Since Honda is planning to launch a new FourTrax Foreman in 2011, we figured it was high time to tell you a little about the current model.
The 2010 Honda FourTrax Foreman 4×4 is one of Honda’s premiere ATVs and for good reason. Honda hasn’t made any significant updates to the unit in a number of years, but it’s still a very popular machine and one we see regularly out on the trails. Also, you can expect to find plenty of them at a great price once the new 2011 version hits dealerships.
We can say with confidence that the units currently available at dealers are impressive. We quickly understood when trying out the FourTrax Foreman 4×4 why Honda hasn’t made any recent upgrades…if something isn’t broken, there’s no need to fix it.
The ForeTrax Foreman 4×4 is known as Honda’s “Workhorse ATV,” but we found out it plays just as hard as it works. On the test drive, we tried out a few attachments to test the strength and work capabilities of this machine, including pulling a trailer full of wood and removing some downed trees from the old logging road leading into the riding area. We never heard a whimper of complaint from Big Red’s middleweight utility quad.
Power Steering is one of the greatest innovations in the ATV industry. Don’t describe it as trivial, because it’s significant. You want proof? Since this engineering concept entered the market on the Yamaha Grizzly 700, every major ATV manufacturer (sans Kymco and Kawasaki) has since incorporated this trendy and sensible technology. Arctic Cat is the latest maker to add the equipment to its four-wheelers. Six of its 2010 4×4 models now benefit from the upgrade.
Arctic Cat knows the addition of its Variable Assisted Power Steering system not only improves the handling but that it is also the most complete in the industry. While we won’t call it industry leading just yet, we must say it’s definitely an improvement. Power steering may benefit the Arctic Cat platform more than any other brand. We say that because we’ve never ridden such a comfortable or capable Arctic Cat.
We know what the skeptics have said, “I don’t need power steering on an ATV.” Before we tried it, we felt the same way. However, after you ride a wheeler with Electronic Power Steering, you instantly get it. Some people may still say it’s a gimmick or an unnecessary expense, but we strongly disagree. All the EPS models offer more control, improved handling and reduce rider fatigue. In our book, that’s no gimmick.
Yamaha recently invited us down to Southern California for a fun filled weekend of riding the 2010 YFZ450R and Raptor 700R special editions. The trip consisted of three days riding in the biggest and most infamous dunes in the United States – the Imperial Sand Dunes – better known as Glamis.
As always, Yamaha came up with unique styling of each special edition model that set these units apart from their base model brothers. Both the YFZ and the Raptor received facelifts including plastic, graphics and accessories to become special editions.
The YFZ450R SE is dressed up in a number of ways. First, Yamaha chose to go with a new color plastic called Midnight Blue. Although it’s not the familiar Yamaha blue, we were happy with the looks of the Midnight blue and the effect of the contrasting blues of the plastic, seat, and frame. The 2010 YFZ SE also features a black GYTR front bumper and heel guards. These not only look good, but they also help protect you from obstacles along the way. On the rear, a black swing arm and a wave brake rotor were installed. This wave rotor helps eliminate brake fading that may occur when breaking heavily under hard riding conditions.
A lot has changed since Honda first introduced the Rubicon in 2000. It was an industry leader at the time and its 499cc mill was the most powerful in Honda’s lineup. These days the Rubicon is classified as a middleweight utility ATV. Though it hasn’t received a significant facelift in a few years, ATV.com asked me to see how Honda’s onetime flagship stacks up to the competition in 2010.
It didn’t take long for the Honda FourTrax Foreman Rubicon to make an impression. It impressed right out of the gate with its power and quick take off. It responded without hesitation as soon as I hit the gas and then kept going until it reached my limit. The exclusive Hondamatic transmission delivered smooth operation from start to finish. The 499cc engine held its own at every turn and up every hill. I was also impressed with the way the Rubicon handled some of the rougher trails I tackled.
