Machinery Chatter

Side-by-Side Manufacturers on a Roll

Dan Miller
By  Dan Miller , Progressive Farmer Senior Editor
As the side-by-side market explodes, configurations continue to grow in size and diversity. The Yamaha Viking VI seats six and has a soft sun top. (Photo courtesy Yamaha)

U.S. side-by-side manufacturers continue to unveil new models and product updates in a market that appears to have only upside potential. A New York Times article quotes industry sources that estimate 2014 sales at 240,000 units and rising at an annual rate of 15% in recent years. If that estimate holds true, side-by-side production could reach nearly 270,000 units this year, some models pushing truck-like prices of $20,000.

The Times article further states that some industry analysts believe annual side-by-side sales have now surpassed sales of all-terrain vehicles (ATV) -- an off-road innovation that has found favor with farmers and ranchers since 1970 when Honda produced its first, three-wheeled, 7-horsepower US90 ATV ($595).

This month's newest side-by-side rollout comes from Yamaha Motor Corp., USA. The manufacturer has been on a roll itself in 2015. Early on, Yamaha introduced its new recreational Wolverine side-by-sides; it followed with an updated Grizzly utility ATV and a new line of Kodiak 700 ATVs designed specifically with farmers and ranchers in mind. Each of these vehicles runs on the same 708cc, liquid-cooled, fuel injected, four-stroke engines.

Newest to its 2016 model year line, Yamaha has announced upgraded models of its three- and six-passenger, 686cc Viking series side-by-sides (the six-seater goes by the name of the Viking VI). Yamaha also has announced production of a new Ranch Edition Viking VI. The Viking Ranch Edition sports a copper metallic color, brown interior, soft sun top, silver cast aluminum wheels, rearview mirror, mud flaps, overfenders, underseat storage, a rear bed grab bar and front brush guard.

The 2016 Viking model year updates include automotive-style, two-stage door latches and a parking brake warning buzzer. Yamaha also tackled noise and vibration with rubber damper plates, a more rigid chassis, and cylinder head torque rod for a better ride.

Yamaha reinforced the Viking's steel cargo bed. It now includes mounting points on the bed rails and a rubber cargo bed to reduce noise and vibration. The cargo bed is large enough to hold a pallet weighing up to 600 pounds. The Viking is rated to pull 1,500 pounds by way of a standard, two-inch hitch.

The Viking line includes Yamaha's On-Command drive system with 2WD, 4WD and 4WD differential lock. Electric power steering (EPS) is an option with select models. The Vikings have 12 inches of ground clearance and upturned side rails for improved transition over trail obstacles.

Color options for the 2016 Viking EPS and Viking VI EPS are Hunter Green, Red and Realtree Xtra camo. All Viking models come standard with a sun top. Yamaha's manufacturers suggested retail price begins at $11,999 (without power steering). The Ranch Edition begins at $15,499

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