YAMAHA WOLVER­INE X4 SE

WE TRIED TO BREAK THE YAMAHA WOLVER­INE X4, BUT IT MAY VERY WELL BE THE VE­HIC­U­LAR VER­SION OF LOUIE ZAMPERINI

Recoil - - Front Page - BY JOHN SCHWARTZE PHO­TOS BY IAIN HAR­RI­SON

RECOIL takes pride in test­ing man­u­fac­turer claims. When­ever com­pa­nies want to take a chance on us try­ing out their prod­ucts, es­pe­cially the four-wheel kind, there’s a rav­en­ous an­tic­i­pa­tion among the staff akin to that of wolves find­ing stray deer. Given the chance to try out Yamaha’s new Wolver­ine X4 was some­thing we wel­comed with open arms and a heavy right foot. We were ready to treat it like the BATFE treats Branch Da­vid­i­ans, but our in­abil­ity to snap, burn out, blow up, or oth­er­wise re­turn the ve­hi­cle to Yamaha in pieces with a heart­felt “oops” and shrugged shoul­ders earned this UTV some well-de­served re­spect.

You may re­mem­ber our cov­er­age of the Mini­gun Mo­tor­cy­cle in Is­sue 30, which was built on a Yamaha R1 Su­per­bike chas­sis. Since its builders chose the afore­men­tioned plat­form to cre­ate that mon­stros­ity around, we knew break­ing the Wolver­ine would be a chal­lenge. Yamaha al­ready had the ben­e­fit of the doubt be­cause of its rep­u­ta­tion for qual­ity. But first a lit­tle his­tory on this model to pro­vide some con­text. Its abil­ity to suit a va­ri­ety of tasks was an eye­brow raiser.

The Wolver­ine has been a part of Yamaha’s fleet for a while and evolved to in­cor­po­rate the beefier ben­e­fits of a util­ity chas­sis, but in a sportier pack­age. With the re­cent ad­di­tion of the X4 four­pas­sen­ger ver­sion with slid­ing/folding rear seats, it’s got more room for pas­sen­gers and gear. Want a solid trail ex­plorer? Check. Look­ing for a ve­hi­cle that’ll per­form ranch­ing or agri­cul­tural tasks and also dou­ble for recre­ational use? Good to go. Need to haul up to 2,000 pounds worth of trail­ered an­cil­lar­ies? You see where we’re go­ing with this.

One of the com­mon mis­con­cep­tions buy­ers of­ten have when kick­ing tires is en­gine size. They have their heart set on a dis­place­ment or horse­power amount that’s quite a far cry from real-world prac­ti­cal­ity. As the say­ing goes: Horse­power sells cars; torque wins races. Sure, the Wolver­ine X4 might not keep up with other mod­els in­tended for pedal mash­ing across flat desert, but we wouldn’t be rac­ing the Mint 400 with it. When it comes to the needs of the firearms crowd, it checks off the prover­bial dance card nicely with a good equi­lib­rium of power, bal­ance, han­dling, and stor­age ca­pac­ity.

To get a lit­tle gran­u­lar for the gear­heads, here’s what you get in terms of driv­e­train. The en­gine is a four-stroke 847cc liq­uid-cooled twin-cylin­der that’s sur­pris­ingly quiet. It’s all hooked to an Ultramatic V-belt drive trans with low, high, neu­tral, and re­verse gear­ing. An on-com­mand lock­ing dif­fer­en­tial gives the driver 2WD, 4WD, and full diff-lock 4WD ca­pa­bil­i­ties, rather than the sens­ing ver­sion seen on some other UTVs that’s au­to­mat­i­cally ac­ti­vated when the ve­hi­cle thinks it needs to come on.

We plot­ted our route from Phoenix to Prescott, Ari­zona, and back via old min­ing roads, as we felt the to­pog­ra­phy and land­scape would more than ad­e­quately test how much dam­age the Wolver­ine would or wouldn’t with­stand. Although it may not have the speed some of its con­tem­po­raries do, when we were out on the open road with it, it had more than enough power to get where we needed to go and carry what we needed to carry.