In addition to writing for ATV.com, I also operate a graphics company called Santor Design Co. Each year SDC puts together an ATV project for the International Powersports Dealer Expo. In fact, it was at the 2008 Dealer Expo where I first met ATV.com’s editorial staff.
When we put together an ATV for the show, we feature a theme that is unique and different than just a regular race ATV you see throughout the show. For the 2008 show we designed a “Whisky Runner” YFZ, which you can read about here. A year later we were given space in the Maier Plastic booth and designed a YFZ450 with a “ Stripper kit” that featured two girls on the gas tank with fish nets wrapped around the plastic.
This year at SDC we decided to start with a different base model. Instead of using a YFZ as our canvas we choose not one, but two Suzuki LT-R450s. These two quads belong to two Team Santor riders, Landon and Derek Glass. Both of these LTRs were ridden before we started the build, which was a new experience for us. It would have been nice to bring home two new ATVs and strip them down the first few minutes we had our hands on them, but we decided to save a little money and literally get our hands dirty with this build. One LTR was built to be featured in the Kenda Tires booth and the other was destined for Blingstar’s booth. Both will be ridden hard throughout the 2010 race season.
Our ride review for the Tarantula Performance Racing project Yamaha YFZ450R took place over the span of two days, at two different test tracks and with two test riders. The quad performed well for both riders, one of whom competed in 2009 in the Pro ranks of the NEATV-MX series, while the other is a novice rider who has competed locally in Ohio.
If you missed it, check out ATV.com’s first story detailing the months-long process of building the TPR project YFZ450R. For this story, we’ll skip most of the product details by jumping right in and explaining how they improved the new Yamaha’s stock performance.
The ergonomics and controls on a race quad are more important than most people think. A lot of riders ignore the angle of their levers, handlebar pitch and foot peg height to their own detriment. Comfort is one key to riding fast and avoiding fatigue.
The Indianapolis Dealer Expo is the industry’s largest ATV trade show. Search around and you’ll find all the latest and greatest aftermarket accessories for ATVs and UTVs. It’s an off-road tuner’s paradise.
Instead of merely showing you their latest products by themselves, most of the aftermarket manufacturers instead choose to display their wares by incorporating them into the vehicles they are designed for. What this means is the Dealer Expo is a fantastic showcase for project quads.
We decided to compile a photo gallery of all the best sport quads, utility quads and side-by-sides we could find at the Expo. Some are actual race vehicles from events like the Baja 1000 or National ATV motocross championships, while others are brand new units outfitted with the cool products found at the show.
You’ll find a handful of photos after the jump, but for the Full Monty you’ll have to visit our photo gallery.
Can-Am continues to refine its line of Outlander ATVs with several new features highlighting the 2009 Outlander MAX 800R EFI XT. These include even more power, revised steering geometry, and a better skid plate to protect the underside of the ATV.
Climbing on the Outlander MAX, even with another person on board is surprisingly easy. The seat is comfortable and the distance to the handlebars and footpegs is just about perfect. The second seat sits slightly higher with raised foot platforms and passenger grips to hold onto. This allows plenty of room for the passenger to move around and not interfere with the operator. We’ve ridden a lot of 2-seat Can-Ams over the years and seen a great variety in rider sizes without hearing a complaint about the passenger affecting the control of the ATV.
Like many upper-end ATVs, the Outlander has a great gauge pod that houses the digital speedometer with a bar tachometer that scrolls across the top. Also on the gauge are the fuel gauge, gear selection, 4WD operation light, and several engine function lights. The odometer, two trip odometers, trip timer, hour meter and digital tachometer are all selectable one at a time via a small black button. To keep from accidentally leaving the key on and running the battery down, the Outlander has an auto shut-off system that automatically turns all the electrics off after 15 minutes of non use.
Polaris Industries has unveiled its new limited edition ATV and Side-by-Side offerings.
In the past, Polaris’ limited editions have been cosmetic upgrades such as paint (including the company’s first batch of 2010 LE models), but this offering also includes units with performance and technology upgrades. Included is the first Ranger Crew and Ranger RZR with electronic power steering, and a 50-inch Ranger RZR with a premium Walker Evans shock package.
