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. has a basic writeup that verifies some of the Scenes conclusions, and the new 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.


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.

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
AJ32Y-001001 — 001598
AJ30Y-000501 — 000897
AJ34Y-000201 — 000794

2008 Rhino 700FI
AM16Y?000101 — 003000
AM20Y-000101 — 000700
AM18Y-000101 — 000800
AM23Y-000101 — 001000
AM21Y-000101 — 001200