What Makes the Yamaha Grizzly One of the Best Utility ATVs

March 26th, 2014
Yamaha grizzly

photo via Yamaha Motorsports

grizzly storage

photo via Yamaha Motorsports

If you are shopping for utility ATVs, then the range of Yamaha Grizzly models could be just what you are looking for. These ATVs have features that make them very easy to handle and ride, which makes putting the vehicle to work much easier. When considering utility ATV features, here are some that the Yamaha Grizzly has to offer.

Transmission and Gear Selection

Having to change gears while performing tasks on your utility ATV can be frustrating. Yamaha Grizzlys have Constantly Variable Transmission (CVT), which makes it easier to ride. The driver simply selects forward or reverse gear, and there is a convenient throttle for controlling the speed with the thumb. CVT provides optimal power at different speeds, without having to change gears. In certain Grizzly models, there are additional High and Low forward gears for tackling tougher terrains and managing higher tow loads.

The Grizzly models even have a device that provides reliable all-wheel braking while going downhill.

Easy Switching Between 2WD and 4WD

Even though 2WD is adequate for general use, you need the extra power of 4WD when you are travelling over difficult terrain or managing difficult tasks on your quad. Grizzly models provide the easiest way of switching between 2WD and 4WD, by simply pushing a red button on the right handlebar. In 4WD mode, you have the option of choosing differential for allowing the front wheel to move at different speeds, and to also lock the differential to reduce the risk of slipping on difficult terrain.

grizzly suspension

photo via Yamaha Motorsports

Suspensions

The front suspension on most Grizzly models is double A-arms adjustable type, which optimizes control over the steering wheels for excellent handling. Each wheel moves independently, providing the best traction. For the rear, certain models have Independent Rear Suspension (IRS), which allows each wheel to not only move independently, but also to track the surface, providing a softer ride in the worst terrains.

Electric Power Steering

The Electric Power Steering (EPS) on the Grizzly helps to reduce physical effort required for steering, and dampens the kickbacks from stones and bumps. The EPS is an intelligent system that is able to measure the input force of steering against vehicle speed and tire resistance, and feeds the required power to the steering via an electric motor. This system also reduces torque required for steering the ATV in 4WD mode with differential lock.

Storage, Carrying, and Towing

All Grizzly models have various types of storage solutions, including under seat compartments and watertight lockers. The rack on the Grizzly will vary in size depending on the model, and the biggest ones are able to carry a maximum load of 85 kg. The rack design incorporates vertical stops that prevent your loads from sliding. All Grizzly models over 300 cc have a mounting point for fitting the tow ball. The towing capacity will vary between models, and the highest capacity is 600 kg.

Tips for Maintaining Your ATV Transmission

March 13th, 2014
ATV trail

photo via Philip and Karen Smith (Iconica), GettyImages

The function of the transmission is to transfer the rotational power of the engine to the drive shaft, which rotates your tires. This is an important function, but since the components of an ATV transmission are quite complex, maintenance is a challenge for most people. There are two types of transmissions on ATVs - manual and automatic - and here are a few tips that will help you with the maintenance job.

Maintaining Manual Transmission

With manual transmission, you shift gears with the clutch, so most of the maintenance will be focused on the smooth operation of this clutch. When your clutch pedal starts to seem closer to the floor or feels stiff, then it’s time for some adjustments or to replace the clutch (depending on the severity of the problem). Most clutches have an adjusting mechanism, which is usually located on one side of the transmission bell housing. The service manual of your ATV will have a section on the clutch, which will mention the adjustments. For maintaining the gearbox, you only need to change the transmission oil, usually once in two years, or depending on vehicle usage.

Maintaining Automatic Transmission

For automatic transmission, it is important to check the quality and level of transmission oil regularly. The quality of the oil will provide a clue to the condition of your transmission. When your transmission is in optimum condition, the color of the oil will be bright red; whereas in a bad transmission, the color would have turned to a dirty dark red. In a worn out transmission, the oil will have a strong odor of rust, which you will not find in a well-maintained transmission.

Check the transmission oil level, to make sure it is between the high and “add” mark. It is best to check the level of oil in the transmission pump when the engine is not running. Mark this level, and then run your ATV engine. The oil level should drop from about  3/8ths to half an inch as soon as the engine is fired. This drop will show that your transmission pump is working correctly. It is important that you top or replace the transmission oil with one that is recommended by the manufacturer in your manual. If you use the wrong type of oil, you could do some serious damage to your transmission.

