Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Kawasaki TERYX demo drives


Kawasaki wants to give you an opportunity to take the new Teryx side-by-side for a spin, starting this week at the UTV Rally in Moab, Utah. They will be on hand with a demo ride hospitality area and free technical seminars located inside the Old Spanish Trail Arena.

Kawasaki will be conducting additional Teryx Demo Drives at the following events:


  • June 14 at the Rumble on the Ridge in Adena, OH

  • July 21 - 26 at the High Mtn. ATV Jamboree in Wallace, ID

  • July 30 - August 3 at DuneFest in Reedsport, OR

  • August 22-24 at Ducks Unlimited in Oshkosh, WI

  • August 29-31 at the Black Hills UTV Rally in Rapid City, SD

  • September 15-20 at the Rocky Mtn ATV Jamboree in Richfield, UT

  • October 9-13 at the Hatfield/McCoy Trailfest in Gilbert, WV

For additional information on upcoming events planned by Kawasaki’s Consumer Events group, please visit http://www.kawasaki.com/NewsEvents/.

2008 Honda Foremans with electric power steering recalled

About 1,400 model year 2008 Honda TRX500 ATVs have been recalled by Honda. The electric power steering shaft of the recalled ATVs could break unexpectedly, although no incidents or injuries have been reported. See the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) page for more info.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

KTM reveals motocross ATV in Spain!


This had been rumored since the exciting release of the KTM XC quads last fall, and now KTM has confirmed they will have dedicated race-ready motocross ATVs in addition to their new cross-country focused XC lineup. KTM showed off what they are calling the 450 SX and 550 SX at the trendsetting Motorcycle Fair in Barcelona, Spain

According to KTM, they have created the perfect motocross quad with remarkably low weight in combination with wider front and rear dimensions. KTM also heavily focused on keeping the center of gravity as low as possible by introducing a newly designed fuel tank.

Unlike the XC, the SX moels will not have a reverse gear in an effort to save even more weight. They also feature a big airbox with easy filter access and a race-proven Keihin 41 mm. KTM again went the extra mile by topping it off with Maxxis Razr MX tires, rear Douglas beadlock rims and nerf bars as well as a protective cover for the headlight. The SX also has the same industry leading Magura front brakes, Chromoly frame, hydraulic clutch, Magura handle bar as the acclaimed XC models.

The specifically developed WP suspension elements are another highlight and feature a wide range of adjustments, most of which are unique to the industry: High & Low speed compression adjustability both in the front and rear, Crossover design both in the front and rear.

More to come on this!

0-60 mph 3.5 sec on new Quadster


Just one of the many specs listed on the newly added page to GG Quad North America's website. Check it out.

Barefoot electric ATV video now on Discovery site


An update from Melissa Brandao over at Barefoot on the Mythbusters show I mentioned awhile back. The video is now up on the Discovery Channel website and features a head-to-head comparison of the Model One and a Polaris 800 gas-powered ATV. And don't laugh, it actually looked similar to the now defunct WPSA Quad Terrain Challenge races.

Draw your own conclusions from the faster lap times on the electric quad, the point is that battery-powered machines are not at a disadvantage in power department. But actually, the line that struck me was that the Model One is around 100 pounds lighter than comparable gas ATV. That is huge not only in performance, but safety. Safety is going to be the battleground for ATVs in the coming years if it isn't already.

BRP forms distinct ATV division

Privately held Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. has separated its operations to encompass two different businesses, one representing Can-Am ATVs and Can-Am roadsters and one representing a new Ski-Doo/Sea-Doo division.

Yves Leduc becomes VP and general manager of the new Can-Am division while Alain Villemure becomes VP and general manager of the new Ski-Doo/Sea-Doo division, which includes Ski-Doo snowmobiles, Sea-Doo watercraft and Sea-Doo sport boats.

BRP says the split of Can-Am, Ski-Doo and Sea-Doo was implemented to help provide better flexibility, increased specialization and to improve processes for rigorous execution.

And if you have been to any of the quad racing series lately, you know Can-Am is serious about this ATV thing!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Honda's new TRX700 big bore sport quad


The most notable quad missing from the recent Dirt Wheels big bore sport ATV shootout was the all new IRS-equipped TRX700XX from Honda. I guess they couldn't wait for it to show up, but it has started popping up everywhere else, including a slew of first ride tests hosted by Honda at the Dumont Dunes Off-Highway Vehicle Area in Dumont, CA.

ATV Scene has extensive coverage of the technology and their impressions from the test, including what seem to be a couple pages just on Honda's innovative Centered Chain Drive System. Off-Road.com has a basic writeup that verifies some of the Scenes conclusions, and the new ATV.com has some videos from a beginner level rider from the same test. Now for my summary...

Centered Chain Drive System

Honda has engineered a whole new approach to the traditional driveline issues with independent rear-swung models in the TRX700. The centered chain drive is only 33mm off center of the chassis, allowing for longer double wishbone a-arms and longer axle shafts. This in turn minimizes wheel camber changes and decreases extreme angles for the CV joints, resulting in both a better handling and more reliable ATV. As I said, if you really want the fully story checkout the ATV Scene article.

Largest single cylinder ATV engine Honda has produced, but...

The TRX700 is powered by a 686cc dry-sump, liquid-cooled SOHC four-valve single-cylinder four-stroke engine, which no doubt traces its origins to Honda’s Baja-dominating XR650R dirt bike. In fact, the 700XX engine is the largest diameter single-cylinder that Honda has ever mass-produced.

When put to the test, most agreed that the Honda produces its power up high leaving much to be desired in the low and mid range department. While this is not uncommon in modern (read restricted) four strokes, all of the reviewers seemed to have trouble at lower speeds both from stalling and staying in a usable power range.

"Mid range power is decent, but still lacks that hit you expect in a high performance sport quad, especially one packing this many CCs. Up high the four-valve single-cylinder four-stroke engine comes alive and pulls nicely. It’s fast, but seems a little slower than Yamaha’s Raptor 700R." - ATV Scene


Ergonomics and handling

"Moving around on the 700XX is possibly the easiest of any quad." - ATV Scene


A lot of praise for the ergos and handling overall. Interestingly, the TRX700 is shorter and narrower than even the TRX450. Where the TRX450 is 73.3 inches long and 46.3 inches wide, the 700XX is 71.5 inches long and 45.9 inches wide.

There was some disagreement on handling through high speed whoops, some quite impressed and others feeling the requirement for aftermarket help. This may be a matter of the style of riding. Another problem area could be in low speed handling, partly due to the IRS design along with some front-end pushing. Jumping, and I guess more importantly, landing the large quad on the other hand proved to be quite enjoyable.

Reliability

Honda has a reputation in this department, and the TRX700 features tough high-impact urethane skids plates and possibly the most protected rear brake and sprocket system on an ATV. Honda is offering a one-year warranty plan for the first time, which might be an indivator of their confidence level in the new design.

Conclusion
Despite Honda aiming for the TRX700 to be a “category killer”, targeting current or would be utility ATV owners who really want something more sporty, it would seem that a different niche might be carved out. Given some of the above issues combined with the easier shifting in slow speed or tight situations you would get from an automatic utility quad, seems like desert and offroad racing might be perfect for the XX, especially considering the demands on reliability in those environments.

So I guess I agree with ATV Scene once again

"In stock form we just don’t see this as a good choice for tight woods riding or perhaps GNCC racing out east. But if you’re a high performance desert racer on the west coast, with a little aftermarket help, there isn’t a better machine available."

Another LT-R450 project quad

ATV Television takes a stab at a Suzuki QuadRacer 450 project quad (seems like this is the most popular project quad these days). The hi-def video mostly features Doug giving a run down of the cool accessories added to mimic the Duncan racing team, and then a little footage of the quad in the desert and on the track. Nothing technical here.

