YXZ vs Talon vs KRX: Which Japanese Brand Builds the Best Sport Side-by-Side?

Japan went from having one sport side-by-side offering to having three in 2019, which means it’s time to compare them.

We’ve had the chance to run the new Kawasaki KRX, Honda Talon and Yamaha YXZ all over different parts of North America in the past year, and each one offers its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Before we get into which is the most fun, let’s take a look at how the specs compare:

On paper, the Kawasaki KRX ends up looking like the best unit here offering the most ground clearance, suspension travel and the largest set of tires, though it’s also the largest machine here in size and and weight.

Running in the open desert, the suspension under the KRX swallows the whoops better than the other two, though the Talon 1000R isn’t far off. Yamaha doesn’t tailor the YXZ to the desert like both the Kawi and the R version of the Talon, apparent when you look at the suspension travel numbers.

The YXZ might be the roughest riding of the bunch, but that is part of it’s charm. The Yamaha is the most connected and visceral riding experience of the three, with hard acceleration off the line and tight steering that provides tons of feedback to the driver’s hands.

All three naturally aspirated engines make near the same power, but the way it is delivered is different in all three thanks to the transmissions. The six-speed dual-clutch transmission in the Talon bangs off the quickest and smoothest shifts, with nearly imperceptible gear changes, while the YXZ with its five-speed sequential shift transmission also changes ratios quickly, though the shifts themselves are abrupt. Both of these gearboxes allow for great low end power in the Honda and Yamaha, one of the issues with CVT in the KRX. Down low, the Kawasaki doesn’t feel all that strong, and it takes a beat to get up to speed before the power feels like it really comes on.

To hear more of our thoughts on these three machines, make sure you watch the video above.