Just like how Suzuki’s QuadZilla spawned the 500-class sport ATV category, the Yamaha Grizzly 550 takes credit for being among the progenitors of present-day mid-size utility ATVs. One of Yamaha’s milestone four-wheelers, this 550-cc quad highly resembled the big-bore Grizzlies.
Off-roaders previously did not comprehend its role in the ATV landscape. But that all changed with more recreational and serious aficionados appreciating compact, hybrid machines.
Produced from 2009 to 2016, the Yamaha Grizzly 550 was a mid-size utility vehicle that made waves during the first decade of the millennia. Sporting a 558-cm³ power mill, WideArc™ dual A-arms, UltraMatic™ V-belt transmission, and Yamaha Fuel Injection, the 4×4 was a visionary ahead of its time.
The Yamaha Grizzly 550 is a classic example of a well-calculated risk that Yamaha took at the right time. Launching a class only 50-cc short of the flagship ATV may have seemed absurd at the time, but the weight and size difference only helped broaden the vehicle’s application.
Given its high-performance lineage, new-found agility, and less problematic nature, I dare say that the Yamaha Grizzly 550 is the Prince of 4x4s. Read on and learn more about this meritorious four-wheeler.
A Kingly Lineage
Many enthusiasts were baffled by the introduction of the Yamaha Grizzly 550 in 2009 and deemed it a counter-intuitive move by Yamaha. None to blame, really – the 4×4’s launch happened at a time when bigger and beefier machines were perceived to be better overall. However, the Japanese firm saw beyond this trend and decided to push through with a more compact 550-cc Grizz. Consequently, the lineup released a total of seven (7) trims and numerous models throughout its production run.
Produced from 2009 to 2016, the Yamaha Grizzly 550 still shared the same DNA with its higher-displacement predecessors but was more affordable – and offered more manageable power to boot. The mid-size ATV did not have the Ténéré-inspired power mill of its 600-cc namesake. Instead, it took after the heart of the robust 700-cc Grizz – the only difference being in the bore-stroke ratio, cylinder head design, take-off power, and computer mapping.
As if its rugged, adventurous nature were not enough, other standout features such as a stainless-steel exhaust system with aluminum heat shields, a three-position On-Command All-Wheel Drive system, and a reliable braking system made the four-wheeler even more impressive.
Furthermore, the Grizzly embraced technology by evolving from being purely carbureted to having Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI). Ironically, most enthusiasts were unaware of this upgrade and unknowingly passed up on getting the Grizzly 550 in favor of its bigger siblings.
2014 Yamaha Grizzly 550 Specs & Features
Power comes from a liquid-cooled (with fan), 4-stroke SOHC engine, with a forward-inclined, single-cylinder arrangement and an over-square bore-stroke ratio of 92 × 84 mm (3.62 × 3.31 inches). Engine displacement is 558 cm³, the compression ratio is 9.3:1, and the lubrication system is a wet-sump type. Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI) with a 40-mm Mikuni throttle body handles the 4×4’s induction.
The above engine configuration – coupled with roller rockers and ceramic composite plating – offers a top speed rating of 57-66 mph (92-106 km/h) and a maximum horsepower of 36.9 hp (27.5 kW). If you find this power output lacking, add an EHS airbox lid and drill a few holes in the pipe (not the arrestor plates) for a 5-hp gain at the crank.
Fuel & Lubrication
It has a 5.28 US gallons fuel tank capacity with a 1.19-US gallon reserve. Recommended fuel is regular unleaded gasoline with a minimum PON 87+/RON 91+ rating. Ensuring adequate fuel levels is convenient on the 550-cc Grizz since the quad has a self-diagnosing fuel meter that monitors fuel and glitches in the electrical system.
Lubrication-wise, oil capacity without filter replacement is 2.0 liters/2.11 US quarts and 2.10 liters/2.22 US quarts at oil filter change. For best results, use SAE 10W-40 Yamalube 4-stroke oil (view on Amazon) or its equivalent (Viscosity grades SAE 5W-30, 10W-30, 15W-40, 20W-40, or 20W-50 following ambient temperature are manufacturer-approved alternatives).
Never mix chemical additives in the oil or use variants labeled “Energy Conserving II” or higher to prevent starter or clutch slippage. Lastly, the engine oil should have a minimum API service grade of SJ meeting JASO T903 MA standards.
