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Thread: Any Yamaha Big Bear 400 owners? Are they good machines?

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Default Any Yamaha Big Bear 400 owners? Are they good machines?

    Coming up on one year left before I move to my remote property. Float plane access/snowmachine/atv (under ideal conditions). Since all heavy loads will be taken in via snowmachine, ATV's will only be used for light loads (300 lbs and under).

    I don't hunt with ATV's, and have never really been into them. For the past 15 yrs or so, I've been eyeballing the yamaha big bear 400's. I can't tell, but they seem to be the same machine. The last time I went and looked at new ones at the dealer, was in 2002. I liked em then, and still do.

    The more "thinkin" i've done, the more I realize simplicity is of most importance. I don't need a six-wheeler for general commuting.

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    I borrowed a buddy's Grizzly one year moose hunting; it was a very smooth ride, but I just prefer my Honda Foreman. They are very tough machines and give solid performance year after year. Where's your property at, Mike?
    " Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    Member EagleRiverDee's Avatar
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    You may be right. Yamaha has a tendency to stick with a winner. I ride an '07 Grizzly 700 and I don't think they've changed it a bit in the years since I bought mine. I can't speak to the Big Bear itself, but Yamaha builds a good engine. The only complaint I've had with my Grizz is the plastic is held together by cheap plastic rivets that have a tendency to break, leaving the plastic loose in spots. I imagine the Big Bear may have similar issues, but that's cosmetic.
    "If snowmachiners would adopt the habits of riding one at a time and not parking at the base of avalanche prone slopes, the number of fatalities would likely be whittled by at least a third, if not by half." ~ Jill Fredston, in the book Snowstruck, In The Grip Of Avalanches.

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    Member Derby06's Avatar
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    Good machine Mainer. I know a couple few folks that have had or still have a Big Bear 400 and like it. I have a 2001 Kodiak 400, a 2009 Grizzly 550, and a 2012 Grizzly 450. Yamahas have done me well. Trust me that '01 has plowed ALOT of snow and went thru a teenager--I don't know how that thing is still going....lol

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    I've got an 03 big bear and love it. It's not the fastest or best equipped 4wheeler but it flat out works! I've hauled sleds, timber, dirt and pushed around ridiculous amounts of snow with the thing. Only issue I've ever had was a frozen battery ( my fault) and a winch failure.

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    I have one (2009) and I've been really happy with it. It's geared low and isn't going anywhere fast, but it will go pretty much anywhere (only time I haven't been able to drive it out of something was during the Thanksgiving ice storm here in the interior a few years back). I've used it to pull stumps, train my dog team, and get me to some fishing spots over some extremely boggy trails. It comes with Mud Lites. Starts without a boost to -25.

    The only thing I've run into that I don't like is really trivial and easy to get around, and that's that if you're wearing bunny boots or other really heavy boots you can't get your toe under the shift lever. I put a hand lever on the shifter around late September and while I don't love it it's easy to use and gets around the problem.
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    Member AKsoldier's Avatar
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    I have an 07 - it's my son's machine and was my wife's before that. It's been the loaner for many of my army buddies and it has been seriously wrecked three times, and swamped (completely submerged) once. It's absolutely impossible to kill a Big Bear 400. It's a simple engine design with air/oil cooling and carburetor. It fires instantly every time though - even better than my fuel injected Grizzly 700 in cold weather. It has pull starter, which I like as a backup to the electric starter.

    It is "only" a 400, but first gear is so low that in some ways it handles heavy loads better than bigger machines with auto trannies. The only weakness I've found is the rear axle seals tend to leak, but if you aren't riding hard that won't be an issue. That only applies to the 07 and newer models with IRS though. If you buy used you can still occasionally find 06 an older straight axle models in good shape. They are stronger than the IRS design.

    Overall, if you plan to use it for work you can't find a better machine IMO. Yamaha is discontinuing that model though, so buy soon if you want a new one.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

    Noone has a more intimate understanding of, or deeper appreciation for freedom, than a soldier who has fought for it in a country where it does not exist.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Personally I prefer a belt over a manual though I wouldn't have said that back in the early days of the Polaris belt system as more than a few times it left me powerless in the middle of a creek. Now days I never get wet belt issues on either my cat or my yammi and it keeps me in the right gear going up hills while allowing me to stand on the racks through deeper water without needing to put a foot under water to shift.

    I plan to buy 450 Kodiak's for my kids. Mud litrs or 589's and a 3000lb winch then hit the trails.

