Hitting the trail right off the bat with pretty good speed reminded me just how peppy is the small-bore engine that propels the Grizzly 450. It has great pull right off the bottom and can reach adequately fast speeds for fun trail rides in no time. For a change it was fun hammering a small motor, one that did not want you to know it was smaller, over whooped-out trails, up steep and gnarly hillclimbs and weaving through the tight and technical trails of our test grounds. I spent that first hour winding out the test unit to find its trail-ability limits-or maybe to expend a little anxious energy. Either way, it proved to me that at a faster pace this Grizz is not only capable, but a blast to ride. It later occurred to me that I never really noticed how the power steering was working, though I did realize that my usual attack of "Jello arms" never quite set in, which was quite surprising.
After expelling some of that negative energy, I came across a few guys who'd discovered a more extreme section of the trail that offered the slower-pace style of riding where creeping, crawling and conquering extremely steep hills littered with boulders, enormous logs and ruts almost as large as the unit. I clicked it into 4WD when my turn came, and I began conquering obstacles I was thinking were unlikely for this machine. Although I struggled going up my first try just slightly, I realized two important things. First, I was hitting obstacles with my front tires that should have sent unwanted jarring sensation into my arms, but I never felt a thing. Second, I attempted this mammoth of a climb without ever switching on the diff-locker. Second try, locker engaged and more of my attention focused on how the machine was performing. This run seriously offered very little challenge to both rider and machine, and I continued the run about 10 or more times with the same results.
The new Grizzly 450 astonished...
The new Grizzly 450 astonished me in sections I'd predetermined it to fail in.
It did not dawn on me early in the ride-something of great importance I'd learned while testing several EPS units together a few months back. I'd learned that the performance of electronic power steering systems should not be so noticeable, rather it should work underneath you without your becoming aware of it functioning. The two indicators of whether your EPS system is effective are that it eases those close-call situations when you hit an object hard with your front tire and that you realize at the end of the day that your arms are nowhere near as tired and sore as they should be. Throughout my day on the Grizzly 450 EPS, I barely noticed it at all and at times even questioned if it were working. The Yamaha wasn't too easy nor too difficult to turn, but rather it was dialed in almost perfectly for all of the styles of riding I performed that day.
If EPS is something you can...
If EPS is something you can afford, I'd say it's worth every penny spent.
After spending a full day both conquering trails at higher speeds and creeping up difficult sections that tested my ability, I was impressed by the Grizzly 450 EPS on a variety of levels. It was tough, peppy, showed its extreme abilities to hang with the bigger machines in tough scenarios and, best of all, I am a little closer to believing Yamaha has one of, if not the best EPS system offered on ATVs. Is it worth the extra $600? I'd say if you have the money to spend, it's most definitely worth it. With that said, I do believe the standard model without EPS is still a great machine and you probably won't notice you're missing the power steering unless you spend time on the EPS unit.