Year 2000 Yamaha Big Bear 400 4x4

Yamaha - Year 2000 Big Bear 400 4x4
- See it here first! -

New 4x4 model from Yamaha!

By Bill Wolf
Photos by David Dewhurst

Motorsports Network Ride Review
It's not everyday that a OEM manufacturer flies you in to a nasty off-road environment, hands you a gleaming prototype of their first year 2000 model and then asks you to go out and thrash it.This ,however, is precisely what Yamaha did to introduce the all new Big Bear 400 4x4. This shows Yamaha's great confidence in this new model, and mirrors the aggressive stance Yamaha has taken for the past few years. Kind of a softly spoken take-no-prisoners development strategy.

Our riding area consisted mainly of trails literally cut into the heavy Florida brush with our path taking us through narrow passages, around sharp off-camber bends, through mud and small streams. We also sampled open terrain covered by vegetation as well as some dusty trails. The opinions after all of this riding were all positive with most participants finding it hard to find a fault or dislike with the new model, and there is lots to like.

The new Big Bear is very manageable and provides ample ground clearance while not being overly tall which would have left even deeper scrapes in our new helmet from ducking under branches and trees. Quite frankly, if we found ourselves needing to get in or out of some really nasty terrain, the Big Bear 400 would certainly be a top pick. It's not too tall nor wide, it has enough torque to do serious work and it's tight turning radius and narrow stance made riding around trees and ruts much easier.

Where this new model surprised us most, however, was while covering nasty terrain littered with small hidden stumps, rocks, and numerous fallen branches, most of which were difficult to see until you were right up on them. While some of our counterparts rode standing up, throwing their bodies around as if we were racing, we just sat comfortably through most of this, standing only to cross obstacles like fallen trees. It was quite surprising how fast this nasty terrain could be traversed while seated on the likeable new Big Bear. The 400 was getting quite a workout and doing it's job well.

The key to riding the Big Bear is the same as with most 4x4s, use the throttle! If you ride the Big Bear like a 2 wheel drive unit it will roll under up front and push badly in flat turns. The key is using the throttle to pull you around a corner rather than push the front end. Once you learn the proper technique the 400 does fine. Use the wrong technique and you'll find yourself pushing the front end miserably through the corners.

After a full day of riding we witnessed none of the units faltering whatsoever. One was sunk in the mud up to its fender, one rolled into a pond complete with it's own baby alligator, and the front end of ours was pounded into the ground landing for a photo from about five feet up. None of the units showed any visible ill effects.

Through a day and a half of scraping these units through brush, rubbing (or hitting) trees, and even being rear ended by one fellow rider, nothing of any significance arose. The only minor occurrences included a seat to tank clearance that a couple riders found their jeans getting sucked into and a few fender bolts were pulled through the plastic under very abusive conditions (AKA scraping trees). Because these were pre-production units, Yamaha will have plenty of time to address these minor issues before production begins.

Yamaha showed complete confidence in this new model by allowing journalist to abuse them in ways most owners will would never dream of. Based on the new Big Bear 400's performance, comfort and durability we think Yamaha has another winning ATV on their hands.

Big Bear 400 4x4 Features / Model Changes

  • Made in USA
  • 400cc air cooled 4-stroke
  • 5 speed semi-automatic tranny
  • Claimed weight of 557 pounds
  • 4.0 gallon fuel tank
  • CDI ignition
  • Winch mounting bracket
  • Maintenance free battery
  • Front and rear racks
  • Front brush guard
  • Fully sealed rear brake
  • A-Arm protectors
  • Easily removable foam air filter
  • Large rear storage box
  • Improved hitch mount
  • 12 volt receptacle
  • Wider positioned head lamps
  • Reduced engine noise
  • Grease nipples on universal joint
  • Fuel cap fuel gauge


Available: July 1999
Colors: Red, Beige, Hunter Green
Suggested Retail Price (USA):
$5,399 (4X4), $4,599 (2WD)
Note: Special camo colored Buckmaster Edition available for $5,699. (click for photo)

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