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Hail to the Two-Stroke King, Yamaha Banshee 350

September 1, 2018 4458 Views No comments

The Banshee YFZ 350 or just Banshee 350 is a very well-known vehicle in the ATV community because of its incredible powerband that can make the rider fly right off the seat while holding on to the handlebars. The Banshee was first introduced to the US market in 1987 and sadly, for those living in the United States, regulations killed the Banshee in 2006 while it was still being built in Canada until 2008 and Australia until 2012.

At the 350’s core resides a two-stroke engine, a kind of engine mostly extinct these days. They’ve almost been entirely replaced by more fuel efficient and environmentally friendly four strokes, but for those looking to know more about two-strokes, we wrote a blog post about them a little while ago.

Essentially, two stroke engines have two strokes, the compression stroke and the combustion stroke or power stroke, and because it only has two strokes it has a great power-to-weight ratio. This allows the rider to find the wider powerband on this vehicle very quickly.

Is This Vehicle for Experts Only?

Generally, the Banshee 350’s power is why most people in forums suggest beginners avoid the Banshee and go for something like the TRX 400EX. The incredible power of the Banshee comes from something called a powerband. This means finding the sweet spot where the engine is working at its best. Four-stroke engines have a powerband as well, but they’re not as distinct as a two-stroke’s let alone the Banshee’s. This power then makes it very easy to get hurt. This is an ATV that could pop-a-wheelie with very little trouble. Since this power is a little bit unpredictable to those who are used to riding four stroke engines it can be a dangerous jumping on one of these expecting to go out and blast through everything in your path.

It’s too bad that Banshee’s are no longer manufactured though it’s not like a new release every year stops anybody from taking their Banshee apart and remaking it anew. Countless Banshees have been reworked into various different shapes and sizes. Some people have made their Banshee more of a drag racer which means elongating the vehicle with the wheels far out in front. Others make theirs even more powerful then it started off as with a big bore cylinder.

Why Some People Hate the Banshee

There are people out there who are not as interested in pure power as Banshee lovers are and they tend to look for a more overall experience than just the power the Banshee 350 can offer. Some of the problems people dislike about the Banshee are:

  • In life people always say don’t judge a book by its cover, well the Banshee 350 looks all around primitive though that doesn’t mean the engine inside is old and tired. There’s hardly anything attractive to see on this beast with its relatively flat surfaces. Makes sense since they’re based off a design created in the 80s, even the newer ones, the 2000s keep that ugly look.
  • The Banshee has no oil injectors, meaning you’ll have to premix your gas. This can really turn people off because it requires another step to getting your ATV out and riding. Also by premixing your own oil you can potentially put in a mixture that will damage the engine. It’s not hard to premix gas there’s a learning curve sure but you can also look at is as part of the experience. You can tweak the mixture until it runs exactly the way you want it to.
  • The Banshee’s stock air filter tends to gobble the dirt and let it into the carburetor. This can be problematic because dirt leads to internal wear, which is why many people opt for aftermarket filters and some go so far as to put pre-filters on their vehicles. This way they have as much protection from dirt and grime as they possibly can rather than throwing gunk into your carb, then your engine.
  • Suspension is lacking. Suspension is important in any environment ATVs roam, but for trails; hitting the rocks and bumps require good suspension to protect not only the driver but the vehicle too.
  • Not as fuel efficient as its four-stroke cousins. More power, more fuel. It’s definitely a trade-off that buying and mixing fuel will become a kind of well-oiled habit. Depending on how long or hard you ride you’ll likely need fuel after every ride.
  • Finally, the Banshee has no reverse. Of course this more of annoyance than anything else. Don’t let this stop you if you think you can handle this beast.

Who Typically Uses Them These Days

There are a lot of people out there still building and rebuilding these machines for a few reasons: It’s a quirky bike which people love to adjust and modify for how they ride, the fun of the powerband and many still use these on dunes. ATVRider.com says “sand kills horsepower. And this machine has corralled horses in spades.” This is probably the best line describing why Banshees have found a new life in the dunes.

Have any questions about the Banshee 350 or have one with some crazy mods you’d like to share, let us know in the comments.


  1. 2003 Yamaha Banshee: http://www.atvrider.com/2003-yamaha-banshe