In­de­pen­dent rear sus­pen­sion with self-lev­el­ing shocks pro­vide for a pretty com­fort­able ride. You cer­tainly won’t get this kind of com­fort from a Jeep Ru­bi­con used in the same en­vi­ron­ment with­out mod­i­fy­ing the hell out of the sus­pen­sion. With the amount of travel the Wolver­ine of­fers, it gives damn near a Tro­phy Truck level of sta­bil­ity and re­spon­sive­ness. The power steer­ing doesn’t over­com­pen­sate to the point where the ve­hi­cle is con­trol­ling you, rather than you con­trol­ling it. Although some might think it’s not re­spon­sive enough, we think the Wolver­ine lets the driver sense the feed­back and ad­just to the road con­di­tions. Since it’s meant to haul mul­ti­ple pas­sen­gers as well as cargo, we think that’s just fine.

Like a good AR, the free­dom to ac­ces­sorize to your per­sonal pref­er­ence is an­other ben­e­fit this pack­age has go­ing for it. Adding a winch or snow­plow, up­grad­ing to a heated and en­closed cab ver­sion to go hunt­ing with a few guys in the dead of win­ter, or adding a stereo are just some of the in-house op­tions, and that doesn’t even scratch the sur­face of what af­ter­mar­ket com­pa­nies have out there.

Our jour­ney through the rocky desert land­scape was in no way meant to be po­lite. We tra­versed some ar­eas that looked like some­thing meant for the Mars Rover at wide-open throt­tle. There may have even been some shouts of “ramming speed!” said among the oc­cu­pants. We en­coun­tered plenty of ravines and boul­ders in our path that we ne­go­ti­ated with­out a prob­lem.

There were de­lib­er­ate and oc­ca­sional “bangs” that came from the frame and sus­pen­sion com­po­nents hit­ting things that were even enough to star­tle us into get­ting out for a quick in­spec­tion. De­spite the alarm­ing sounds of our ag­gres­sive driv­ing, we never got a flat, started leak­ing fluid, or ex­pe­ri­enced a break­age that side­lined the ve­hi­cle … so we kept right on go­ing un­til the gas tank dried up.

So what does all this equate to? Com­pared to its con­tem­po­raries, it’s cheaper than a Po­laris Gen­eral, has more room than a Honda Pi­o­neer, and of­fers more power than a Kawasaki Teryx. So if you’re in the mar­ket to pur­chase a UTV, you may want to kick tires or take one out for a spin to get a feel for our ex­pe­ri­ence with it. We wished we had more time with it. Not only be­cause it was fun, but we re­ally, re­ally wanted to break it. Although we failed in that mis­sion, our con­clu­sion is that it’s a sound in­vest­ment.

It took us five years to make this Da­m­as­cus blade buyer’s guide hap­pen. Why so long?

Was it in­sane amounts of pro­cras­ti­na­tion?

Nope. That’s just how long it took for the price of this spe­cial­ized steel to go down enough for com­pa­nies to of­fer them at quan­tity. While some cus­tom knife­mak­ers still charge “un­ob­tainium” prices for them, most pro­duc­tion knife com­pa­nies now have at least one Da­m­as­cus model that fits in the more reach­able “lim­ited edi­tion” range.

Why so ex­pen­sive? Da­m­as­cus is a com­bi­na­tion of at least two dif­fer­ent types of steel that — af­ter many time-con­sum­ing and ex­pen­sive pro­cesses known as pat­tern weld­ing — forms a sin­gle piece with dis­tinc­tive wavy lay­ers.

Named af­ter the Syr­ian city where it gained a world­wide rep­u­ta­tion, Da­m­as­cus steel is ac­tu­ally a mod­ern re­cre­ation of an­cient wootz steel from In­dia. Sci­en­tists don’t know how the In­dian al­loy was made, but schol­ars know that it was used in swords im­ported to the Mid­dle East start­ing in at least the 3rd cen­tury. Mod­ern knife­mak­ers say their Da­m­as­cus blades of­fer sim­i­lar ben­e­fits — a durable com­pos­ite that doesn’t chip or break (like soft steel) yet is in­cred­i­bly strong and stays sharp (like hard steel). Oh, and they’re de­li­cious eye candy for the knife knut.

MAKE: 1 GIMBAL

FLIR MODEL:

M324

www.flir.com URL:

2 LIGHTBAR

MAKE:

OnX6

MODEL:

10” LED Lightbar

URL:

www.ba­jade­signs.com

3 LIGHT S

MAKE:

Baja De­signs

MODEL:

XL Spor t LED

URL:

www.ba­jade­signs.com

4 GUN SCABBARD

MAKE:

Con­di­tion Zero Mounts

MODEL:

Rack­bone Clamp

URL:

con­di­tionze­ro­mounts.com

1 STOR­AGE

MAKE:

Daystar

MODEL:

Cam Cans

URL:

www.4wheel­par ts.com

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