Sporting the most striking looks out of the bunch - kind of like an angry Transformer - the Yamaha Grizzly looks ready for business.
Climbing aboard reveals plenty of really good features; simple-to-use push-button controls for the 4WD and diff-lock fall easily to hand, and a multifunctional, back-lit dash provides clear and concise information including speed, range selection, traction modes and trip information.
Ergonomically, the handlebars seem set a long way away and low resulting in an unnatural driving position.
However, the manufacturer says handlebar position can be adjusted and tailored to individual drivers needs.
At the rear, its ball-hitch is well positioned requiring minimal effort when attaching trailers, and a useful plate just in-front of the hitch aids hooking up while protecting vital components from damage.
Fully sealed rear brakes add to its ready-for-action credentials.
The Grizzly’s load carrying capacity is very impressive for this size of bike, almost on a par with the much larger Polaris. A handy storage box up-front provides a safe and waterproof environment to place tools or medicine bottles, and more storage can be found under the seat.
However, its powder-coated load racks are not quite level and do not have a rail to stop things sliding off such as mineral blocks. An optional rear rack extension can be specified to alleviate this problem.
Build quality is not to be sniffed at either, with a meaty looking frame and some very solid plastics used.
For a CVT, the Grizzly has a decent amount of engine braking which instils a good level of confidence when towing a load downhill. As a result, brake wear should be a little less.
Pulling power is not an issue which its 421cc motor clearly demonstrated throughout the various tasks it was faced with. Coupled with a towing capacity of 600kg, it is certainly a formidable contender.
As is expected from an air cooled engine, noise emissions can be a little high, but more importantly it is not just the volume of the exhaust note; the sound is quite raspy too.
Shifting between ranges requires you to have your foot on the brake, something which the rest of the CVTs do not require. While we think this is a bit excessive, at least it encourages you to be stationary when shifting between ranges, something which is ultimately good for long-life of the transmission.
Unlike some of the other bikes, locating ranges with the gear lever can be a little awkward and notchy as you cannot see the gates. However, it is one of those things you soon get used to after a while.
Our test machine was set up with a fairly soft suspension setting on the front-end. While this resulted in a very smooth ride across even the roughest of terrains, it did impede slightly on handling and stability, especially when cornering on slopes.
This can be easily adjusted though, via a special wrench which alters the give in the shockers, to range from a soft, comfortable ride at one end of the scale, or firm it up for peace of mind when chasing stock up hill and down dale.
As with all of the machines tested, the lack of a rear differential does hinder tight trailer manoeuvring, especially around the yard on hard surfaces, requiring a bit of wrestling. Perhaps power steering, which is an option, is worth considering.
If you are planning to take the Grizzly through some mud, which is highly likely this year, be prepared to receive a bit of a splattering as its mud-guards are a little lacking. It is as if Yamaha have dressed the big Grizzly in a jacket one size too small.
Our advice; get your waterproofs on.