Yamaha Ride Reviews - Year 2000 ATVs
(Blaster / Warrior / Banshee)

All New Kodiak 4x4 Automatic 400
Is this the most comfortable 4x4 for rugged terrain?
(Action photos by: Brian Nelson & Frank Hoppen)

After announcing the all-new Big Bear 400, Yamaha is now unleashing an all-new Kodiak. This new 401cc 4-stroke SOHC powered machine is loaded with an impressive and extensive list of features.

  • Liquid cooled 401cc, SOHC, 4-stroke single w/balancer
  • High and low range with reverse
  • On-the-fly 2wd to 4wd
  • Semi-oval slide carburetor
  • High voltage CDI unit
  • Stainless steel header pipe
  • Spin-on type oil filter
  • Plush suspension, 6.3" rear, 7.1 front
  • Electric start
  • Bodywork provides superior protection from splashing mud 
  • Winch mounting base
  • Center mount hitch bracket
  • Thick comfy seat
  • 4 gallon fuel tank
  • Fuel gauge
  • D/C power outlet
  • Shaft Drive
  • Under seat storage

Yamaha designed a new 401cc engine and placed it in a new lightweight frame. As with the new Big Bear, the Kodiak carries it's water resistant electrics up high under the seat where the airbox lid is removed simply by undoing a few clips.

The most notable features on the Kodiak include its ability to engage 2 or 4 wheel drive at the push of a button and its use of Yamaha's Ultramatic transmission which utilizes both a centrifugal clutch and a sprag (one way) clutch behind the primary pulley. The transmission offers high rang, low range, reverse and park where the transmission is engaged to prevent the machine from moving. 

Riding the Kodiak is a very nice experience. The wide and deeply padded seat is very comfortable as is the Kodiak's seating position. It's so comfortable in fact, we have to rate it a full step above the new Big Bear which we rated "very comfortable" in our Big Bear ride review. Since there is no foot shifter or clutch to operate, you can focus on tackling rugged terrain. When you do, you'll find this machine does an excellent job of transferring power to the ground. Never once did we question the power delivery provided by the Ultramatic transmission. In fact, we were able to carry the equivalent weight of 3 adults up a narrow steep hill without a bit of worry or fuss.

High range worked just fine for general riding, though it was more fun to switch into low range in the woods for blasting around. It was also great to have the choice of 2 or 4 wheel drive available at the push of a button. We used 4 wheel drive in the mountains and switched to 2 wheel drive when we reached flat dirt roads or trails. To change between the two was as easy as pushing a button with your right thumb - even on the fly! (editors note: the official word in the owners manual is that you should stop before switching between 2 and 4 wheel drive) 

Part of the reason for this could be that the handling characteristics change considerably on any ATV when switching from 2 to 4 wheel drive. With only the rear wheels powering an ATV, steering is lighter and the rear steps out when powering through a corner. In 4 wheel drive, you use the throttle much differently as you actually keep on the gas more so the front tires can grab and pull you around corners. The steering input required also gets heavier when in 4 wheel drive mode. On the Kodiak, the steering input required in 4 wheel drive is light compared to most.

The new Kodiak is similar in overall size to Yamaha's own Big Bear, though it feels taller and roomer to sit on. The Kodiak feels narrow and turns sharp - all features that help when traveling through tough or tight conditions.

One of the remarkable things about the Kodiak, other than it's low/high range and on-the-fly 2/4 wheel drive selection, is the machines overall comfort and protection for the rider in wet or muddy conditions. We rode a number of different ATVs through tight, muddy, slippery, rocky mountain trails in the rain. Though the Kodiak may not have been the absolute fastest to get from point A to Point B (it's not a slouch) it was by far the most comfortable and it kept the splashing water and mud off it's rider best. It was also easy to ride as no shifting was required. If you simply want to get through the woods to Grandmothers house in great comfort, stay clean, and not hassle with shifting - the new Year 2000 Yamaha Kodiak is for you!

I hadn't ridden a Yamaha Blaster for years. I knew the model remained unchanged except for it's colors and graphics. I could remember how much fun the little Blaster had been to ride, but how would it do with a 190 pound rider on a moto cross track?

We'll, very well thank you. It's easy and fun to ride, and the 320 pound (dry), 195cc 2-stroke engine puts out a good amount of horsepower, more in fact than I remembered.  Being over 6 feet tall, the Blaster is quite small for me but it's still a blast to ride. (no pun intended) If it can be this much fun for me it's got to be even better for those who aren't so large and for riders learning how to ride sport ATVs. We don't need to claim the Blaster is a winner, it's sales numbers over the years prove that.

Last time we checked, finding a used Worrier was very difficult as nobody wants to part with their used unit. If they did, it would go fast. We've always thought of the Worrior as one of the industries best all around ATVs, and riding one again only confirmed these feelings. The 348cc 4-stroke engine puts out lots of low-end grunt as well as a healthy mid range power surge. What's not to like about an ATV with good sport riding suspension, electric start, reverse, and a 6 speed tranny?

If we loved riding sport ATVs (and we do) and had to purchase a four wheeler for getting around the farm or ranch, we'd choose the Worrier for sure. Once the chores were done we'd be out somewhere on the back 40 making a track to ride on. Our only complaint is that we'd like to see Yamaha update the low seating position on this machine. It was designed long ago and we now know that it's possible to create a more natural seating position than the Warrior offers. 

Long live the liquid-cooled 2-stroke, twin-cylinder, 347cc Yamaha Banshee. How long can Yamaha keep selling this older model? Ride one and you'll answer "forever". Before you ride one however, you'd better be quite adept at riding ATVs or you'll find that you and the Banshee soon part company. This one's for advanced riders only. Just punch the thumb throttle and you'll know full well what we speak of, as the Banshee is one heck of a quick ride.

Acceleration provided by this twin-cylinder two-stroke is most excellent. If you're asleep at the switch it will wake you up. If you're a power junkie you'll get your fix. 

In racing circles it would be called big and heavy as this sporty ATV is limited by it's weight and overall size. In recreational sport rider circles it would be labeled stable and awesomely fast. We rode it around a smooth outdoor mx track in Washington state and found it to be great and addictive fun. Long live the Banshee!

Bill Wolf

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