Yamaha Raptor 700 SE
Yamaha has a winning formula with the Raptor 700R. Our SE model certainly looks the part of one mean machine.
Wrapped in special edition plastics and graphics the Raptor 700R SE is the gold standard by which all other large displacement ATVs
are judged. Along with the black and white plastics adorned with tribal graphics, the SE is outfitted with blacked out GYTR grab bars and heel guards. The rear brake also receives an upgrade with a wave-style brake rotor. All these fancy bits come with a $700 price increase to the standard $8099 price tag. Personally we would save the seven hundy for a GYTR performance muffler and head pipe. The rest of the spec sheet is identical to the standard Raptor 700R.
The single-cylinder 686cc mill in the 700R makes a great spread of power that is more usable than the top end scream of the 700XX. The Yamaha
turned out 40.55 peak horsepower, which was less than a single pony shy of the Honda
. While the TRX trumped the Raptor in the torque department as well with dyno wheels, our testers experienced a role reversal on the trail. All agree that the SE feels meatier. Fewer shifts are required to scoot the Raptor around tight trails and while cornering in soft sand. The torque spread is so wide, one tester said he just left it in third gear and forget about shifting. Fuel injection is right on the money with instantaneous throttle response when you stab the newly designed thumb throttle.
When the time to finally shift does arise, the transmission is smooth as butter. Gear changes are positive with just a tap from the boot. Gear ratios are good, but in the dunes we kept looking for an extra one on top when it ran out of steam. This was where the Honda pulled away. Selecting reverse is simple as pie; just twist the knob inside the right front fender and click down past first gear.
This straight axle/swingarm rear end is controlled by a single shock. This traditional sport ATV setup was preferred by our riders.
In the suspension department, the Raptor feels right. The fully adjustable reservoir shocks feature high- and low-speed compression adjustment, rebound damping and preload adjustment. That’s three more adjustments than the 700XX and about three times better.
Straight out of the box the suspension was set-up well for most riders, but for heavier riders a little more preload and rebound damping could be used in the rear. We had a wide range of weight to cover between our testers and mostly just left it alone. Even when our largest rider bottomed out the Raptor, it remained composed and in control. The front was dialed in perfectly for almost anything we threw at it. The only place your kidneys suffered on the Raptor was in choppy, uneven terrain such as rock fields.
The well-behaved suspension coupled with a straight axle and swingarm make for a true sport quad ride. If you like to slide around corners like a cast member from Tokyo Drift, this the ATV for you. The rear end pitches out easily and comes back with complete control. The Raptor always goes where you intend, unless you’re completely ham-fisted with the thumb throttle in high traction situations. Flicking the Raptor from left to right and left again is effortless, especially with a blip of the throttle. The center of gravity is a bit higher than its smaller sibling the YFZ450R and so it can be a bit tippier than a repli-racer 450. Make sure to throw enough body English to the inside when the tires are getting good grip. Just slide your butt over a bit more, and you’re sorted.
Hopping on the Raptor, all three of our testers felt at home in the spacious cockpit. The reach to the bars is comfortable and allows swinging lock-to-lock without any weird body positioning. The steel bars look a little cheesy on such an otherwise sharp-looking machine, but at least they have a decent bend. Lever position is spot-on, and the shape of the clutch and brake lever is familiar. The parking brake lever is massive, but so easy to use that we can live with the looks. If you’re a racer or have no need for a parking brake, just a few bolts and it’s gone. The seat-to-footpeg relationship is roomy while the seat is firm. The seat feels like it’s as thin as possible to keep the rider’s
Both of these ATVs are great in their own right, but the Yamaha has a higher level of refinement and delivers the feel sport quad enthusiasts have come to expect.
center of gravity lower. After a few hours in the saddle it begins to make our backsides sore.
In the showdown between these two big bore ATVs, all three of our testers prefer the traditional sport quad handling of the Yamaha. These two monster ATVs are very different beasts. The Honda’s quirky handling and plain-Jane suspension make it more of trail quad with all-day comfort to the Raptor’s aggressive, racy feel. To be honest, most of the time we were a little scared to ride the Honda near its limits, while we could be on the edge with the Raptor for extended periods. Fortunately, the baseline is there. A set of tunable shocks on the Honda will bring it into a higher performance realm, but for now the 700R remains the class standard.