The Yamaha YXZ is here: first impressions……*cough* burnt clutch *cough*

No, we don’t actually have one for ourselves to review…….  However, what we can do is summarize what the rest of the world thinks so far.  The YXZ has been in owner’s hands for about a month now, and the feedback has been interesting.

What we can agree on:

Initial quality appears good.  While there have been a few isolated complaints of relatively minor issues, most agree that these units are well thought out and well put together.  This has been widely expected from Yamaha, known for their high quality and good fit/finish.  We did get to at least sit in one of these machines, and agree with this assessment.  While the doors may not be to the highest aftermarket standards, they are very nice for OEM equipment.  The main driver interfaces (wheel, shifter, peddles) all have a positive feel.  Overall, considering this is a brand new platform for Yamaha, we think they are off on the right foot in this department and will only get better.

This thing is fun to drive.  Of course it is.  If you can’t have fun with a 5-speed manual and 10,000+ rpm in a mini sand rail, you are in the wrong sport.

It handles well.  Reports are that the rear sway bar is quite stiff, and combined with a standard front sway bar makes this thing stay flat.  The YXZ is a ride that you can throw into the corners with confidence.  It’s clear that this is a chassis designed to go fast.

They’re fast in stock form, but not as fast as the turbos from either Polaris or Can-Am.  The YXZ has some long legs upstairs, but acceleration is more comparable to the NA Maverick and XP1K.


What we’re not sure about yet:

Is the manual transmission really better?  While it is definitely fun, many owners are saying that it is indeed much more work to drive.  While this would seem obvious to some, there has been some evidence of buyer’s remorse from people who bought these things to do tight trail, rock, or mud work.  Many of these owners have been left wishing for a lower first gear for low speed riding.  Dyno results are also showing that the efficiency gains over the CVT design aren’t as dramatic as previously hoped.

Is the suspension too stiff?  There have been complaints, mostly about the rear suspension, being too stiff.  However, most agree that it works much better at higher speeds.  Since that appears to be what the YXZ was designed for, we’re not going to assign any fault here, however some owners may want to opt for some shock tuning work.

Dependability!!!  Yamaha, you’ve been hanging your hat on this attribute, but we are concerned.  About a month in the wild and there is roughly half a dozen cases of burnt clutches being discussed already.  The number is growing.  Reason for concern? Yes.  Should everyone panic? Probably not, but c’mon…..  The video below has caught everyone’s attention lately and shows a YXZ becoming stranded during a water crossing due to a failed clutch.  However, the video also captures that the driver was slipping the clutch as if he was preparing his left leg for some sort of stair-stepping competition.  Sure, maybe some of these things can be blamed on the driver……but surely that isn’t the case for all of them.  Early indications are that Yamaha will not be replacing these under warranty.  Yeah, it’s a wear item, we get it……but denying warranty on a failed clutch with under 200 miles?  Lame.  Parts are also on backorder by the way, hope you didn’t want to drive your $22k SxS anytime soon.

How big is this problem in the scheme of things?  Probably not a death blow to the YXZ.  As frustrating as it may be, we have to remember Polaris’ broken reverse chains, Can-Ams flying clutches, and Arctic Cat’s bent a-arms (because apparently you aren’t supposed to jump a SxS with 18” of suspension travel???).  All of these items get addressed eventually, but it’s a sad realization that the almighty Yamaha couldn’t even get it right the first time.


So here’s the “too long, didn’t read” version:

The Yamaha YXZ is a fun, high quality SxS that is designed for going fast.  Everything from the transmission to the sway bars and suspension tuning suggests this thing was designed to run at speed.  If you want one to throw giant tires on it and go mud bogging or rock crawling, you’re gonna have a bad time.  If you’re in the dunes, desert, or open trails the YXZ is badass, but isn’t without bugs.

Yamaha, if you’re listening, get somebody working overtime to crank out some clutch plates please.

Aftermarket, we need better parts STAT.