My favorite part of the video is when the advertising banner along the bottom says this segment sponsored by Can-Am. I've been impressed with Can-Ams involvement in and support of the sport recently, but this goes above and beyond - sponsoring a competing quad review! ;)

Arctic Cat lowers outlook while Polaris raises theirs

Arctic Cat struggled in the first quarter of 2008 while Polaris reports record first quarter results - including 19% growth in ATV sales over last year, their largest segment. The Ranger RZR side-by-side again mentioned as the contributor to that success.

Kymco UXV (side-by-side) available in June?

According to some dealers, the all new UXV 500 from Kymco will be available in the United States the beginning of June.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Big bore sport quad shootout

Despite being the best-selling class on the market, the "big bore" sport ATV market basically consisted of the Kawasaki KFX700 and Yamaha's now 700cc Raptor, which from its 660cc days has been the best selling sport quad overall.

But there are some exciting new machines in town, and Dirt Wheels took a look at the Raptor together with the new KTM 525 XC and the Polaris Outlaw 525 S in a May 2008 shootout.

I'll cut to the chase, the Yamaha Raptor has won the last few shootouts and this one was no different. The conclusion will lead many to believe even more strongly that Dirt Wheels just favors Yamaha. However, if you follow their reasoning based on generalizing the best quad across multiple terrains, together with a strong emphasis on reliability and being proven it makes some sense. They point out any number of minor faults and annoyances on the KTM 525 and Polaris 525 that you'll have to sort through.

Some of the takeaways from this test:

Raptor 700R

  • only one of the three with EFI
  • 176cc larger displacement
  • smoothest power delivery of the three units
  • most fun in the dunes
  • best jumper of the three



KTM 525 XC

  • best handling of the machines
  • awesome Ohlins suspension
  • in a 100-yard drag race the KTM wins by two quad lengths over the Raptor
  • despite same/similar KTM motor as Outlaw, more explosive (different gearing)


Outlaw 525 S

  • good choice for Grand Prix type racing
  • great suspension settings for the rougher sections
  • preload only adjustment on Fox suspension is unacceptable
  • front pushes in smoother corners and has much more body roll than the KTM
  • much more room for the rider, making it easier to slide around and be aggressive


The bottom line - all these machines are super capable and fun and each individual will have other decided factors. The newer Polaris Outlaws and first generation KTMs will obviously have some tweaking to do over the next couple of years , but promise to keep the Raptor honest.

Suzuki celebrates quad milestones


25 Years of Quads

Suzuki introduced the first quad (or "four-wheeled ATV" to use legacy speak), the QuadRunner LT-125, in 1983.

To mark the company's 25th anniversary of offering quads this year, American Suzuki is inviting all Suzuki ATV owners to join "First on 4 Wheels" celebrations at five regional ATV events:

  • May 2-3 — WPSA ATV Open Championship, Oak Hill Raceway, Alvord, Texas
  • June 14-15 — WPSA ATV Open Championship, Wild Cat Creek MX, Rossville, Ind.
  • July 30-August 3 — Oregon DuneFest, Winchester Bay, Ore.
  • September 15-20 — Rocky Mountain ATV Jamboree, Richfield, Utah
  • October 9-13 — Hatfield McCoy TrailFest, Gilbert W.V.


250,000th ATV produced by American Suzuki

Suzuki Manufacturing of America produced its 250,000 ATV in Rome...Georgia that is.

Dustin Wimmer (factory Suzuki quad racer) drove the red KingQuad off the line which will be in Suzuki’s lobby of Technology Parkway and eventually sold to one of Suzuki’s 48 worldwide corporate customers for promotional purposes. The ATV was signed by every employee in the plant.

2008 Yamaha Rhino recall

Yamaha is recalling about 7,800 Rhino 450 and 700 side-by-sides sold nationwide from October 2007 through March 2008 as the brake caliper on the left front wheel could have been made incorrectly, resulting in brake fluid leaking. This can cause a loss of braking and control of the vehicle, posing a serious safety risk to the driver and passenger although no incidents or injuries have been reported.

Consumers should immediately stop using the recalled Rhinos and are asked to contact any authorized Yamaha Rhino dealer to schedule a free repair. Registered owners were sent direct mail notification of this recall.

The recall involves model year 2008 Rhino YXR450 and YXR700 side-by-side vehicles with the following primary identification numbers:

2008 Rhino 450
YXR45FX
YXR45FHX
YXR45FSPX
AJ32Y-001001 — 001598
AJ30Y-000501 — 000897
AJ34Y-000201 — 000794

2008 Rhino 700FI
YXR70FX
YXR70FDUX
YXR70FHX
YXR70FSEPX/FSP2X
YXR70FSPX
AM16Y?000101 — 003000
AM20Y-000101 — 000700
AM18Y-000101 — 000800
AM23Y-000101 — 001000
AM21Y-000101 — 001200

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Another promising electric ATV option

I was recently introduced to an Italian company manufacturing a line of electric-powered quads, which are now available in the United States. Global Electric Motorcars, which made the first EU street-legal electric ATV (which makes the mpg argument irrelevant btw) now has an exclusive US distributor for several of its machines - Electric Vehicles Unlimited, LLC. The company is based in Fargo, North Dakota and will also be the distributor for Canada, Mexico and South America.

They are offering three ATV models:

Geo Country Quad

  • Dimensions: L77 in x W44 in x H45 in
  • Weight: 549 lbs
  • Wheel base: 49 in
  • Max. load weight: 231 lbs
  • Motor: 4kw/2800, continuous current
  • Battery: 6 x 12V, 74Ah NorthStar
  • Charger: 110V-220V Zivian On-board
  • Total charge time: approx. 9 hrs
  • Top speed: 25 mph
  • Top range: street, 31 mi; off-road, 25 mi
  • Gear: automatic
  • Transmission: rear w/ locked differential, auto gear box plus reverse

Geo Light Quad

  • Dimensions: L53 in x W33 in x H39 in
  • Weight: 265 lbs
  • Motor: DC series
  • Motor power: 600 W
  • Battery: 48V, 24 Ah, maintenance-free
  • Charger: AC 220V – AC 110V
  • Total charging time: Approx. 8 hrs.
  • Top speed: Approx. 19 mph
  • Top range: Approx. 19 mi


Geo Mini Quad

  • Dimensions: L47 in x W27 in x H28 in
  • Weight: 93 lbs
  • Motor: DC series
  • Motor power: 450 W
  • Battery: 3 x 12V, 12 Ah, maintenance-free
  • Charger: AC 220V – AC 110V
  • Total charging time: Approx. 6 hrs
  • Top speed: Approx. 11 mph
  • Top range: Approx. 12 mi

To give you an idea of the sizes, the Geo Country is comparable to a mid-size utility ATV (Honda Rancher or Kawasaki Prairie) while the Geo Light Quad is slightly smaller than a traditional 90cc mini ATV. The Geo Mini is even smaller than a gas powered 50cc and also significantly lighter.

While the ATV platforms themselves are not quite to the level BAREFOOT MOTORS is working on with the Model One electric ATV, the battery technology and motor appear to be solid. Charging the Geo Quads is very simple with an on-board electric charger and cable that can be connected to any common electric home-socket AC110V/220V. The claimed electricity usage during the charging is comparable to an electric shaver.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

ATVs can go "on road" and offroad


Was cool to see this general news piece featuring a Polaris RZR used for running errands around town in Gillette, Wyoming (even if they kept calling it a "Razor"). The article covers some of the potential pros (fuel economy, more agile, better in bad conditions like snow and ice) and cons (lack of awareness from other drivers, design features not intended for street use).

