo racks, great ground clearance and go-anywhere traction combined with EPS and EFI all in a Tactical Black matte finish make the 700 Grizzly 4x4 EPS Special Edition a bear that Will Hunt.