ATV review: Yamaha Viking

By: Brent Lilley

ATV review: Yamaha Viking ATV review: Yamaha Viking
ATV review: Yamaha Viking ATV review: Yamaha Viking
ATV review: Yamaha Viking ATV review: Yamaha Viking
ATV review: Yamaha Viking ATV review: Yamaha Viking
ATV review: Yamaha Viking ATV review: Yamaha Viking
ATV review: Yamaha Viking ATV review: Yamaha Viking

The side-by-side market is really starting to heat up here in New Zealand, with most manufacturers offering one or more machines to the market. Here we check out the Yamaha Viking.

While Yamaha has been in the market for around 10 years with the popular Rhino, it has recently been replaced with an exciting new model: the Yamaha Viking.

At first glance it's an intriguing looking machine. The overall width of 1570mm not only increases stability, but it also fits in three bucket seats, as opposed to a bench on many other machines. They work well, they are level so allow you to slide across with ease. Cleverly, the back of the centre seat is reclined slightly further than the other two, to create plenty of shoulder room. All three seats are comfortable and a removable grab rail gives passengers something to hold onto when required.

Taking the Viking for a drive…

For the driver, everything is within easy reach. Although the steering wheel isn't adjustable, it seemed in a pretty natural position for me. Electronic power steering is a godsend in my opinion and both the Yamaha Viking Special Edition and Viking VI are available with EPS. It makes the steering light and responsive and also takes away any shock or jarring of the wheel when you're tackling rough terrain.

To the left of the steering wheel is a convenient dial which lets you easily select between 2WD, 4WD and a fully lock differential lock for getting out of sticky situations. Another dial is for the headlights, with high and low beam. To the right, the handbrake is perfectly placed between the steering wheel and the gear shift. It held well on the steepest slopes I could find and I might have even managed the odd handbrake assisted turn.

The gear shifter moves smoothly between the five positions which include high, low, neutral, reverse and park. The transmission is a Yamaha Ultramatic which is well proven and found on many of its ATVs. It uses a belt drive and a centrifugal clutch maintains tension on the belt to reduce wear. It allows you to get in and go.

I managed a swift 90km/hr and it still felt like it had more in it. The clever part of the transmission is that it also includes a sprag clutch, which gives impressive downhill engine braking on all four wheels. In practise you can feel the engine slowing as soon as you lift your foot off the accelerator, it works exceptionally well in low gear on the steepest slopes.

Viking _3

A digital LCD display is angled towards the driver for good visibility, with a speedometer, odometer, trip meter, hour meter, 4WD status, transmission position, clock and fuel gauge to keep the driver well informed. Rounding out the cabin is a small open storage compartment and a glove box. This small amount of storage was something I thought let the Yamaha down compared to the competition.

A full certified ROPS frame aims to protect the occupants in the event of a roll over and a plastic roof is a nice touch to keep out the sun and rain.

Around the back a large steel tray with a fold down tailgate has a rubber mat to prevent objects sliding about. It can hold over 270kg and the wide design can easily accommodate a standard pallet. Unlocking handles are conveniently located on both sides of the tray and the heaviest loads can easily be tipped with the help of a gas strut. With the tray up, it's easy to gain access to the engine, which is a well proven 686cc single-cylinder, four-stroke offering from Yamaha, which uses electronic fuel injection to keep the engine running smoothly under all conditions.

The verdict

My experiences were all positive. It started without hesitation, was responsive across the rev range powering up the slopes out of the gullies and even managed the odd donut from a standing start.

Servicing is easy with the tray up and the dipstick is easy to find on the left-hand side. Being a liquid cooled engine, a decent sized radiator is found up front under the bonnet, with access through an easily opened hatch. Conveniently, the coolant level can be checked on the overflow bottle under the left-hand mudguard.

Hydraulic disc brakes are found on all four wheels and give excellent stopping power even on the steepest slopes. Suspension is taken care of with independent double A in the front and the rear, giving an impressively smooth ride even at speed over rough terrain. A straight through drive shaft to the rear diff does away with universal joints and the maintenance and problems that come with them.

Overall, I was impressed with the clever design of the Yamaha Viking. There is no denying that it's been built for work, with the large tray on the back, but it's also a lot of fun to drive. You just can't help but plant your foot and take off across the paddock every once in a while.

Models pictured are fitted with extra Yamaha accessories.

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