The funny thing is, I saw a bunch of articles about the failed ban of ATVs from all roads in West Virgina at the same time. My favorite quote from the governor himself - "It makes all the sense in the world to keep those dern things off the highways."

My response would have been either "have you not seen an ATV Supermoto event" or more likely, "I think you should try banning cars from the road first". Or perhaps, "never been outside of West Virginia?" The fact is you don't have to go as far as Europe to see quads used safely and effectively on the road. It is possible right here in the United States. Not only in Wyoming as covered above, but my own state of Arizona along with South Dakota, Ohio, and Michigan from what others are reporting. In Canada it has been up to each township or county for awhile now.

I'll work to compile current laws and some of the real issues on this, but for now simply wanted to raise a little awareness of the possibilities.

LS Motorsports launches consumer financing

LS Motorsports and Sparta Commercial Services have launched a consumer financing and leasing program for all LS Motorsports brands, including Diamo ATVs.

According to Sparta Chairman and CEO Anthony Havens, LS Motorsports now will offer retail dealers a traditional type of installment loan product or consumer lease to their customers.

“Until now, consumers who wanted a Diamo, Italjet or Fisher could only rely on their personal major credit cards or some revolving charge program in order to finance their purchase, both of which typically carry higher interest rates than the new LS Motorsports program”, said Havens.

Monday, March 17, 2008

A couple more looks at the new King Quad 750

One of the more popular utility quads on the market, the upgraded KingQuad 750 has received lots of media attention, including two more reviews from Dirt Wheels and ATV Rider in their recent issues. Thought I would recap some of what we already know, and some fresh points.

Excellent tranny

“The 08 KingQuad 750 is possibly the best-shifting ATV on the market” - ATV Rider

“The KingQuad 750’s CVT automatic transmission is one of the best parts...On the fly, 4WD transition was excellent...4WD nearly flawless” - Dirt Wheels

More power for an already super capable machine

Suzuki claims the most noticeable improvement from the larger displacement engine will be the torque delivery from low to midrange and then slight improvement on the top end. The testers confirmed they felt it...

“it’s easy to lift the front tires from the ground when necessary or crawl up gnarly steep hills...it has much better power than its previous models” - ATV Rider


“One of the best hill climbing utility quads available” - Dirt Wheels



Some issues with steering and suspension remain

Just to be clear, you should plan on purchasing an aftermarket steering stabilizer for this quad if you'll be doing any fast-paced trail riding.

“has light and quick steering for a 4WD ATV. This makes it a great cornering machine, but also makes it somewhat unpredictable on rougher trails” - Dirt Wheels


“The suspension is satisfactory but seems to be a bit soft for the weight of the machine even in the highest settings. This was the area of the KingQuad that probably let us down the most” - ATV Rider



Other details to point out

  • 75 miles on a tank of gas
  • Reverse gear rev-limiter was increased to 7000rpm (allowing for better control in situations when you need more power)
  • Stabilizer bar added to the rear IRS

YFZ 450 and Raptor 700 compared in the dunes

Off-road.com took a look at two special edition Yamaha sport quads out in the big dunes of Glamis, California recently. Some good insight on the differences between the YFZ450 and the Rapter 700 (two popular ATVs for duners) more than a full test or comparison to other quads. Some comments from the beginner /novice level rider:

"In the dunes the Raptor 700 feels more like a Cadillac"


"For the aggressive rider that likes to attack the dunes and is looking for a light, flickable ATV the 450 is perfect. If loads of usable power and a plush cruiser that is still plenty of fun when in attack mode is more your speed, than a 700 is what you need."

Friday, March 14, 2008

TGB Outback 425 gets the privilege of being in Dirt Wheels


The Taiwanese-built Outback 425 got a review in April 2008 Dirt Wheels in what is a rare appearance these days for non-traditional quad manufacturers. And after reading the article I'm not sure if they don't like the quad, or don't like that TGB/Cobra Powersports doesn't provide them with the advertising dollars the brand name guys do!

For example, they give mention to the following:

  • "Very strong and thicker than normal cargo racks"
  • "The rear disc is tucked away inside the right wheel resulting in a very impressive ground clearance measurement (for a straight axle quad) of 7.5 inches"
  • "Not only can you use it [12 volt accessory source] to power items such as cell phones and GPS units, you can do it while you ride. That's tough to do on any other ATV"
  • "Full complement of aluminum skid plates...as standard equipment. Most brand name quads come with weak plastic skid plates"

Yet they conclude that for some reason the Outback 425 should only cost half as much as a name brand? Another thing that confused me where the following apparent contradictions...

"plenty of power was available as long as speeds were kept under 30 miles per hour"

but then

"could reach a top speed of 55 miles per hour without much excitement. Top end power was much better than the torque and lack of power found in the lower RPM"

Two different test riders perhaps? One thing that should be made clear is that it is no speed demon regardless, and while minor adaptations (such as mud tires) were made for the U.S . market, it is largely a platform designed to be capable off and ON road. I wouldn't mind testing one for dirt and paved roads here in Arizona where ATVs can be licensed for that (I mentioned some thoughts on that yesterday).

They also pick on it being heavy. Perhaps it feels heavy but I just checked our database and it looks like the listed dry weight of 590lbs for the Outback is on par with the Suzuki KingQuad 400 at 590lbs (formerly the Eiger) or KingQuad 450 at 606lbs for example. And actually comes in lighter than other popular makes like the Outlander 400 (615 pounds) or Arctic Cat 400 at a whooping 645 pounds!

That said, I actually found the review itself to be one of the best ones I've read in a magazine - not the usual glowing, "you should own one of every quad" type of articles. But again, not sure this was from them being overly critical or perhaps just as a result of it being an unfamiliar ATV. Either way you can check it out on page 116.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Pendolauto and Tesseract "quads"


Wanted to give a mention to another trend outside the traditional ATV industry that will hopefully be another driver to making quads a bigger part of the mobility and transportation options available in this country, not to mention bolstering the industry in general. I'm talking about the hybrid bike-quad concepts being shown in the motorcycle world. I first saw the Yamaha Tesseract awhile back, and now Autoblog had a post on the Pendolauto in which they had this to say...

"Swiss automobile and motorcycle customizing company Sbarro unleashes its Pendolauto concept. Like the Tesseract, the Pendolauto leans into turns like a motorcycle would, yet features four wheels, like a car or a quad." (emphasis mine)

Seems people are not sure how to classify these machines. I think in large part due to the fact that ATVs have this black cloud over them from a safety standpoint and assumption that they should never be driven on roads (despite the fact that this is commonplace in other countries).

In any event I'll be following this closely as I believe these hybrids and even future designs from ATV manufacturers can in fact bring greater safety and care for the environment! Autoblog says it best...

"Because the Tesseract and Pendolauto have four wheels, nothing quite like them will be available in the U.S. any time soon. Unfortunately, the powers-that-be have yet to understand that a machine like the Pendolauto can offer similar benefits as motorcycles while perhaps adding a few degrees of safety."


Yamaha Tesseract

2008 Yamaha Grizzly 700 EPS test


The latest ATV Television podcast takes a look at the electronic power steering (EPS) equipped Yamaha Grizzly 700. My takeaway after downloading the video...

The good

  • EPS
  • Handling
  • Mass centralization and low center of gravity

The bad

  • Engine noise and vibration (not on par with KingQuad or Kawi V-Twin)
  • Gear shifter is notchy and hard to use and no parking brake.

Can-Am offering 3-year service coverage or No/No/No for 12 months

BRP has put out their spring promotion for adult-size utility Can-Am's; including a 6-month BRP Limited warranty plus a 30-month B.E.S.T. extended service contract or 12 months same as cash.

