Yamaha Raptor 660R

Image It wasn’t all that long ago that the ATV sport performance segment was considered stale and undesirable by almost all of the manufacturers. Manufactures concentrated on producing utility quads that would one-up the competition, instead of developing sporty machines that might provide additional grounds for more attacks from the government on unsafe designs. For those of you who aren’t aware, the sport of ATV racing was somewhat close to extinction in the early nineties. It was the efforts of diehard enthusiasts and loyal aftermarket companies that kept ATV racing alive. That, and the fact that Yamaha decided not to put its tail between it’s legs like the other manufacturers, surrendering to what the government considered what an ATV should be all about. Yes, we consider Yamaha’s decision of keeping the high-performance Banshee in production all these years a big reason for the sport of ATV racing not dwindling down to nothing. No sport can survive without the addition of new competitors – Yamaha provided the vehicle to those new enthusiasts. Although they didn’t invent the sport quad, Yamaha rightly diserves credit for helping to keep the sport alive!

With the dark ages of ATV racing behind us as we enter the 21st century — the ATV sport performance segment is again a hotbed of activity and ATV racing is becoming more and more mainstream everyday! It’s only logical that we see more and more sport performance quads being developed. The release of the Honda 400EX proved what us ATVers in the “Scene” have known for a long time – build a respectable sport quad and they’ll sell every unit they can make! With that, Yamaha enters the batter’s box in Babe Ruth style with its all new Raptor 660R. Any motorcycle and dirt bike enthusiast will tell you — Yamaha’s R&D team have been paving the way to the industry forefront. That same modern day motorcycle ingenuity is funneling into their ATV lineup – starting with the 2001 Raptor.


The Raptor’s mighty liquid cooled. 4-stroke, five-valved, SOHC 660cc engine is the largest displacement ATV available.

Yamaha based the powerplant for the Raptor on the engine it produces for the German made MZ Baghira 660 dual sport motorcycle. The finished result is far from the motorcycle engine. In fact, the only identical parts on the two machines are the cylinder and the cylinder head. The rest of the motor is specially built for the Raptor. Yamaha’s chief ATV design engineer “Knobby” Shiraishi saw to it that the new Raptor received some of the same technology used in the potent YZ 426F dirt bike and the R1 and R6 street bikes. For this, Yamaha definitely gets credit from us. Nice job “Knobs”!

The Raptor is appropriately named after a bad-assed dinosaur that ruled the earth in its day. In the same way, the Raptor ATV will flat out dominate its competition. The 660cc four-stroke engine uses a single overhead cam, is liquid-cooled and is the first ATV to utilize a five-valve (three intakes and two exhaust) head design. It’s kept cool by a radiator fan and a large external aluminum oil tank. Yamaha wanted it to rev like their YZ426 dirt bike, but in milder fashion, so it would offer more user-friendly power and provide the durability an ATVer will definitely need. With this in mind, they gave it a bore and stroke of 100mm x 84mm with a 9.2:1 compression ratio. They used a lightweight piston/rod combo and a unique web-shaped crank design.

ImageThis specially-built cutaway Raptor shows some of the ingenuity that is the pride of Yamaha. Notice the three intake and two exhaust valves, a first of its kind on an ATV. The Raptor uses ingenuity from the race-proven YZ 426. One example is the ratchet-type five speed tranny. We never missed a shift! All this together enables the crank to spin quicker than traditional thumpers which provides somewhat of a two-stroke kind of hit to the powerband while maintaining the controllable torque of a four-stoke. High-strength valves and valve springs are used for added durability. An added bonus of the web-shaped crank and the short stroke (combined with an automatic decompression system) is that it can start easier then a traditional thumper of its massive size. Thus, Yamaha saves weight by not needing to lug around a huge battery. The motor revs out at a massive 9000-RPM — but maintains smooth power delivery via an engine counterbalancer. Yamaha says there is a rev limiter aboard but most riders will never hit it.

The motor is fed fuel from twin 33mm Mikuni carburetors. The motor features one tricked-out transmission that is sure to be appreciated. Yamaha uses a ratchet-type, five-speed, manual clutch transmission which is the same design that the YZ dirtbike lineup utilizes. In our testing, the tranny shifted flawlessly. Yamaha didn’t stop at five forward gears, they wisely elected to add a reverse gear to the tranny. At first, the racer in us didn’t like the whole reverse idea — and all of it’s added weight to the motor, but after re-thinking their strategy and seeing their reverse gear ingenuity, Yamaha did right by introducing the first ever reverse gear on a high-performance ATV. The gear was integrated into the engine and design in order to keep the size and weight down. They succeeded, the whole reverse mechanism weighs a mere 5lbs. Woods racers will definitely appreciate the ability to “back out” of bad situations.


Here’s a look at the easy to control location of the reverse mechanism – on the right front fender. Simply depress the rear brake and turn the reverse knob. Cross county racers will appreciate the fact that you can
easily click into reverse from any of the five gears!

