The Sequential Paddle Shifters Every Side-by-Side Deserves

A unique cross-promotional event at Weapons Site Academy in Arizona this summer set up by glock, nosler, pull unitedand Yamaha Motorsports brought together a combination of journalists from the firearms, outdoor adventure and automotive industries. As much fun as I had during John Wick-style gun training, my real job at Gunsite was testing every model in the Yamaha UTV line, highlighted by the high-performance YXZ side-by-side.

Unlike most SxS makers, Yamaha eschews the more readily available CVT automatic transmission in favor of a sequential gearbox on the YXZ. Controlled via paddle shifters that allow the YXZ 1000R SS’s inline triple to rev up to 12,000 rpm, the sequential setup left me grinning from ear to ear after the first lap around of the vast Gunsite complex.

Welcome to Gunsite Academy

Glock, Nosler and Shoot United brought in the fun factor, no doubt, and our group of reporters learned a lot about firearm safety during rapid draw technique drills. Then Yamaha released the UTV lineup to show off the capabilities of the YXZ, Grizzly ATV and Wolverine in R Max, X2 and X4 configurations. While the fun Grizzly and the more utilitarian Wolverines use a CVT, the YXZ caught my attention simply because of that sequential shifter.

Although less powerful than many other brands, including Polaris with the Pro R’s 225 horsepower, the YXZ offers a unique combination of a shorter wheelbase and aggressive design to go with adjustable shocks and knobby tires.

Main characteristics
  • Paddle shifters for sequential transmission
  • short wheelbase
  • 998 cc naturally aspirated triple
  • Adjustable Fox shocks
  • Engine/Motor: 998cc 3 cylinder
  • Powerful : 114hp
  • Transmission: RWD/4WD/locked
  • Transmission: 5-speed sequential
  • Every SxS needs a sequential gearbox
  • Agile in tight spaces
  • Low entry price
  • Launch mode, shift lights for redline at 12,000 rpm
The inconvenients
  • Not as powerful as competitors
  • Gets bogged down at low revs
  • Short wheelbase not ideal for higher speeds

Sporty Batman Wings

Batman-style rear fenders hint at the YXZ’s performance potential despite the low engine power. I rode the 1000R SS XT-R, which Yamaha calls “Pure Sport Side-By-Side” compared to the ranch-cart style of the Wolverines. Yamaha told me the model starts at $23,299, but the company’s website currently lists the XT-R starting at $24,699. Unlike Polaris and Can-Am, Japanese UTV manufacturers tend not to release official horsepower statistics, although a general consensus based on the California Air Resources Council the paperwork says the 1000R SS makes 114 horsepower.

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114 horsepower inline triple

That power comes from a naturally aspirated 998cc inline triple, which hides behind absolutely lousy cladding or body panels on the YXZ. While being able to check the engine and exhaust sounds fun, the prospect of sand and grime working in the powertrain also worked in my brain. Still, the little triple feels peppy and eager to rev up towards the 12,000 rpm redline – and Yamaha also offers a turbo kit that boosts output by around 60% (but also costs around $6,000 ).

RELATED: Yamaha YXZ 1000R SS: Costs, Facts & Figures

Paddle shifters made my day

Power stats aside, the YXZ’s most prominent feature hides behind the steering wheel, where a pair of column-mounted paddle shifters control the five-speed sequential gearbox. Hitting up and down on gears, redlining and bouncing off the rev limiter, and feeling the power built up during acceleration makes the sequential setup a whole lot more fun than a CVT, which tends to find a perfect ticking point in revs and noticeably saps power. Right away the YXZ drives forward with sports car intensity, requiring all the attention rather than the laissez-faire confidence of a RZR or the Maverick X3 I drove in Georgia not so long ago. a long time (trust which probably contributes to the frequent mishaps which nearly all side-by-side racers end up experiencing).

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Upright seats in a compact cockpit

A fighter jet roar from the air intake between the YXZ’s two seats also contributes to the sensory experience. But Yamaha’s commitment to short wheelbases also allows for tight packing, so both seats look like something akin to a cockpit. No large rear bed for coolers or gear, minimal storage space and relatively little seat adjustment all contribute to the race car feel.

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Suspension still the star of the show

Gunsite’s busy schedule only allowed us a few quick laps in each of the Yamahas, so I never played with the Fox 2.5-inch RC2 shocks, which feature fully adjustable dual-speed rebound and compression rates. The suspension still comes across as the most important supporting component of the YXZ, just like most other side-by-sides. Versatile, eight-ply 29-inch-diameter Maxxis Carnage tires handled high-speed, rockier sections with aplomb—when the trail bent into tighter turns and meandered between juniper bushes and pine trees, the YXZ proved how much more maneuverable and nimble a slightly smaller UTV feels.

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Everything you need, nothing you don’t

Still, the YXZ falls a step behind the competition in comfort and technology, especially when compared to Polaris’ RideCommand touchscreen infotainment and gauge system. But fun shift lights that indicate when to pop the paddle when the tach goes high, plus various drive modes and, of course, the choice of rear-wheel drive, four-wheel drive, and a locked front end. all fit into the mix. Yamaha also spent time explaining a nifty steering-assist sensor in the steering column, which firmed up the wheel for more confidence at higher speeds, but sometimes felt far too light when we entered segments. more technical.

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Need to try the real manual

More committed UTV buyers can also spec a YXZ with a true manual option, with a clutch pedal and five-speed sequential sourced from Yamaha’s motorcycle wing (so neutral sits above first ). As our time at Gunsite drew to a close I definitely found myself wishing I had the chance to try a YXZ with even more rider engagement required – or would the real manual actually detract from the fun of just banging on those paddles without worrying about the corresponding rpm?

We also omitted to try the YXZ’s Launch Mode, added to ensure paddle-equipped models can keep up with an experienced driver who can pop the clutch at 6,000 rpm with a manual version. (I think Yamaha wanted to avoid a bunch of maniacal journalists drag racing and blowing components all day.) And reliability factors into the appeal of the Yamaha UTV line, no doubt, since the unique design of the Ultramatic transmission allows a 10 year warranty on the belt. Jumping between the Grizzly and various Wolverines, Yamaha’s confidence in the drivetrain helped my own riding confidence. Of course, the YXZ targets less of the high-speed dune-loading image that Polaris promotes with the RZR. But the sequential paddle-sequence makes every type of terrain more fun, even at lower speeds, and has left everyone at Gunsite wondering why every other side-by-side manufacturer doesn’t offer something similar.

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