A new player in the sporty UTV market
Braving the complexity of the Dallas Fort Worth airport was just a small price to pay in order to test a new up-start company’s UTV adventure machines. Located just outside of Dallas, Tex. in a small town known as Lewisville is a distributor for a new brand of ATV and UTV products. Bennche is the name and breaking into the US market with new factory backed and economically friendly products is the goal.
Arriving at the ride area I knew I wanted to get into the bright red UTV that Bennche calls the “Spire 800.” This looked like the fastest ride in the rig and I had to get my adrenaline flowing but I wanted to give the UTV a good once over so I didn’t have any surprises on the trail. The first order of business was to check out the independent suspension. As expected the Spire has an IRS (independent rear suspension) as well as the dual A-arm front to make handling the red rocket a bit easier. Both the front and rear utilize an anti-sway bar setup that in theory should keep the tight corners manageable.
On the Spire 800’s four corners you’ll find single-rate springs that are only preload adjustable. This simply means that by rotating a step-type bottom spring cup on the shock you can stiffen or soften the amount of tension. This will result in a plusher ride or a harsher ride depending on the pilot’s choice. The Spire gives way to 10.2 inches of ground clearance with a maximum travel in the front suspension of 5.9 inches. The rear IRS would yield a bit more movement, as its travel limit was closer to 6.8 inches. With a total width of 52.4 inches the Spire should make it through most any trail selection without scraping off any trailside tree bark. This also makes hauling the Bennche sport UTV a bit easier as well.
The frame and cage on the Spire 800 has is made of tough steel modular tubing that uses grade eight bolts for assembly, but has no official roll over certification. The steel construction of this roll cage is a testament to its weight as the Spire 800 is a hefty 1,165 pounds.
The biggest secret on the Spire 800 is the powerful 799cc V-Twin four-stroke that breathes just beneath the surface of the center console. This fuel injected mechanical wonder has more displacement than other comparable side-by-sides in today’s market. I was very anxious to see just how much the engine in the Spire 800 could impress me. The power delivery rolls out through the CVT belt driven type transmission and it has a shaft drive output. This then extends power to the ground via four half shafts or drive axles. Using a tough yet flexible CV boot the axles are somewhat impervious to sticks and trail debris. This doesn’t mean they are foolproof, but with the extra attention by Bennche here they should resist most obstacles on the ride.
Moving on around the Spire 800 I couldn’t help but notice the amount of lights this machine has. With two large krypton bulb headlights at 35 watts each and a pair of unmistakable taillights that would illuminate the trail behind you the Spire would surely be noticed should the sun set on our trails. The brilliant red plastics seemed to cover each and every corner of the Spire and where there was no red plastic there was a black cover to replace it. This looked great but from a service standpoint it made even simple maintenance tasks a bit tougher.
The dash had probably the most interesting set of gauges I had ever noticed in a UTV. The Digital dash looked like it belonged in a custom street bike and with the list of features it hides within I was closer than I thought. The dash gives the rider the ability to decipher several maintenance tasks as well as anything from fuel level, gear position, differential lock light and water temperature monitor. The clock and odometer were also great features for the ride. What was really amazing was the 120mph speedometer that caught my attention.
The 25-inch Innova tires wrapped the custom Bennche 12-inch cast aluminum wheels and the look for this combo was very cool. The front tires would spread out at eight inches wide and the rears were at 10 inches for great traction. This set the aggressive look of the unit into motion and as I stated from the beginning it’s why I had to drive the Spire 800 first.
As I sat down into the Spire 800 I felt very comfortable. The seat had enough room that I felt I was in the machine and not on it. The seat belt location for the right side located clicker needs to be moved but I could deal with that as the excitement of ripping through the woods was the only thing on my mind.
The 799cc fuel injected machine roared to life and the engine seemed very balanced and quieter than others I had ridden. As I rolled into the throttle I felt that the power output was very smooth and controlled which was both surprising and very welcome. One thing I did notice is that the Spire 800 builds more power in its midrange than any other area. You will not hear me complaining about power, though, as it is very strong overall.
After focusing on the powerful 799cc engine, I had to turn my attention to the suspension on the Spire. The fact that the IRS on front and rear are short of travel made the ride a bit rough over rugged terrain. The stiffness of the shocks combined with short suspension travel made the ride tough. This in an area we’d like to see get some attention as the machine wasn’t really able to flex its muscle like I had hoped with almost 2.7 inches less travel in the rear and 3.1 less in the front suspension compared to other models in this class.
Steering of this beast was smooth with little feedback in the steering wheel. However, without being able to really open the Spire up on long, rough trails it was hard to tell how it would handle at speed. The brakes on the Spire do work, but they felt just a bit inadequate for the amount of power that was being delivered to the wheels. The pedal was squishy and seemed to flex under my foot. I’m sure a set of quality stainless braided brake lines and a good bleeding could remedy this.
Shifting the Spire was a small chore as well as it seemed to hang up between all options. It should be noted that this was a brand new unit and was I was assured that this should get better as the machine was used. It felt as if maybe the linkage could need an adjustment also.
Overall Bennche’s Spire 800 is a good machine. It would be interesting to see it with a suspension upgrade with some custom dual rate spring shocks at some point.
The Spire 800 has what most any off-road enthusiast would want and at an attractive price point of $8,699 it is affordable – more than $2,000 less than some competitors. The key to this machine’s worth is the 12-month warranty that Bennche is offering. The warehouse in Dallas is full of replacement parts, which is a key point when buying bargain-priced model ATVs and UTVs.
Check out the Bennche website at http://www.bennche.com/ and see for yourself what this new company has to offer.
|2010 Bennche Spire 800 Specs|
|Engine Type:||V-Twin, 8 valves, liquid cooled|
|Bore x Stroke:||91.0 mm x 61.5 mm|
|Fuel System:||Electronic Fuel Injection|
|Drive Train:||Shaft Drive; On-Demand 2WD/4WD; Locking Differential|
|Battery:||12 volts, 21 amp|
|Fuel Capacity:||7.6 gal.|
|Dry Weight:||1,165 lbs|
|Length / Width / Height:||104.3” / 52.4” / 73.2”|
|Seat Height:||16.7 in|
|Ground Clearance:||10.2 in|
|Bed Capacity:||154 lbs|
|Towing Capacity:||220 lbs|
|Front Suspension:||Independent double-wishbone, 5.9 inches of travel|
|Rear Suspension:||Independent double-wishbone, 6.8 inches of travel|
|Front Brakes:||Dual Ventilated Hydraulic Disc|
|Rear Brakes:||Dual Ventilated Hydraulic Disc|
|Colors:||Blue, Black, Red|
|Warranty:||12 months limited|
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