The Yamaha Viking: An Overview And Analysis
Dec 30th 2021
The Yamaha Viking is a generalist side-by-side; and although it’s not the best at anything, it’s above average at everything. Many would-be UTV owners go with the Yamaha Viking for comfort and space, while others choose the Viking because it is reliable and relentless in the field. Like all off-road vehicles, there are pros and cons to the Yamaha Viking that make it better suited for specific riding styles / riding conditions. So if you’re debating whether or not to add a Yamaha Viking to your fleet, here is an overview of the vehicle and its various models that should help you parse things out!
What Is The Top Speed Of A Yamaha Viking?
The Yamaha Viking is far from a speed demon, but it’s guaranteed to get you through hell and back! If you’re coming from a Rhino, you’ll feel like a NASCAR driver behind the wheel of a Viking. But compared to larger-CC UTVs like the Polaris Ranger 1000 or the Can-Am Commander 1000, the sub-700CC Viking is slower and less powerful.
With a wide-open throttle on a long / flat stretch of road, you can expect the Yamaha Viking to hit a top speed of around 50-52 MPH -- but it takes a while for the Viking to hit these speeds, and the motor really starts to buzz when you do. With a power output of around 50HP using a single-cylinder engine, the Yamaha Viking isn’t the best machine for fast-pace riding or racing. What it lacks in power and speed, however, it makes up for with comfort and reliability!
How Loud Is The Yamaha Viking?
If you ask around, many riders will tell you that the Yamaha Viking is a little noisy at speed. When compared to vehicles like the Honda Pioneer and Kawasaki Mule, the Yamaha Viking is a tad loud. But when compared to the decibel outputs of a Polaris or BRP side-by-side, you’ll find that the Viking is similarly loud.
While you’ll never make your Viking as quiet as a Tracker 800SX, there are several Yamaha Viking accessories you can add to your machine to reduce in-cab noise. Rear soft panels, doors, and cab enclosures can be installed, or you can glue soft truck bed carpet to the roof of the machine to prevent sound waves from reverberating back at you. Additionally, appling bed carpet or other soundproofing materials around the air box and inside the gaps between the seats and the bed will also help to reduce in-cab noise. Add a muffler / exhaust silencer to the mix and you’ll lower the noise emissions of your Viking even further!
Pros And Cons Of The Yamaha Viking
Tradeoffs are unavoidable in the side-by-side world, and no machine is better than every other machine in all domains. One of the biggest pros of owning a Yamaha Viking is that it'll always be ready for you at home instead of sitting around at the shop being fixed / repaired.
In addition to being as dependable as the day is long, the low range of the Yamaha Viking is also unmatched by anything else. The machine is a mountain goat, and it’ll take you anywhere you want to go. Adding clutch pucks and a clutch kit for rock crawling will enable you to make technical ascents, and disconnecting the rear sway bar can also help with better articulation when crawling.
On top of being easier on the wallet, another major reason why riders choose the Yamaha Viking is for comfort and spaciousness. The Viking 6 is particularly roomy, and whether you use it around the farm, at the gun range, or to booze-cruise slowly around two-track roads, you’ll be more than impressed with the seating and overall comfort levels of the Yamaha Viking!
With regards to the cons of a Yamaha Viking, the main area of discontent is power. If you like speed and high-torque in thick mud, the Viking might not meet your needs / expectations. This is particularly annoying when you’re riding in groups with other UTV owners and struggling to keep up. In fast-pace situations, the Yamaha Viking feels underpowered. But if you’re going to use it strictly for slow trail riding, you’ll be more than satisfied with a Viking.
We’ve yet to meet a rider who's become stranded due to their Viking breaking down, nor have we met a rider who’s had to stop and replace a belt in the field. That being said, there are some issues that plague the Viking. Thankfully, though, most of these issues are easy to address.
One drawback of the Viking is that their fans are junk, and this is but a small aspect of broader overheating issues that can lead to blown head gaskets with little to no warning. Things like high-output fans will help to prevent overheating, and so too will cleaning your radiator after particularly dusty / muddy rides. Adding heat shields to the exhaust, installing a slip-on exhaust tip, and blocking off the air injection system can also mollify heat-related problems.
The turning radius of a Yamaha Viking 6 can make it difficult to corner / turn around, and in some cases, the Yamaha Viking e-brake squeaks. There’s not much you can do aside from installing shorter axles to achieve a tighter turning radius, but to stop your e-brake from squeaking, simply get up to speed (25-30 MPH) and slam on the breaks a couple times -- repeat as needed if the squeak returns after the UTV sits idle for long periods of time.
Every manufacturer will produce a lemon or two, but on the whole, the systemic problems that Viking owners suffer from pale in comparison to other UTV owners. Talk to a Maverick owner and chances are they’ll tell you stories of endless belt replacements, broken CV shafts, and a host of other weaknesses / defects that had to be overcome.
Closing Thoughts On The Yamaha Viking
Yamaha Vikings won’t beat you up on long rides, which is perfect for individuals who don’t like letting their age interfere with their passion for off-roading. Like all utility-style side-by-sides, the ride of a Yamaha Viking can be a bit stiff -- but this is easily fixable with some basic suspension upgrades. As far as cab room goes, few UTVs come close to the spaciousness of a Yamaha Viking. The fully locked rear axle can be a bit hard on your yard, but aftermarket tires with less-aggressive tread patterns will help to minimize turf damage while turning. Some Viking owners would like a second cylinder in their rig for extra horsepower, a quieter motor, and more quickness off the line. But as far as speed is concerned, comparing the Yamaha Viking to other side-by-side models is like comparing apples and oranges -- it really just depends on the flavor you like. Even with a big bore kit / tune that ups your Viking’s cylinder displacement to 834 cubic centimeters, it’ll still lack the raw power that many other stock UTVs deliver. But because the Viking is roomy, comfortable, and reliable in the factory configuration, it’s one heck of a machine for feeding cows around the farm, conducting work around the deer lodge, or riding trails with the family!