By Justin W. Coffey / WESTx1000
Avid UTV began life as an engineering effort to transform the Yamaha YXZ platform into an off-road racing machine capable of competing with the likes of Can-Am and Polaris. It was a passion project of George La Monte, a former Supercross racer turned tile salesman who transitioned his love of racing into a business venture with his eyes set on competing with the big North American UTV brands.
In stock trim, the YXZ 1000R Turbo features a high-revving inline-triple engine with a dual-overhead cam and four valves per cylinder. It redlines at 10,500 rpm. The engine is fed through three 41mm Mikuni throttle bodies and makes 182-horsepower in stock trim. It has a 90.5-inch wheelbase, 13.2-inches of ground clearance, carries 9-gallons of fuel and weighs in at 1,521-lbs, wet. Those are pretty impressive numbers on paper, and it’s no surprise that Avid UTV chose the Yamaha as the backdrop for this epic build.
However, in order to compete in the 2021 Best In The Desert Vegas to Reno, George and the Avid UTV team had to remove the GYTR Garrett 2860 Turbo system which was previously installed and run the YXZ as a naturally aspirated powerplant, reducing its horsepower output significantly. Not one to be deterred by the rulebook and feeling like the Avid UTV upgrades would make up for the decreased power output, George was confident the YXZ could compete with the rest of the field.
La Monte tapped Sean Kepler from Tangent Solutions for the CAD design and Spencer Low from SLR Fab to develop the chassis. Brandon Mattice from DMG Auto Sports in Arizona handled the TIG welding and acted as a consultant on the project. Peter Albano from Precision Shock Works worked with La Monte to develop a prototype suspension setup for the YXZ, featuring a 6.5-inch over long-travel suspension system. Up front the Yamaha is equipped with 3.0×12 FOX race series shocks, while the rear is outfitted with 3.0×14 FOX IBP race series shocks.
A 6×10 Setrab oil-cooler with inline Ed Pink racing oil filter helps to keep the turbocharged mill from overheating. The sequential gearbox saw a GYTR clutch basket upgrade and a LPD custom transmission cooler was installed as well. Inside, the Yamaha was equipped with an AIM dash and a Switch Pro 12-button keypad, wired in by RAW Electrical. A pair of OMP WRC-R seats and Simpson Racing harnesses keep you secure behind the wheel. Wilwood four-piston calipers and 13-inch rotors live inside a set of 15×5 METHOD 401r wheels wrapped in Tensor DSR 33×10.5-15 tires.
With 21-inches of suspension travel up front, and 23-inches at the rear, the Avid YXZ eats whoops for lunch, and washed-out, rutted two-track as a late-night snack. At a private facility near Palmdale, CA, where the Avid UTV test their theories, George ran the YXZ through long, dusty corners, deep ruts, washed out riverbeds and plenty of sand. It’s where the Yamaha proved it is more Trophy Truck than side-by-side. Gear changes are lightning fast, and the acceleration will keep you firmly pressed into the back of the OMP race seat. Without the previously applied ‘Baby Raptor’ bodywork, visibility is notably improved, and the Avid YXZ looks more like a stock UTV on steroids than a tiny Trophy Truck. Additionally, the BITD regulations required Avid to seal the cockpit, requiring driver and co-drover to climb through the window. A small price to pay in order to compete in the longest off-road race in North America.
Despite being down on power due to regulations and now having the naturally aspirated powerplant, the Avid YXZ 1000R is still an engineering feat to marvel at, not to mention it might be one of the best looking UTVs to grace the starting line of the ‘Vegas to Reno.’ What this machine brings to market, as well as to the starting line, isn’t unbridled power, shiny badging, or a flashy title. It’s quality construction, thoughtful design, and a passion for making what’s approachable on the floor, untouchable on the track. Avid UTV is a fresh-faced venture which has the promise of a break-out rookie, but George won’t rely on rumor alone. He’s planning to grind with his race cars until that rumor becomes reality.
Learn more about Avid UTV here: https://www.avidutv.com/