Yamaha Unveils Grizzly 550 FI

Yamaha dealers have long waited for a utility quad in the 500cc class. Well, the wait is over: introducing the 2009 Grizzly 550 FI with electric power steering. It's the highlight of the new and updated ATVs and side-by-sides Yamaha announced today on its Web site. Also brand new is the Raptor 90. Receiving upgrades are the Grizzly 450, Raptor 700R and Rhino.

Brother Bear
Based on the Grizzly 700 FI platform, the Grizzly 550 FI shares many of its features. In fact, good Yamaha salespeople have almost enough ingrained knowledge to sell it already. The two models share the following:

  • electric power steering (a version without EPS is also available),
  • full stainless-steel exhaust system with a rubber-mounted muffler,
  • Yamaha's Ultramatic transmission with its well-regarded engine braking,
  • a direct drive shaft
  • an under-the-seat fuel tank for a lower center of gravity
  • Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI) that compensates for a range of altitudes
  • WideArc front A-arm suspension for more usable ground clearance
  • front and rear suspension with five-way preload adjustable shocks
  • four-wheel hydraulic disc brakes with separate front and rear controls
  • sealed storage in the fender and under the seat, and
  • the On-Command push-button that lets riders switch between 2WD, limited-slip 4WD and fully-locked-differential 4WD.

  • Yamaha reshaped the thumb throttle control on both the 700 and 550. The company claims the new shape improves feel and reduces fatigue.

    The 550's digital meter has a speedometer, an odometer, dual trip meters, a clock, an hour meter, a four-wheel-drive indicator, a transmission position indicator, a fuel gauge, and a self-diagnostic and actuator system.

    Yamaha describes the 6-inch-thick seat as being "superplush."

    The 558cc engine is also based on the Grizzly 700's (itself based on the Raptor's), so it gets roller rocker arms, a cylinder coated with a ceramic composite, and a forged-aluminum piston. Yamaha reduced the bore to 92 mm and designed a new intake and exhaust ports. In comparison to the 700's engine, the company claims to have improved throttle response and the proportion of bottom-end power.

    Yamaha also gave the 550 a new air filter layout, reportedly mounting it as high as possible and adding a water trap. Also new are centrally located CVT intake/exhaust ducts. An improved gate-style shifter has new ratios for easier engagement and operation, and left-hand operation makes for easy shift and throttle control. Improved durability comes about through stronger polyethylene CV boot material and new A-arm guards.

    According to Yamaha, the Grizzly 550 has a dry weight of 600 lbs., 11.8 inches of ground clearance, and front and rear rack capacities of 99 lbs. and 187 lbs., respectively. MSRP is $7,599 ($6,999 for the non-EPS version). The 550 will hit showrooms in August.

    Among the name brands, the 550 will compete with the Honda Foreman 500 EPS, Polaris Sportsman 500 EFI, Arctic Cat 500 4x4 Automatic M4, Can-Am Outlander 500 H.O. EFI, and KYMCO MXU 500.

    The Grizzly 660 has been discontinued. Across the Yamaha utility line, the standard red color has been dropped in favor of a new black metallic.

    The new 550 is the big news on the utility front, but Yamaha also reworked the 2009 Grizzly 450. It gets the following updates:

  • front-end styling inspired by the Grizzly 700
  • sealed inner fender storage, also like the 700, and
  • a thicker, flatter seat shape (thickness goes from 136 mm to 156 mm).

  • Revamped 700R, Brand-New Raptor 90
    Turning to the sporty side of the market, Yamaha updates the Raptor 700R with what the company claims is the first digital meter on a Sport Quad. The meter has a speedometer, dual trip meters, an odometer, a clock, warning indicators and full diagnostic capabilities. Yamaha also revised the 700R's front and cowl and styling.

    New 700R front shocks have a 5-mm-longer stroke, and come with high- and low-speed compression damping adjusters. Yamaha claims to have improved the shocks' comfort settings, and to have made it easier to adjust the knobs.

    The 700R also gets the new thumb throttle shape found on the Grizzly 550/700.

    The Raptor 700R Special Edition model comes in new black/burgundy graphics and has a new grab bar, heel guards and wave-style rear brake disc.

    Typically only adult ATVs like the Raptor 700R get regular styling updates. But now kids can ride a Yamaha sport ATV strikingly similar to Dad's. Modeled after the 700R, the 2009 Raptor 90 is new from the ground up. Replacing the Raptor 80, it has the following features:

  • a fully automatic CVT transmission
  • an 88cc force-air-cooled engine
  • integrated full floorboards
  • low-profile Maxxis tires
  • double A-arm front suspension with 4.4 inches of travel and five-way preload adjustable shocks
  • a molded front grab bar like the 700R?s
  • swing arm rear suspension with 3.3 inches of travel (also with the five-way preload adjustable shocks)
  • a hydraulic rear disc brake
  • dual-sealed drum front brakes, and (importantly for parents)
  • an adjustable CDI rev limiter (4,800 rpm in restricted mode and 8,000 rpm in unrestricted mode).

  • In comparison, the now-defunct Raptor 80 had a three-speed gearbox with an automatic clutch, was regularly air-cooled, had leading-arm front suspension with only 2.3 inches of travel, and had only foot pegs and drum brakes. Swing arm suspension was in the rear, but travel was only 2.2 inches. So travel overall was about half.

    The base model will be available in black and white with two graphic kits: red flames aimed toward boys and a pink design aimed toward girls. Yamaha says these kits can be swapped out easily. A version in the standard blue and white will also be available.

    Pricing starts at $2,299, significantly lower than the Raptor 80's $2,599 MSRP. Part of the reason for this decrease in price despite the increase in features is that the Raptor 90 is being made in Taiwan to Yamaha's standards.

    All 2009 Yamaha sport ATVs will be available in white. Returning for 2009 are the Wolverine 450 4x4, the Wolverine 350 2WD and the Raptor 350.

    Rhino: Early Release Date, New Engine
    Yamaha dealers will be happy to learn that Rhinos will begin shipping this year in late June, early July. This compares to the traditional September/October shipping dates.

    The Rhino's all-new engine has a forged-aluminum piston and a four-valve cylinder head based on the Grizzly's. The crankshaft has been moved 20 mm lower in the engine cases for a lower center of gravity. Displacement is unchanged from last year at 686cc.

    Yamaha claims that less friction is achieved via fewer moving parts, roller rocker arms and a cylinder plated with a ceramic composite.

    The engine is also lighter, says Yamaha, thanks to a 24-percent-lighter cylinder, a 22-percent-lighter camshaft, and a four-valve system weighing 21 percent less than the previous five-valve system.

    Yamaha engineers relocated the air filter using a new under-the-hood mount, reportedly decreasing intake noise.

    Turning to the 2009 Special Edition Rhinos, Yamaha has unveiled a brushed-silver Sport Edition with the following added features: piggyback shocks, cast-aluminum wheels, a Baja front grab bar, a sport sun top, bed rails, a steering wheel cover, a shift knob, and LED taillights. Coming soon are a Red Mid-Night Armor Sport Edition, a Red Special Edition and a Black Metallic Special Edition.

    Yamaha will limit production of Rhino custom pain body kits to 200 for each style: Real Fire, Blue Flame and Silver/Red Torn.

    With customers interested in the American-made label, salespeople may want to mention that the Yamaha Rhino is designed, engineered, built and tested in Newnan, Ga.