2010 Raptor 350 Review
2010 Yamaha Raptor 350
By ATV Mag on September 11, 2009 at 10:19 am
There she sits, a conservative beauty with good legs, a proven smile, fun personality and a price tag you can afford. The “super models” surround her in her family — and she’s over looked.
2010 Yamaha Raptor 350
As is so often the case, the cute one with the less prestigious, eh, package, is often overshadowed by the glamorous beings around her. The Raptor 700R, YFZ450R and Raptor 250 all brag about being the top-selling models in their respective classes and call her nasty names like “Warrior!” and “cheap date.”
Even the heavy-set Grizzly 700 chuckles at the playful slander.
In response to the ridicule, the Raptor 350 removes her glasses, undoes the top botton on her blouse, lets down her hair and casts her own shadow. Finally, all the guys in the room take notice. They stare at her in amazement, finally realizing they never saw her as a viable option.
Could they find space for the Raptor 350 in their garage, budget and heart? You betcha!
The Raptor 350 is the oldest sport model in Yamaha’s lineup. In 1987, it originated as the 350 Warrior. It underwent a significant makeover and name change in 2004 in order to stay competitive in the marketplace and better fit its family role as a price-point model.
Now, at $5,299, it remains an affordable option for those entering the sport ATV market.
Even though this ATV is often left out Yamaha sport quad discussions, it’s more like the others than you think. The 45mm foot pegs with kickups and lights are from the YFZ450. The handlebars and aluminum wheels come from the old Raptor 660R.
Even the flip-type parking brake is shared with both its siblings.
We’ve ridden the 350 as a Warrior and in its current Raptor platform and most recently spent a few days testing the 2009 unit in the woods at Brushy Mountain Motor Sports Park in North Carolina. It’s there, in the tight, twisting woods maze, where this Yamaha shined brightest. Let’s break down this quad’s skills and help it escape from the shadows.
The Raptor 350 fires up electronically and greets you with a conservative four-stroke hum, not really a snarl. Fed by a 38mm carb, the proven 348cc air-cooled SOHC four-stroke single offers good torque on the low end.
Its top-end vigor is not on the level of the YFZ or 700R, but it still entertains. Plus, trail rides through the trees usually require a good midrange, not a full-throttle, six-gear pinned approached. Even so, some buyers may want to explore a competitive 400cc four-stroke (Suzuki QuadSport Z400 or Honda TRX400X) if they desire a little more pop.
The six-speed manual transmission, with reverse, makes the Raptor 350 unique in the industry and is a combo many riders enjoy. It’s easy to forget about that “extra gear,” but once you push this quad, trust us, you’re happy it’s there. We found it nice to be able to leave the machine in third or fourth gear and lug it through the thick forest trails.
To engage reverse, you must control the clutch and operate a lever, located on the right side over the engine. Although the lever works in any gear, it’s more tricky to operate than the reverse knob on the Raptor 700R. And our test unit gave us some minor trouble shifting out of reverse.
Regardless, we love reverse on trail quads. It makes perfect sense and adds to this machine’s convenience package.
When it was time to blast the Raptor over the river and through the woods, this mid-sized machine had most of the tools needed for a good time.
The Raptor 350 has a sturdy, steel chassis that is silver on the blue unit and lava red on the white edition. Although this ATV is considered heavy (375 lbs. dry/398 lbs. wet) by small displacement sport quad standards, the modern 350 is 22 pounds lighter than the old Warrior.
The suspension has average travel numbers and performance. The ride feels rough and, due to its weight and tires, offers only basic adjustability and performance numbers. The five-way preload adjustable shocks help for dialing in different riders’ weight, but don’t allow the fine-tuning like the shocks on either the YFZ450R or 700R.
Of course, including those sort of shocks would also significantly up the price of the 350, and that would ruin the whole concept of the machine.
That said, the Raptor 350’s travel numbers (7.9 inches on the A-arm front suspension, 8.3 in the rear) are less than its top two competitors, the Suzuki Z400 and Honda 400X.
We rode the 350 on some narrow, rugged trails and a mild MX track at BMMS and found it rather fun to ride. However, its handling and suspension weren’t as impressive. Adequate? Yes. For our taller testers, those taller than 6 feet, the ride was cramped.
And anyone over 200 pounds said the ride was more jarring than comfortable. If you’re tall and heavy, look at another ATV.
At 180 pounds and 6-foot tall, though, I found it surprisingly comfortable and nimble in the woods. The seat is rather plush and very long and the knee grooves in the tank add to the ergonomic package.
The relatively low 32.3-inch seat height is respectable, but the short 43.1-inch width and 47.6-inch wheelbase hurt the Raptor in aggressive. Combined, the limited shocks and small dimensions make this ATV struggle more in high-speed turns. However, the rear Dunlop tires (from the Banshee) luckily are slide happy, especially in the hard-pack dirt. You shouldn’t have trouble power sliding this ATV. Both the front and rear tires’ sidewall have too much give.
We’d love to try some YFZ tires on the 350.
Still Attractive And Priced Right
The Raptor 350 won’t blow anyone’s doors off, and it’s not ideal for pure racing. However, it can handle a play day on the track. It also helps that not every buyer can afford a big-bore Raptor or a 450-class ATV.
Basically, it continues the job it started oh-so-many years ago as the Warrior. Only, unlike the Banshee, which seemed to never change, the Raptor 350 benefited from a little TLC in 2004.
So, the question is, “How much longer can this proven beauty continue, especially with models in its own family and its competitors getting facelifts?”
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