BRP takes aim at the RZR XP 900 and Wildcat
We are in the midst of a full-scale war…and we couldn’t be happier about it. Instead of bombs, guns and weapons of mass destruction, we’ve got RZRs, Wildcats, and now Mavericks. It’s a good time to be a side-by-side enthusiast.
BRP joined the pure sport side-by-side arms race in September when it took the covers off the Can-Am Maverick for the first time at the Sand Sports Super Show. As luck would have it, one of our writers got to take the Maverick out for a spin before just about anybody else and wrote about here. However, we didn’t have a chance to really put the Maverick through the gauntlet until now – and we had our video team on hand to document it all.
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We put the Maverick through the ringer in the dry, dusty desert landscape of the Logandale Trails System. Aptly known as the Valley of Fire, this would be an ideal spot to see the true result of what seemed to be a direct punch to the face of the competition.
The Maverick is unique for several different reasons, with one being that it is the only direct apples-to-apples competition with engine and wheel travel for the Polaris RZR XP 900. The release of the XP 900 shook the industry to its core and even though manufacturers like Arctic Cat have built impressive machines to compete in a similar class, the XP 900 has stood at the top of the heap. The 2013 Can-Am Maverick’s suspension travel is just 0.5 inches longer up front than the RZR XP 900.
Where the Maverick makes headlines is with the 101 horsepower it squeezes out of its 976cc Rotax V-Twin. How did BRP build the extra power? The head on the new Maverick engine has larger valves both intake and exhaust and the compression ratio is a whopping 12:1, which can be tough to spin over as we will describe later. The fuel injection on the Maverick had to also be optimized to not only keep the engine running great, but a little on the rich side to help keep it cool. With a combination of high-flow dynamics and a new dual exhaust, the power makes its way to the CVT transmission and out to the ground.
The next biggest item on the list of what you need to flow through the rutted rocky and sometimes whooped out landscapes effectively is a great suspension and that starts with the frame of the Maverick. The central mass, meaning the cockpit of the machine, in our opinion is basically the same as the Commander. This fits most riders and passengers really well and there was really no reason to change that. The seats wrap their arms around the thrill seekers – it is truly a masterpiece inside there. With items like tilt steering and removable seats to be used as lawn chairs, you have to love it. Not to mention the location of everything you need to run the Maverick is well within reach.
The front of the Maverick was designed to hold its relatively typical A-arm suspension, but with a massive 14 inches of travel from top to bottom. The same change was made to the rear of the machine, but with a totally new Torsional Trailing Arm – also boasting 14 inches of travel. The Maverick we had at our disposal was the X rs version, which has a larger shock package plus a few extras. The Maverick X rs uses larger Fox Podium RC 2.5-inch piggyback shocks, compared to the base model’s 2.0-inch body. A larger shock body offers more fluid holding capabilities, which keeps the shock cool and gives good fluid motion to the shock in high-stress conditions like handling the really rough terrain in the hot Nevada desert. With dual-speed compression adjustments and rebound dampening, the tuning of the shock is left up to the consumer’s riding habits. Keep in mind also that the Maverick has 13 inches of ground clearance to help navigate the really big rocks and stumps.
With the basic layout of the machine explained, it’s time for the Maverick to prove why it should be considered the best in its class. We started the new Maverick up and could immediately tell something was a little different as the battery had a slight bit of trouble spinning the motor. This is in absolutely no way a bad thing, but a direct result of the massive compression ratio developed in the new motor. Once we were buckled in and ready we cruised the short section of road out to the trails. Keep in mind that these trails are a great mix of sand dunes, rocky hill climbs and wide open bursts of rocky gravel whoops that would get us even more familiar with the machine.
Just to get my concerns out of the way first, let’s look at the power of the machine through my eyes. I have ridden in many high-horsepower machines and it is relatively easy to tell when changes are made – especially in the 10+ HP range. I try to compare what I feel in the seat of my pants to each machine and judge accordingly. Gaining 13 stated horsepower over the competition should be very noticeable in my mind. With the Maverick I just couldn’t find that noticeable difference. Maybe my expectations were just too high, but when the foot pedal was pressed to the floor from a dead stop or even a rolling start I was surprised to not get the same response as the XP 900. Some will disagree, but until I get these two top machines side-by-side for a actual comparison I’m sticking with my story. This could be to do with clutching or EFI computer programming, but it’s hard to say at this point.
BRP says that the Can-Am Maverick has the best torque in the industry. Though it’s not really noticeable to me on the bottom, I can say emphatically that it builds way more full pull torque in the higher RPM ranges and seems to keep going up as the motor spins higher. This is in no way saying that the Maverick’s 976cc engine doesn’t run well, because it does run extremely well. I am a huge fan of the Rotax V-Twin, but I have to call it like I see it.
Moving on to the suspension we find great travel and a very effective shock package with the FOX Podium RC 2.5 shocks. This is where the breath of fresh air comes in the room. The 2013 Maverick X rs gave us plenty of direct full throttle runs through the deep whoops and even over a few jumps to prove that the new suspension really works and handles well.
Like most drivers, I have a certain style of riding and adjusting shocks can be a day-long process, but from the start the Maverick sucked up the vast majority of anything out in the Valley of Fire with ease. The fact that we had a spare tire on the rear did effect the compression a bit, but this is an add-on feature that the Fox shocks were not necessarily calibrated for. I had a chance to ride a version of the X rs without the spare and the shocks were just fine. Rebound on the stock setup could be lowered, but other than that the units we rode worked well.
So basically what we have is not only a breath of fresh air, but a very competitive machine that will give others a run for their money. The Maverick is something I had been hoping for out of BRP for years, though it’s unsurprising it took this long to introduce the machine as BRP is known for perfecting things instead of just dumping a product out just to appease the consumers.
Despite our concerns, after our test we can say with certainty that the Maverick is a force to be reckoned with. The winner’s circle just got a bit more crowded. Get out and try it because it will change the way you view the trails you ride on!