Tuesday, September 18, 2007

New Can-Am DS 450 compared to other 450s

Dirt Wheels put the Can-AM 450 up against the Kawasaki KFX450 and Yamaha YFZ450 to see how the all new quad and radical design compared to the top overall racing 450 (the YFZ) and another with an all-aluminum frame (the KFX). The conclusion...the Dirt Wheels staff felt it was lightweight, fast and handled well but could use some improvements in low end power and turning.

" Can-Am's aluminum frame design definitely has some significant weight savings over the Kawasaki"

So while the comparison was mostly about the how the Can-Am DS450 stacked up in the 450 class, checkout page 124 in the October issue for more info on the others as well.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

New For Hunting Season: KYMCO MXU 500...and a free winch offer!

Meeting hunters’ need for tough, reliable and affordable trail transportation, KYMCO USA has teamed with True Timber to introduce the MXU 500 Camo. The company’s largest and most powerful quad is now available in True Timber Concealed Green Camo. This is a new pattern from the leaders in the field of digital effect camouflage. Consisting of hardwood bark, limbs and green leaves, the detail of Concealed Green is amazing, and it looks great on the trail-ready MXU 500.

“Making our largest-displacement ATV available in True Timber Camo should move KYMCO to the top of hunters’ shopping lists,” said Bruce Ramsey, KYMCO USA Vice President for Sales and Marketing. “The MXU 500 is a workhorse equal to pulling any big game animal out of the woods.”

And they must believe it, because they are offering a free Mile Marker 2,500lb winch with wireless remote ($389 value) with the purchase of a new KYMCO MXU 500 before December 31, 2007.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

A Diesel ATV from Arctic Cat

The Arctic Cat 700 Diesel is a whole different breed of ATV, as the ATV Rider crew revealed recently in their review of the machine. Polaris had tried a diesel-powered utility ATV in the nineties, with limited success but perhaps times have changed.

The Lombardini 695cc V-twin engine is engineered to run on six different blends of diesel fuel, including Diesel #1, Diesel#2, Diesel Arctic, JP5, JP8 and up to B20 bio-diesel. Diesel engines have earned a reputation for longevity, durability and fuel efficiency compared to their gasoline counterparts.

So how do they work in a quad? According to ATV Rider...

"builds speed slowly and surely, chugging along like the utilitarian tank it is...all we could muster was a lousy 30 miles per hour"

While it probably does have the best fuel economy of a utility ATV, it is also very heavy - accommodating the diesel engine and built for tough operating conditions. So while it may not the best choice for the average rider (being big, heavy, slow and requiring specific skill for the power delivery), farmers and ranchers who want something cheaper than a compact tractor to pull agricultural attachments around might find the Arctic Cat 700 diesel a smart choice. As summarized by ATV Rider...

"tows like a son-of-a-bitch"

Check out the full review including a test and photo showing the Arctic Cat diesel towing a full size trailer with two other quads on it on page 44 of the October 2007 issue.

Yamaha Rhino vs Polaris RZR

Want to know how the all new Polaris RZR 800 stacks up against the popular Yamaha Rhino 660 side-by-side? Both ATV Rider and Dirt Wheels put the two head-to-head in their October 2007 issues. Checkout page s 62 and 106 respectively for the full story.

My summary - the Polaris RZR is fast, exciting and "cool". But although designed for the tighter trails, the RZR 800 was actually not as good in that environment as the Rhino. Nonetheless, it will be usable in many riding areas where you would have to leave the much larger Yamaha Rhino parked.

In the end, overall build quality, durability, safety, versatility and huge aftermarket give the Rhino the nod if you have to choose just one! But the reality is that there are many people looking for different experiences, and I'm glad to see Polaris not just copying what is already on the market, but leaping ahead in many areas. The RZR will make many a driver and passenger feel like they are rally racers out on the trails.

New Polaris Outlaws add more choice to sport world

The new Polaris Outlaw 450 and 525 S were reviewed in Dirt Wheels Magazine, October 2007 issue. The Outlaws will share the same exact frame, suspension arms, steering system and bodywork. The 450MXR stands apart from its bigger brother not only in its engine displacement, but the shocks, tire size and style, making it nearly race ready at 47.5 inches wide and with 18 inch rear tires.

The power to weight ratio was deemed excellent in the review, with the 450 MXR being lighter than both the Kawasaki and Suzuki 450s. But while suspension was very good on the 450, the limits of the 525 S suspension were felt quickly.

A common problem of both models is the Intake system and air boxes are very compact and hard to service. Partly as a result of a very high top rear shock mount which also creates an uncomfortable seat. Polaris has had the same problem before and hopefully will be addressed before full production begins.

It should be noted that these quads will be released in limited numbers in year one, with the plan for the straight axle, high performance track and trail machines to replace the Polaris Predator 500.

The Dirt Wheels crew wondered about future controversy on the track and trail with riders trying to pass off their 525s as a 450 to enter races! Check out the full article on page 52.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

TRX700XX. No, 700 is not a typo!

A year of firsts for Honda, this time it's a big bore sport quad being announced. The all new 2008 Honda TRX700XX has a lot of people excited with a double-wishbone Independent Rear Suspension (IRS) system, a unique centered chain drive system, and a fuel-injected 686cc engine making monster torque. The IRS also comes with a tuned sway bar to help keep the rear end better planted on the track and trail. Other details I noted include a rear LED brake light and removable mud scrapers on the rear rims.

The real question is if the TRX700XX is more of an alternative to the Can-Am Renegade 4x4 than the Yamaha Raptor 700. It would seem so with a curb weight (all fluids and a full tank of gas) of 508 pounds, making it around 100 pounds heavier than the Raptor which has claimed dry weight of 396 lbs. Only time will tell as the first public rides on the machine are forthcoming.

Honda enters side-by-side market with Big Red

As part of the "second wave" of announcements from Honda this summer and fall, they have officially confirmed what has been long awaited and longer rumored - a Honda side-by-side quad. (also known as UTVs, MUVs and other things - look for a future post on that issue).

To be called Big Red, the machine will be available in the summer of 2008 as a 2009 model. Honda just couldn't wait to let the cat out of the bag considering the success of the other makers in this category. On paper, Big Red has specifications very similar to those of the Yamaha Rhino but Honda claims they will be incorporating a lot of their extensive automotive-related expertise into this machine. As they put it - "the only one built by a company that has both the powersports and the automotive know-how to combine the best of these two worlds".

So there you have it, there will be no Rhino vs "Hippo" shootouts. We would have liked that name better, and being a serious Nebraska Huskers fan myself, "Big Red" means something entirely different...oh well.