These offers are valid in US only from March 1, 2008 to May 31, 2008. Check the website for details on eligible models.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

High performance 450 shootout

Dirt Wheels has their long-awaited shootout of the major high-performance 450 sport quads in their April 2008 issue. Despite the "and the winner is..." teaser on the cover, I would say the piece is more a "party" involving seven awesome machines than a true shootout! No clear winner is declared, which I agree would be difficult anyway. But this also allows me to give you my own breakdown of the data and as I read and re-read the article, I thought a "visual guide" would help...

First, the seven machines to keep straight:

  • Can-Am DS 450
  • Honda TRX 450
  • Kawasaki KFX 450
  • KTM 450 XC
  • Polaris Outlaw 450MXR (straight axle)
  • Suzuki LT-R450
  • Yamaha YFZ 450

Key differentiating specs (since most are the same)

EFI - DS450, KFX450, LT-R450
Reverse - KFX450, 450XC, 450MXR

In order of cost

  1. TRX450 ($6850)
  2. YFZ450 ($7100)
  3. 450MXR ($7200)
  4. KFX450, LT-R450 ($7400)
  5. DS450 ($7500)
  6. KTM 450XC ($8800)

Drag test

  1. TRX450, YFZ450
  2. 450MXR, LTR-450, DS450, 450XC
  3. KFX450

Top speed

  1. TRX450, YFZ450 (78mph)
  2. DS450 (77mph)
  3. KFX450, LTR450 (74mph)
  4. 450XC, 450MXR (73mph)

Trail loop

  1. KTM450, DS450, YFZ450 (34min)
  2. TRX450 (34.25min)
  3. KFX450
  4. 450MXR, LT-R450

Suspension

  1. 450XC, 450MXR
  2. DS450, YFZ450
  3. KFX450
  4. TRX450, LT-R450

Jumping

  1. 450XC, DS450, LT-R450

Handling

  1. 450XC
  2. YFZ450
  3. LTR450, 450MXR, DS450
  4. TRX450
  5. KFX450

So now you can make your own call on the winner or check out the full article for plenty of good comparative photos and more comments.

Friday, March 7, 2008

QuadExperts week in review

Sorry for the lame coverage recently, as I've said before we have some cool stuff coming on the web. And by stuff, I mean things =)

In any event, here is our standard week in review that will be delivered each Friday...

Kymco UXV Side-by-Side this year?
KYMCO USA in Spartanburg, S.C hosted a bunch of journalists last week to check out the lineup of products that will be formally unveiled at the company's dealer meeting in April. It is rumored that the KYMCO UXV 500 SxS, first shown at the EICMA show in Milan last year, will be among them. And if you happen to be in Daytona this week, you can check out KYMCO products displayed at the track.

2008 Kawasaki Brute Force 750 video
Together with getting some of their older inventory of reviews up, a new video from ATV TV has been posted on the new Brute.

Suzuki KingQuad 450AXi year-long update
ATV Illustrated has now put a year on this new machine, and is very happy with just a couple wish list items - better rear tires and easier access to oil dipstick. Not bad.

2008 Honda TRX300EX review
ATV Illustrated also just put up a glowing review of the air-cooled Honda TRX300. Despite appearances and perceptions, the takeaway is that this ultra-reliable quad is also ultra fun on the trails and even sand dunes.

ATV rescues an automobile


This funny story almost seems made up considering you have a dealer, family member and manufacturer all involved. However, the pictures provide the evidence.

So what do you do if you get a GMC Envoy stuck in the snow and mud? Pull it out with a Polaris Sportsman 800 and winch of course! I like this story not only because it fits my theme of the good potential ATVs have, but I also have a growing negative sentiment in relation to automobiles and transportation in this country in general.

I mentioned some of this in my popular post on the Model One electric ATV, but basically I believe quads deserve consideration as a mode of transportation and not just for recreation. What's more, despite the ongoing media frenzy around the dangers of ATVs, I've been doing my own research that shows how much worse cars and trucks on US roads are. And I'm not talking just about sheer numbers. Stay tuned.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Kawasaki unveils camo editions of Brute Force and Teryx quads

Albeit quietly, as I didn't see an announcement, just a bunch of new pages on their website. Previously available as part of the NRA OUTDOORS™ packages, you can now get the REALTREE™ Hardwoods Green® HD camo on the following models...


Brute Force® 750 4x4i (Camo)
Brute Force® 650 4x4i (Camo)
Brute Force® 650 4x4 (Camo)

Same thing goes for the Teryx Side-by-Side

Teryx™ 750 4x4 (Camo)
Teryx™ 750 4x4 LE (Camo)

Polaris Outlaw IRS recall

Around 11,300 Outlaw IRS-model quads have been recalled due to the possibility of a retention bolt coming loose and causing the rear wheels to lock-up. The problem has been reported to Polaris 11 times.

The recall involves the following ATVs:

  • 2006 Outlaw 500 “IRS”
  • 2007 Outlaw 500 “IRS”
  • 2007 Outlaw 525 “IRS”
  • 2008 Outlaw 525 “IRS”

See this Polaris web page for more.

Monday, February 25, 2008

UM (United Motors) looking ahead


After reporting a 46 percent increase in wholesale sales and a 12 percent increase in retail sales in 2007 over 2006, UM is looking ahead to 2008 with some specific plans to continue its push into the U.S. market.

The main product release expected this year is the all new BULL 320 Side-by-Side quad. The BULL is now slated for a summer 2008 release following some safety improvements that are being tested are completed. UM is developing safety nets to hold the rider’s feet inside the cabin as well as adding an additional handle for the passenger.

The company has also decided to postpone the release of some of the ATVs that where originally planned to hit the market in early spring in order to be fully compliant with EPA & CARB regulations and thus make the units more successful in the US market.

Also aiding sales is the addition of 84 new dealers from 2007. UM has stated that it intends to focus most of their resources on the existing UM Dealer family. Evidence of this is already showing up, as I just noticed an improved dealer locater on their website the other day.

April issue of ATV Rider is in

In terms of machines covered, you will find a couple new reviews and a project quad, all covering popular models.

Grizzly 700 FI EPS first ride
On page 30 there is yet another confirmation that, yes...the innovative power steering that Yamaha brought to the market more than a year ago is worth the extra $600. I've seen several of these articles and can only boost the already popular Yamaha Grizzly.

They do share some good insight on owning a power steering equipped ATV, including the added confidence you will have to get places, along with more focus on having fun. And at end of the day, you can expect to be less fatigued which will allow more riding and fun again! For work applications can also provide better efficiency.

Race-Ready Suzuki LT-R450 for under $2000
On page 52, they share a project quad that is near and dear to my heart. In fact, I think I'm going to send my stock shocks off to Race Tech Suspension (formerly TCS) to be reworked following the praise that the testers give them in this article. Other goodies include ITP wheels and MXR6 tires and an M-80 power module from Big Gun Exhaust.

2008 Honda TRX400EX First Ride
Finally, on page 66 the ATV Rider crew got their hands on a couple of the first revamped 400EXs to come off production line. Not significantly changed for 08, but Honda did retune the Showa suspension and the 400EX comes with a new sleek look that also reflects improved ergonomics with a wider seat that narrows towards the fuel tank together with more room for riders legs.

The conclusion is that the Honda TRX 400 is as solid as ever, and even retells story of competing in both a Baja 2000 and 1000 aboard mostly stock 400EX without any issues. In fact winning their class in the 1726 mile Baja 2000 back in the day.

We stick to just the machines on QuadExperts.com, but you'll also find some fresh new articles and adventures in there as well, so check it out if any of these are of interest.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Kawasaki Teryx video

Checkout the excellent hi-def video podcast from ATV TV on the Teryx 750 SxS. Part 1 and Part 2. (these videos take awhile to load, even on broadband connection).