Owners, let us know your thoughts on this issue in the comments, on the SXS Blog Facebook Page or email us at

13 Comments on "The Yamaha YXZ is here: first impressions……*cough* burnt clutch *cough*"

  1. The video you have posted is me and my machine. While you all have your opinion of how I seemed to be handling it hear is inaccurate. you weren’t in the car with me. several factors here attributed to the clutch failing. not my leg trying out for step aerobic either. firstly I am a skilled knowledgeable driver operator pilot. That being said nothing prior to this incident harmed or degraded this machine in any way. I can drive let me tell you. so back to the water crossing. as I entered the water the low aero dynamic front dove in the water and put serious traction to front end with all that weight and no real bottom end I had to feather clutch a little to get her going I’ve done this in many a machine truck car bike quads you name it and never broke anything so after only 3 quick feathering of the clutch it went. Hardly seems right for a brand new machine this stout. I love the machine. I grew up on YZ 250 465 & 490 all built to the hilt they would shred tires and I was sick on them I’ve run banshee since they came out in 89 still have 4 of them I love them. this machine shouldn’t have completely failed. Notice period. it should not have failed. now hindsight I should’ve put it in 2 wd nailed it right out the gate and wheelied across. I do love it it is well put together however this clutch is too weak. There is a cockpit video also on my page.

    • Thanks for the comment Nick. There is no doubt that these clutches are not as robust as we’d like them to be, and our comments about your driving are meant only to get a laugh. What’s the status on getting your machine repaired?

  2. This is Yamaha product #21 for me. I am not new to the use of a clutch. I have always been happy with my YAMAHA’S, but after only 4 hours in the dunes mu clutch began to slip and quickly burned out. Yamaha did a good faith act and put $250 toward the repair, but I went with the Barnett from Alba. It feels a lot better, but only time will tell how long it will last.

    • Rob, that’s what a lot of people have been saying about their clutch failures. No abuse, no big slipping, just failure with regular driving. There was a rumor that some of the clutch springs were weak from the factory and the clamping force wasn’t sufficient enough. I admittedly don’t keep up much with the YXZ forums so I don’t know if this has been substantiated or not. Keep us updated on how the clutch upgrade works out for you. Thanks for the comment!

  3. We have a patent pending clutch solution availble now, along with some different transmission gearing options for the enviroment the Yamaha YXZ1000R will be opperated in. See our instragram tube_works or facebook too. We just completed a top 10 position in the King Of The Hammers with Jason Weller using our Transmisdion and clutch mod.

  4. When brand new put in recluse clutch and Barnett plates was super easy on it and burned it out right away bummer right yep

  5. Kevin Reese | May 20, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Reply

    Tube works has the clutch mod fix. Not enough oil is the problem with the stock clutch boss, Not the plates.I have the mod which allows 300% more oil to the plates.My stock plates were dry.Ive been abusing it with no failure with a completely stock clutch and pressure plate!!!!

  6. Let’s first address the Wolverine’s 708cc single. What we have here is an incremental bump in power although perhaps not the 1000cc twin the Internet demanded. However, we will say this incremental bump in power is noticeable.

  7. Jason Winchester | October 5, 2016 at 7:56 pm | Reply

    I have less than 6 hours on my rig and my clutch is gone. We are at Little Sahara. I wasn’t on the sand for an hour and I hit some soft sand on a hill and it was gone. My buddies in 2 polaris rzr’s just walked away. Less than impressed.

  8. Hi, I just bought my Yamaha yes 1000 this aug of 2016 , ride the beast for almost 1 month and half , and after my service was finished , I went to dumont dunes for 3 hrs of riding in the dunes, total riding hr was around 21 hrs , my clutch start to feel weird, and yes I’ve been driving stick for almost 15 yrs of experience , owned couple Dort bikes and street bike but nothing like this that fails right away, my side by side is in the dealer right now waiting to get check, I was wondering did ur warranty cover all the expense? I got the extended warranty but clutch issue sometimes they won’t core, what are ur thoughts about my situation?

  9. My clutch smoked in under 4 hrs of riding. Took to dealer, of course it’s a wear item. But dealer worked with yamaha and they paid for 90 percent of it. Cost me 161.00 a 1/2 rack of beer, and I got the sweet ass barnett pressure plate and Kevlar rings

  10. pahrump.grump | May 30, 2017 at 7:08 pm | Reply

    my yxz 1000r 2016 had a manual clutch 1000 miles the clutch went slipping and quit pulling at 10.000 rpm Yamaha would not pay I paid to put in new clutch recluse it lasted 400 miles same thing did Yamaha change gearing in 2017 it is in shop again clutch waiting for Yamaha

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