Amid the ongoing wave of 4-wheeled all-terrain vehicles, Yamaha foresaw the situation and introduced its first-ever four-by-four model, the Yamaha Big Bear 350 4*4. This machine, along with other pioneer quads, ensured class-leading technology at an affordable price. It was the first 4WD ATV model, which Yamaha introduced in 1987, along with the Warrior, Banshee, and Terrapro. It came with a dual-range 10-speed transmission, reverse, front-wheel Torque Control Differential, compact frame, and an electric starter.
Moreover, changes and variations introduced by the latter models enhanced its appeal to customers. As diligence pays, it became a long-time seller along with other ATV greats. Although long gone is its reign, many riders still remember this powerful machine for setting the standard for other 4*4 vehicles to follow. Let’s find out more about the Big Bear 350.
Beginning from its Start: History
No doubt, the 350 is the first 4*4 vehicle by Yamaha. With it, the company answered to the Honda’s FourTrax 350 4*4, which was the world’s first 4*4 ATV. It featured a large oil cooler, a BST34 Mikuni carburetor, a Torque Control Differential, and a dual-range 10-speed transmission. Being the first 4WD ATV model and one of the most successful releases by Yamaha, the latter produced it from 1986 to 1998. Due to this, it dominated the market for 13 consecutive years before leaving the room for the Yamaha Big Bear 400 4*4 in 2000. Furthermore, the Big Bear had three trims along with 13 models throughout its production.
Breaking Down the Yamaha 350: Specs (1997 Model)
Let’s break down YFM350 Big Bear to know what comes with this hardcore model.
A four-stroke, air-cooled, single-cylinder SOHC engine powers this vehicle. Besides that, its transversely mounted powerplant accompanies a bore-stroke ratio of 83 by 64.5 mm. it has a wet sump lubrication system, a compression ratio of 8.6:1, and an engine displacement of 348 cm3.
An estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg, which is 11.8 liters per 100 km. The 1996 model has a maximum output of 17.1 kW. And 10 liters/2.64 US gallons of regular gasoline with a research Octane number of 91+ and a pump Octane number of 87+ can fill its tank.
A Big Bear can touch a high speed of 40 mph. However, certain factors such as vehicle condition, terrain, and rider weight can alter the speed. In ideal conditions, you can achieve a high speed of 45 mph.
A five-speed constant-mesh shaft drive and a centrifugal automatic wet clutch system provide power to its wheels. It also has a primary spur gear along with a reduction ratio of 76/24. When it comes to the first gear ratio, it is 38/13. Moreover, an 11.1 –feet turning radius makes smoother handling possible.
2.9 liters/ 3.1 US quarts is the oil capacity of the Big Bear. And at disassembly, it is 3.5 liters/3.7 US quarts. However, it is 3 liters/3.2 US quarts at an oil filter change. Depending on the outer temperature, you can use 10W-30, SAE 5W, or 20W-40 Yamalube 4 5-stroke oil or equivalent to an API grade of at least SJ for optimum results.
An independent double-wishbone front suspension and swingarm rear suspension with 104mm and 98.5mm rear and front wheel travel is enclosed in its steel frame. An oil damper type/coil spring are shocks for both.
As far as dimensions are concerned, they are 76.6*43.1*45.9 inches. And 9.65 inches is the minimum ground clearance. While 48.7 inches is the vehicle’s wheelbase. The seat height is 32.9 inches, and its curb weight is 259kg.
How Much Oil It Drinks
The Big Bear needs about 3 liters of oil. Although this oil capacity is normal for its class, it is worth remembering that it is a large ATV. That is why you must keep an eye on its oil requirements before you begin the ride. Its engine, which uses a wet sump system, is responsible for this large amount of oil. This design makes less friction on its parts possible, leading to greater power output and efficiency.
Since the Yamaha 350 contains this system, it requires more than normal oil because of its large displacement. And engines that have small displacements don’t need much oil.
Is the 350 Worthy of its Price?
Anyone who wants to enjoy a fast ride will find the Big Bear satisfying. Moreover, it is equally suitable for tough terrains that can be used for commuting. Although it is a bit pricy, what you pay is worth its specs and performance. The 350 comes to win two models; one is with a low-torque engine and the second with a high-torque engine. Depending on how much power you need, you can choose a model. If your budget does not allow this and your horsepower requirement is lower, you can opt for the model with low torque.
Standing out Features of the Yamaha Big Bear
Following are some of the features that make this machine stand out on the market:
- The seat is adjustable, ensuring a perfect position for riding comfort.
- You can easily store water bottles in front or on your seat’s sides by using holders under each footrest.
- The rear rack allows you to store tools or camping gear without affecting handling while riding.
- The front bumper ensures protection against damage if you collide with something while driving.
How Big Are Legs: Tires?
The Big Bear features a tire size of 25*8*12. However, 30*10*14 is the recommended tire size for a 4*4, with a 2-inch difference in height and width. The Proper size of quad tires is significant for a number of reasons. First, it affects the handling of a vehicle. The shape and size of its tires determine how your car reacts and responds while turning corners or accelerating. Get the help of a local dealer if you are not sure about the size of the tires you should have.
Secondly, the longevity of your machine’s suspension system depends on the tires’ size. They will wear out faster if they are small, especially when the terrain is rocky and rough. If you usually ride on challenging terrain, buying bigger tires is better for a smoother ride.
Lastly, the size of tires also matters for how much air pressure is needed to keep them inflated under different conditions. If they are low on air pressure while riding, they will feel soft and mushy, which will affect safety and handling. So, the appropriate size of tires is quite important for a smooth and safe ride.
The Yamaha 230 4*4 is a well-engineered and capable quad. What further makes it truly remarkable is a small machine to touch the top speed of 40 mph, last a full day of trail riding, and haul 900 lbs of weight. Although it is not a speed monster, it is an outstanding 4-wheeler for making any off-road drive thrilling and adventurous.
Rand Frankey is OffRoadsCare freelance Content Editor. He loves offroad Travelling and bikes, jeeps, and dirk bikes. He will explain all his experience with dirt bikes and offroad vehicles which helps you to make a decision like which vehicle is right for you.