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The Yamaha Banshee 350
The Yamaha Banshee 350 is one of the most popular sport quads of all time, but don’t let the fact that it is a two stroke make you think the maintenance is hard. Contrary to what many people think, the maintenance is actually pretty easy, and many say it is easier to maintain than the new four stroke quads.
If you have decided not to buy a banshee for fear of not being able to work on it, I hope to reassure you. It is quite easy if you have the basic mechanical skills which you would need even if you owned a Raptor 700, YFZ 450, or Honda 450R. I'm going to give you some basics and distill some of the myths that have been spread around the internet over the past several years. After all, if this was such a horrible quad to own, would Yamaha have sold the thousands of Banshees that they did in the U.S from 1987 to 2006?
What Type of Oil Do I Use for the Yamaha Banshee?
First, I will start with one of the most asked questions. What oil should I run? The Yamaha Banshee uses premixed oil since it is a two-stroke. For those of you who are new to these, you mix oil with premium gas that lubricates the cylinders and crank, instead of putting oil in the crankcase like a four-stroke quad.
I suggest using a good aftermarket oil. There are several different types of oil on the market but I suggest using a castor oil or a combination castor and synthetic blend oil. I personally use Klotz Supertechniplate. This oil is a combination blend that has 80% synthetic Klotz R50 oil and 20% Klotz Benol, which is their version of castor oil. It provides some of the excellent protection characteristics of castor oil and the low carbon build up that is associated with the synthetic.
As I mentioned, Benol is castor oil, actually a vegetable oil. Yeah, surprising isn’t it? The downside to castor oils is that they cause build up on the piston rings and exhaust ports, but many believe that castor oils provide the best protection. This is why Maxima’s Castor 927 is probably the most popular oil that is used in the Banshee. Both Castor 927 and Benol have additives to help prevent build up and gumming and I was told by a top engine builder that if you ride them hard, which is how everyone rides a Banshee, build up and gum up isn’t such a problem.
Another advantage to the castor oils and the Supertechniplate is that they are compatible with alcohol. You will hear a lot of different mix ratios but the most common and safest is 32:1 which most people run. If you run alcohol you will have to mix it at least 20:1.
Cleaning the Air Filter
Now that we have covered the most asked question, I will cover the most important aspect of maintenance. That is keeping the air filter sealed and clean. The life of any sport ATV is getting clean air. Dirt, dust, and sand getting into these small engines is destructive. All it takes is a little sand or dust into the cylinders to scar the cylinder walls and eventually make its way down to the bearings and eat away at the crank.
How Often Should You Clean the Air Filter?
I would suggest cleaning the filter every other ride at minimum and if you are riding in dusty conditions you need to clean it every ride. The filter set up isn’t the best in the world from the factory and care needs to be taken to make sure the foam end is pressed up against the airbox good to provide a good seal since it is a tool-less set up. I suggest spraying some filter oil on the end or put a small amount of grease to help with the seal.
The stock filter is foam and needs to be oiled after it has been cleaned. I have always washed mine out with dish washing soap and water, but I’m beginning to think an air filter cleaner would be better to get the sticky air filter oil off and not have to wait so long to get the filter dry. This is really just a convenience thing for me.
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What Type of Air Filter Oil Is Best?
As far as filter oil goes, the owner’s manual will suggest motor oil, but I wouldn’t do that. I use Maxima’s filter oil, which is really sticky and traps any dirt or dust that enters into the air box. It is a pain to wash off, but it’s better than rebuilding an engine.
Just a quick tip before I move on: I suggest using a foam filter in dusty conditions as opposed to a K&N filter. I will get to more into depth in a future article that is about adding aftermarket parts.
What Transmission Oil Do I Use?
I’ve already covered engine oil, but the Banshee transmission requires its own oil. From the dealership, the Banshee comes with Yamalube oil that is also four stroke oil. I’m trying to remember here off the top of my head, but I believe it is 10w30. The manual also says that it's okay to use motor oils such as Castrol 10w30, but again, I like to use aftermarket oil that is specifically made for two-stroke transmissions.
One of the biggest problems that I see pop up on internet forums is people trying to upgrade oil and going with a synthetic motor oil such as Mobil1 or Castrol Syntec. The results are not good. These oils have a friction modifier in them and some non-synthetic oils do too. This causes the clutches to slip, resulting in the clutches burning up and having to be replaced. The aftermarket oils are specifically designed for the wet clutch system and provide great protection.
Once again, Klotz and Maxima also offer great oils for the transmission, but I have also heard great things regarding Bel-Ray Gear Saver. The transmission oil should be changed at least every 20 hours.
Cleaning the Chain
The chain is probably one of the more neglected areas on an ATV. People just never seem to think about cleaning them. Like the manual suggest, I have always used kerosene to clean the chain because I have never really found a cleaner made specifically for a chain. Since the chain is an o-ring chain and contains rubber o-rings on each of the links you have to be careful what you clean it with to avoid destroying them.
Use Wax Instead of Oil to Lube the Chain
As far as lubrication, don’t use oil on the chain. I have seen people use regular oil, and it ends up slinging everywhere after a few minutes of riding. I use chain wax which is available by several manufacturers including Maxima and Bel-Ray. The wax dries and stays on the chain and lubricates the chain and sprocket, keeping wear at a normal rate. Don’t let the dirt and sand accumulate and wear your chain and sprockets out, keep the chain clean!
That covers the basics of maintenance that you will have to do to your Yamaha Banshee. It is mostly just cleaning that you should be doing to any other ATV. As with any other quad, you should also keep it washed to prevent rust and to prevent dirt from working its way into bearings.
Invest in a Repair Manual
One last thing that I can suggest is almost a must-have: If you own a Banshee and don’t own a Clymer’s manual, you need to purchase one. For the relative low cost, this book will pay for itself many times over. The dealership charges high labor rates, and this book gives you step-by-step instructions and pictures of how to completely rebuild anything on a Banshee.
However, following these tips should prevent you from having to do any major rebuilds or repairs. Don’t let internet rumors and myths scare you away from owning one of the most popular ATVs of all time, as you can see the maintenance is just as easy as any other sport quad you could own.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.