Seems everyone in the media is hot on the Teryx, even though I just saw an eBay auction close on a brand new one and the reserve price was not even met! A little different from when the Polaris RZR was going for way over its list price when first released. Not sure how much of this is the current market vs a lack of excitement over the machine.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Dealer Expo and other events wrapped up for the year

Unfortunately I was not able to attend Indy in person this year, especially since I'm not seeing much coverage other than the parties and girls from everyone else. I know there must have been a few ATVs and Side x Sides around! ;)

Funny I actually saw more coverage of ATVs from the World Ag Expo in California, including yet another Model One appearance. The World Ag Expo is a yearly event held at the Tulare County Fairgrounds with exhibitors of agriculture products, services and equipment. However recent years have seen an increasing presence from quad manufacturers and aftermarket companies that have a whole lot of value and versatility to offer farmers at relatively low costs.

Yamaha also announced a Hunter Conservation Sales Program along with giving away a Rhino 700 at the 30th Anniversary SHOT Show in Las Vegas.

And while I'm at it with all these events, you might as well know that Arctic Cat is planning to host the company's 2009 model ATV dealers meeting in Thief River Falls, birthplace of Arctic Cat, this June 2-14. The event is still being planned but is expected to draw as many as 2,500 visitors from across the U.S., Canada and overseas.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Polaris doubles previous recall on Sportsman and Scrambler ATVs


Polaris said yesterday it was issuing a product recall for 95,000 all-terrain vehicles due to a fire hazard. The 95,000 units include 45,000 ATVs that Polaris had already recalled in 2005.


This recall involves select 2005 through 2006 model Polaris Sportsman and Scrambler 500 ATVs. For a complete list of affected models, and how to identify them, see this page on the Polaris website.

At issue are potentially defective Electronic Control Modules (ECM) that overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard to riders. Since the original recall, Polaris has received 372 additional reports of smoking and/or melted electronic control modules. It also has received reports of 20 fires, including nine that involved damage to property beyond the ATVs. No injuries have been reported.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

2008 Limited Edition Polaris ATVs and Ranger side-by-sides announced

Seems Polaris is taking a page out of the Yamaha playbook in regards to offering "customized" versions of their popular Ranger side-by-sides as Yamaha started doing for their Rhinos. Last week they announced that five new versions of the Ranger will be available at select US and Canadian dealerships starting this month. I have yet to see the Polaris website updated with the details, but was able to find an article on ATV Nation with some photos and the same information.

Likewise, new limited edition models for select ATVs including the Sportsman 800 EFI, Sportsman 800 X2, Sportsman 500 Touring, Sportsman 300, and Outlaw 525 S will be made available. Again, found the only photos for these on ATV Nation as well.

Weekly ATV and SxS link roundup

ATVRiders updated their site the other day with several test rides



Project Workhorse Can-Am Outlander
Here is the final installment of OffRoad.com's Can Am Outlander 650 Max project. Billed as the ultimate hunting quad, was mostly a showcase for several of their sponsors products bolted on. Still wouldn't mind having one though ;)

2008 Kawasaki models now available at Cabelas
Check out their brand new promo page, including the Teryx starting at $9799.

Dealer Expo this weekend!
A reminder that the Indy show is already here...15-18 February at the Indianapolis Convention Center and RCA Dome. I'm on the road and won't be able to attend this year (as many have asked), but am already making plans for next year. I did receive a tip to checkout booth 3711, where a new line of UTVs and ATVs from Diamo will be announced.

Friday, February 8, 2008

BTW...QuadHunter.com is now live!

I put up a tease early in the week, and now we flipped the switch on our latest site. Checkout the ultimate list of ATVs and side-by-sides for sale. We have many more ideas to implement, but think it is already an amazing leap forward:

  • No more wasted time searching around. We have built algorithms to find and filter all popular quads and types across the web into a single place
  • You only see recent listings. No sense showing you something that is months or more old - it is either sold or the details have changed anyway
  • Get the complete picture with national and regional pages with maps. No more limitation of being forced to see only what is directly local on one hand, or having to see entire country on the other. We think most people shop for a deal on quads at least in an entire region. We bring it to you.
  • We present the information that is most useful, so you can scan more than just what the person selling the quad has written, and with quick sorting by prices


To be clear, we are not involved in the selling or listing of these, we simply wanted to make it easy for buyers to find the deals and what they need.

So checkout quadhunter.com and spread the word at your favorite forums and clubs. The little startup money we do have is going into the development of some more great sites and not advertising.

Hyosung working on powerful Side-by-Side and ATV?

Ron Lutrell, National Sales Manager for Hyosung, was overheard at the International Motorcycle Show in Atlanta hinting at just that! Specifically mentioned their 650 V-Twin engine that would make a nice powerplant in either of those platforms.

While I think there is plenty of room for innovation in the core ATV market, I can see why companies are going after the side-by-side business. Despite the recent downward trend in the US economy and its impact on offroad sales, side-by-sides are holding healthy growth. Similar to Arctic Cat, Yamaha just recently reported a 7.15% increase in Rhino unit sales, while their annual ATV sales fell 10 percent.

For those of you not familiar, Hyosung Motors America is the U.S. subsidiary of S&T Motors Ltd (formerly Hyosung Motors and Machinery) based in Korea. When started back in 1978, they produced vehicles for Suzuki and other manufacturers. Today, they also make a 450-class sport machine that is also sold by United Motors under the UM brand. While this 450 is not well known to many, it is known to those familiar with it to be very powerful.

Another Teryx review

ATVSource.com has also published a review of the Kawasaki Teryx, with lots of details and opinions, which I like. Even if I don't totally agree, like the point on the Teryx carving out a middle ground in side-by-sides. I don't think this new RUV segment, or any other "segments" exist really in side-by-sides. Different vehicles offer more or less of a particular focus, but all are extremely versatile and fall along more of a continuum.

A couple things I learned:

  • Developing the fuel injection system would have delayed the release of the Teryx for many months or more. But while Kawasaki is more confident in the Keihen carbs, they are committed to bringing EFI to a future Teryx
  • the Teryx tops out at approximately 48 mph (limited only by the engine governor)
  • Kawasaki engineers have made the Teryx winch-ready
  • the front differential control has preset, incremental stops that allow you to set and go on about driving (different from the lever you must hold on Kawasaki utility ATVs)
  • Others are talking about the pronunciation as well!

You can also find some great photos with the article. They don't have them labeled, but on the last page there are a couple of the Monster Energy Kawasaki race team that has been testing the Teryx for quite some time. It is too bad you can't buy one with that lime green color!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Quads of the week...and a sneak peek!

How about some sporty Honda's for this weeks auction finds?


More importantly, here is the first look at QuadHunter, our new site that will allow you to find all quads for sale in a single, super helpful website. It will launch later this week! I hinted at this awhile back, then it proceeded to take a month longer than expected to test and get the bugs worked out! I'll let the screenshots speak for themselves...needless to say we are excited about bringing this tool to the community.

quick and intuitive access to "hunting areas"

...and everything you need for successful "hunting"

Monday, February 4, 2008

Kawasaki Teryx begins to make its appearance


If you've been waiting for the all new Teryx 750 side-by-side from Kawasaki, the wait is just about over. The quad has started showing up in performance shops and at local dealers (at least in their advertising) in small numbers around the country.

Offroad.com has put up a review to go with that timing, although unfortunately, nothing really new is revealed. There is also a video here to go with it, but again mostly just a press introduction and not a review. In fact, the biggest thing I learned is that the Teryx will officially be pronounced "tarex". At least that is how the Kawasaki rep said it. I was hoping "T-Rex" would stick!

Okay, so the real question is will the wait have been worth it? I know a lot of people were looking for something to one-up the Rhino, or at least offer more power. Well it's not looking good for those people so far...some folks over on the UtilityOffRoad.com forum (no relation to Offroad.com ;) dyno tested the Teryx and had the following to say...