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    Member Derby06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuJon View Post
    Personally I prefer a belt over a manual though I wouldn't have said that back in the early days of the Polaris belt system as more than a few times it left me powerless in the middle of a creek. Now days I never get wet belt issues on either my cat or my yammi and it keeps me in the right gear going up hills while allowing me to stand on the racks through deeper water without needing to put a foot under water to shift.

    I plan to buy 450 Kodiak's for my kids. Mud litrs or 589's and a 3000lb winch then hit the trails.
    I am with ya 110%; So much so I bought my boy the below mentioned 2012 Grizzly 450 for him Christmas of 2011. Just yesterday we gave em all a oil change and look over to be ready for spring. Then we went for a ride and he rolled his.
    Damage is relatively minor (Brake light swithch is probably the biggest $$$ fix) and he wasn't hurt which is the most imporant thing. I am still baffled on how he did it on such a small grade and we weren't going fast (he was behindme so I didn't see it). He's been riding for a solid 3 years (he is 13); I "Think" he is/was getting a little cocky. My hope is that this woke him and he regained his respect and realizes he always has to be paying attention and thinking. Could have been much worse if we were out on the trail and the bike tumbled over and over down a cliff vice just stopping upside down on the handle bars.

    Not a complete thread HiJack; I proved the Yamahas can take a lil abuse too....lol

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdubbin View Post
    I borrowed a buddy's Grizzly one year moose hunting; it was a very smooth ride, but I just prefer my Honda Foreman. They are very tough machines and give solid performance year after year. Where's your property at, Mike?
    Sounds like the big bears are solid machines, good to know.

    hey c,
    My property is south of the west branch of the Gulkana River and slightly north-west of Crosswind lake. It's a LONG hike via foot with any weight in the pack. Snowmachine is a breeze, as is float plane access, I'm on an unnamed lake. Here's the view from my building site......gonna start with an uber-cheap cabin and canoe building shop to begin with:

    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Member AKsoldier's Avatar
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    Un - named, huh? Looks like Mainer Lake to me! Make sure to put that cabin on stilts if there's any possibility of high water. I helped retrieve some equipment that got washed away from a friend's cabin this last fall when Moose Creek flooded.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

    Noone has a more intimate understanding of, or deeper appreciation for freedom, than a soldier who has fought for it in a country where it does not exist.

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    Member cdubbin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    Sounds like the big bears are solid machines, good to know.

    hey c,
    My property is south of the west branch of the Gulkana River and slightly north-west of Crosswind lake. It's a LONG hike via foot with any weight in the pack. Snowmachine is a breeze, as is float plane access, I'm on an unnamed lake. Here's the view from my building site......gonna start with an uber-cheap cabin and canoe building shop to begin with:

    That looks and sounds almost ridiculously wonderful
    " Gas boats are bad enough, autos are an invention of the devil, and airplanes are worse." ~Allen Hasselborg

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    Member 4merguide's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdubbin View Post
    That looks and sounds almost ridiculously wonderful
    It sure the heck does...!!! How many acres?

    btw......I do believe that Yamaha has been the #1 seller for the last 3-4 years. Love my 2012 450 Griz....
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

  14. #14

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    Now thats it's been brought up, I must admit the foot shifter has been an agrevation at times. A hand shifter would be a nice upgrade for those cold days where bunny boots are needed. Even that is workable but there's a bit of a learning curve. I don't think you'd regret a big bear at all but I don't know what kind of support or service you could get up that way if you opt for a new machine.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    That's one of the biggest reasons I like it.....shifting your own gears. If it's cold enough for winter boots, I'll probably be on my wide track snow machine.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    That's one of the biggest reasons I like it.....shifting your own gears. If it's cold enough for winter boots, I'll probably be on my wide track snow machine.
    I think it depends where you are. We've got between 4 and 6 weeks between the time we're in bunnies and when we've got enough snow for sleds, where we are. But a month with a hand shifter isn't the end of the world, and in the meantime it's a 4-wheeler that just goes.
    Mushing Tech: squeezing the romance out of dog mushing one post at a time

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    Sounds like the big bears are solid machines, good to know.
    Our Big Bear is a 2000 it's been bullet proof. Skidding cabin logs has tore up the plastic around the wheels from hitting stumps etc.
    Not the best for deep mud but it still got stock tires. Wife doesn't like the foot shift. Suspension isn't as smooth for long distance rough riding as the newer bigger machines. Otherwise no complaints.

    Eric

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