2017 Yamaha YXZ1000R SE2 Review

May. 24, 2017 By Rick Sosebee
Yamaha invited us to test drive its new YXZ1000R SE2 special edition model at Stony Lonesome OHV.

Making pure sport as universal as it can be, Yamaha has developed a second special edition YXZ1000R for 2017. With a new color combination, Sport Shift (paddle shifted) transmission, Fox 2.5 X2 shocks (w/limitless adjustments) and interior upgrades among the list of features, this new YXZ is looking sharp.

Our ride location for this unique and powerful off-road vehicle was Stony Lonesome OHV in Bremen, Alabama. This is our first trip to the riding area even though it is not too far from home. The path before us was boulder-filled mountainous terrain that includes tight trails and steep climbs that you’ll eventually have to come back down, all of which is located in middle Alabama. Luckily the YXZ1000R had a secret weapon hidden in the gear case in the form of Yamaha’s GYTR TAG, or Torque Assist Gearing kit, which helped make the vehicle ready for battle.

RELATED: Yamaha YXZ1000R Torque Assist Gearing Review

The YXZ1000R looks really clean, and it certainly stands out from the the rest of the lineup.

When we first laid eyes on the new Matte Grey YXZ1000R SE2 in person we thought it was stunning, and the Steel Blue color of the frame, rim bead rings, shock springs and graphics really complete the two-tone scheme. The sun top is made of a grey material to closely match the graphics on the ride. The grey graphics really look like a dark brushed aluminum, and the matte finish means those branches in the tightest trails will have to work hard to leave scuffs on the plastics. The high-back seating in the newest YXZ also has colored panels to correspond with all of the other accents but that isn’t the end of this machines features. Digging a little deeper into the Special Edition features you will find many items in the interior of the YXZ.


Yamaha has added a wide-convex rearview mirror to the cab of YXZ for those who like to look back, as well as interior lighting for the night-riding enthusiast. Looking to the floor of the ride you will notice the cast-aluminum pedals with a little more grip built right in, and there’s a custom-painted shift knob as well. Stepping out and to the rear of the YXZ SE2 you will notice that Yamaha has added a different rear skid plate made of HWM-PE that the company says is tested stronger than previous versions. The rear suspension knuckles are also built of aluminum to help reduce weight. Lastly, there’s one more single feature that can change how and where you ride with just a little adjustment. Yamaha has included the FOX 2.5 X2 Internal bypass shocks to this Special Edition, and with many rugged trails waiting for us we’d have time to tweak these mechanical marvels to our comfort zone.

An available Warn winch can help get the YXZ1000R SE2 out of a jam.

Yamahas accessory group had also joined us at Stony Lonesome and they had outfitted each machine with even more goodies. Here is a break down of what was added to the newest Special Edition for our ride: Rear Cargo Box; Helmet Hangers; Interior Padding kit; Front Grab Bar, that’s winch ready; Rear Grab Bar; Composite A-Arm Guards, front and rear; Steel Braided Brake Lines, front and rear; WARN - Yamaha Pro-Vantage Winch; EFX MotoClaw 30-inch tires; Torque Assist Gearing Kit (TAG).

 The larger EFX MotoClaw 30-inch tires really provide additional grip on the tight trails of Stoney Lonesome.

From our first ride with a TAG kit in 2016, Yamaha has broadened the spectrum for this machine. Calling their segment “Pure Sport,” they might have first been shoehorned into the desert with such a high-strung, long-legged rig. But the YXZ1000R TAG we drove last year showed the company had broader plans for the YXZ1000R prior to the vehicle ever hitting the market, and the Torque Assist Gear Kit was thrust onto the scene. This single add-on takes the YXZ from a dune-blasting funhouse to one of the most intense rock crawling, tight trail riding off road rigs in the industry. It also added the YXZ to many more “wish lists” at the dealerships across the USA.

The TAG kit is not included in the SE2 package, but Yamaha did have it equipped in our machine just to showcase the ability gained with its installation when coupled with the Sport Shift feature of YXZ. Let’s not kid ourselves: this is not a cheap add-on at $1300+ install, but if you live in the mountains, want a high-spirited custom climber that pegs the limiter at 10,500 rpm I’d say it’s worth it.

An available GPS unit helps keep track of the trails.

The time came to really get the YXZ1000R SE2 onto the trails. Putting the power to the ground were 30-inch EFX MotoClaw tires, which allowed us to get up and over many of the massive rock-filled trails. The tires are massive but weren’t a deficit in overall speed or performance loss. The YXZ would still get up on the pipe and roll out the trail, and for a 10-inch wide 8-ply tire they were surprisingly comfortable.

Twisting through the tightest trails at Stoney Lonesome can be a little tough, but we were able to challenge our machine to many sections that did not seem possible. Slipping through the gears in this Sport Shift is so fun that it becomes natural. I did notice that first gear at a 70 percent total reduction was like a granny gear in an old Chevy pickup. It’s great for slow crawls and tough situations, but I did find myself looking for second gear quite often. It seems that the engine needs to get into about 5000 rpm before it will allow the change to second gear. Engine braking is also very good, as the clutch engages when it senses downhill speed increasing and the throttle at complete closed position. It also gradually drops the gearing back into first as the machine slows when the operator forgets the task. This is a great feature that protects your investment for you. 

The adjustability of the FOX X2 internal bypass shocks are a huge plus on this machine.

After our initial ride to familiarize ourselves with the trails and new YXZ1000R SE2, it was time to begin the adjustments to tailor our ride a little more to our riding style. Back at an event in Sand Hollow I had the opportunity to ride YXZ SE1 and feel the drastic changes that can be made in the FOX XC internal bypass shocks exactly like the ones on our ride here at Stoney Lonesome. I had remembered that my favorite setting was affectionately known as the “comfort setting” by FOX/Yamaha.

After only a mere inquiry to do so, Yamaha’s Pat Biolsi and his right-hand man Matthew Barr kindly adjusted my shocks and it was time to get right back to the action. Immediately I noticed the difference in the form of a little softer connection to the ground around me, but it was confirmed when my buddy Tyler, riding shotgun, said, “You must have the comfort setting on this one.” It’s pretty overwhelming trying to understand how a human mind can come up with such an innovative shock experience, but I do know it works well and the FOX 2.5 XC internal bypass shocks do make a difference in the right direction of this mountain climber.

We’re impressed with the crawling ability of the YXZ1000R SE2.

Overall the YXZ1000R SE2 is not that different from the original YXZ1000R SE1, and we have experienced the TAG kit before but that machine was the original clutch-operated YXZ. The biggest difference is that in this Sport Shift model I can see many more drivers falling in love with the technology. The launch control with YXZ Sport shift still makes a great addition when you are challenged, and just to know that I could have a bad-ass-looking performer of a machine with the ability to go almost anywhere means that I might consider this one even more closely when the time is right. The 2017 Yamaha YXZ1000R SE2 will have a manufacturers suggested retail price of $22,699.

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