Historically, Polaris is fairly aggressive with releasing new and updated vehicles. In fact, earlier in January the Minnesota-based manufacturer introduced the industry’s first four-seat Sport side-by-side – the Ranger RZR 4.
2010 Special Edition Models
Additional features on the limited edition model include:
* Crimson Red automotive-style paint
Arctic Cat made big news at its latest press launch for its 2010 lineup of ATVs held in the Manti-La Sal National Forest outside of Moab, Utah. We saw six new power steering models, three 550 S models and three 700 S varieties. Although one could argue power steering is no longer innovative, we disagree. Besides, it’s an entirely new concept for Arctic Cat and different enough to warrant the “excitement.”
For Arctic Cat, adding power steering is about remaining competitive, but it’s also about improving its products and providing the ATV rider with a more comfortable machine. After our initial seat time, we firmly believe, in terms of overall abilities and comfort, Arctic Cat has designed its most impressive ATVs yet.
We rode several of the “Pre-pro” machines at this event, but will focus on the 700 S models, which are essentially 700 H1 EFI 4×4 with the addition of power steering and a few other minor changes.
Power steering is the latest “must have” in the ATV industry. This type of stuff seems to all go in phases. First it was IRS that swept the industry. Then it was bigger and bigger engines. Then came fuel injection. Now, it’s power steering. You may think that power steering on an ATV is just a sales gimmick, or at least a complex add-on that could cost a fortune to fix down the road. Well, like fuel injection, once you try an ATV with power steering you’ll be sold on its benefits.
For 2009, the Suzuki KingQuad 500 comes with electric power steering as a standard option. Although the system may be new to ATVs, it is based on the electric power steering that’s been on Suzuki cars and SUVs for years. Basically the unit senses torque loads at both ends of the steering – input from the handlebar and the resistance from the tires. As expected, the unit senses the amount of effort needed to twist the handlebars, thus allowing more power from the unit at slower speeds and less at higher speeds. But at the other end it works as a steering stabilizer by eliminating the instant input from the tires when they smack a rock at speed. So basically, whether riding slow or ramming stumps at speed, the steering operates much the same as if you could all of a sudden bench press the ATV.
TPR is well known for its part in producing the Spyder Quad, a tarantula-themed custom Suzuki LTR450 that made its debut with Douglas Wheel Technologies at the 2008 Indianapolis Dealer Expo. But the Spyder Quad, with all its industry-leading aftermarket additions, was destined to be a show piece that, to this day, has never hit the track.
This season, TPR took a different approach with the Tarantula Performance Racing project Yamaha YFZ450R. TPR built the YFZ-R to debut its new line of Race Safer Pro combination nerf bar and heel guards, but the TPR crew also wanted this quad to perform on the track and not just be another show queen.
Gazing into the future of our sport there are a few things I know will change, but one thing is for certain and that is that Kawasaki will fight for every inch of real estate in this industry with great products. One such product is the line of Brute Force sport utility 4×4 ATVs.
Having had the privilege of riding many of the utility models of Kawasaki’s 2010 line, the Brute Force is one of my personal favorites. The 2010 Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i with independent rear suspension is solid performer and with power of the V-Twin the ride is explosive. Let’s not forget it is also a fuel-injected, fire breathing ground pounder.
The classic style of the Brute is basically the same for 2010, though the graphics have changed just a bit. Regardless, this is still a great machine and it deserves another look.
Starting with the ergonomics of the Brute Force 750 we found the same comfortable seating we had grown accustomed to and control placement is still within reach for most every rider’s needs. Riding or just sitting in the camp I found that the Brute’s urethane foam seat was extremely comfortable. Riding this machine for hours isn’t out of the question with comfort like this, while full coverage floorboards ride keep you protected from trail obstacles. Utilizing aluminum pegs, which are replaceable, on the larger displacement Brute Force helps save weight.
