Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2008 Suzuki KingQuad 750AXi first ride


A first ride report on the new KingQuad was done in the latest Quad Magazine by Lance Schwartz, who won the 2006 12 Hours of ATV America aboard a Suzuki KingQuad 700 and has spent a lot of time with them in recent years.

Background
First off, Suzuki has adopted a new letter designation system for its expanding line of KingQuads as follows:

  • A = QuadMatic automatic continuously variable transmission (CVT)
  • F = Semi-automatic (five-speed transmission and automatic clutch)
  • X = independent rear suspension (IRS)
  • S = swingarm-type rear suspension
  • i = fuel injection (EFI)


While it bugs me when people introduce more labels and acronyms for terms that already exist, the KingQuad CVT IRS EFI would be a bit long! (and not nearly as cool sounding).

Suzuki did increase the displacement to 722cc through a slight increase in cylinder bore size, so while renamed as such, is still 38cc short of a 750. Previous KingQuads came with a high-flow paper air filter. While designed to provide much higher filtration capability than a traditional foam filter, it required more frequent maintenance that many riders neglect, resulting in dirt being pulled from under the lower seal into the engine. For 2008 Suzuki has combined the high-flow paper design with a foam cover.

With that out of the way, there have been reports of a relatively significant low-RPM lag, and very light, but annoyingly twitchy steering in the otherwise excellent 2005-07 model KingQuads. I've extracted the relevant quotes from Lance's tests in these two areas...

Power

"I can attest to the fact that it [low RPM lag] is better on the 750AXi, but not totally gone. There are some replacement ECUe out there from companies like Velocity Devices International that will eliminate the low-end lag if it bothers you that much."

Throttle response is much more crisp than the previous model and...

"The 750AXi certainly doesn't accelerate violently like a Can-Am 800, but there is a noticeable increase in power throughout the whole RPM range"



Handling

"Apparently unchanged on the 750AXI is the front steering geometry. The light steering that makes low speed maneuverability so fantastic is, unfortunately, the same Achilles heel that has plagued the KingQuads since 2005. The steering tends to be really twitchy when ridden aggressively. Since this has been one of the biggest complaints you'll hear from current KingQuad owners, I was really disappointed to not see a remedy for 2008."

It was also noted that if you push the KingQuad too hard, the front shocks will hit their limit before the rears. I can make a personal comment on this as well - which isn't often for utility quads. During last years attempt at being a ride guide, I was allowed to show off my motocross skills...on a KingQuad 700! Nobody thought I could jump the stock Suzuki more than 25ft. To their amazement, I launched the "flying refrigerator" well beyond that mark, with the only issue being the front shocks bottoming metal-to-metal hard enough to bring a gear back attached to the front rack flying loose. I don't expect the intended audience for the KingQuad to have such problems ;).

Summary

I agree with Lance that Suzuki took the conservative approach in refining their flagship model, and not getting distracted by other big announcements. However, a fix to the handling, especially the addition of power steering might put the KingQuad on the throne.

The full story can be found on page 89 of February 2008 Quad Magazine.