An UltraMatic™, V-belt (frame-centered) shaft drive and wet, centrifugal clutch assembly delivers power to the ground. A one-way sprag clutch and six-shoe configuration make All-Wheel engine braking predictable irrespective of speeds – maintaining constant belt tension for reduced belt wear and boosting rider confidence. A three-way On-Command® In/Out 4WD push-button makes switching between 2WD, limited-slip 4WD, and fully-locked differential 4WD convenient and beginner-friendly.
|Secondary Reduction Ratio||41/21 × 24/18 × 33/9 (9.544)|
|Reverse Gear Ratio||23/14 × 28/23 (2.000)|
|Low Range||31/16 (1.938)|
|High Range||31/27 (1.148)|
Thanks to the redesigned cylinder head, Electronic Power Steering, and flow technology that went into the Yamaha Grizzly 550, throttle responsiveness improved, and the quad can get more bottom-end power. Plus, the shift from carburetion to the new Yamaha Fuel Injection (YFI) has rendered the machine more adaptable to a dynamic range of altitudes and riding conditions.
The Grizzly 550 is brought to life by a CDI ignition with an electric and recoil start system. It has a CDI-magneto generator system. The mid-size ATV is brought to life by a 32-Bit ECU-controlled TCI ignition with an electric and recoil start system. An A.C.-magneto serves as its charging system and power source for electronic accessories.
The vehicle also requires a 12V, 18 Ah/(10 HR) YTX20L-BS battery (view on Amazon). All trims have an NGK/LMAR6A-9 spark plug with a 0.8–0.9 mm (0.031–0.035 inch) gap and 13 Nm (1.3 m-kgf, 9.4 ft-lbf) torque spec. Recommended fuses for 2014 Grizz models are below:
|Main fuse||40.0 A|
|Headlight fuse||10.0 A|
|Ignition fuse||10.0 A|
|4WD motor fuse||10.0 A|
|Signaling system fuse||5.0 A|
|Auxiliary DC jack fuse||10.0 A|
|Radiator fan motor fuse||20.0 A|
|Fuel injection system fuse||15.0 A|
|EPS fuse (YFM550PF)||40.0 A|
|EPS fuse (YFM550PHF)||40.0 A|
Tires & Brakes
Tubeless AT25 × 8-12 front tires and AT25 × 10-12 rear tires mount on 12 x 6.5AT (front)/12 x 7.5AT (rear) aluminum panel wheels. Depending on the market, the Yamaha Grizzly 550 may have either Cheng Shin C828 (Australia, New Zealand) or Maxxis MU19/MU20 (Europe, France, Great Britain) tires. Recommended cold-tire pressure for front tires is 35 kPa (0.35 kgf/cm², 5 psi) and 30 kPa (0.30 kgf/cm², 4.4 psi) for rear ones. Individually operated dual hydraulic discs provide the quad stopping power and complete its tire-and-wheel assembly.
A tubular steel frame (5° caster angle, 26.0 mm/1.02 inches trail) encloses front and rear independent double-wishbone with oil-damped coilovers. Both front and rear suspensions have five-way preload-adjustable shocks and respectively offer 180 mm (7.1 inches) and 230 – 241 mm (9.1 – 9.5 inches) of wheel travel. The 1,250 mm (49.2 inches) wheelbase, 275 mm (10.8 inches) ground clearance, 3.2 meters (10.5 ft) turning radius, and oil-damper type shocks make for impressive control and comfort when traversing whoops, dunes, rock ledges, and other technical terrains.
The maximum loading limit of the Grizzly is 220 Kg (485 lbs.) – this is a combination of cargo, tongue, rider weight, and accessories. The pulling load limit (total weight of cargo and trailer) is slightly higher than that of the 660-cc Grizz at 5,880 N (600 kgf, 1,322 lbf). Vertical weight on trailer hitch point is 147 N (15 kgf, 33 lbf). Carrier load limit is 130 Kg – 45 Kg (99 lbs.) / 85 Kg (187 lbs.), front and rear. Towing capacity is 1,322 lbs. and is maximized with a ZEAK 5500lb Powersports Winch (view on Amazon).