It has conquered the unruly terrain of Baja, Mexico, mastered numerous rutted-and-muddy farm fields in the Midwest and become a favorite hunting companion (sorry Fido) of camo-clad sportsmen across the country. With the largest engine of any single-rider ATV in the industry, proven abilities in ugly terrain and a working-class backbone, the 2010 Arctic Cat Thundercat H2 is as unique as it is brawny. For this year, Arctic Cat’s flagship utility quad received an updated front differential lock engagement switch.
We tested the Minnesota-based company’s largest ATV in the Utah mountains, where we encountered hard-packed, rutted off-camber trails, huge rocky grades, snow and high-speed roads that really let this big-bore behemoth unwind and have fun.
Let’s closely inspect Arctic Cat’s most ferocious four-wheeler.
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 4×4 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.
Two-seat ATVs are definitely a different breed, with some good attributes and some maybe not so good – depending on your needs. While they are clumsier to throw around sportingly on tight, twisting trails, and they take up more room on the trailer and in the garage, they are vastly more stable and more comfortable than single seat ATVs – even with just a single rider onboard. Two-seaters are popular because they are the truly the Grand touring machines of the ATV world.
With a wheelbase of 57 inches and an empty weight of 795 pounds there is no disputing that the Polaris Sportsman 800 EFI Touring is a big ATV. But what’s really amazing is just how much more room that extra seven inches of wheelbase gives to both the rider and passenger. Unlike the two-seat X2 models that started Polaris’ two-seat movement, the Touring provides a passenger area designed with no compromises to rider comfort. The passenger’s seat is slightly raised so they can more easily see over and around the operator. The seatback height is increased as well to give more support. Also designed for added comfort on those long rides are the vibration-isolated handgrips and footrests. In fact every aspect of the Touring model is designed to make both of the riders as comfortable as possible, giving them enough room so that neither will interfere with the other. It’s obvious that the extra room is something that will make the passenger much more comfortable, but something equally important is that it will help the operator to maintain better control of the ATV.
Since its release in 2006, the Suzuki QuadRacer LT-R450 has been a dominant force in both ATV motocross and GNCC racing. Dustin Wimmer helped prove this by winning back-to-back championships in the AMA Pro ATV Motocross series while aboard the Suzuki. Factory Suzuki rider Chris Borich wrapped up another championship by winning 10 of the 13 rounds of the GNCC series on the LTR. With its wide stance, powerful 450cc four-stoke fuel-injected engine, and plush long-travel suspension, the LT-R450 can be ridden hard or raced right from the dealer’s showroom floor.
We recently had a chance to test out the 2009 Suzuki LT-R450 (MSRP $8,099) over a four-month period. We rode on a variety of terrains, including multiple motocross tracks, numerous trails, and even through the mud holes and up the steep hills at the infamous Ironman GNCC in Crawfordsville, Ind.
The LTR is very easy to start, with the integration of a fuel-injection system. With a push of a button the LTR comes to life without hesitation. The centered exhaust has a deep, powerful sound to it, much like an aftermarket pipe. As you hit the throttle the power is smooth and abundant throughout the RPM range. Power is not as abrupt as some of the other 450cc race machines in its class; but it’s still enough that if you blip the throttle the front end will lift off the ground. Suzuki’s race quad has enough power to rocket you over large jumps or down the trail as quick as you please.
The sport segment has long been a testament to the manufacturers’ ability to keep up with changing trends in the ATV market and the 2010 KFX450R is Kawasaki’s shot at the bull’s eye.
Simply stated, Kawasaki has built a race ready and motocross friendly ATV that can be prepped with little more than fuel and a clean air filter before being dropped onto the starting grid. From the technology in the frame to the power ripping through the exhaust the Kawasaki KFX450R has made its statement on the sport ATV market. Just in case you’ve forgotten, let us refresh your memory.
