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.