Rally Around the Rhino

Yamaha Endorses CPSC Safety Guidelines

Jul. 10, 2009 By Pattie Waters

UTVs like the Yamaha Rhino have opened up off-roading to an whole new population.

In 2003 when Yamaha launched the Rhino 660, even they had no idea the sensation it would create in the ATV world, the birth of an entire new class in the market. From hunting and farming, to recreation and emergency support, the Rhino has remained the best of the best. While others have challenged one facet of the usability pie or another, no vehicle has answered the call as completely as the original. Period. The word "Rhino" has become a generic term for the entire class, just like "Jeep" represents an entire world of 4x4 enthusiasts.

The downside? A big fat target painted on Yamaha's forehead, and the ammunition currently comes in the form of inflamatory and largely incorrect ads.

You'd have to live under a rock (instead of crawling over one) to not have seen the ads from lawyers soliciting "Have you been injured in a Rhino accident?". For months, Yamaha has been working directly with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to determine why these accident claims are popping up, and what should Yamaha do about it, if anything?

Guess what the CPSC finally determined? There is no defect in design or production.

With an experienced user riding with me and an experienced spotter guiding me, I was able to tackle some fairly challenging terrain.

In some cases where damage occured, it really had nothing to do with the fact that the vehicle even was a Rhino - the operator could have avoided the level of injury they suffered by simply using common sense. Ever hit a patch of gravel on your bicycle? Bet you wish you were wearing long pants, huh? Same thing. Hit a deer with a UTV, you'd better be wearing a seatbelt and not have the back-end full of kids.

None of us want to see our friends and fellow off-roaders injured, whether it's operator error or not. And come on - neither do the people at Yamaha. They are enthusiasts themselves. So Yamaha is mounting the charge with a two-fold campaign, and they want you to know about it via every method of media available:

# 1 - Yamaha has always stood behind the Rhino as a safe off-road vehicle, and they still do. That said, they are endorsing the CPSC's short, simple list of recomendations announced March 31, 2009. It's the CPSC's feeling that these changes might have helped a small percentage of users that reported incidents. And since it really does not "take the Rhino out of the Rhino", Yamaha is fine with recomending their owners go out and get it taken care of. This includes current models, and a very generous retrofit of previously-sold units as well. At no cost to the owner.

# 2 - Pound home the message about basic user guidelines and safety equipment. Head to toe personal gear, proper size and age of the operator, proper use of the vehicle.

Hold for Page 2 to load, including Specific CPSC Recomendations

CPSC Recomendations


Installation of hard-style half doors


Installation of 2-inch spacers on each wheel Remove the rear anti-sway bar

Yamaha will add the spacers and doors, and remove the sway bar on any previously-sold Rhino 450, 660 or even the nearly-new 700 - at AT NO CHARGE. Just take them to your local Yamaha dealer and they'll hook you up.

When you get your new doors on, also pick up and watch a UTV Orientation DVD. Those two simple steps qualify you for a $100 credit towards a new helmet. How cool is that? Even if you've owned your Rhino for several years, you can still pick up some useful safety tips on this DVD, and you are still eligible for the helmet discount.

Hold for Page 3: Safe, Responsible Use

No Substitute for Safe, Responsible Use

Brace yourself. If you have a favorite print magazine, website or television show that features UTVs or side-by-side vehicles, you are about to get slapped upside the head in the coming weeks and months with this message: Safety starts with YOU.

You must be at least 16 years old and a licensed driver to drive the Rhino. That's old - like these people. "I didn't know" is no excuse. There is never a safety advisory more than two feet from your line of sight in the Rhino. One even lights up!


Wear proper clothing
  • Helmet
  • Eye protection
  • Long shirt
  • Gloves
  • Long pants
  • Proper over-the-ankle boots
    • Barn boots, flip flops or Uggs are NOT okay
You must be tall enough to drive or ride safely
  • Always use the 3-point seatbelt provided
  • Feet flat on the floor to brace yourself
  • Butt all the way back in the seat
  • Able to reach at least two of the available grip points
    • Overhead left
    • Front right inside roll cage
    • Grip at left leg


Truth About Rhino

Still have questions? Heard something you think might just be a load of BS? Or already a safe and responsible Rhino owner? They want to hear from you! Share your story, get the facts.



Bottom Line

Yamaha's official line is "Don't just Play: Play it Safe".

Travis Hollins, ATV/SxS Group Product Planning Manager says it more personally, "Short of belting them in and strapping a helmet on them ourselves, there's not much more we can do."

Personally, I think the theme of this whole program can be simply put, "Don't be a dumb ass."

Video Message, in case you missed it the first time



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