Suspension & Chassis
All the motor in the world wont win you races or crown you king of the rec-riders, if the quad doesn’t handle. Our first concern was the weight of the mighty beast. At 398 pounds, it’s a bit heavy, but it’s not as heavy as it very well could have been. Actually it’s only 23 pounds heavier than Yamaha’s direct competition – the Honda 400EX. Yamaha did a fantastic job with balancing the weight so as to make the quad handle as best as possible. The front to rear weight ratio is approximately 46 percent to the front and 54 percent to the back, (the same as the 400EX). The Raptor is the narrowest of its competitors 43.1 inches, (2 inches narrower than the 400EX). This allows for nimble woods riding, but motocrossers will definitely want a wider stance—keeping the aftermarket busy building extended a-arms and axles. It’s wheel base is 49 inches (only a half-inch longer than the 400EX).

The Raptor is the world’s fastest production ATV!


Ground clearance is a whopping 10.4 inches! Cross County and Desert racers get ready!

The frame of the Raptor is made from round tube steel and shines with race proven technology. The front frame rails are narrow like the proven aftermarket race frames — this helps reduce bump steer to almost zero and aids in precise steering. Striving to keep weight to a minimum, Yamaha spared no expense in fabricating many of the quad’s components from aluminum, including the removable subframe and front wheel spindles. Conventional double A-arms are found up front–the upper, less vulnerable, A-arms are made from light-weight aluminum. The rear swingarm is also constructed of forged aluminum. The Raptor offers 9 inches of travel front and rear and uses a YZ-type rear linkage system. The five-way preload adjustable front shocks soaked up everything we could offer it. The rear shock includes a threaded preload adjustment plus compression and rebound damping. There are 10 clicks of rebound and 34 clicks of compression adjustments available. All of the above, without a doubt, makes the Raptor the quickest and best handling woods quad on the market.


The Raptor’s mighty liquid cooled. 4-stroke, five-valved, SOHC 660cc engine is the largest displacement ATV available. To keep the weight down on the beast, Yamaha utilized light weight aluminum wherever possible. In fact, no other sport quad has as many lightweight aluminum products right off the showroom floor. The upper A-arms, removable rear subframe, swingarm, axle carrier, chain adjuster, wheels, hubs, levers, rear shock body, oil reservoir, brake reservoirs, and front spindles (seen here) are all made of aluminum.

More for your Money
If you’ve read this far you can see that Yamaha isn’t playing around. They mean business and the competition will realize this very fast, as their sales are sure to be affected come September when the Raptor hits the market. What’s more for your money? First the quad looks new and bold. It’s definitely got that 21st century, state of the art, don’t mess with me look. It comes in Yamaha blue or a special black/gray color scheme. Probably more important than looks is it’s perfectly placed and easy to use components, like wide footpegs and a super narrow seat/tank location that provides all day riding comfort. The headlights not only look cool, the 30-watt lights actually provide adequate lighting, and they are placed in the ideal spot for nighttime visability. (We’ve yet to see a car with its headlights mounted just below the windshield – catch our drift?). Yamaha had to be thinking of the racer when they made the lighting system. The lights can be removed quickly and easily!

Other handy features include a rear brakelight/taillight , reverse/neutral indicator, parking brake, handle bar mounted choke and soft YZ style grips. Yamaha didn’t drop the ball by mounting wimpy tires on the quad. Instead the Raptor got radial Dunlop’s that should prove to be an awesome set-up. The tires resemble the ones found on the long deceased ‘88-’89 250Rs and 400EX. They provide excellent traction, while allowing a rider to power slide instead of push or roll. Brakes on the Raptor are the high-performance standard hydraulic disc all around. The Raptor stops as well as it goes.

Maintenance is a breeze with the Raptor. Unlike its Banshee cousin, chain adjustment and air filter removal and installation are a snap. The Raptor even comes with an automotive type screw on oil filter – making changing the oil (the most important thing you can do on your four-stroke ATV) almost fun! When all is said and done, is it worth the extra $1000? Or are you just as well off with a Honda 400EX? That’s a decision you’ll need to make for yourselves. If you’re a racer don’t forget to think about what class you might like to race in. As for our thoughts on which quad is a better buy, The Raptor can smoke a 400EX as is, while 400EX buyers will need to spend a thousand dollars in engine modifications to hang with the stock Raptor. ‘Nuff said.


This photo speaks for itself — that’s one cool-looking quad! Participating Yamaha dealers are offering Raptors for low monthly payments. Regardless of how long you take to pay the $6500 bucks, Yamaha offers a ton of innovative industry firsts. In our opinion, you get what you pay for. This is a quality-built machine that will take all the abuse you can give it.


A look at the controls. Notice the handlebar mounted choke.