Starting with the frame we notice several key items that seem to bring Kawsaki into the game of MX/XC ATV racing. It seems that Kawasaki has taken notice of aftermarket 250r frames. More rake and better steering and handling geometry is what most guess is the benefit of having the lower A-arms come together in the middle of the lower frame.
Can-Am proudly boasts that its 669-pound gorilla-of-an-ATV, the Outlander 800R EFI, is the most powerful ATV in the industry. Rated at 71 horsepower at the crank, the big Can-Am edges the Polaris Sportsman 800 by roughly 1 hp, according to figures reported to the California Air Resources Board. Even if you didn’t know the big-bore 4×4 from the north led the class on paper, you’d find out pretty quickly once you sat on the machine and squeezed the thumb throttle. In fact, Can-Am’s marketing material essentially tells you to do just that. It doesn’t want you to take its word, Can-Am wants you to ride the Outlander and decide for yourself!
I test rode the original Outlander 800 when it was introduced in 2006 and then again when it received its “R” moniker and additional horsepower in 2008. My most recent ride took me to the mountains in Utah and higher elevations. It was there where the Can-Am reconfirmed it’s a fun ride full of attitude — some might say piss and vinegar — yet is controllable, too. Although it’s a full-blown utility quad, its 799.9cc V-twin powerplant is filled with playful abilities and appeals to anyone’s youthful side. Sure, it has a few competitors out there that will give it a run for its money, but it’s still one of the most thrilling machines on the market and arguably wears that crown.
Let’s take a closer look at Can-Am’s flagship 4×4 quad.
Polaris recently invited us to its state-of-the-art R&D facility in Wisconsin, Minn. to test ride the 2010 ATV line up. While we were there we had a chance to check out and test some of the latest and greatest high displacement quads Polaris has to offer. In addition to these impressive new machines, Polaris also made some key changes to its line of budget-friendly ATVs, including the Trail Blazer 330.
At first glance, the thing that most jumps out on the new Trail Blazer is the plastic. Polaris gave the Trail Blazer, as well as the Trail Boss 330 and Scrambler 500 4×4, new plastic so the style matches more closely to the Outlaw lineup. Additionally, the Trail Blazer received an Outlaw-style headlight that produces 25% more lighting than the previous year’s model. As far as looks go, the 2010 Trail Blazer seems much more modern and up to date than its predecessor.
While most ATV manufacturers have been playing it fairly safe recently as the economy attempts to right itself, we haven’t seen too many brand spankin’ new four-wheelers of late. As avid ATV testers and industry followers, we’ve been itching to try out something fresh. Fortunately for us, Kymco has a solution to our problem – the Maxxer 375 IRS 4×4.
We got our first look at the Maxxer at Kymco’s 2010 product intro in scenic Asheville, NC. Kymco hadn’t told us anything about its new quad before we first laid eyes on it, so it was a surprise to us to see a hybrid sport/utility ATV. The folks at Kymco are very excited about the Maxxer, the company’s first foray into this segment.
After taking a quick look at the Maxxer, it’s tough to compare it to anything else in the Kymco lineup. Despite being built on the same platform as the MXU 375 IRS 4×4, the Maxxer strikes a far sportier pose. Visually, the Maxxer more closely resembles a Yamaha Wolverine than any other Kymco ATV. It carries no front or rear racks, the plastics are aggressive looking, and the colors (red, blue, black, or white) are deep and bright. When it comes to looks, the sport outweighs the utility in the Maxxer.
Growing up riding ATVs, the woods have always been my playground. It wasn’t until I was 18 years old that I made the switch to motocross. Naturally, I was excited to get back to my roots and hit the trails again. What better way to do this than to test out a 2009 Suzuki QuadRacer LT-R450 by racing it on one of the toughest, most attended GNCC tracks in the series – the infamous Ironman in Crawfordsville, Ind.
