April 13, 2012
Yamaha Grizzly 300: Back to basics
Yamaha comes up with a new model in its much diversified ATV line. At a suggested retail price of $ 4,999 for the Grizzly 300, what can one expect? Once again, the people at Yamaha have innovated and shown that an ATV, with very interesting characteristics, can be offered at an affordable price. This Grizzly 300 4x4 is not an ATV equipped with power steering and fuel injection or other fancy yet costly new technology, but still offers such advantages as a liquid cooled cylinder and front / rear disc brakes.
This Grizzly 300 is an all-new model for 2012, filling a need to stay accessible to families cutting cost on everything during this tough economic period. Some of you might remember a not so long ago time when you could buy a used ATV that ran perfectly well for under a $1,000! Well at $5,000 today in 2012, for a brand new solid machine, this Grizzly is a steal! The Grizzly 300 should be a durable and dependable light-utility recreational ATV, that can satisfy many users with somewhat basic ATV needs. It might not be the most powerful thing you can ride, but the fun factor is truly there anyway, as this quad is easily thrown around in tight trails and won’t be too much to handle when you need pullouts from deep mud holes. A lot of farmers and ranchers might find it to be the perfect fit to accomplish their tough chores. Many people buy 4x4 capable quads and never flick the switch for all-wheel traction, so why pay for something you don’t need?
It won’t conquer obstacles as aggressively as with its much more powerful all-wheel drive 700cc powered big brother, but it will zip through certain tight winding trails maybe even quicker in dry conditions with the right rider. Despite the Grizzly 300’s simplicity and basic features, there are numerous applications where such a simple ATV can serve you well, without busting a budget. A young beginner will actually enjoy the moderate, yet satisfyingly responsive feel of the motor. It is equipped with a 4-stroke 287cc SOHC single cylinder liquid cooled engine with an aluminum piston, automatic cam chain tensioner and vibration-reducing single-axis balancer. A Keihin CVK32 (32mm) carburetor delivers smooth power and easy throttle control. For cold conditions, the handlebar-mounted choke lever is easy to slide and perfectly positioned within your left thumb’s reach. Oddly enough, the conception of the gear selector is an important detail for workers pushing or pulling constantly in tight areas. If you look closely on the photo, you will see how well rounded they have cut the guiding plate. There is no mistaking which gear you’ve selected and it transfers ultra-smoothly from one position to the next.
Only time will tell if the reliability is there but Yamaha is well known for its talent on that end. In our opinion, you will not be disappointed with this Grizzly 300 and we suspect it will last almost forever if it is well taken care of. The automatic transmission is a CVT and is paired to a centrifugal clutch. Hydraulic brakes front and rear should never fail to stop this lightweight on a dime, and in this price range, this advantage becomes an important element. Not only is this Grizzly cheap to buy, but we expect it might take a while before you have to pull more money out of your wallet for repairs. From the get go, there are simply less parts to worry about on this quad. Nothing too fancy like EFI or EPS or anything else a bit on the expensive and mysterious side, just good old palpable things that you can figure out on your own or with some buddies in the garage. The quality feel to the brake levers reminds you that it’s a Yamaha, in other words, a good quality product. I’m not fond of the high position of the foot brake, almost forcing you to do the two hands braking thing that I don’t like doing very much. A newbie just off of a small sport quad will need to get use to this different braking control setup. In other cases this sort of pedal position will prevent what I call; riding the brakes. I prefer a brake pedal that is just a tad lower than the peg, never in the way as you ride, yet right there quick and easy to apply in not only a quick fashion, but also in a more natural feeling manner, with precise control by pivoting the foot on the peg. I find it a shame that this is reserved to sport quads. Of course this is only my personal opinion and it is important to point out that this isn’t a defect or conception error, it is simply another kind of setup that almost all utility quads have now. Honda’s brake pedal positioning is generally much better, for my taste.
I am impressed with the way the side panels, looking like one huge side vent you would see on a race or exotic sports car, leave everything accessible but make the whole ride look very spiffy, with that fully integrated look. Even the oil filler access trap on the lower right side, just forward of that super high brake pedal, blends in well with this very finished look. Extending from there, are full floorboards that offer excellent mud and splash protection for those times when you’re just out playing around in the dirt. The double delta front suspension provides 15.1 cm (5.9 in) of travel while the rear suspension is a single shock mounted on a swing arm offering 14.1 cm (5.5 in) of travel. If those sound like low figures, trust us they are not. All dimensions must be taken in consideration and although this ride could be quick to hang atop a deeply rutted trail, it feels super nice to fly confidently over rock filled sections, mainly because it is so light. The good old straight axle setup with mono-shock is more suitable for moderately uneven terrain but also means that this new and wild Grizzly cub can negotiate flat higher speed turns really well and inspire a lot of confidence. One will never feel driven by the machine, which can happen when a rider is either too small for his machine, or over equipped for his skill level. I don’t see this Grizzly ever feeling this way, regardless of who operates it. Its long wheelbase really helps smooth out rough trail conditions and thick plush seat comfortable enough to ride all day. The Grizzly 300 rolls on Maxxis tires which should prove efficient in a lot of different riding conditions and provide good bump absorption and comfort, but they are pretty small, so I wouldn’t be too adventurous. This small Grizzly is not equipped with 4WD so its conquering capacities are somewhat limited. Dry grounds are preferable for its capabilities, not deep mud lakes! Still, it will pull more than 720 pounds and carry more than 140 pounds of cargo on the front and rear racks combined. Not bad for such a low-priced quad!
As an entry level model, this quad offers many nice advantages such as an electric start, a fully automatic transmission with Low and High range and racks with a good load capacity of 20 kg (44 lb.) in front and of 45 kg (99.2 lb.) on the rear. We are looking forward to a long term test of this super light and inexpensive newcomer to the Yamaha ATV line. Available in green, blue or red, it has a lot to please.