Sailing into the new season
by Andy Bryenton
Here’s a fun fact about the Vikings, those far-sailing explorers and reavers who terrorised the British Isles centuries ago. Before setting out on a voyage, each one of those huge hairy warriors had to sit down and knit part of the sail for their longship out of wool.
If the thought of a big axe-swinging warlord gripping a pair of knitting needles seems funny, bear in mind that it was a necessary task to even get the voyage started.
Sometimes, it takes a whole lot of people to pitch in to get things sorted. Furthermore, that takes us neatly to a different kind of Viking — Yamaha’s new model of their big farm-capable side-by-side.
Or in this case, side-by-side-by-side. Just like the old sea warriors who gave it its name, the Yamaha Viking packs in ranks of burly troops — it has seating for no less than six.
That’s not to say that space for cargo is limited, either. The rear tray of this big machine is the size of a pallet, and it’s beefy enough to ferry the whole team and their kit to pretty much anywhere, on or off the beaten track.
This is achieved with a classic combination of wide, knobbly tyres, a generous ride height, independent suspension and 686cc of overhead cam, four-stroke grunt.
The long wheelbase — a necessity when it comes to fitting in six comfy seats, each with its own headrest — means that there’s a danger of getting ‘beached’ on lumpy terrain.
However, the rails of the Viking’s tough frame slide off, and there’s something uncanny about how much grip those wheels can find, even when the Viking is fully crewed.
Another fun fact about the old Norsemen is that their longships were modular — easy to take apart to stow for the winter, and easy to upend to create a rough and ready shelter on foreign shores. Similarly, the Yamaha Viking boasts supreme ease of access to its engine for service — flip up the tray and there everything is.
That means it’s easy to clean mud and dirt away from vital parts, easy to change filters and check fluids, and simple to maintain without downtime and a handful of wrenches. This year’s Viking builds on a solid platform and cements its place in a very particular market niche.
If you have a large team who have to get into the back blocks for hard work, this is the top machine for the task.