Photos by Frank Hoppen
We finally had the chance to sit in the drivers seat and test the 2016 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec against some of the worst weather Mother Nature could dish out. We are happy to report that this 2016 Wolverine R-Spec has earned a thumbs up. This is a machine that hunters and other adventure seekers will love immediately.
We had a full days ride in slick rutted rocky hillsides as we roamed the mountain landscape of Huntsville, Tennessee, at the famous Brimstone Recreation ATV park. The rain was persistent, but with a twist of the Wolverines ignition, the 708cc fuel-injected, liquid-cooled engine carried us up into the mountains without a hitch.
The cab of the Wolverine is very comfortable and is, in our opinion, the best cabin Yamaha has produced yet in a side-by-side. You feel cradled in the machine, which builds driver confidence. It still provides great visibility: You can see the driver’s wheels—front and rear—and the gently slopped front nose gives the driver plenty of visibility for obstacles in the trail.
The front and rear of the Wolverine have a well thought-out approach and departure angles, which allow you to crawl over rock gardens. You can explore uneven terrain with authority and still not scrub the framework off the four-by-four in the process. There are even small tubular flares at the front of the rear wheels to keep the rear tires from taking a direct hit.
The high back bolstered seats hold you in place, and three-point harnesses keep you safely inside the cab. As you look around the interior, you will first notice the ergonomically friendly location of any control you could need during your ride.
The multi-position gear selector is a gate-style system and very easy to move between gears. There is plenty of foot space in the floors, and with smaller items located on the left side of the dash (including differential selector and lighting) you’re all set. There is a genuine parking brake: it’s a wet brake and is completely enclosed in the read differential. The handle moves ever so slightly back when applied, but grabs hold of the Wolverine like a vise. You can pull it and forget it, which means the audible alarm for those who forget to disengage the PB lever comes in handy.
Hunters and adventure seekers alike tend to haul way too much stuff into the field with them on each outing. Yamaha has engineered plenty of storage inside the cab of the Wolverine R-Spec, and it begins with a storage area right beneath the driver’s right arm. This large area is not water-tight, but it’s big enough to carry small firearms or a good sized lunch—and then some. The center of this storage box also pulls out for quick and easy access to the air filter. This is handy for riders who love to service their own machines.
The dash storage (glove box) is also ample. Nearby is a handy passenger cross bar that is adjustable gives your rider some peace of mind in the really bad sections of trail. Other storage is located in the lower center dash with twin drink holders, plus a small cubby.
The bed of the Wolverine has six steel tie down points in the specially-designed bed. The sides of the bed are tapered from front to rear smooth negotiation of tight tree lines without tearing off the bedsides. The bed does not dump, but the tailgate is removable. With some maneuvering, you should be able to load a deer into the back.
As mentioned above, the 2016 Yamaha Wolverine is powered by that new dual-overhead cam four-stroke mill with fuel injection. The power is then delivered to Yamaha’s tough-as-nails Ultra-Matic transmission. When we started our trip into the mountains of Brimstone Recreation, it was clear that we were riding in a machine with a specifically engineered suspension.
The long travel, high clearance A-Arms give the Wolverine the ability to clear trail debris of most any kind. With ruts getting deeper by the hour on several trails, the built-in drop out of the Wolverine’s control arms simply reached down a little farther and kept the traction moving forward. We did get high-centered, but the Wolverine quickly recovered.
One thing we noticed was just how stable and linear the pedal feel was when crawling across very rocky terrain. The Wolverine’s engine simply lugs forward, and you don’t feel a choppy throttle. This helped us feel more in control of the rig at all times. Yamaha has installed long travel KYB shocks on the Wolverine –Spec. This allows the suspension more travel, and the big hits are taken much easier. These shocks are fully adjustable as well for that discerning driver.
We concluded the 2016 Yamaha Wolverine is ready for any kind of exploration and hunting. Make sure the fuel tank is full, because you’re going to want to take a long ride.
-Comfortable cab and seating
-Nimble and stable
-Long travel suspension
-Floorboard water protection
-No tilt steering
2016 Yamaha Wolverine R-Spec Specs
Engine Type – 708cc, liquid-cooled, 4-stroke, DOHC
Bore x Stroke – 103.0 x 85.0mm
Compression Ratio – 10.1:1
Fuel Delivery – Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI), 44mm
Ignition – TCI: Transistor Controlled Ignition
Starting System – Electric
Transmission – Yamaha Ultramatic V-belt with all-wheel engine braking; L, H, N, R
Drive Train – Yamaha On-Command; 3-way locking differential; 2WD, 4WD, locked 4WD
Suspension / Front – Independent double wishbone, 9.7-in travel
Suspension / Rear – Independent double wishbone, anti-sway bar, 10.6-in travel
Brakes / Front – Dual hydraulic disc
Brakes / Rear – Dual hydraulic disc, multi-disk wet parking brake
Tires / Front – AT26 x 8-12, steel wheels
Tires / Rear – AT26 x 10-12, steel wheels
L x W x H – 116.9 x 60.6 x 74.2 in
Wheelbase – 81.3 in
Turning Radius – 181.1 in
Ground Clearance – 11.4 in
Fuel Capacity – 9.7 gal
Wet Weight – 1311 lb
Bed Capacity – 300 lb
Towing Capacity – 1500 lb
Warranty – 6 Month (Limited Factory Warranty)