2001 Yamaha 660R Raptor
Yamaha 2001 RaptorYamaha 2001 660R Raptor

Yamaha 2000 660R Raptor
                           660cc 4-stroke
                           Liquid cooled, 5 valve
                           Dry Sump
                           Claimed weight of 389 pounds
                           Reverse - standard
                           Electric start - standard
                           Tooless air box lid
                           Detachable headlights
                           Spin-off oil filter
                           Handlebar mounted choke
                           3.2 gallon tank
                            Dual carb
                            70 mph+ top speed
                            9,000 rpm
                            Aluminum Removable sub frame
                            Dunlop Radial tires
                            10.4" ground clearance

At the risk of being first in the reviews area I like to take a shot at it. I purchased a 2001 Raptor ($9299Cdn) early this year and have spent enough time in enough different environments that it "may" be useful to share my opinions of the ATV.

The first thing you notice about the Raptor is it's free revving engine. The second is the low end Torque, the third, how high it revs. Pretty much everything good about this quad starts from the engine. If Yamaha had put a 350cc in it and made it a replacement for the Warrior it wouldn't have worked. But with 660cc under the tank this thing books. I mean 2-stroke books. The Raptor finally (!) gives the 4-stroke rider the ability to run with stock, or mildly modified 2-strokes in every environment. In the sand the Raptor will run with, or accelerate past, a stock Banshee. In the tight bush the Raptor eats all comers for breakfast. Only on the track have I been left a little wanting. In corners, the Raptors height is it's short coming and it *feels* a little tippy. It's not, it just feels that way. The 400EX Honda will dominate on moto-x track corners. Mind you, just when you are starting to get upset about being blow away in the corner, 10' of straight section comes and you reel the mighty EX in like it's a flailing fish.

Yamaha really hit the mark with the ergos on the Raptor. It feels like a tall 300EX (Honda) with the suspension of a 250 dirt bike. I've jumped this thing higher and farther than I have ever jumped anything ( 15-20' up & 75+ feet distance) and it lands with ease. It's power hits low and hard. Not violent, but a controlled pull similar to an airplane on take off. At high speed the Raptor becomes a bit nervous and will wander a bit, most likely because of it's short length, but those of us that have dirtbike history will not be bothered in the least, and those without will get used to it quickly. Arm pump and fatigue are simply something other people have when you ride a Raptor. The clutch and brake levers and throttle position are perfect and light.

The clutch, however, is too light. Yamaha really screwed up here. The clutch is a left over from a 600cc street cycle that Yamaha used to produce mostly for Europe. It fades while riding, requires constant adjusting and when you finally (and you will) forget to adjust the clutch free play - end of clutch. Fast. Like in five minutes. Not good. Yamaha does now make a replacement clutch (gee I wonder why) with heftier springs that is much more durable. DO NOT let the dealer change the clutch for you unless they have done it before. The factory manual states that the motor must be removed to change the clutch. Can you say $$$? It's crap. I did my own in 20 minutes at my in-laws place on the side of a mountain. There is one bolt (an 8mm) at the bottom-rear corner of the cover that will not come all the way out with the engine in the frame - so leave it in. Undo the threads and wiggle the cover out with the bolt in place. No biggie. Just don't forget to have the bolt in place when you put the cover back on.

I find the Raptor to be typical Yamaha with respect to the maintenance as well. I don't think the Yamaha factory has discovered lock tight. Every single ride from brand-new, stuff fell off until I had everything lock tighted. Nothing major, just a bolt here and a bolt there. When you purchase a Raptor - purchase a jug of lock tight too.

The brakes are definitely not Honda. They work. They stop the machine adequately, but I'm used to 1 finger lock the front tires up braking. Not so with the 660. I got used to it very quickly, but now when I ride a 400EX or 300EX I have a tendency to shoot myself over the bars the first few times I clamp on the front brake.