What’s the real scoop, and is it a real racer?
You can count on an unbiased, say-it-like-it is voice at ATV Scene. Our product reports and ATV evaluations will always hold true to just that. Confident in their new and mighty 400EX killer, Yamaha respected the word of ATV Scene enough to invite us out to have our way with their new Raptor. We’ll admit, while paging through the early articles written in ATV Sport, 4-Wheel Action and Dirt Wheels, we honestly felt that Yamaha’s new sport quad sounded like yet another tank disguised as a sport quad. The details looked impressive, as they did with the Bombardier DS650, but we kept coming back to the bottom line, just like the DS, it appeared to be a heavy quad with a heavy battery, a big heavy motor, and it even has reverse! C-Mon., this isn’t what us true ATV sport performance extremists wanted from Yamaha. There’s no way this thing can be anything that we really want to go out and ride. We were flat out wrong. The Raptor is by far the best sport performance model currently on the market. We rode it all day long and dare we say, abused the heck out of it! It never missed a beat. In fact we purposely submerged it in massive amounts of water and mud – this thing is definitely waterproof! The overall feel of the quad is spot on. From handle bar placement to the ease of the durable rack-and-pinion clutch to the footpeg location – everything is laid out perfectly! It carved turns like a race quad, allowed us to comfortably air it out with confidence and provided gobs of usable power that we never got tired of – or tired from. You can ride the Raptor all day long and still feel fast and in control. Try doing that on a peppy two-stroke! With the dual carbs tied to a throttle cable, we really thought it would have the same iron-man thumb throttle design as the Banshee. Much to our approval, the Raptor’s thumb throttle was a breeze to operate and our thumb never got cramped up like they do on the Banshee. As for our concern of a “tank-like” heavy quad – we never felt the additional weight! Honest! Unless you count trying to load it in a truck by yourself.

The radiator is kept cool with an electrical powered fan.



Ease of maintenance has been well thoughtout on the Raptor. The spin-on automotive-style oil filter and Yamaha’s no tools needed watertight airbox lid are just a few examples.

Image What race classes will the Raptor belong in? As for GNCC racing – more than likely, Raptor owners will be allowed to ride in most of the classes offered including the Pro class. As for GNC MX and TT racing the Raptor will be in the Open classes. It’s our opinion that the four-stroke classes should remain at the 400cc limit.We must admit however that our torture test was conducted on cross-country type terrain and not a motocross track. We feel if we were on a motocross track, the stock Raptor would have bottomed out, hi-sided and we probably would have been passed by many 250Rs. But in Yamaha’s defense, the Raptor is ideal for cross county riding and racing.

This quad seems to be made especially for it. Yamaha is so sure that the Raptor will outdo all the competition in the cross country race circuits that they will more than likely field a team to go out and prove the Raptor’s ferocious character.

For this, we applaud them! We can’t wait to see this happen! As for motocross and TT racing, with some sure to pop-up aftermarket products, the Raptor might surprise some people. Without a doubt this Open class racer will turn some heads where ever it appears.


Current Yamaha Banshee owners will appreciate the fact that the wheels and many of the brake mechanisms are interchangeable. Notice the Dunlop radial rear tires. Great choice!


The tank appears small but holds plenty of fuel – 3.2 gallons. The narrowness of the tank/seat provides a comfortable dirt bike style fit. The seat foam appears a little thin, but we felt perfectly comfortable — even on all day rides.

Last Words
Yamaha’s whole concept of the new Raptor was to make it the best all-around sport quad available. Yes, they wanted it to be the biggest and fastest, but more importantly they wanted it to out handle the competition in every aspect. It’s this effort that we applaud them again, since we all know — anyone can go fast in a straight line. In order to accomplish their goal, Yamaha’s engineers knew they had to keep the weight down, the power up and the frame and component geometry precise. The results of their engineering impressed us to say the least. The motor revs quick and provides
unparalleled power. The Raptor was fed a well balanced and thought out diet to get it’s weight down, and Yamaha used race proven geometry on their frame and suspension components! All said, they did their homework, met their goals and surprised us with one hell of a sport quad!
Engine type………………………………Liquid-cooled, 5-valve, 4-stroke
Bore & stroke…………………………….100mm x 84mm
Carburetion……………………………….Dual 33mm Mikuni BSR
Transmission……………………………..Manual clutch, 5-speed w/reverse
Final drive………………………………… 520 O-ring chain Fuel capacity…………………………….3.2
Claimed dry weight………………………398 lbs.
Overall length/width/height…………….72″/45.2″/42.8″
Ground clearance……………………….10.4″

Front wheels……………………………..10×5.5
Rear wheels………………………………9×8.5
Front tires…………………………………Dunlop KT331 21×7-10
Rear tires………………………………….Dunlop KT335 20×9-10

Suspension/wheel travel:
Front……………………………………….Dual A-arms with preload adjustable shocks/9.1″
Rear………………………………………..Swingarm with linkage & shock with
compression & rebound adjustments & remote reservoir/8.66″

Front……………………………………….Twin hydraulic disc (161mm)
Rear………………………………………..Hydraulic single disc (220mm)

Colors………………………………………Yamaha Blue or black/gray
Suggested retail…………………………$6499
Yamaha Motor Corp.
6555 Katella Ave
Cypress, CA 90630
(714) 761-7300

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  • Comments



    1. Anonymous

      October 29, 2010 at 12:56 pm

      my raptor sucks i cant get it runnung and ive tryed everthing there is to try new ever thing

    2. Anonymous

      January 3, 2011 at 2:43 am

      raptors dont suck sounds like you do,prob just a bad wire or a clog in fuel. Make sure you have the gas on and step your troubleshooting game up lol there’s more to fixing shit than changing parts haha .

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