2013 Yamaha Tactical Black Rhino 700 1st Ride 0
Yamaha makes a big effort to maintain its Outdoors segment and the Rhino 700 is right at the heart of its product line. For 2013 the Japanese giant hasn’t changed its side-by-side formula, but it did give the Rhino a sinister overhaul for 2013 with the Tactical Black Special Edition model. Yammie selected Gunsite Academy as a chance to demonstrate to the ATV/UTV media how effective the Rhino can be for persons outside of our regular motorsports mindset. To showcase the new look, Yamaha gave us a chance to sample the Rhino at the famous defensive training facility where the tactical theme extended from the driver’s seat onto the gun range.
Access to the great outdoors is one of the great luxuries afforded to Americans. The diversity of terrain and activities means there’s something for everyone and side-by-sides are one of the best ways for any outdoorsman to get out and enjoy themselves. The ease of use afforded by automobile-style controls and the ability to carry extra passengers and loads of gear make them perfect off-road companions for hunters, campers, land managers, etc.
Why Tactical Black? Because it’s badass! The motorsports industry has no shortage of examples that going black is a popular trend these days. The murdered-out Rhino has a high-quality paint scheme that swathes the O.G. recreational utility vehicle with a durable black sheen. Yamaha blacked out everything on the Tactical Special Edition and gave it fully adjustable piggyback shocks and one-piece cast aluminum wheels. The result is a stealthy two-person ride that any SWAT team would be happy to use for cruisin’ and bruisin’.
“Yamaha is more involved in the outdoors than any other ATV manufacturer and has developed the new Tactical Black Special Edition Grizzly and Rhino models based on the fast growing tactical enthusiast trend,” said ATV/SxS group marketing manager, Steve Nessl.
Gunsite Academy is located in Paulden, AZ which is right next to Prescott, home to one of America’s top gun makers. Ruger co-opted on the project by providing its SR-556 rifle and SR9c pistol. See the sidebar and additional video for more info. Our Rhinos were heavily seasoned with accessories from the Yamaha catalog geared at toting guns along for the ride.
The Rhino uses a 686cc liquid-cooled single-cylinder engine with fuel injection and an automatic transmission. The Ultramatic tranny design has high and low range, plus reverse. A hand-operated parking brake keeps it secure when it isn’t scouting the next hunting spot, cruising dunes, hauling camping gear or trail-running. Most recreational UTVs use a Twin engine of some variation, making the Rhino’s big Single an anomaly. Top speed is moderate compared to some sport UTVs and the Rhino won’t win many drag races. However, the Yamaha is equipped with one of the best mechanical features an SxS can have in our opinion. A centrifugal clutch allows the CVT transmission to maintain constant belt tension for longer wear and improved throttle response in low-rpm situations. Crawling over technical terrain is easy to do with good pedal modulation and we love not having to worry about burning up belts. It was an ideal setup for patrolling through one of Gunsite’s low-speed drive-and-shoot simulations.
Driving the Rhino is smooth and fun. Ground clearance is a respectable 12.1 inches which make it easy to straddle debris without smashing it up. A-arm guards and underbelly protection provide some level of security for when it can’t be avoided. The 75.2-inch wheelbase allows it to be very nimble, easily navigating tight washes as we explored from one shooting range to another. Abrupt corners are no problem with a turning radius of 153.5 inches. The Tactical Special Edition feels light on its feet and can switch quickly from 2WD to 4WD with the push of a button. Selecting 4WD also allows the driver to access a locked front differential if desired. We never had a use for it on the well-maintained trails at Gunsite, but in flashflood territory it’s reassuring to have.
The seats are comfortable and ergonomics work well for our 5’11” tester. The steering wheel is not adjustable and feels pretty far away when first climbing into the cockpit. Once underway, the reach and angle of the wheel prove to be very effective. The dash is laid out for easy access and the digital computer provides an array of LCD information.
Our load was pretty light as we played G.I. Joe for the week, but the Rhino can haul up to 400 pounds in its dump bed. A standard 2-inch hitch receiver will tow up to 1200 pounds which makes it more than capable of getting weekend camping gear out to the boonies. All of the Yamaha Accessories that were included made the Rhino even better at hauling us and our equipment in style and comfort.
We used half-windshields ($182.95) to help cut the wind at higher speeds without affecting visibility. The molded sun top ($219.95) was mandatory for hiding from the Arizona heat and invaluable when surprise rainstorms pounded down. The overfenders ($194.95) keep mud from working its way into the cab and a front grab bar ($179.95) defend the black paint job from hardy desert brush. We carried spare Hornady ammunition, ear protection and extra gear in the crossover storage box ($244.95). It worked in a pinch for our rifles as well, but the soft, cab-mounted double rifle carrier ($99.99) was a much better option for keeping the high-dollar guns from rattling around. A spotlight ($106) mounted right to the roll cage and plugs into the 12V power adapter. It’s a handy tool for tracking those speedy jackrabbits and dusty varmints.
Even though there’s nothing mechanically different for 2013, the new styling is a very nice upgrade. The matte paint doesn’t show wear like injected plastics, and it suits a wide variety of outdoor activities while satisfying the cool factor. It was perfect for cruising Gunsite Academy’s 2000-acre playground. Most of us running around with shiny Rugers weren’t actually kicking butt and taking names, but the Tactical Black Rhino sure made us feel like it.