When the editors at Farm Industry News wanted two farmers to test a Yamaha ATV on their farms and asked me if I would be interested, I didn't have to think twice. When they said that the one I would be using was the bigger of the two, a Grizzly 700 FI, I was even more excited. After being a test-driver at the FIN ATV Rodeo, I was eager to put the Grizzly 700 through the paces on our grain farm. Our farm's ATV is six years old, so I thought it would be interesting to compare some fresh technology to the old tried and tested.
The first thing I noticed when I sat on the Grizzly was that its controls seemed to be well laid out and it had a comfortable seat. With its electronic fuel injection, I could just hit the starter and go. I didn't have to listen to the engine crank for 30 seconds and hope the battery had a good charge.
The transmission shifter sits under your left hand and shifts smoothly out of park into the gear of your choice. One of the most impressive features of the 700 FI is the electric power steering. I thought the biggest advantage would be when the vehicle was not moving. What I found, however, was that Yamaha made the machine perform better at any speed or workload.
The company engineers clearly made ease of maintenance a priority. Oil and spark plug changes were well planned in their design. The LCD instrument display includes speedometer, odometer, fuel gauge, trip meter, clock and differential lock indicator. The operator can even read engine fault codes if the need arises.
I used the Grizzly 700 for crop scouting, rock picking, and basic transportation between different farms. I even used it in a vain attempt to track down a rogue skunk that was raiding our cat food dish. Even though the Grizzly's headlights did an excellent job of illuminating its escape route, the varmint gave me the slip.
The machine was particularly well suited for spraying fence lines. With a 15-gal. sprayer mounted on the rear rack, the Yamaha felt balanced and stable, even over rough terrain. As I was driving, I dropped one of the machine's front wheels in a hole and it became hung up. No problem. I just locked the differential lock, backed up, and was on my way. After steering with one hand and using a sprayer wand in the other hand, I really appreciated the power steering.
Everyone who drove the Grizzly on our farm was impressed. After riding our old 500cc machine, we not only liked the Grizzly's power, but how smooth the whole machine was. Its suspension gives a very comfortable ride and is designed to be easily adjusted to suit the rider's needs.
The engine has good low-end torque and never seems to be lacking for power. But that comes with a price; it took more fuel than its smaller, older counterpart.
A drawback with its 11.8 in. of ground clearance is that it makes the seat higher for getting on and off.
If you are in the market for a new ATV, I don't think you would go wrong with either the 700 FI or 550 FI, but personally the 550 would more than fill my requirements. The biggest issue I had with the 700 FI was that Yamaha wouldn't let me keep it.