First Impression Testing
In these hard economic times I'd be willing to bet that all of us could find good use for $600. For some it could be used to pay rent, make a mortgage payment or even cover a payment (or two) on your automobile. With that said, I can understand why many may ask if the addition of Electronic Power Steering (EPS) to Yamaha's Grizzly 450 was a good call, questioning whether it's worth forking over the extra $600 to have this new feature. There is no doubt that slowly but surely I've been becoming a fan of EPS, but like you, I'd want to know if it is really worthy of the extra cash... And that's exactly what I set out to determine while testing the new unit from Yamaha.
For 2011, a handful of changes and revisions in addition to the EPS system found its way to this lightweight contender (even more if you count the Steel Blue version which comes with cast-aluminum wheels for another $300). I was already familiar with the previous Grizzly 450 models and knew it capable of handling large work tasks and even generating plenty of ability for having fun. For 2011, both the EPS and non-EPS versions gained tweaks that enhance both overall longevity and performance. First off, Yamaha added a new sealed wet brake, which means the rear brake is completely sealed off from the elements and is bathed in oil. A sealed wet brake is not uncommon to ATV technology and usually ends up lasting almost as long as the life of the machine. The engineers also included a new digital meter, which shows functions such as the speedometer, odometer, dual tripmeters, hourmeter, 4WD status, transmission position and even a clock. On top of that, Big Blue added a 12-volt plug for getting power to accessories as well as specifying two extra plies to the sidewalls of the Maxxis tires for more strength and less tendency for rollover of the tires. Lastly, the new Grizz 450 comes equipped with new axle boot guards to keep rocks and other flying debris from wreaking havoc on them along with a new 2-inch receiver for getting hard work done.
But the most exciting feature new to the Grizzly 450 is its EPS system, which is the very same system we've come to love on both Grizzly 550 and 750 units, considered by many to be the best EPS system on the market today. Yamaha engineers did not add EPS just to have another new feature but claim this is something their customers were requesting. When adding any new component to an ATV it also brings with it unwanted weight gains, and the extra poundage that comes thanks to the EPS becomes the manufacturer's largest gremlin. Yamaha engineers hit the drawing board looking for ways to cut weight and, at the end of the day, were able to shear off 10 pounds from previous Grizzly 450 models, despite the addition of the EPS system.
As with any time I throw a leg over a new machine for the first time, I keep in mind that it's my first impression and not the final say. It takes some time spent in the saddle (more than one day or ride) to come up with enough data for a complete conclusion, but the first impression can give a good idea of how the machine performs overall. So as I sat down on the 2011 Grizzly 450 with EPS, I couldn't help but notice the new digital instrument cluster which helped my mind (visually at least) to not think of the machine as dated, as was the case with previous model years. Although the digital cluster does give the 450 an incredibly fresh modern look and vibe, the old fuel gauge that's been used for many years still remains.