The peak HP on the Teryx is 27.63HP on my dyno and this would explain why the 700 Rhino outran it. Although I have not dynoed the 700 yet the 660 has roughly 25 HP and with the added 100lbs plus the new slightly more powerful 700 would easily explain why the 700 Rhino outran the Teryx. You also see the top speed which matches my GPS which is 45mph.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Suzuki KingQuad 450 vs Honda Rancher

Here is my summary of a shootout Dirt Wheels did between two top contenders in the cost conscious and feature driven mid-size utility ATV class - the Suzuki KingQuad 450 and the Honda Rancher 420.

Power

  • The Suzuki felt more like a carburetor fed ATV with a lag upon takeoff (although it is EFI)
  • Despite disadvantage in displacement, the Honda seems to take off much quicker and pulls harder through the powerband (it is around 45lbs lighter than the KingQuad)
  • That advantage is held back on the foot-shift model of the Rancher due to notchy shifting that requires much precision.
  • On the other hand, the KingQuad 450 has a very smooth automatic transmission

Handling

  • the Suzuki had a far superior suspension setup being IRS equipped
  • King Quad also has a huge advantage in ground clearance thanks to the IRS, and will pull away from the Rancher the gnarlier the terrain gets.
  • The Suzuki's 4x4 system is much more convenient for trail riding
  • The Honda was more predictable in 2WD mode
  • While the Suzuki was actually better behaved in 4WD (so most testers did not return to 2WD on the KingQuad)

Overall Winner - If you want to spend an extra $1000-1800, than the Suzuki is the clear winner of this shootout.

Not only for the above summary but for being a more comfortable quad and having more special features like extra storage and digital gauge.

The full article with lots of comparison pictures can be found on page 62 in the March 2008 issue.

Polaris Outlaw 50 review

Dirt Wheels has a review of the smallest of the five Outlaws on page 126 of the March issue. The thing that stood out to me was this...

"is peppy in stock trim compared to the other 50s offered. In fact, it could be the quickest 50 we have seen from a major manufacturer"


With top unrestricted speeds of nearly 20mph, the Outlaw will give kids some room to grow and to actually be able to follow you down the trail or around the riding area. I have direct experience with some of the other 50 mini ATVs, and they are pretty lame in the power department. Nothing worse than needing to help push your child's ATV up even moderately steep slopes so they can ride with you - just ask me about it. Some might wonder if I'm expecting too much from a 50cc machine, to which my reply would be NO. I've ridden 50cc scooters that get full-size adults moving right along, and for the price paid for name brand minis, I expect better performance.

I also don't think safety is the issue here either. All of the major manufactures include two or even three different speed limiters or safety devices on their 50 and 90 quads. In fact, if we expect folks to follow the age guidelines given for youth ATVs, they better be able to perform with the larger kids aboard.


Okay, back to the review! Given my comments above, it is nice to see Polaris has included tall foot extensions that help smaller riders reach the floorboards, which can later be removed as kids grow. I haven't seen this on any other mini. Another detail is the option to have pink plastic right off the showroom floor. I know one of my daughters would beg for that.

More importantly, Dirt Wheels found the handling to be above average compared to other minis, both in steering, suspension and limiting the bouncy feeling that a lot of little quads have.

Their conclusion has left an impression on me...

"not the lightest, cheapest or fastest quad in the class, but it may be the best"


You can check it out on Polaris' website.

Polaris up despite down market

Polaris reported better than expected financial figures for the fourth quarter and to end the year. This is good to see given the doom and gloom I keep reading about. Not only did they experience a 7% increase in revenue year over year, but a healthy 21% increase in sales.

Given that ATV sales were responsible for 67 percent of Polaris' total sales in 2007, and the fact that they give specific credit to the RZR side-by-side for the sales growth, I'd say the quad market is actually doing pretty well in uncertain times.

Polaris does claim a modest gain in retail ATV market share in a declining overall core North American ATV market.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Another new side-by-side coming


This sweet looking side-by-side will be on display at the Dealer Expo next month in Indianapolis. I have discovered the manufacturer, but am not allowed to say until after the show. It will be an import by a company already selling powersports vehicles in the US. Expect a release in the spring of 2008, and the production model will be at Indy!


Here are some basic specs now that I have your attention...

  • 45+ MPH
  • DOHC water cooled
  • Hi/lo-Locking differential
  • MSRP $5995

Probably really have your attention with that last one. Stay tuned.

Thanks to Jim Anderson of The Motorcycle Finance Company for tipping me on this one. (And a reminder to others to do the same, we have lots of radars out there but can't keep on top of everything)

Monday, January 28, 2008

Research indicates growth in electric ATVs and Side-by-Sides

While not specifically stated in this new research from International Market Solutions, LLC (IMS), the data does lead me to make some connections with trends in the quad world. Mainly, the extreme versatility of ATVS and side-by-side machines, and the perfect fit with battery applications. I've already blogged about the work Barefoot Motors is doing to lead the way here.

The study focused on what they call small, task-oriented vehicles (STOV) which include golf-car type machines and neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs for those in the know). I think there is overlap with what I consider to be the quad industry. Highlights include:

  • Key new product entries and innovative technologies that boost performance and comfort, including the first adaptation of AC electric power to a major golf car-type vehicle manufacturer's product line
  • A major concentration of sales efforts and capacity expansion in off-road vehicles
  • Substantial gains for new, privately-owned vehicle (including neighborhood electric vehicles) and utility vehicle segments, where double-digit growth is forecast

Also found this video of Michael Lock of Ducati North America (and Barefoot advisor) riding the Model One and talking about the opportunity they have in this space. No helmet this time either! (just because it has zero emissions doesn't mean you don't need a helmet when play riding)



So I think several factors are driving this trend. Obviously increases in fuel costs are one, and according to Barefoot the Model One could actually cost 50-75% of the gas equivalent over the course of its life. Combined with more environmental awareness and stringent regulation of emissions, I agree we will see major opportunities for small electric vehicle manufacturers across all segments.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Details emerge on the Kymco UXV 500 Side-by-Side

Perhaps my recent post prompting this ;) but ATV Source has the first detailed review of the all new Kymco side-by-side quad that will be coming to the US this summer.

The article appears to be translated from a foreign writer and can be funny to read. In fact, the video link is in German. Nonetheless, some goodies in there. As I assumed, the adopted MXU 500 power plant is no rocketship in this heavy thing - they note it takes awhile to get it up to its top speed of 45mph.

And while others have compared its looks to the Rhino, the writer here points out that there are similarities more with the Prowler in the chassis department, as part of the cooperation with Arctic Cat on some ATV models like the MXU 400/Arctic Cat 366cc.

To be expected on a first year model in a new category, the Kymco has some fit and finish issues as well. But given the growth in the side-by-side segment, I will be interested to see the price point on this model and how it will open up even more doors to new quad enthusiasts.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Reviews of the popular Honda Foreman and Rincon

Already have my March issue of ATV Rider, and on page 60 you'll find a nice review of the 2008 Honda Rincon 680. Although virtually unchanged since 2006, they had this to say..

"A complete package with the ability to conquer just about anything...climbs up and crawls back down the steep ridges time and time again...Superb handling in a nimble 4x4 chassis"


At about the same time, read a review in February Dirt Wheels magazine on the power steering with foot shift configured model of the 2008 Honda 500 Foreman where they...

"have come to love the ease of use of Honda's power steering option, and feel this feature will be standard equipment on most larger size sport utility quads in the future"


Flip to page 92 for the details there. But one quick side note - maybe it is just me but the reviews in ATV Rider seem to be more in depth and more fun to read than Dirt Wheels despite (or maybe because of) the volume of coverage in Dirt Wheels.

