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.