Yamaha Grizzly 450 Test Drive
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Ride along as I review the 2007 Yamaha Grizzly 450 while putting it through its paces over rugged terrain and high mountain trails.
Why Did I Pick the Grizzly 450?
It was time to buy my fourth ATV, so based on my 20 years of ATV ownership, riding style and experience, I pretty well knew what I needed and wanted in an all terrain vehicle.
Although several other makes and models would work for me, I chose the
Yamaha Grizzly 450
mainly for its reliability,
toughness, handling and maneuverability, all well proven by its predecessor the Kodiak 450. I often ride alone and can end up well over 10 miles from the nearest help, so I demand a reliable rig.
I live in the high Nevada desert about 10 miles East of Lake Tahoe. Here we see temperatures ranging from below zero to over 100 degrees, altitudes ranging from 4,000 to over 10,000 feet with snow, mud, lots of sand, dry washes, a few deep-water crossings and plenty of dirt and rocks of all sizes. You can see why I need a versatile, tough 4WD ATV.
My Yamaha Grizzly 450 was bought in November 0f 2006 for $6474 out the door, which included the $69 Warn 2.5 winch kit and mounting plate (uninstalled) and 24-month warranty promotions.
As I was given my delivery checkout by the dealer, I realized that there was really no difference between the Former Kodiak 450 and new Yamaha Grizzly 450, other than the name, colors and new 4 ply
On the way home from the dealer, I filled the gas tank (3.96 gal) and performed a thorough pre-ride check for my first ride the following day. Everything checked out ok, so the next day I rode out of my garage and onto the thousands of acres of public land nearby.
The bike had 3 tenths of an hour on it and 0 miles so I just knew something had to go wrong or break, so I stayed close to home. Surprisingly, everything worked just fine for the first 1.5 hour ride. The next day I rode for an additional 1.5 hours and, again, it performed flawlessly.
During my first two rides, I became confident enough to finally set out on a long hard ride by myself. Little did I know what I was in for! The ride originated from my house onto a dirt road that connected with several dry washes, steep grades and rugged ATV trails.
I put the bike through its paces on each while trying out the 4WD hi, low and 4X4 lock features, with a little side hill action thrown in. The bike did everything I wanted it to do, while remaining stable and comfortable.
About 10 miles from the house, I remembered a favorite ATV/Dirt Bike trail that was somewhat challenging, so away I went up a steep rocky trail to a very steep descent. About halfway down, I knew I was in big trouble.
The once friendly trail was partially washed out, rutted and had boulders blocking my narrow path. No place to turn around, too steep and winding to backup, no choice but to continue forward and try to get around the large rocks on a V shaped trail about as wide as my ATV.
As I rode, the bike became firmly wedged between a rock and the bank, so I shifted into 4X4, and low, but the bike did not instantly go into 4X4 so I had to spin the wheels back and forth to get engagement, still no traction, just a dented rear rim and scratched fender. At this point, 4X4 lock was my last hope (winch not installed yet)!
As with the 4WD, you have to drive a ways before the lock feature engages. This is almost impossible when you’re stuck. Somehow, by rocking and spinning the wheels, I got 4X4 lock to engage and managed to drive out over several hundred yards of almost impassable terrain to safety.
I have to say I was skeptical about moving to an automatic transmission after so many years of shifting. Not a problem with Yamaha’s V-belt auto. You can put it in 2WD high and ride easily to all but the most difficult of places.
4X4, low and lock are always standing by when you need them. Slow, fast, it doesn’t make any difference. The transmission gives you just what you want, right when you want it, smoothly and without hesitation or slack. The engine-braking feature is second to none. You can also start the bike in any gear by depressing the brake.
Parking Brake or Lack of
The Yamaha Grizzly 450 does not have a parking brake, which I would prefer over the standard park position on the shifter. Having both would be even better.
Auxiliary Pull Starter
Most new high performance ATVs for 2007 do not have an auxiliary starter. The Yamaha Grizzly 450 does include one and it could someday come in handy if your battery went dead or the starter failed and no one was around to assist. The bike will start in 2WD HI at about 8 mph with a push or rolling start.
4-wheel Independent Suspension
The 4-wheel independent suspension, with adjustable shocks, produces a comfortable, stable ride under most conditions. Steep side hills, however, do produce a feeling of rear wheel slipping, due to the articulating action of the suspension as it travels sideways while forming a firm grip on the hillside.
The Yamaha Grizzly 450 is supposed to have a ground clearance of 10.8 inches. I could measure only 9.7 inches at the center of the machine under the engine on level concrete.
The stock plastic A-arm protectors might stop some brush but are useless for rocks. The plastic skid plates only provide fair protection for occasional bottoming out. If you ride hard on rocky terrain, get a set of aftermarket A-Arm protectors and skid plate made for the Yamaha Grizzly 450.
Digital LCD Instrument Panel
The Yamaha Grizzly 450 instrument panel is well equipped with speedometer, odometer, dual trip meters, hour meter, 4WD status, transmission position indicators and clock. Nice setup, except when you accidentally leave the ignition key on, as I have done several times. Consequently, my hour meter now reads 20 hours more than is really on the bike. Leaving the key on overnight doesn’t drain the battery though.
After reaching 600 miles on the odometer, I checked the fuel economy on a 40 mile round trip. Elevations varied from 5000 to 7500 ft. Speeds ranged from 35 mph in 2WD Hi (for about 35 miles) to a crawl in 4WD Lo (for about 5 miles). The overall average for the round trip was 23.5 MPG. I figure my bike is good for about 80 miles on a full tank of gas. Expect less endurance on rugged 4WD trails and more on smoother 2WD surfaces.
New MAXXIS 4 ply tires are standard for 2007 on the Yamaha Grizzly 450, with AT25X8X12 in the front and AT25X10X12 for the rear. These tires are quite an improvement for OEM tires, namely a more aggressive tread pattern that includes side lugs and 4-ply construction. I found the ride to be really smooth with good traction when I needed it.
The Yamaha Grizzly 450 is a very low maintenance machine and the scheduled tasks are clearly spelled out in the Owners Handbook. Anyone with a little mechanical knowledge and a good tool kit can easily perform all periodic and preventative maintenance.
The 421cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke engine produces adequate power for most tasks, except for the deepest mud. The 4 wheel lock feature has virtually saved my butt several times.
The 4-wheel independent suspension takes the fatigue out of long rides. The ultramatic transmission performs like no automatic I have ever driven, it seems to read your mind and automatically delivers just what you need. The noise level is reasonable with very low vibration. The fuel economy is fair to good.
The seat cushion could be a little softer. Turning radius, handling and stability are all excellent. If you take good care of this ATV, it should give years of dependable service.
The bottom line, the decision to buy a Yamaha Grizzly 450 was definitely the right one.
I’ve now owned the Grizzly 450 for five years with almost 3,000 miles hard riding under my belt. Mechanically the bike is still in excellent shape and I’ve had no problems with it at all. Now and then I think about moving up to a newer Grizzly 800 or even the Grizzly 500. But when I think of not having the backup pull starter and what little I would be gaining for my style riding, forget it. I’ll stick with the 450, probably for the rest of my life!
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