2021 Yamaha Wolverine RMAX2 Review

2021 Yamaha Wolverine RMAX2 Review

Date:Feb 04, 2021

The Yamaha RMAX is an ideal candidate for anyone who uses their UTV at home or at work, but still wants all of the trail capability a sport UTV offers.



Strong engine, power everywhere

Smooth CVT, great belt life

Plush, long-travel suspension

Comfortable for work or play


Like the Wolverine 850, the RMAX also gets its motivation from a parallel twin-cylinder engine with dual overhead cams and four valves per cylinder. The engines share some design elements, but are worlds apart in terms of how they’re built. The RMAX engine uses a shorter stroke than the Wolverine 850, but a much larger bore. The Wolverine RMAX 1000’s engine produces around 40 more horsepower than the 850, and utilizes Yamaha’s all-new Ultramatic transmission. The engine is strong, snappy, and perfectly happy hauling the RMAX around at speed.

The RMAX2 and RMAX4 also have Yamaha D-Mode throttle control, which is an adjustable ECU mapping program that affects how the vehicle responds to throttle inputs. It also changes the way power is fed in, creating very different-feeling profiles for each of its three modes. We saw 71 MPH in dirt, a healthy top speed and plenty for the sport/ute segment. Others have claimed even higher. Yamaha gave the RMAX a massive power jump from the Wolverine 850, and it is much appreciated out on the trail!

Yamaha’s newest iteration of the Ultramatic CVT transmission uses much beefier parts than the smaller Wolverine X2/X4 does. The clutches themselves are dimensionally larger and feature upgraded sheaves, tuning, and bracing for longer life with the RMAX’s uprated power output. Yamaha is proud of the design achievements they have made with the Ultramatic transmission, and are now offering the industry’s ONLY 10-year-belt warranty. It applies to all Assembled in the USA 2019 & UP models with the Ultramatic transmission.


Starting with a form of the base Wolverine’s frame, Yamaha added the bracing and support necessary to cope with the increase in power, speed, tire size, weight, suspension travel, and velocity. The Wolverine 850’s trail-duty suspension was ditched in favor of a much more substantial package. All-new suspension components were designed and tested, so this isn’t just a Wolverine 850 with a long-travel kit!

Up front, the double-wishbone suspension produces a healthy 14.2 inches of travel, right on par with best-in class and only a couple inches shy of most pure-sport UTV units. They are linked by an anti-sway bar, and controlled by Fox 2.0” Podium QS3 shocks. We appreciate the easy adjustment of the QS3 shocks, and they work well for the intended audience here. If you’re the type that prefers clickers, there are a ton of aftermarket suspension shops that offer solutions for you. Regardless, the suspension is excellently tuned, with light spring rates to keep the ride plush and enough valving to keep it from bottoming.

The rear suspension again employs an independent, double wishbone design, but it cycles a very long 16.9 inches of wheel travel. This is nearly 3 inches more suspension travel than the Polaris General XP 1000, which is the RMAX2’s closest rival. It’s also 7.6 inches more suspension travel than the Wolverine 850 X2, the vehicle it shares its core DNA with. Yamaha chose not to utilize a rear swaybar on the RMAX2, leaving room for the aftermarket to offer upgrades for owners who may add weight to their rigs. In stock trim, the RMAX2 handles very well.


Base model Wolverine RMAX models ride on 30×10-14 GBC Dirt Commander 2.0 tires, not a bad choice for an OEM tire. Checking the box for the XT-R model gets you bronze wheels and Maxxis Carnivore tires. While they’re the same size as the Dirt Commanders, the Carnivores are better suited for the muddy, rocky, slick terrain that the Wolverine RMAX was really made for. Sadly, the XT-R does not get beadlock wheels, although they do resemble a beadlock from afar. Brakes are strong and have good pedal feel, with 255mm rotors up front and 244.5mm rotors in the rear. All four corners have dual-piston calipers and stainless steel braided brake lines for optimal pedal feel and braking performance.


Interior & Exterior:

The Wolverine RMAX models get a significant facelift from the Wolverine 850 X2 and X4 models also on sale. They are so visually different, in fact, that Yamaha could have dropped “Wolverine” from the RMAX’s name completely and no one would have questioned it. A taller hood features an almost-sealed compartment that houses all of the relays, electronic access for switches and accessories, the battery, the airbox, and more. It stays relatively clean, even in heavy mud. Kudos to Yamaha for that.

In typical Yamaha fashion, all of the interior and exterior pieces are finished very nicely and bolt together extremely well. Fit & finish is a Yamaha hallmark – the RMAX even features padded areas where a rider’s knees make contact with the interior trim. The permanent side bolsters may be a little cramped for riders on the larger side, but they add a layer of security and protection that even a window net can’t offer.

Previous: Why No More Compression Release?

Next: Kawasaki Introduces New Teryx Side-by-Sides