2014 Yamaha Raptor 700R SE First Ride 0

14_Yamaha_Rptor_700R_SE_headerRace-bred ATVs are a blast off-road, but let’s be honest; comfort is not one of their strong suits. If you like hauling the mail, blasting whoops and getting some air but find the cockpit of a MX racer comparable to a torture rack, then the Yamaha Raptor 700R could very well be the machine for you. You like flashy graphics and the extra touches to make your ride more unique? Then look no further than the 2014 Yamaha Raptor 700R SE.

Each year Yamaha invites the media to the Imperial Sand Dune Recreation Area, commonly referred to as Glamis, for two days of shredding on its Special Edition models. In our 2014 Yamaha YFZ450R SE First Ride we were impressed with the racer’s performance, but did feel the comfort factor was lacking. Switching over to the Raptor 700R SE was an eye opener, and really allowed us to appreciate the big Single’s user-friendly character.

Special colors and graphics, a GYTR front grab bar, and GTYR heel guards set the Raptor 700R SE apart from the standard 700R.

Special colors and graphics, a GYTR front grab bar, and GTYR heel guards set the Raptor 700R SE apart from the standard 700R.

The SE model adds a choice of two special colors and graphics packages, a GYTR front grab bar and GYTR heel guards for an additional $600 over the standard 700R’s $8199 price tag. While it is a significant increase in price the plastics have a metal flake embedded in the plastic that won’t wear off and the GYTR parts not only look bad-ass but are also high quality.  The graphics aren’t my style, but they do stand out and have more character than the plainness of the regular-flavor 700R.

The 686cc single that powers the Raptor 700R SE is one of the greatest powerplants ever put in a sport ATV. The toque spread is immense, especially down-low, letting you chug around without constantly rowing through the gears. But when you want to wick it up and put the hammer down, the Single-overhead mill is more than happy to rev. The power builds quickly and will satisfy most HP-junkies. We did get a chance to ride a unit equipped with a GYTR by FMF PowerCore 4 Muffler and a fuel controller, and the power was even more impressive. If I were a buyer I would roll the pipe right into the deal.

While the engine is a huge attraction on the Raptor, the chassis is just as enticing.  The hybrid steel and aluminum frame gives the 700R SE a stiff foundation for the fully adjustable suspension while cutting weight thanks to the aluminum subframe and swing arm. At a claimed 422 pounds full of fluids, the Raptor is 17 pounds heavier than the YFZ450R but it hides it well.

The padding on the edge of the Raptor 700R SE's seat is a little thin.

The padding on the edge of the Raptor 700R SE’s seat is a little thin.

The layout behind the bars is roomy with space to move around. Standing up is relaxed with a tall set of steel handlebars. Sitting is just as comfortable with a distance from the seat to pegs that isn’t cramped. All day riding is easy and you won’t be left with as many aches and pains as a full-on motocross-focused ATV.  The only complaint I have of the rider’s area is with the seat itself. When hanging off in a corner you can feel the plastic base on the corner of the seat.

Pounding around the dunes after a holiday weekend is a surefire way to either love or hate an ATV’s suspension compliance, and the Raptor 700R SE soaked up the torn-up dunes like a champ. The fully adjustable front piggyback shocks are set firm enough for the whoops or jumps but don’t beat the tar out of you in the small chop and ruts. At the back the ride is just as compliant, and the faster you go the smoother the ride becomes.

The 2014 yamaha Raptor 700R SE handles well, especially with lots of body english.

The 2014 yamaha Raptor 700R SE handles well, especially with lots of body english.

With the taller rider layout, the Raptor does give up some turning prowess with more body roll than the YFZ450R. Even so, the 700R can shred a mean turn with the right amount of body English. The 45.5-inch wide track is stable, and I would never describe the ride as tippy even with the body roll.  The narrow seat and tank area allows for quick side-to-side weight transfer when railing trails. While not optimum for the dunes, the Maxxis tires are solid performers with better than expected forward traction and predicable sliding characteristics.

Rowing through the gearbox is a precise and drama-free affair with solid consistent gear changes, whether up or down. The clutch pull is light and the feel is very good. Even when we worked through the smaller dunes and were hammering the left lever, no fade or notchiness was experienced. Selecting reverse is simple and straightforward. Just turn a knob on the right front fender and press down on the shift lever from first gear. Returning to forward gears is as easy as an upshift.

Twin-piston front calipers clamp down with authority on the ventilated disks. In the sand dunes braking power is hard to judge as the softness of the surface saps speed quickly, but the performance was excellent nonetheless. The rear binder seemed to have less power than the front, but the feel was still excellent.

The 2014 Yamaha Rapotr 700R SE can handle big jumps.

The 2014 Yamaha Rapotr 700R SE can handle big jumps.

At the end of a full day of pounding on the 2014 Raptor 700R SE, it is a wonder that the majority of ATVs at the sand dunes are not Raptors.  Yes, they are well represented, but with its copious amounts of power, racy handling and undeniable comfort, there is no better machine for those looking for a high performance dune ATV. The Raptor 700R truly has no rival in the sand.

2013 Yamaha Raptor 700R SE Specs:
Engine: 686cc liquid-cooled 4-stroke; SOHC, 4 valve
Bore x Stroke: 102.0mm x 84.0mm
Compression Ratio: 9.2:1
Fuel: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 44mm
Transmission: 5-speed w/reverse
Drive Train: Sealed O-ring chain
Front Suspension: Independent double wishbone w/piggy back High-/Lo-speed compression,
rebound and threaded preload adjustment, 9.1-in travel
Rear Suspension: Cast aluminum swing arm w/rebound,
High-/Lo-speed compression and threaded preload adjustment, 10.1-in travel
Front Brakes: Dual ventilated hydraulic disc, twin piston
Rear Brake: Ventilated hydraulic disc
Tires: (Front) AT 21×7-10 – (Rear) AT 20×10-9
Length: 72.6 Width: 46.1 Height: 44.5 in
Wheelbase: 50.4 in
Seat Height: 32.0 in
Fuel Capacity: 2.9 gal
Wet Weight: 422 lb 
MSRP: $8799

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