If you have ever been to any dunes where off roaders frequent and see a tiny little ATV screaming by with a high pitched engine, screaming like a banshee tearing up the sand, then you have seen the Yamaha Banshee in its natural element. The Banshee is a 2 stroke ATV that has been dubbed King of the Dunes by many and despite the production being halted, it still is one of the most prevalent quads in most dunes today.
Yamaha stopped production of the Banshee in North America in 2006 due to EPA regulations. Production continued for Canada until 2008 and Australia until 2012. It’s 2 stroke, 350cc engine had a huge power band, and a truckload of horsepower to smoke the dunes.
The EPA put stiff regulations on off road vehicles and 2 stroke engines emit well above the limit for this regulation. The Banshee is considered an off road ATV and not one designed for closed courses only, so they were affected by this regulation.
The Banshee 350 has been the Dune King for a very long time in some ATV rider’s minds. This does not hold true for every ATV owner and is almost like the “Which is better: Ford or Chevy?” argument that has raged on for many years.
Just the amount of aftermarket parts alone should tell you that this quad is still in high demand. If you already own a Banshee four wheeler, then you will love these parts.
I believe the Banshee is the Dune King after seeing how it rips around, maybe you will feel the same and might wonder why banshees were discontinued.
Why Banshees Were Discontinued?
Everyone always wants to know why did Yamaha stop making the Banshee 350. This 2 stroke, 2 cylinder 350cc ATV is a cult classic in the sport ATV world and still has followers to this day.
In 2006 Yamaha rolled the last banshee off the production line for North America. The EPA put new regulations into place that affected off road vehicles by limiting the amount of hydrocarbons that can be emitted. 2 stroke engines produce combustion more often than 4 strokes which causes more carbon exhaust and producing more pollution. The stipulation to this is that off road vehicles that were designed for closed course tracks can still be developed. That is why we still see 2 stroke dirt bikes racing today.
Production still continued for 2 more years in Canada until 2008. Australia continued to receive models until 2012 when the last models were produced.
The Dune King
It is said that sand and dunes rob ATVs of horsepower but when you have a decked out banshee with all the bolt on accessories, new pistons, and ports polished running 65-70 horsepower, you can see where there are plenty of extra horses to go around. If you go out to any dunes in the United States where ATVs are present, bet your bottom dollar you will see a ton of these babies tearing up the sand.
The fact that you can get a ton of horsepower out of this quad coupled with it’s insane power band, you fly around everywhere you go on this little beast. That high pitched scream can be heard as the sand flies up behind a banshee all throughout desert terrain.
I can tell you from experience that the Yamaha Banshee is SOOO much fun to ride on the dune and they are like little devils between your legs. As soon as I kick started it, I got an exhilarating feeling and my adrenaline was pumping as I zipped by everyone I knew. After riding that banshee, I almost didn’t want to get back on my Polaris 525S 4 stroke.
Maintenance is also very easy on a banshee despite it being a 2 stroke. Just like any mechanical work on ATVs you still need to have SOME mechanical know how to get by but it is like you are performing rocket surgery when servicing and working on a banshee. Just like any other ATV out there, with proper care and routine maintenance, these things will last a lifetime. I have seen early 90s models banshees still ripping up the dunes on my trips out to ride.
Just like your weed eaters and leaf blowers, 2 strokes like this require you to have the proper mix of fuel and oil in order to ride instead of just putting in fuel like their 4 stroke brothers. Bottom line is, don’t treat your quad like junk and it will be just as kind to you as any 4 stroke.
- Use good oil and fuel and mix it properly
- Keep your air filters clean AND sealed so no dust particles get inside the engine
- ALWAYS warm it up before you go riding
- Inspect your quad periodically to make sure there are no damaged or worn components
After being on the market for almost 20 years and thousands of these things being sold, there are quite a few different mods on the market. Just check everything Amazon has for the Banshee and you will see there are still plenty of parts produced.
People love modding their Banshees and there are stores out there that are dedicated to only doing banshee mods and even making new banshee parts to replace the OEM Yamaha parts when they fail. The good thing for these stores is that over the 20 year span that the Yamaha Banshee four wheeler was produced, very little changed making it super simple to create a ton of aftermarket parts to help this legend live on for many years to come.
Many people say that these quads are nearly impossible to destroy and if you build a Banshee the right way, it will outlast a lot of the 4 stroke competition out there today.
A stable of mods are out there from bolt on to straight up machine work, boring out the cylinders and doing port polishing. People take pride in modding out their Banshees and and spend thousands and thousands of dollars to have the fastest bike at the dune. Some don’t mod them very much at all and love the classic look and feel of the Banshee. Hell I have seen some people online that sat theirs in their living room to look at it as a collectors item. All over the world the Banshee four wheeler has its place from one owner to another.
Just about every part can be replaced with an upgraded version on the Banshee ATV and it is completely customizable. So while Yamaha doesn’t directly produce the beloved Banshee anymore, it is very unlikely we will see them go away anytime soon!