Gear: Shift Recon, Assault...
Gear: Shift Recon, Assault glove
Helmet: Shift Agent
Boots: Alpinestars Tech 8
Goggles: Smith Fuel Roll Off's
Yamaha Grizzly 350 Auto 4x4 IRS
You wouldn't imagine just how pleased I was to pick up our Yamaha blue Grizzly. The 350 Grizzly is a sharp-looking and somewhat compact machine. If this were a beauty pageant, as opposed to a shootoutish comparison test, the Yamaha would probably take home the tiara.
The Grizzly 350's instrumentation is fairly no-frills when compared to the other machines we tested, comprised of an analog speedometer and odometer and not much else (it lacks a fuel gauge and the typical warning light clusters and indicators of the other units). The Yamaha's lack of instruments would be the only real mark against it, as every other ergonomic aspect of the 350 Grizzly is top-notch. The gear shifter and 4WD switch work flawlessly, and their design was among the best executed. The floorboards, seat and handlebar distances are just about perfect and accommodated all sizes of test riders without a single adjustment, and the under-seat storage was the roomiest. The textured matte black powdercoat on the cargo racks looks great, resists scratches and even helps keep cargo secure.
The brakes, steering and suspension on the Grizzly all combine for a great package. No single element stood out in a negative way, and by nearly the same token, nothing really blew us away, either. That's not to say we weren't impressed by the Grizzly's handling; we just weren't blown away in one direction or another. The machine pretty much goes where you point it, stops when you ask it to, and soaks up the rough stuff in a relatively smooth and plush fashion.
Now that we've told you what it does well, let me tell you where we felt it was lacking. In a word: power. The Grizzly's lack of get-up-and-go had us questioning whether something might be wrong with it. The 348cc engine was initially described as "painfully slow" by several test riders. In all fairness, once we realized the Grizzly has the lowest displacement out of the fleet we were less shocked by the lack of power. When you consider the 107cc advantage that the Polaris has, it's easy to see why the Yamaha might be perceived as weak. Oddly enough, the Grizzly hauled, towed and moved every single thing the other machines moved just as quickly and easily. Getting the low-displacement Grizzly up to speed with the larger-displaced models just isn't realistic. Our guess is that 90 percent of us wouldn't notice the deficit unless we were drag racing (which we're fairly certain isn't what the engineers had in mind when they designed the 350 Grizzly). The sheer grunt required to traverse deep mudholes or conquer steeper climbs is simply lacking, but the benefits of the handling make it a decent trade-off for those not in any sort of hurry.
At 348cc the Grizzly 350 is a solid choice for the low-speed recreational rider. If you're looking to set the world on fire or move a mountain, the Grizzly may not be for you. If you're looking for more of a smooth, leisurely cruiser with enough grunt to perform medium-duty chores, we've found your machine. Regardless, it's easily the best-looking quad in the bunch.