Anyway, one thing I was personally surprised about with the Rincon, were the things missing in order to turn it into more of a workhorse. I've always had this perception of Honda utility quads being a good fit around the farm or ranch. But before you can do any towing, you'll need to purchase an accessory tow-hitch. While a low-cost, simple install - I'm not sure why they make you mess with this. More troublesome is the fact that the 2008 Rincon still has no "low range gear" like most others. First gear does have lots of torque, but might not be enough for extreme work.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Arctic Cat quietly rolls out two new 50s


New for 2008, Arctic Cat 50 and 50 DVX mini ATVs were recently posted on the Arctic Cat website. Haven't seen this anywhere else, but I guess that is one of the reasons we started this blog!

Arctic Cat did have a sporty 2-stroke 50cc machine back in 2005 and upgraded to a 4-stroke in 2006 that looked a bit like the bigger utility Cats. It is that 4-stroke machine that is base for the two new 50s this year. While the standard 50 and 50 DVX are the same basic machine for 2008, the standard is made into a utility quad and adds front and rear racks. While the 10 and 15 pound ratings won't carry heavy loads, I bet they will carry a lot of weight with your little tike being able to be just like mom or dad!

By comparing specifications with the other 50s on the market, these don't appear to be a shared model wrapped in Arctic Cat plastic, but their own offerings. In fact, they have a very Arctic Cat-like weight (read heavy) at 260 pounds for the DVX and 265 for the utility 50.

The DVX is currently offered in black only, but with red or green graphics kits. According to some dealers, a pink version is coming soon, which is also the case for the 90 DVX.

Saving and protecting lives...with ATVs

One of the points I'll try to repeatedly make on this blog is that ATVs offer potential. Nothing more and nothing less. Despite all the negative press, a quad can not harm anyone or anything by itself, or even when operated properly.

More to the point, here is a small story showing the very good "potential" of ATVs. North Andover, Massachusetts's police will now be using two new ATVs (which appear to be Polaris X2's from the picture) to help in patrolling as well as search and rescue. Maybe not big news, as it is becoming more common, but actually saw two other news stories in the last week where police and rescue teams were using ATVs for assistance, so had to mention this.

Some of the very things blamed on ATVs are flipped on their head in this story. Instead of destroying the environment and peoples lives...“Kids like to hang out and have small fires, these ATVs would be great for getting up there and preventing the preserved land from being burned up” Officer Scott Whittaker said. In addition, police will be able to reach people having medical emergencies outdoors, especially in winter.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Polaris - the sport ATV company?


Known for making "the world's toughest ATVs", primarily heavy and rugged utility quads including those being used by the United States military, Polaris has rolled out perhaps the most complete line-up of high performance sport quads in the market, seemingly overnight.

Obviously, the thing that got me thinking about this has been the release of the two new Outlaw models this year, which I'll dig more into the Outlaw 525 IRS vs 525 S below.

To further my point, also consider the Polaris Ranger RZR side-by-side in the sport category, with Polaris continuing to distribute media releases on the racing accolades in the RZR. And while dated, one must not forget the Scrambler 4x4, which was the fastest 4x4 sport ATV on the market until the Can-Am Renegades showed up.

An Outlaw for every occasion!
Polaris has now purpose-built three distinct Outlaw models to perform in the big three terrains for 2008.

  • Outlaw 450MXR for the track

  • Outlaw 525 IRS for the trail

  • Outlaw 525 S for the dunes

Background - The Outlaw IRS was first released as a 500 in 2006 using the same Fuji-based motor and chassis as the existing Predator (more info on that machine below) at the time. While weight and gearing issues ended up being that machines handicap, it was the first independently rear suspended sport ATV in the world. And actually still is, since the brand new Honda TRX700 with IRS is not expected for a few more months anyway. Then last year, the Outlaw became a 525 with a new partnership with KTM bringing the race-proven 510cc KTM engine to the Polaris, and with it not only power gains but lower weight as well. It was the best choice Polaris could have made.


So we already know some things about the IRS-equipped Outlaw, and Polaris demos show the obvious difference between the Raptor 700 with 4 inches of ground clearance and the 525 IRS with 11 inches when trying to ride lengthwise over a log! The Outlaw 525 IRS does have more ground clearance than any other sport ATV currently offered and as such line selection will not be as crucial and the rear end will stay planted and not spin as much.


The more interesting question is which is better, the Outlaw 525 IRS or 525S? The Dirt Wheels crew tackled that very question in their February 2008 issue on page 52, riding both 525 quads in the dunes, through the woods and on the track . The biggest takeaway, and perhaps surprise...


"we came away from this comparison less impressed with the 525S and more impressed with the abilities of the IRS-equipped Outlaw"

This was the case even in the dunes, the 525S's supposed playground. Even though the lighter straight-axle machine was better in carving bowls and jumping razorbacks, its Maxxis Razr tires were not the best choice for floatation and is also more of a struggle to get the power to the ground, losing to the IRS version in drags up the hills. Go figure. But I guess others saw this dune potential in the Outlaw IRS, remember the Alba Outlaw project sand quad?


So suspension is the big difference in the two models, but there is one area where they had the same results...


"neither machine works very well on consistent whooped-out trails. The S model's rear shock tends to pack up quickly so the rider has to back off the gas. The extra weight of the IRS is also a hindrance in the deeper evenly spaced whoops"

As noted previously on the blog, the Outlaws come stock with a smaller airbox (due to chassis design), that in most cases will limit airflow and horsepower. Go to a WORCS race and you might see Doug Eichner's Outlaw 525 race quad has a completely modified intake system that accepts a standard and larger clamp-on air filter.


Regarding the Outlaw 450MXR, we know several shootouts are being conducted with the full class of 450 race quads, now eight strong not counting the non-traditional brands! We'll be bringing that to you. In the meantime, I can say that Polaris had .8 mile drag tests done by Environ Laboratories LLC with the following order of finish:



  1. Outlaw 450MXR

  2. Honda TRX450

  3. Yamaha YFZ450

  4. Kawasaki KFX450R

  5. Suzuki LT-R450

Take that for what its worth. The Outlaw does have some nice details, like Magura hydraulic clutch , stainless steel brake lines (don't expand so more braking power, also more reliable), Maxxis Rarz tires, Fox shock and more in addition to great power and performance potential.

Coming to a track near you
Then this announcement just the other day, that Polaris will triple their race team for 2008 in the company’s biggest effort in factory racing sponsorships, adds testament to their sport ATV focus. Polaris will have racers competing in the Grand National Cross Country series (GNCC), World Off Road Championship series (WORCS), World PowerSports Association (WPSA) and ITP QuadCross. “The addition of two new race quads, the Outlaw 525 S and Outlaw 450 MXR, and the existing Outlaw 525 IRS, gives our racers the advantage in the varying terrain of each series” said Justin Burke, race team coordinator for the ATV Division at Polaris.

I bet Polaris is hoping for different results than ATV Sport magazine had recently. They had been building an Outlaw IRS to race a couple GNCC and WORCS rounds for the Polaris Editors Cup. I guess the "toughest ATVs" might not carry over to the sport models? You can read about the 2 DNFs in 3 races and draw your own conclusions.

And don't forget the Predator just yet
Despite not being a big success due to tranny issues and handling woes, ATV Scene felt the Polaris Predator 500 was a very dependable and quite capable machine for the aggressive trail rider. So they figured it would make a great quad for their latest project (includes a newly posted video).

ATV Scene worked primarily with Rath Racing on several fixes (Daryl Rath raced a Predator for several seasons) including what I calculated to be around $2300 worth of bolt ons. The biggest complaint in the handling department was the rear shock where the “Anti Squat Rear Suspension” system - designed to prevent unwanted wheelies - did more harm than good elsewhere. The Predator’s stock rear shock would not let the rear end settle for acceleration out of turns, making the machine feel tippy. With Rath Racing's zero preload revalve kit installed, the rear end of the Predator stayed planted whether it was sliding or hooked up hard as well as allowing the rear end to squat in turns offering much improved stability.

