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Yamaha YXZ1000R SS Rock Crawling Review

Yamaha YXZ1000R SS

By Jon Crowley

A few months back i had the opportunity to test the YXZ1000R SE SS with GYTR Torque Assist Gear Kit at Stoney Lonesome in Alabama (see YAMAHA YXZ1000R SS SE WITH GYTR TORQUE ASSIST GEAR REVIEW). The Sport-Shift YXZ1000R fits my taste more than the manual shift and the larger tires and lower gearing made a big difference. We didn’t have much opportunity to do any serious rock crawling so I was anxious to get one of these same units so I could test it out on the Rubicon Trail here in Northern California.

Yamaha YXZ1000R SS

Yamaha YXZ1000R SS on teh Rubicon Trail

In addition to the GYTR Torque Assist Gear (TAG) Kit and 30x10R14″ radial EFX MotoClaw Tire mounted on factory beadlock wheels, our test units had 3000 Lbs. Warn winch, a-arm guards, rearview mirror, front and rear bumpers and a few other goodies. While not direct from the factory, this YXZ1000R is equipped with GYTR accessories that you can get from your Yamaha dealer.

After I received the unit from Yamaha, I did absolutely no additional setup to the vehicle other than checking air pressure (set to 10 PSI) before hitting the trail. I spent the day behind the wheel of this YXZ1000R SS on the Rubicon Trail.  We went from Loon Lake trailhead through Little Sluice at to Buck Island and back to Loon Lake. This is a good day’s worth of riding.

Now to set the stage a bit, I am a long time rock crawler.  I’ve owned Jeeps and rock crawled in UTVs on the Rubicon, Moab and even raced King of the Hammers several times.  I have a ton of experience rock crawling in Polaris RZR, Yamaha Rhino and Kawasaki Teryx (all belt driven CVT).  This is the first time doing any serious rock crawling in a YXZ1000R.

After spending the day getting used to the YXZ1000R in the rocks, I found it to be very capable.  Coming from a belt driven background, it takes a little bit of getting used to, but not too much. The visibility from the driver’s seat is second to none.  Power steering assistance is  excellent.  Vehicle felt very stout, but still light and nimble. Ride in the small rocks was comfortable.   I loved how you could be going slow in first gear and accelerate to the point where I wanted to shift to second and could do that without stopping. Going from forward to reverse and back is quick and easy.  The Sport-Shift model is the way to go in my opinion – simple and easy without as much worry about stalling out.

The biggest issue I had is the gearing.  Even with the 70% lower gears that come with the GYTR Torque Assist Gear (TAG) Kit, I want to have the ability to go slower.  In more technical terrain with larger rock obstacles, I want to crawl over slower to save the beating on the car, but I can’t.  In the video below you can see the clutch engaging/disengaging when you try to go slow while attacking an obstacle.  I didn’t really like that part.  Some of this I can attribute to getting used to the differences in how this vehicle needs to be driven, but I feel like the YXZ needs to be run at almost King of the Hammers type race speed to be happy.

The YXZ1000R was completely capable of handling everything we threw at it on the Rubicon. It just wants to do it at a faster speed than I prefer. One thing I would like to try is a heavier flywheel. Both Weller Racing and Alba Racing have heavier flywheels for less than $300 that supposedly “Greatly increased low speed driveability”.  The flywheel change looks to be pretty simple to do as well. I may just try this and revisit the Rubicon to see how it changes.

For most people, the 70/40 GYTR Torque Assist Gear (TAG) Kit will be just fine.  I am just more of an extreme rock crawler and like to have more control in the technical terrain.


  • Front Visibility (low hood allows great view of rocks in front of vehicle)
  • Power Steering – Perfect amount of assistance
  • Nimble – The YXZ1000R is a nice size with good turning radius
  • Shocks – The FOX X2 bypass shocks give you a relatively plush ride while still maintaining good bottom out control
  • Ground Clearance – For a vehicle with 30-inch tires, the YXZ1000R has good ground clearance
  • Suspension Clearance – The YXZ1000R acts more like a full a-arm suspension in the rocks with good approach in the rear
  • Like that you can upshift from 1st to second without stopping. RZR tops out at 30+ MPH and requires full stop to shift from low to high range
  • Shifting from Drive to Reverse is quick and easy for quick manuevering 
  • Diff Lock does not overwhelm power steering


  • Gear Ratio – Not able to go as slow as I’d like in the technical stuff, even with 70% lower 1st gear
  • Side bar on roll cage is low enough that you bang helmet on it in very rough conditions
  • Tunnel Heat – Heat from the radiator blows through center tunnel and can heat up cab at slow speeds
  • Shoulder Bolster – In very rough terrain, my shoulder hits the edge and after a day in the rocks becomes sore
  • Would like to be able to buy YXZ1000R with lower gears direct from factory (special edition?)
  • Engine/Transmission Noise –  In cab noise is more than I prefer
Yamaha YXZ1000R

Yamaha YXZ1000R with GYTR Torque Assist Gear Kit and 30-inch Tires on the Rubicon Trail

Yamaha YXZ1000R SS

YXZ1000R Special Edition with Sport Shift, FOX Podium X2 , GYTR Tag Kit, winch, bumpers and 30-inch EFX tires

Yamaha YXZ1000R SS

Yamaha YXZ1000R SS on the Rubicon Trail

GYTR Accessories

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