Yamaha’s process of bringing a vehicle to market includes unreal amounts of testing. The teams that have the pleasure to call test engineering their career put hard miles on every unit in a variety of conditions, from 110+ degree sweltering desert heat to sub-zero freezing mountain temperatures. Part of the RMAX’s R&D process has been to drive it absolutely everywhere, and their engineers have. This led to a few different versions of the RMAX being released. While the RMAX, RMAX LE and XT-R are tuned for clawing up slick rock and wooded trails, the new RMAX Sport is tuned for high-speed bump absorption and blasting through nasty terrain with a heavy throttle foot. Here’s our 2022 Yamaha Wolverine RMAX2 1000 Sport Review.
Also, see all of the Best Off-Road Trails in Arizona.
2022 Yamaha Wolverine RMAX2 1000 Sport Review
Words: Cody Hooper // Photos: Dave Schelske
- RMax looks fantastic with blue accents and beadlocks
- GBC Terra Master tires are strong and grip well
- Sport-tuned shocks refuse to bottom
- The perfect rig for exploration at speed
Powering the RMAX Sport is the same 999cc parallel twin DOHC engine that propels the rest of the Wolverine RMAX line. Sport models do get the D-mode controller, which features three powertrain settings: Crawl, Trail, and Sport. Each mode tailors the engine’s response and power characteristic based on its intended use. Crawl offers seemingly unlimited throttle control for climbing and maximum engine braking, where Sport whacks the throttle bodies wide open in a hurry, putting all of the power to the clutches in a hurry. Trail, the middle setting, is the sweet spot for everyday use. Regardless of which mode you select, full throttle will still give you full engine power, handy for tricky climbs!
The RMAX uses Yamaha’s Ultramatic CVT, which is backed with a 10-year belt warranty. The advantage comes from an internal wet clutch that takes most of the strain and the abuse bathed in oil rather than subjecting the drive belt to it. Wheel hop, landing on the throttle, low-speed climbing – all of these things usually beat a belt into submission, but Yamaha’s RMax cluches were built to take the heat instead. Clever.
All RMAX models utilize Yamaha’s signature electronically-switched 4WD system. Selectable 2WD (locked rear end), 4WD (open front differential), and 4WD Diff Lock (all four tires locked) drive modes are a knob-turn away. The RMax will climb just about anything on the planet, including the Rubicon Trail in bone-stock form.
This is where Yamaha spent their budget on the Sport trim. Specially-tuned Fox Podium 2.0 shocks feature a different spring and damping profile than the other RMax models. Tuned for high-speed driving, the RMax Sport delivers increased bottoming resistance and body control over the other models.
RMax Sport’s Fox shocks are high and low-speed compression adjustable, and also feature threaded preload adjusters. Yamaha fitted the Podium shocks with a true crossover adjuster and dual rate springs, which allows great levels of adjustment, but there is no rebound adjuster. As it came adjusted from Yamaha, the RMax Sport felt wonderfully balanced and composed at high speed. Adjustments were not necessary in our testing.
RMax Sport models also benefit from an upgraded wheel and tire package. Sport trim and XT-R RMax models are the only ones in the line that come with a factory beadlock wheel, and these are wrapped in GBC’s trick Terra Master reversible tires. We have always loved the versatility of the GBC Terra Master tires, which feature two tread patterns, accessible by unmounting and turning the tire over before remounting.
This allows you to run a less aggressive outer tread pattern for softer, high speed trails, or flip them around if you spend most of your time on hard pack, rock crawling-type trails. Yamaha chose the “A” side for the stock Sport setup and we’re thrilled with the choice. We spent a lot of time drifting around high-speed corners during testing and the A side breaks loose much more predictably, never catching traction harshly or unexpectedly like you’ll often get with aggressive side tread. The 10-ply rating is also welcomed, as we had a dozen RMax Sports hammering around an often treacherous Arizona desert landscape without a single flat tire.
The RMAX Sport addresses some of the only shortcomings we were able to find with the standard RMax – its ability to grind through desert terrain at speed. The shock tuning of the standard model is ideal for rocky, rutted, nasty trails, where it smooths the ride out unbelievably well. In the big bumps out west, however, the RMax was a little soft. The Sport model flips that experience on its head, offering a rewarding drive at high speeds and when pushing the car in the rough.
Although Yamaha says it doesn’t sacrifice low-speed comfort with these new shocks, this model of RMAX is not for those planning on just cruising. The faster and harder you drive, the better the suspension gets, and we drove it as hard and fast as we could stomach on the challenging Arizona terrain. We slammed our way through rocky trails and up and down steep off-cambered hills, never bottoming the shocks on trail once. They soaked up every hard hit we threw at it. The Sport shocks settings also make you feel like you are always in full command. No unpredictable kicks or slide outs, and even at high speeds the ride stays relaxed.
Our testing also took us to some technical rock-crawling sections. Here, we ended up bottoming a rear shock once while trying to attack a sheer 3-4ft rock ledge, hitting it with a little too much gusto. The RMAX still carried on up and over the ledge with no damage to the stout undercarriage. Putting the D-mode controller in Crawl for these types of scenarios allows much greater throttle and wheel speed control. We couldn’t help but leave it in Sport, however, as the torquey power delivery makes you feel like you can wheelie.
Yamaha’s Wolverine RMAX Sport is a standout ride in the recreation segment, offering the best suspension in the class and a ride that will have you grinning ear to ear. It is an incredibly rewarding vehicle to drive, and now Yamaha sells one tuned for those of us who like to bury the skinny pedal every chance we get.
ENGINE & DRIVETRAIN
- Type: 999cc: 108 (EST) hp, 4-Stroke, DOHC, 4 valve per cylinder parallel twin
- Cooling: Liquid
- Fuel Delivery System: Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI) with dual 48mm throttle bodies
- Drive System Type: Ultramatic V-belt with all-wheel engine braking; L/H/N/R
- Drivetrain: On-Command 3-way locking differential; 2WD, 4WD, full diff-lock 4WD
- Power Steering: Electronic Power Steering (EPS)
- Front Suspension: Independent Double Wishbone with sway bar, 14.2” Travel
- Front Shocks: Fox Podium 2.0 dual speed compression /preload adjustable
- Rear Suspension: Independent Double Wishbone, 16.9” Travel
- Rear Shocks: Fox Podium 2.0 dual speed compression /preload adjustable
- Front Brakes: Dual Hydraulic Disc
- Rear Brakes: Dual Hydraulic Disc
TIRES / WHEELS
- Front Tires: 30 x 10R-14; GBC Terra Master
- Rear Tires: 30 x 10R-14; GBC Terra Master
- Wheels: Cast Aluminum with beadlock ring
- Overall Vehicle Size (L x W x H): 119.3 x 66.1 x 77.8 in
- Wheelbase: 86.7 in
- Ground Clearance: 13.8 in
- WET Weight: 1,839 lb
- Cargo Box Capacity: 600 lb Rear Dumping Box
- Towing Capacity: 2,000 lb
- Fuel Capacity: 9.2 gal
- Instrumentation: Full digital display in binnacle behind steering wheel, Yamaha Adventure Pro digital gauges in center dash, GPS, breadcrumbs, on-board diagnostics, etc.
- Lighting: LED interior lighting, LED Headlight w/ Accent & LED Taillights
- Steering Wheel: Adjustable tilt steering
- Other Standard Features: Sport Package features special Team Yamaha Blue colorway, beadlock wheels and sport-tuned suspension with high/low speed compression adjustable Fox Podium shocks.
- Factory: 6-month Limited Factory Warranty, Yamaha 10-year Belt Warranty, optional extended plans may be available through your dealer