Best drag racing four wheeler.

Best drag racing four wheeler.

There was a time not so many years ago that an ATV rider’s choices for a high-performance ATV were limited to one: The Yamaha Banshee 350. The Banshee has, since its late-’80s introduction, captured the imagination of ATV speed nuts like no other. While now considered somewhat of a dinosaur, it still delivers the goods–in its quirky, anachronistic way.

Two-strokes are becoming a rare breed, and twin-cylinder versions of the premix-guzzling beasts? This is the only one. Its highly potent powerplant, a version of the motor that powered Yamaha’s beloved RZ350 streetbike, has been the basis for its enduring cultlike following. There was a time during the dark years that it was used for a variety of high-performance applications (MX, aggressive trail riding, cross country, etc.), but now it’s boiled down to a single main application: the sand.

A potent powerplant, albeit with no bottom or midrange to speak of, the 347cc twin propels itself through the sand gently at first, then–with a torque hit unlike any other–wails to life, unleashing its full potential all at once in a furious blast.

In a way its “experts only” moniker is a badge of pride to those who own the Banshee. They can rightfully claim that they’ve tamed the beast and learned to live with its old-tech flaws. Of course, the real draw for Banshee faithful has got to be the aftermarket. After years with the Banshee as the only high-performance machine, everything under the sun is available to hop up these bad boys. Like Honda’s venerable TRX250R, you can buy the whole of the machine from the aftermarket and not have one factory piece anywhere on it. Unlike the Honda, though, you can still buy one right off your Yamaha dealer’s showroom floor. And despite no real upgrades for the past decade, that’s reason enough for some.

So you’re wondering about trail riding? Racing? How does the suspension work? Forget it. While, yes, you can certainly take a Banshee down a nice, wide fire road at an entertaining clip, most other terrain is simply lost on it. Suspension action is adequate, with an adjustable-reservoir shock residing out back and standard-issue shocks in the front. But for the Banshee pilot, it’s really all about the motor.

After a couple of days of flogging around Dumont, we were probably closer to the second opinion than the first. While the bottom-end bogging is annoying, it’s completely balanced out by the top-end hit. The suspension was fine for dune surfing, and whoops are even tolerable; just watch for the sharp-edged bumps and drop-offs. The transmission is neither here nor there, ditto for the clutch action. Pull on the dual carbs is predictably heavy and will wear on your thumb on a long ride. But finally, after two days of assimilating to the Banshee’s quirks, we came to one conclusion: In the sand, the brute is lovable.



Over all the Banshee is a real joy to ride, it’s bloody FAST, and definitely a fun toy to own. A Banshee will run forever. I would recommend a Yamaha Banshee to anyone looking for either a serious peformance sports ATV or just a fun machine for the weekend, it does it all: jumps, whoops, trails, dunes etc and it’s not even loud, so your neighbours won’t mind. Banshees are built on the same old 1983 technology but can kill brand new Raptor 700r’s, Honda TRX 450’s and Raptor 660’s! Just buy a K&N air filter, and maybe a set of pipes and you’re on your way to winning races or having a blast zooming by everyone one else on the trail! NOTE: Yamaha Banshees have been known to cause amazement, over confidence, happiness, and an over-developed throttle hand, use with caution.






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