Change the Filter

It is usually recommended to change the transmission oil once in two years; however, you might have to do it earlier, depending on the mileage of your vehicle, or the state of your transmission. Whenever you do the transmission oil change, always change the filter as well.

Usually, a filter will be included in the package when you purchase the pan gasket, which has to be removed during the oil change. Different ATV models will have different ways of changing the transmission oil. The service manual will have all the information you need for performing the oil change, and if you have misplaced your manual, try to get one online.

ATV Tire Tools for Your Off-Road Adventures

March 3rd, 2014

Because I work close to an ATV trail, riders often stop in to ask directions, have a picnic, or just answer the call of nature.  Last summer a group pulled in, and one of the riders was in a panic - no, more like a frenzy - and from the way he was sweating, I thought for certain someone had died.  Nope!  He had just run over a stick and punctured his right front ATV tire.  He explained that his quad was still on the trail and that he had rode that last several miles on the back of his wife’s four-wheeler.  That probably explains why he was so distressed.

It only took us twenty minutes to repair his punctured tire but the real problem was having to ride back up the trail to get to his machine.  The first thing I did when we finished up that evening was to make sure I had a good assortment of tools for the tires on my own machine.

Tire Tools for the Trail

atv luggage and tools

photo via mtneer_man, Flickr

Each time you head into the backcountry, or on any trail for that matter, there is a chance you’ll experience some sort of malfunction, even with one of your tires.  I’m here to tell you that no matter what your machine is rolling on, even the most rugged ATV all terrain tires, something can go wrong.  Here are some items to consider packing in your on-board tool box so that you aren’t caught flat.

Tire Repair Kit
These are great for punctures or flats.  The kits come loaded with a variety of items to fix various problems.  Most kits are stocked with a rasp, insertion took, plugs, patches, rubber cement, cutting blade and CO2 cartridges.  Everything you’ll need to get back on the trail quickly and safely.

Portable Air Compressor
For as little as $30, these handy devices bring tires to the right pressure until you have a chance to make permanent fixes back at home.

Pressure Gauge
Believe it or not, most riders have far too much air in their tires, ultimately compromising performance, safety, and the life of the tire.

Lug Wrench
If you ever do need to remove a tire, it won’t be possible without one of these.

Chains
Although these aren’t a tool, they help with traction and performance in certain terrain and can even serve other purposes if necessary.

Tire Tools for the Shop

atv shop

photo via mtneer_man, Flickr

For the do-it-yourselfers and shade tree mechanics of the world, there are many tire tools to help you perform maintenance in the convenience of your own workshop.  Just remember, if you plan on doing your own ATV tire maintenance, always practice safety first.  Oh, and be sure that no kids are around to hear you swear when you smash your fingers.

This list spotlights some common items to help you get the job done:

Beadbreaker
Many varieties of this tool exist, find the one that works best for your needs.

Tire Changer
For around $150 this item seems a bit pricey, but not if you ride a lot or make frequent switches from sand tires to racing tires to mud tires.

Tire Iron or Spoon
A necessity for any workshop, you’ll probably use this versatile tool more than any other.

Valve Remover
This small tool gets overlooked until you need one.

Tread Cutter
What?  Why would anybody want a tread cutter?  Simple, when those big traction bars on a set of Maxxis Bighorns begin to wear, you can cut away the rounded corners for improved gripping action.

Jack
The beauty of seeing your $10,000 ATV sitting upon an old cinder block or an upturned bucket is certainly hard to beat, but go ahead and invest in a jack - you’ll thank me later.

Bead Seating Tank
Usually a five gallon air tank, this tool is designed to help you get air into those hard-to-fill tubeless tires.

Bead Starter Strap
I wish I had a dollar for every time I needed one of these portable devices.  The amount of time and frustration they save is amazing.

Tire Maintenance is Important

It’s really easy to overlook the little things like checking pressure, replacing leaky valves, dry rot, or rotations.  It is recommended that you check your ATV tires each time you service your machine.  And if you take the proper tools with you on the trail, you’ll never have to ride on the back of your wife’s four-wheeler and come to my office in a frenzied panic!