I've had a few incidents with the Mighty Raptor as well. In Florence Oregon I jumped far and high enough that on landing I knocked the carburetors off. Weird. Just like that. Impact, stall. The carb boots are the stupidest I've ever seen. They seem way to large for the carb. Yamaha must have had a bunch of carb boots left over from the same machine that the wimpy clutch came from. After I re-engaged the carbs I jumped the same dune again - only harder. Landed hard enough to break my hand - the carbs didn't fall off though. Funny thing is that the landing was surprisingly soft. I felt I could have jumped farther yet. But alas, the landing was canted (on an angle) and anyone that has spent time in the air on a quad knows that means one tire hits first and the machine violently slams the rider to the low side. End of hand. I've rolled this thing over backwards (that's real easy with the 660 under the tank) I've even rolled it sideways a time or two. The plastic holds up reasonably well - I haven't broke anything body work yet, and the shocks still go up and down so things must be o.k. Probably the worst incident I had was attempting a triple at the local moto-x track. Don't do that. And if you do, don't miss. I did. Classic short landing, right into the face of the third bump. I have a DG front bumper on my Raptor - don't do that either. It sticks out waaaaay to far. Well, it planted into the hill and dug a furrow that Hardcore Icon could plant crops in, but surprisingly when the wheels finally hit the Raptor absorbed most of the rest of the impact, much like a dirtbike, and proceeded over the hill. That was after I wore the handlebar about 2 inches below my chest protector and broke 2 ribs. Not good. Funny, I didn't even crash. I'm seriously thinking about taking my plasma cutter to the DG bumper though.

Do not, under any circumstances purchase the GYT-R Carbon Fiber pipe. It is a total hunk of failing crap. The bolt holes rip out of the carbon immediately, the clamps are to loose and result in the pipe constantly falling off, and it's generally poor quality. Yamaha did actually warranty mine and traded me the GYT-R Aluminum pipe. Much better. Clamps still don't fit worth a crap, but a rivet through the rear clamp into the pipe and a hose clamp instead of the factory clamp on the front of the pipe fixed my issues.

The GYT-R A-arm guards? Get 'em. The GYT-R aluminum rear skid plate? Get it. Now. Before you ride. Yamaha put a plastic skid plate on a 660 sport quad?? O.k. who's joking over a Yami? Also, cut out the restriction in the airbox intake (it's obvious) and put a 155 main in the left side and a 160 main in the right side. (at sea level) big difference. And just for fun, drop the front sprocket a tooth. The Raptor is too high geared from the factory. This wears the clutch out faster and results in the rider doing 90+mph through tight bush - not good either. The handlebars are crap and will bend the first time you crash. Replace them with Renthal ATV (I like the Honda bend) bars. The don't break, end of problem.

The Raptor is typical high performance, full out, rock and roll, sport machine. And in being such, it requires a little more attention. Conversely, the Honda's require no attention. Well, this isn't a Honda. However, nothing major (knock on wood) has ever gone wrong with the Raptor and when you wheelie past a 300EX that is running full throttle, the maintenance issues seem less of a point. This thing moves. Flat out goes like $hit. Enough to actually scare you. No question Banshees can run in the same time zone as the Raptor, but just. But 2 strokes don't hit down low like a big 4-stroke does. And herein lies the magic behind the machine. Even the great big rubber tired ski-doo (DS650) doesn't hit like a Raptor. That good solid kick in the but, right from idle, in the wrong gear, that only a Raptor can deliver. Until someone builds a bigger one, this thing is the "big dog" in that dept. That's what gets a rider through the bush faster then the other guy, or lugs you over the top of a hill, or puts that big crap-eating grin on your face as the front end lofts. In most of the gears. It is predictable power. I can walk the Raptor through 5 gears of wheelie and never feel uncomfortable. I could do that on my 300EX as well, but I wasn't doing 70+ mph when the front end came down.

If you want a machine that requires no maintenance, buy a Honda. Pure and simple. If you want a machine that dominates in the sand, modify a Banshee. If you want an out of the box, modern rocketship that will run anywhere exceptionally......well, for me, the choice is obvious.

I invite comments or other views, just write me at Rich@gw-networks.net and I'll post your responses.


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