On the outside, the Yamaha Grizzly 550 is a spitting image of its 700-cc namesake but with minor enhancements. The saddle seat has 6 inches of cushion that makes long rides comfortable. The throttle thumb is beginner-friendly, and the shift rod is more extended, resulting in effortless shifting. Tough plastics offered in multiple color options (Forest/Hunter Green, Steel Blue, Realtree AP HD Camo, etc.) give the machine its rugged charm and keep engine components free from sticky substances.
Yamaha Grizzly 550 Pricing
The list price for the Yamaha Grizzly 550 ranges from $7,599 (standard models) to $9,149 (Realtree AP HD Camo with EPS trims). Resale values fall between $1,000 and $5,675 on reseller and auction sites and between $3,255 and $7,000 when traded in at dealerships.
For your reference, here is a rundown of all Yamaha 550 Grizzly models and their respective prices until 2015 (source: Nada Guides):
|Year – Model – Trim||List Price||Retail/Trade-In Values|
|2009 Yamaha Grizzly 550 – YFM5FGYB||$7,599||$3,425 – $4,505|
|2009 YFM5FGHY Grizzly (Camouflage)||$7,999||$3,255 – $4,285|
|2009 YFM5GPYB Grizzly||$8,199||$3,630 – $4,775|
|2009 YFM5PGPHY Grizzly (Camouflage)||$8,699||$4,030 – $5,300|
|2009 YFM5FGPSEY Grizzly (SE)||$8,799||$4,030 – $5,300|
|2010 YFM5FGZCR Grizzly (Hunter Green)||$7,599||$3,440 – $4,525|
|2010 YFM5FGHZ Grizzly (Camouflage)||$7,999||$3,755 – $4,940|
|2010 YFM5FGPZGR Grizzly (Hunter Green)||$8,499||$3,880 – $5,105|
|2010 YFM5FGPHZ Grizzly (Camouflage)||$8,899||$4,190 – $5,510|
|2011 Yamaha Grizzly 550 – YFM5FGAGR||$7,999||$3,730 – $4,910|
|2011 YFM5FGAL Grizzly||$8,249||$3,840 – $5,055|
|2011 YFM5FGHA Grizzly (Hunter Green)||$8,499||$3,920 – $5,155|
|2011 YFM5FGPAGR Grizzly (EPS)||$8,699||$4,220 – $5,550|
|2011 YFM5FGPAL Grizzly (EPS)||$8,949||$4,290 – $5,645|
|2011 YFM5FGPHA Grizzly Hunter (EPS)||$9,149||$4,375 – $5,755|
|2012 YFM5FGBGR Grizzly (Hunter Green)||$7,999||$4,250 – $5,595|
|2012 YFM5FGBL Grizzly (Blue)||$7,999||$4,250 – $5,595|
|2012 YFM5FGHB Grizzly Hunter (Camouflage)||$8,449||$4,315 – $5,680|
|2012 YFM5FGPBGR Grizzly (EPS, Green)||$8,699||$4,355 – $5,730|
|2012 YFM5FGPBL Grizzly (EPS, Blue)||$8,949||$4,455 – $5,865|
|2012 YFM5FGPHB Grizzly Hunter (EPS)||$9,149||$4,570 – $6,010|
|2013 YFM5FGDGR Grizzly (Hunter Green)||$7,999||$4,505 – $5,930|
|2013 Yamaha Grizzly 550 – YFM5FGDL (Blue)||$7,999||$4,505 – $5,930|
|2013 YFM5FGHD Grizzly Hunter (Camouflage)||$8,449||$4,580 – $6,025|
|2013 YFM5GPDGR Grizzly (EPS, Hunter Green)||$8,699||$4,600 – $6,050|
|2013 YFM5FGPDL Grizzly (EPS, Steel Blue)||$8,949||$4,740 – $6,235|
|2013 YFM5FGPHD Grizzly Realtree AP HD Camo (EPS)||$9,149||$4,815 – $6,335|
|2014 YFM550DEG/DEL Grizzly (Green/Blue)||$7,999||$4,625 – $6,085|
|2014 YFM550DHEH Grizzly Hunter (Camouflage)||$8,449||$4,860 – $6,395|
|2014 YFM550PEG/PEL/PER Grizzly (EPS, Green/Blue/Red)||$8,699||$4,955 – $6,520|
|2014 YFM550PHEH Grizzly Hunter (EPS)||$9,149||$5,320 – $7,000|
|2015 Yamaha Grizzly 550 FI Auto EPS 4×4||$8,699||N/A|
Pre-loved Grizzlies below $2,000 may have some rust formation, dead batteries, or transmission issues. Meanwhile, units with values falling on the higher end of the price spectrum have plastics in near-mint condition. Sometimes, they come with unused Caiman Performance CV shafts (or other aftermarket performance parts).
