The Rubicon is the bigger of the
two machines, not only in chassis
size, but in the engine department as
well. It is equipped with a 499cc, liquid-cooled, OHV four-stroke engine.
Yamaha uses a more compact 421cc,
liquid-cooled, SOHC, four-stroke
engine. Both are carbureted, with the
Honda being slightly bigger at 36mm
versus the 31mm Mikuni in the
Grizzly. Don’t let those numbers fool
you, however; transmission calibrations, final drive gearing and weight
can sometimes help a smaller
machine run stronger.
Suspension travel numbers are
similar on the two machines; however, the Grizzly has four-wheel independent movement ( 6. 3 inches in the
front and 7.1 inches in the rear), while
the Rubicon has dual A-arms ( 6. 7
inches up front and a solid axle in the
rear with 6. 7 inches).
The axle on the rear of the Rubicon
holds a very durable, single-drum
brake. Honda is one of the last com-
panies still using the drum setup.
They use dual-hydraulic discs up
front, as does the Grizzly. The rear of
the Yamaha features a modern day,
sealed wet braking system.
Both machines have a comfortable
cockpit. The Rubicon has slightly
more room and more aggressive footpegs. All of the controls are well-placed on both units. With the handbrake pulled in, either machine will
fire up instantly at the push of a button.
An ample display on each
machine provides such information
as speed, miles traveled, warning
lights and the time. The Rubicon that
we used in this test also features the
GPScape display. It’s not a full-blown
GPS chart plotter, but it can, if used
properly, help you find your way to
your truck or mark a secret hunting
In a drag race, the Honda is a clear
winner. It comes off the line harder
and has a top speed of 60 mph,
We tested the low range on each
unit as well. In the real tight uphill
climbs, it was needed. Neither
machine bogged or came up short.
When slowing down, the Honda’s
brakes were soft. They took more pull
to slow the machine down, especially
in the rear.
When using only engine braking,
the Honda was impressive and kept
speeds at a slow and safe 2 mph.
Yamaha’s engine braking allowed for
speeds at 3-4 mph, which was also
safe even for our steepest trails.
ROCKY ROAD AHEAD
Both machines in this contest feature power steering. Honda and
Yamaha both came out with power
steering units in 2006, and they each
work great in tight terrain, softening
blows from trail obstacles and assist-
Our Rubicon was equipped with a instrument cluster featuring a GPS function. It can mark points along your ride that you may
want to save to explore another day. Although Yamaha has yet to equip any of its ATVs with GPS, the Griz has a great display panel.
Yamaha’s Grizzly 450 is their smallest liquid-cooled 4x4. Although its actual displacement is only 421cc, it packs quite a punch.
It accelerates quickly and doesn’t feel slow anywhere. With a high/low-range CVT transmission, Yamaha’s Ultramatic system
makes the most of the power that is available. Honda’s Rubicon powerplant is very unique, offering a five-speed automatic
transmission. Sift points are calibrated so well that you hardy notice the gear changes. In manual mode, you can shift via a left
thumb push button setup that is fun to operate. Power-wise, the 500 Rubicon outruns the Grizzly 450 on the top-end by 5 mph.