2010 Polaris Outlaw 450 MXR Review
A potential winner for a bargain price
Story by Joe Tolle, Photography by Joe Tolle, Dec. 23, 2009
Over the past few years Polaris has really gotten serious about performance. The Minnesota-based manufacturer has reaffirmed itself as a leader in the utility 4x4 market with the release of the Sportsman XP 550 and 850 models and arguably produces more high-performance models than any other ATV manufacturer with its Outlaw 450 MXR, 525 S and 525 IRS.
Just one year after introducing the 450 MXR and 525 S Polaris made a number of updates to its high performance sport quad lineup, including styling changes, weight reducing measures and ergonomic improvements.
For 2010 the Polaris Outlaw 450MXR remains unchanged including the retail price giving the Outlaw real bargain potential.
What You Get
According to Polaris the Outlaw 450 MXR was, “purpose built for the race track.” Much of the machine’s design and specifications confirm that claim. The machine is powered by a 448cc four valve single overhead cam water cooled four stroke engine. Unlike many of its competitors which have gone to fuel injection, the Polaris is fed its air/fuel mixture by a 39mm FCR carburetor. While this motor has a lot going for it, we were a bit disappointed that Polaris didn’t redesign the air intake for 2010 which has been proven to slightly hamper the engine’s overall performance.
There’s nothing exotic about the Outlaw’s frame. It is constructed of mild steel and has pretty good geometry. The single spar lower frame rail where lower A-arms attach is extremely narrow, helping to minimize bump steer. The 450’s A-arms areslightly raked, allowing the suspension to better react to oncoming bumps. Last year Polaris ditched its linkage-assisted PRO Steering system for a more conventional stem and steering flag with direct tie rod end attachment.
With its steel A-arms and swingarm spanning 50.5 inches in length and 47 inches in width the Outlaw is a few inches narrower then is considered ideal for Motocross racing. Still, the machine is stuffed with features that give it serious track potential. Starting with the suspension, the Outlaw 450 features preload and compression adjustable FOX Podium X front shocks delivering a lengthy 10 inches of travel. Out back the Outlaw features a preload, compression and rebound adjustable FOX Podium X rear shock also providing 10 inches of travel.
The Outlaw stopped by dual hydraulic disc brakes up front and a single hydraulic disc in the rear. The Front brakes feature dual piston calipers and both ends feature steel braided brake lines. Braking and acceleration forces are transferred to the ground through Maxxis Razr MX tires front and rear mounted on spun aluminum rims. The Outlaw’s 18-inch rear tires are mounted on nine-inch rims. This gives the rider a tire size that will work on the track and a rim size that works well for mounting up trail-size tires.
Along with the restyling last year Polaris switched over to a roomy aluminum heel guard. Also, a new single light pod was added, which can be removed in less then two minutes for closed-course racing.
The first thing we noticed about the Outlaw was its racy looks. When you hop on the machine you are greeted by spacious ergonomics, although the ape hanger handlebar is too tall. Simply switching over to a low bend dirt bike handlebar makes a huge improvement and doesn’t detract from the machine’s roomy feeling.
Once you locate the somewhat elusive choke mechanism the Outlaw fires right up. While it is reasonably quiet, the Outlaw does still offer a throaty sound. Pull in the velvety smooth Magura Hydraulic clutch, slip the machine into gear and roll on the gas and you realize that the Polaris has an effectively fast and easy-to-ride powerband.
Low end power comes on immediately and the engine doesn’t have the same jittery feeling most of the other 450s do while plunking along right off idle. This makes getting rolling in tough situations or recovering from a mistake in gear selection easy. After building up some decent steam the Polaris continues pulling well throughout the midrange. There is a very small flat spot in the midrange which was hardly noticeable. Adding an aftermarket intake system like the one offered by Rath Racing will cure this hiccup and add a bit more power throughout the RPM range.
On top the engine gradually signs off before hitting the rev limiter but never feels like it falls on its face. Riders of all levels seem to enjoy the machine’s engine. Beginner level or vet motocross riders will love the generous low end power and there is enough midrange and top end that even experts dig the engine. Add some fat tires and take your 450 MXR woods racing, you couldn’t ask for a much better motor for the woods.
With so much torque on tap you could add a tooth or two to the Outlaw’s rear sprocket to widen its gear ratios a bit. The reverse engagement is great. Depress the thumb lever next to the throttle with the clutch pulled in and shift down from first to reverse. When you are ready to move ahead just pull in the clutch and shift back up into first.
The Fox Podium X shocks are definitely aimed more at the track then the trail. The bigger the hit the better the suspension worked. Unfortunately this doesn’t mean the faster you ride it the better it works. For small bumps the suspension is just too stiff. The machine doesn’t track well through braking and acceleration bumps; however, the rear shock’s action was improved on slightly from the 2008 to the 2009 model. For jumps the suspension worked well. The shocks compress well into jump faces allowing you to rebound and gain altitude for step-up jumps or doubling through deep widely spaced whoops. The machine lands well from jumps and can make the most of a not so perfect landing. On smooth tracks with big jumps the Polaris works well, but you should back off on the preload and compression settings for rough tracks.
Even though the Outlaw is a bit narrow it is surprisingly stable. Steering is quick and pretty precise – it doesn’t feel overly twitchy at speed. Handling is decent for both track and trail. The Outlaw feels light, making midflight corrections a breeze. Beginner racers at the local level could get away with running the stock chassis setup, but once you get serious you will most likely need to invest in some wider A-arms. Rath Racing sells wheel hubs for the Outlaw which widens the rear and cost considerably less then buying an aftermarket axle. While we wouldn’t recommend wheel spacers on most sport machines, The Polaris axle is tough enough to take it.
When it comes to stopping most of the machines in the 450cc class are on a level playing field. The brakes on the Outlaw work well. Both ends offer excellent power and progression.
As we mentioned earlier, the Outlaw 450’s ergonomics are pretty spacious and comfortable minus the tall handlebars. A few other details could also use some work – the thumb throttle is too big and bulky and the foot pegs are too narrow. These items are easily remedied with a few relatively inexpensive aftermarket products.
The 2010 Outlaw 450 MXR is definitely more of a track machine then a trail machine. However, it comes from the dealership set up close enough in the middle where a rider could easily customize the machine to work well in either environment.
With Polaris already offering two high performance trail machines, the Outlaw 525s and 525 IRS, we would love to see them take the next step forward by making the MXR a true out of the box racer. By mimicking the chassis and suspension settings used by Rath Racing, who runs Polaris’ factory race team, Polaris could easily have one of the best off the shelf track machines on the market. As it sits the Outlaw 450 MXR is a decent track performer with trail potential. Its retail price of $7,399 is around $1000 less than its other on track competitors which makes it one of the best bargains is the 450cc class.