Yamaha Brings Back Zuma


OEM to unveil more new vehicles in September

Yamaha is using a two-pronged effort to unveil its 2008 models to dealers. Last month the company released information on its ATVs, off-road motorcycles, and scooters in 40 regional dealer meetings carried out by district managers. The OEM's national dealer meeting, to be held Sept. 10-12 in Orlando, Fla., will feature the new cruiser, streetbike and side-by-side vehicles in addition to the units revealed in June.

The biggest news to come from Yamaha's first wave of product introductions is the return of the peppy and popular Zuma scooter with a four-stroke engine. Peak horsepower, Yamaha claims, is comparable to that produced by the previous two-stroke.

The Zuma, updated to meet EPA emissions requirements after leaving the Yamaha lineup in 2006, joins the returning Vino Classic, C3, Vino 125, Majesty and Morphous scooters. Other early-release 2008 on-road vehicles include the YZF-R6S sportbike and the dual-purpose TW200. Yamaha's other dual-purpose machine, the XT225, didn't make the cut.

"We're hearing a lot of good things about the Zuma returning," says Yamaha spokesman Steve Nessl. "Without it, our share of [that 50cc market] was down so much. It took a huge hit. So to get it back — there are going to be a lot of guys happy about that."

Nessl remains tight-lipped about the missing XT225. The word is Yamaha may be planning to introduce a newly designed dual-sport machine at its September dealer meeting .

In the off-road segment, Yamaha introduced the TT-R110E, which takes the place of the TT-R90E. The 110 joins the returning TT-R230, TT-R125L/LE, WR450F, TT-R125E, TT-R50E, WR250F and PW50. Returning MX bikes include the YZ450F, YZ250F, YZ250, YZ125 and YZ85.

Nessl says switching the TTR-90 to a 110 was "based on consumer research and market conditions. Certainly, we all know what success Kawi has had with their 110," he quips.

Yamaha's four-wheel lineup for 2008 includes sport and utility ATVs. The big news here is the addition of the Raptor 250/SE/SE Custom, a 313 lb., five-speed, chain-driven unit Yamaha describes as a performance-pointed entry-level sport ATV.

"It's really in a class by itself, because everything else out there of a similar size is repurposed — something like a scooter engine in a utility chassis, and just a dog," Nessl says. "Those are fine for some entry-level riders, but if you've got an evolving sport ATV rider who wants to learn his or her way up through more aggressive and larger machines, then the Raptor 250 is a perfect wrung in that ladder."

The 250 joins the returning Raptor 700R, YFZ450, Wolverine 450 4x4, Raptor 350, Wolverine 350, Raptor 80 and Raptor 50. The Raptor 700R, YFZ450 and Wolverine 450 4x4 come in Special Edition (SE) trim for '08.

Yamaha's 2008 utility ATV line features two returning Big Bear units and an 11-member Grizzly family, led by the Grizzly 700 FI Auto, 4x4 EPS Ducks Unlimited Edition.

The Grizzly 350, 400, 450, 660 and 700 all are automatic 4x4 units. The 350 also comes with IRS (independent rear suspension). The 700 is fuel-injected and comes with electronic power steering.

The Big Bear 250 and Big Bear 400 IRS 4x4 return for '08. The Big Bear 400 IRS five-speed 4x4 Exploring will not.

"The Exploring Edition was a special-edition model, and went away like a number of other special editions," Nessl explains. "Some focus groups we did told us not to throw so many different types of models out there, so we went back and ultimately decided to focus more on our core models." — Guido Ebert