Monday, June 14


Power to the People

Piloting Working ATVs over NZ’s rugged terrain can be hard work – which is why power assisted steering is so useful, says Yamaha NZ’s Peter Payne.

“Whether you use your ATV all day for work or the occasional leisure activity, riding it shouldn’t become a wrestling match. Not only is accurate steering vital to safety – easy manoeuvring keeps you fresh to concentrate on everything else you’re doing.”

Yamaha was the first to introduce power steering technology, completely new to ATVs when it arrived on the Yamaha Grizzly YFM700FAP back in 2006. It works by using sensors to calculate speed; the ECU then calculates how much assistance is needed and activates the Electric Power Steer pump if required. That effectively adds a bit of elbow grease, with more assistance at slow speeds than high. It’s especially useful over rocky terrain, or when encountering an unexpected bump – such as rocks hidden in grass or underwater – which could throw you off line, and into trouble.

Utility farm ATVs can be heavy, especially with the attachments and extras that are sometimes fitted. That first power-steer Grizzly fielded a mighty 686cc four stroke motor and tipped the scales at 276kg – more with fuel, oil and rider aboard. But that heft was offset by the ease which it’s controlled thanks to power steer.

The first ATVs to get power steer assistance were Yamaha’s biggest, in four-wheel-drive Ultramatic form. But the tech proved so popular it’s now available on a wider range of Yamaha ATVs, including the YFM550FAP Grizzly, and the just revealed 2011 model YFM450FAP. Other brands have also followed Yamaha’s power steer lead, and it’s easy to see why. “Today’s farms are often run by mum and dad family teams, and not everyone using the equipment is built like Jonah Lomu,” Payne says.

“Statistics show that lighter riders are more at risk, as they have to work harder to control these heavy machines, and get into trouble more easily over the hilly terrain so typical of New Zealand farms and trails.”

“Power steer assistance means even a smaller rider can easily control the ATV, dramatically improving safety during the ride, and reducing concentration-draining fatigue throughout the day,” he says.


For more information, refer to

Yamaha ATV facts
- Yamaha introduced its first ATV in 1979, with the debut of the YT125 Tri-Moto
- Yamaha introduced the first shaft drive and first electric start ATV in 1983, with the YTM225DX Tri-Moto
- Yamaha introduced the first twin-cylinder ATV in 1987, the four-wheel-drive Banshee 350 sportsmodel. It won the Baja 1000 on its first outing.
- Yamaha introduced the first ATV with a cargo bed in 1989.
- Yamaha introduces “Ultramatic” with Hi Lo ratio and full engine breaking on the 600 Grizzly in 1998, based on the drive system used successfully in Yamaha snow mobiles and Golf Cars
- Yamaha introduces selectable 2wd 4wd Hi Lo ratio with “Ultramatic” on the 400 Kodiak in 1999
- Yamaha introduces the first ATV with power steering in 2006, the Grizzly 700.