The Predator is plagued by airbox issues much like the Outlaws above, in addition to using a cheap paper filter. In this case, ATV Scene used an adapter to integrate a foam air filter, which greatly improved air flow but makes it impossible to keep the airbox lid on, a potential problem for extremely wet conditions and water crossings.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Kymco side-by-side quad is on its way


People have started asking about it, so thought I would dig up what I could on the Kymco 500 UXV side-by-side.

Recently seen at the Milan, Italy motorcycle show, it looked nearly identical to a Yamaha Rhino. The Taiwanese and Chinese (like so many other industries) have essentially built a core competency in reverse-engineering US designed and engineered products and importing them to the US at much cheaper costs.

Originally expected in the first quarter, sources are now indicating a summer release as more likely for the Kymco 500 side-by-side. In fact, not sure what to read into it, but pages I found for both an "on road" and "off road" version of the 500 UXV on the main Kymco site are no longer there this morning! That link is just a blank page now, and they were never on the Kymco USA site.

So I'll hold off on publishing the final specs, but will be nearly 1200 pounds, pretty heavy for the 500cc powerplant being adapted from their MXU 500 utility ATV. But a more juicy rumor is surfacing as well. Kymco is said to be doing tests of a 700cc motor through joint work with BMW that will be put in this same side-by-side frame at a later date.

Kymco?
I wanted to say in fairness, Kymco is not simply exporting knock-off products to the United States market like some companies. A recent joint venture between Kymco USA (the exclusive distributor in the United States for KYMCO brand ATVs) and Kwang Yang Motor Company, Ltd. (KYMCO - the actual Taiwanese manufactuer) is bringing greater levels of support for a growing dealer network that already includes over 600 locations in the United States and Puerto Rico as well as more engineering focus on specific needs of the US market.

Further, KYMCO USA was the 11th and newest all-terrain vehicle manufacturer to join the
Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA) this past summer. The SVIA is the not-for-profit trade association founded and funded by the leading manufacturers and distributors of ATVs in the United States to support the longstanding programs and efforts to make ATV riding safer and more enjoyable for all riders and advocating for state legislation to regulate known problematic behaviors. SVIA also is an accredited standards developer by the American National Standards Institute for the four-wheel ATV in the United States.

And finally, there are also rumors of a Kymco-backed racing effort for the new year!

Quads of the week...mini snow cats

Tracked-machines and side-by-sides (aka UTVs, XUVs, RUVs, UXVs) are generating much interest lately, so my auction finds of the week include a couple SxSs with rubber-track systems already setup for you!


Even dubbed a "mini snow cat", a 2008 Arctic Cat Prowler with tracks. This one is ending soon so here is your chance to jump on it.


See previous write-ups I did on the different track systems available and their considerations here and here.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

GG Quad update


After traveling in Europe, I have a growing interest in street-legal quads in the United States that I'll share over time. For now, an update on the most exotic quad in the world, the GG Quad.

GG Quad North America has just put up several new pages on their website and announced they will be showing off the quad in Southern California next month. New information includes complete specifications and paint options, and also a build your own price breakdown. For most of us, this is only useful in justifying the purchase of a much more affordable quad to our significant other! ;)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

40,000 Honda Foreman ATVs recalled

According to a recall alert from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, around 40,000 model year 2007 Honda TRX 500 ATVs (better known as the Honda Foreman and Foreman Rubicon) suffer from a potential problem with the throttle position sensor. Water can enter the throttle position sensor and freeze, causing permanent damage and causing the throttle to stick open if the rider forces the throttle lever.

Kawasaki KFX 450R Video


Some great video of the Kawasaki KFX 450R just put up on ATVTV.com. This is not a test evaluation by Doug Meyer, rather more of a chance for Kawasaki to market their cool work. We know from comparisons, all these advantages on paper don't seem to stack up.

Warning - a very large video including lengthy ads in front. But like I said, some great footage.

Cross-Continent "Quadtrek" on Polaris ATVs completed!

Hadn't heard anything about this since initial announcement of their plan, but ATVNation.com has a report on the Canadian couple completing their trip from Canada to Mexico in six months on Polaris Sportsman 800 X2s.

Evidently heading to Kingman, Arizona now, which is only a couple hours from me. I should try and track down a contact to interview them.

American ATV manufacturers struggling in current economy

Had mentioned some numbers for Honda and Kawasaki, and now a whole slew of news regarding Arctic Cat and Polaris woes.

During a recent conference call, Arctic Cat widened its third quarter loss forecast and said it would cut ATV production by about 10 percent during the current quarter. Now, shares of Arctic Cat Inc. have skidded to new 52-week lows, the latest slide triggered by less than optimistic comments from analysts.

Similarly, a national Polaris dealer survey focusing on the fourth quarter found Polaris Industries’ ATV sales were down 6-8 percent compared to a year ago. The survey, conducted by Wachovia Capital Markets, also reported it expects entire ATV industry sales to be down in the low double digits percentage-wise for the fourth quarter.

However, indications from the Arctic Cat call and the Polaris survey indicate side-by-sides have continued double-digit percentage growth.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Kawasaki Teryx 750 SxS Update


Based on previous information from Kawasaki, I thought I'd check the forums to see if any of the new Kawasaki side-by-sides had made it to dealers around the country. Looks like folks might have to wait a little longer...the only thing I found were a couple references to March being a new target date.

However, with more specs released and even a few spottings of prototype units around the country, we can put together a better picture of what to expect in coming months...

1) The 2008 Kawasaki Teryx 750 will NOT be fuel injected, which has people on the forums wondering if they should wait for a later year model, or even how hard it would be to switch out themselves since the Brute Force's now have fuel injection. Which I think is good to see, as regardless of your opinion on the current level of EFI technology in quads, it is where we need to be going. For usability reasons, capability improvements including fuel economy and tuning, and even performance.

2) But those looking for power will be happy. The existing V-Twin powerplant produces great power, and there will be plenty of hop-up parts available when released. Four Stroke Tech has kits up to 900cc tested and ready to go and I know Dragonfire Racing will have several bolt-on products as well. Dirt Wheels claims the Teryx V-Twin will be easier to hop up than any Rhino, Ranger or Prowler engine.

3) Based on Brute Force mileage, expected to get around 75 miles on the 8 gallon tank. For comparison, the Yamaha Rhino has a 7 gallon tank and reportedly gets 100 mile runs

4) Is slightly larger than the Yamaha Rhino and slightly smaller than the Polaris Ranger XP. Could be a little interesting trying to get this thing into the back up a pickup. Its wider stance and longer wheelbase could also be a concern with getting high centered over larger rocks and ledges. Additionally, the plastic bodywork on the Teryx wraps under the frame on the sides similar to the Polaris RZR, and will most certainly not hold up to the punishment to be expected when truly going offroad. On the other hand, the Teryx comes with steel-lined floorboards, something that no other side-by-side offers.

5) Will not come stock with the half doors like the Yamaha Rhino. Bad idea given their marketing description, "able to tackle corners in either a drift or grip style and operate beyond the limits of its rival". Hmmmm.

Bonus) I'm not sure if this is official, or just what is being adopted on the forums, but I learned that the Teryx should be pronounced "T-Rex". Am I the only one that was out of the loop on that?

I think Kawasaki will have a winner with those folks wanting extra power, in a wider more stable ride than current side-by-sides. And the expectation is for the Teryx to deliver more performance and offroad capability than the future Big Red SxS from Honda, and do so while requiring less aftermarket parts than current models on the market.