Out of all year models, 2009 and 2013 Grizzlies keep their value really well and are reputably in better working condition compared to the rest. Still, make sure to inspect secondhand units you are eyeing to purchase thoroughly. It is also worth mentioning that most resale units have more than 1,200 hours on them. More hours are not necessarily equivalent to an abused quad. But if you want to side with caution, look for secondhand Grizzlies with fewer previous owners.
Yamaha Grizzly 550 Problems
The Yamaha Grizzly 550 may be far from perfect. But it is definitely a notch better than its 600-cc version in terms of reliability. This section will cover some of the machine’s small achievements, as well as its top (and other still-existent) problems:
Recall – Steering Issues
Yamaha voluntarily recalled some 2008 to 2010 Yamaha Grizzly 550 models due to a defect in the steering column support assembly, which had a propensity to crack. The said defect potentially resulted in a loss of control and crash hazards leading to serious injuries. Approximately 20,000 ATV units were affected – a combination of 550-cc and 700-cc Grizzlies – and included the following model numbers:
- 2009 Yamaha Grizzly 550 – Model Number YFM550FGHY
- 2009 Yamaha Grizzly 550 – Model Number YFM550FGY
- 2010 Yamaha Grizzly 550 – Model Number YFM550FGHZ
- 2010 Yamaha Grizzly 550 – Model Number YFM550FGZ
Starting issues continue to be a concern for some riders (although not for the same reasons as on the Grizzly 600) and often trace back to a low-voltage battery or defective electrical component. To rule out the actual root cause, use a multimeter to determine if your battery has the right voltage. Otherwise, you will need to fully charge the battery or replace it.
To add, access the starter solenoid by unbolting the front rack and removing the front cover. Test if it is working properly by using your multimeter while starting your ignition and using your brake to see if the solenoid reacts.
CV Boot Failure
Poor CV boot material was previously a problem on the 600-cc Grizz (and one of the top complaints about the machine). Thankfully, Yamaha took note of valuable feedback from customers and developed fixes for this shortcoming.
For the 2009 Yamaha Grizzly 550 onward, the boot material was made with tough polyethylene, 200% sturdier than earlier Grizzly installments. Additionally, the quad received front and rear A-arm guards that provide the CV boots and driveline components more protection.
Although still occasionally experienced by some Grizzly owners, this has dramatically decreased – thanks to the 4×4’s liquid cooling system and new fuel tank location. Now, the mid-size utility ATV no longer feels hot around the feet and legs, making all-day recreational rides or a long day on the fields more enjoyable. The machine runs lean, but adjusting the factory setting accordingly can address potential occurrences of this issue.
Yamaha Motor Company Limited is an industry-leading company known for its contributions to the ATV landscape and is the Yamaha Grizzly 550 maker. Before the Japanese firm was known for its water vehicle sales and automotive and motorcycle innovations, it originated as a piano and reed organ manufacturer. Parting ways with its parent company in 1955 was a step in the right direction, as it allowed Yamaha to focus on developing its current armada of product offerings, ranging from motorsports, off-road vehicles, and personal watercraft to speed boats and outboard motors.
Conclusion – Yamaha Grizzly 550 Review
Despite its slightly smaller size, the Yamaha Grizzly 550 is no different from its siblings and is considered a fundamental part of a pragmatic adventurer’s life. We can only speculate the level of foresight Yamaha had when it launched the machine in its own unpopular, mid-size category. But what we do know is this decision has turned the quad into the nimblest ATV in its class, with capabilities comparable to big-bore behemoths.
If you’re an enthusiast looking for a hardworking workhorse and a spirited 4×4, it would be folly to pass up on owning this sweet ride and riding it in the outdoors.
Kris is an avid off-roader and outdoor enthusiast who loves to brave the elements and take on challenging terrain. He also enjoys sharing his passion and knowledge with others so that they, too, can appreciate the ride.