A 1,083cc, manual transmission UTV
The expression of each passerby is essentially the same: a long, hard stare indicating the recognition process at work, followed by the wrinkled brow of unfamiliar identity. If we stop the vehicle we’re quickly approached and greeted with the statement, “That’s cool,” and the quick follow-up question, “What is it?” to which Jerry McCoy of McCoy Motorsports cheerfully replies, “It’s a Joyner.”
Most have never heard of the Tempe, Ariz. UTV manufacturer, but their interest is apparent and Jerry McCoy enthusiastically obliges their curiosity.
“It’s powered by a 1,083cc, fuel-injected, four-cylinder engine manufactured by Chery,” he begins while reaching for the conveniently located brochures and business cards he packed before leaving the parking lot. “It has a five-speed manual transmission, is EPA and CARB approved, comes stock with 13 inches of ground clearance and, get this, retails for only $12,000.”
It’s the combination of the fuel-injected four-cylinder engine and low price that slackens the jaws of the inquisitive.
The model we’re tooling around the Upper Tellico OHV Area is the Team Joyner USA Trooper T2, the twin-seat version of its four-seat counterpart, the Trooper T4. And speaking of seats, the high back bucket ones in the Trooper T2, featuring five-point harnesses, are the plushest backside supports to ever grace a stock UTV. At the end of a long day of slow-grinding our way up and down Tellico’s elevation changes, Jerry and I hop out of the Trooper to load it on the trailer without the fatigue often associated with an afternoon spent in the grip of lesser seating accommodations.
Located in the Unicoi Mountains of North Carolina, a component of Southern Appalachia, Upper Tellico OHV is an 8,000-acre park varying in elevation from 2,500 feet to nearly 5,000 feet with miles of rugged, steep terrain. Although strangely unmarked by identifying signs, as if locals were wanting to keep out strangers (In Appalachia? Go figure.), the park is a gem on the North Carolina/Tennessee border. After a while of Jerry driving the Trooper and me snapping the Canon, Jerry slides into the passenger seat while I take over shop behind the steering wheel.
An immediately apparent difference between the Trooper and its Japanese competitors is the use of a five-speed, plus reverse, manual transmission. For those who enjoy actively participating in off-road recreation the manual transmission is a welcome benefit. The almost-too-light hydraulic clutch and standard gear pattern make shifting easy and when navigating steep, rocky single-tracks or when speeding down a fire road the additional skills needed to masterfully synchronize and manipulate clutch and gears heighten the sense of fun and satisfaction. Due to the low gearing and abundant torque of the four-cylinder Chery engine, most of the steep terrain, including rocks and logs, Jerry and I cover is easily managed in second gear.
On the Trooper’s dashboard just to the right of the steering column are two toggle switches and two levers. The first toggle switch engages 4WD while the second one operates the winch. With the front wheels under power and all four wheels spinning independently the operator can now lock together the rear or front wheels by throwing the first or second lever respectively.
Combining the Trooper’s drive options with 13 inches of ground clearance and 12 inches of front travel from the individual dual A-arms and 12 inches of rear travel from the individual trailing swing arms, most trail obstacles are easily cleared by simply driving over them, but occasionally some finessing is needed to traverse certain encumbrances. Providing our Trooper some extra ground clearance are the McCoy-installed 14-inch blacked-out ITP wheels and 30-inch ITP tires, raising ground clearance by 2.5 inches. The McCoys also installed the optional Safari rack and lightbar kit, increasing the retail price of the vehicle and combined accessories to approximately $13,000.
McCoy Motorsports, renowned in the motorcycle realm as a top tier performance-derived customizer of two-wheelers, offers a power pack for the Trooper that increases horsepower by 25%, from 85 to 105, and top speed from 65 mph to 75 mph. The Pikeville, Ky. business has also been influential in providing Team Joyner with useful input regarding model upgrades and technical changes.
“The cool thing about Joyner is that they listen to qualified dealers when they know somebody does fabrication or is into racing or high-performance,” says Jerry. “They listen to what you have to say and they kind of leaned on us.”
For example, the McCoys suggested that Joyner employ a CV joint in the Trooper and once Joyner determined it a good idea the company implemented the change immediately.
The four-cylinder engine powering the Trooper is constructed by Chery Engine Company, a subsidiary of Chery Automobile Company. Located in Wuhu City, China, Chery Automobile Co. is China’s fourth largest automobile manufacturer — an impressive accomplishment considering the company’s first car rolled off the assembly line in December, 1999. The 1,083cc engine, located closely behind and below both the driver and passenger, emits a quiet yet pleasurable burble and combined with its fuel injection system didn’t cough or chug when asked to perform at either low or high revs.
While the Trooper’s manual transmission provides expected amounts of engine braking, the hydraulically actuated, four-wheel disc brakes seemed to lack some initial bite but are otherwise capable of stopping the 1,730-pound machine.
The ample rear storage area is great for carrying tools, spare parts, coolers, firewood and a host of other essentials. Factory accessories for the Trooper include a roof rack, brushguard, GPS and communications systems. McCoy makes items such as a windshield, diamond plate top and more. Factory upgrades available for other models, such as the Commando, and apparently coming soon for the Trooper, include a canvas enclosure kit (think of a softop Jeep) and a hard shell enclosure kit, a heater unit and by the end of the year an air-conditioning unit.
In addition to the Trooper, T2 Team Joyner USA offers 12 other models varying in capacity, style and size from the 250 cc, two-seater, single-cylinder Sand Viper for $4,000 to the two-liter, 5-passenger Sand Runner for $20,000. All Joyner UTVs come with an included three-month warranty (three less than its Japanese competitors) but McCoy Motorsports offers a choice of various extended warranties.
According to the Team Joyner web site the company was founded in 2003 and boasts a 300,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility with more than 300 employees. Of course that’s all in China, but company owner John Burns Sr.’s vision is “to bring an alternative recreational vehicle to the US market that would be recognized by consumers.”
If the Trooper is an indication of his dedication to that vision, he may well be on his way.
For more information, visit http://www.teamjoynerusa.com/.
|2008 Joyner Trooper T2 Specifications|
|Engine||4-Cylinder, 4-Stroke, 4X4|
|Carburetor||Electronic Fuel Injection|
|Transmission||5spd Manual w/ Reverse|
|Top Speed||55 – 65 mph|
|Fuel Capacity||10 US gal.|
|Front Travel||10-12 in|
|Rear Travel||10-12 in|
|Weight||1,729 lb (785 kg)|