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Yamaha Raptor 700R vs YFZ450R Shootout. Which is Best for You?

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With the 2017 hitting the market, Yamaha looks to continue dominating the sport segment with their YFZ450R, Raptor 700R, Raptor 90, and all-new YFZ50. Meanwhile, the other manufacturers have tucked their tails and run, suffering from a lack of sales due to varying reasons such as releasing machines three years too late, an economic recession, attacks from the EPA, and, finally, for trying to continue selling 10-year-old machines at ever increasing prices. If you want to buy one of the top sport ATVs on the market these days, it’s going to be a Yamaha. The Raptor 700R is a great trail machine that can play on the MX track.

The YFZ450R is a nearly race-ready motocrosser that comes setup from the factory to also perform on the trail. If you’re a motocross racer, choosing the right machine is simple: buy the YFZ450R, add a few parts, and go racing. If you are a recreational rider, choosing the right machine between the two could be a bit more perplexing. With this in mind, we took our YFZ450R and Raptor 700R test units to beautifully prepped and ATV friendly Nickota MX in Bedford, KY, and the diverse trails of Haspin Acres in Laurel, Indiana to see how these machines compare in the woods and on the track.

If you are planning on going racing, the YFZ450R will be a better choice for most riders, not to say that you couldn’t turn a Raptor 700 into a viable race machine. For recreational and even somewhat aggressive riding, these machines are surprisingly well matched, but they reach their performance levels in different ways. If you like to push the outer boundaries of speed, suspension, and control a majority of the time and you don’t ride on tight trails, the YFZ450R may very well be the machine for you. The YFZ’s ergonomics, engine, firmer suspension, and squattier rider position aren’t as adept to long casual rides. Its focused primarily on going fast and it does it well.

If you like extended rides and enjoy everything from a casual cruise to riding at a near race pace, the Raptor really shines. Its handling and suspension are optimized for tight to intermediate trails while offering predictable handling and performance on faster trails, the dunes, or even the track, up to a point. Its motor pulls holeshots, has a faster top-speed, and will conquer bigger sand dunes. Its handling and ergonomics work best for bigger riders though smaller riders may like the cockpit if comfort is a top priority.

Results in sales numbers and championships on the track have proven that both of these machines are winners in their own right. If you’re addicted to the speed, light-weight, superior handling, and thrills that only a sport ATV delivers, one of these machines is sure to be a winner for you.
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