The LTR was originally designed to be a motocross hound from the beginning. With its wide 49-inch stance, 18-inch tires, and long travel suspension it is a force to be reckoned with straight from the factory. Despite its motocross roots, the LTR is a proven competitor in the GNCC series. In fact, Suzuki factory rider Chris Borich wrapped up the championship on his LTR this season, winning 10 of the 13 rounds to take the title by a comfortable margin.
Introduced in 2008, the Arctic Cat 366 is intended to give new riders the experience of the wide-open trail world. The 2009 Arctic Cat 366 is the company’s budget utility 4×4 offering, priced just under $6,000 ($5,649 to be exact), the 366 offers a “no frills” option for consumers looking for an affordable ride. This utility-styled ATV is built to be fun and functional for the consumer looking to get into the sport.
From an ergonomic standpoint, the 366 is pretty average, and comparable in size to the other machines in its class. The instrument cluster offers all of the useful information that you would expect (digital displays of clock/hour meter, mode button, set/reset button, odometer/trip meter, gear position, speedometer, drive select, high beam, battery condition, temperature and oil pressure), and nothing in the way of unnecessary “extras.”
The large stretched handlebar is a bit awkward to get used to while riding (or looking at the machine for that matter), but it is very functional and works well for its intended purpose and placement. Pretty much all of the controls are easily reachable and well thought out, but the lack of a handlebar-mounted rear brake is a bit of a letdown.
Being that Polaris is an American-based company it can see first hand what the economy is like here in the United States. When putting together its 2010 ATV lineup, Polaris decided to dust off some old models and give them a freshening up so cash-strapped consumers would have some choices they could more easily afford.
Polaris has four of these entry-level (read: affordable) ATVs available in 2010. Some of these units hadn’t seen a significant upgrade in a decade, but for the current model year three of them received some noticeable improvements. One of these models is the 2010 Trail Boss 330 and we recently had a chance to check it out for ourselves.
At first glance we noticed the Trail Boss 330 – as well as the Trail Blazer 330 and Scramber 500 4×4 – benefited from a facelift. The Trail Boss is now a little easier on the eyes and looks just a bit more modern. It received all new plastics and bodywork and was given more powerful and stylish headlights. Polaris says the new headlights put out 25% more lighting than last year’s model.
In recent years Kymco has been developing a strong reputation for low- and mid-displacement ATVs and UTVs. The Taiwan-based manufacturer continues its progression in 2010 with the release of two new ATVs and three limited edition models.
We had a chance to take Kymco’s new vehicles for a spin on a Land Rover Experience course at the historic Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. We’ll have full reviews of these vehicles in the coming weeks.
Maxxer 375 IRS 4×4 ($5,999)
The Maxxer is the vehicle that has the folks at Kymco the most excited and it marks the company’s entry into the sport/utility segment.
Take a quick look at the Maxxer and you’d be hard pressed to compare it to anything else in the Kymco lineup (though it does strike a similar pose as the Yamaha Wolverine 450). A look at the specs data, however, shows that the Maxxer is built off the same platform as the MXU 375 IRS 4×4 released last year.
With the introduction of the YFZ450R last fall, Yamaha hit the nail on the head for those in the market for a true out of the box motocross machine. Although some GNCC racers and trail riders chose to ride the Big Blue’s new steed in the woods, it was apparent that incorporating the YFZ450R’s fuel injected powerplant and developing a machine for both trail riders and racers alike was the next logical step.
We recently had the chance to check out Yamaha’s offering for the backwoods riders and racers – the YFZ450X. Unlike its predecessor, this quad was designed specifically to be ridden in tight woods. Big Buck Farm in Union, SC would be host of the Yamaha YFZ450X Intro. Big Buck Farm also hosts the Big Buck GNCC that has blessed the cross-country racing schedule for 13 years. This location offers a variety of terrain, including tight woods, grassy open areas, decent sized hills, rutted out trails, numerous water crossings, and the infamous Creek Jump that are all part of a 10+ mile course.
There are a number of differences between the YFZ450X and its motocross proven brother the YFZ450R. Those who were on the fence about racing the YFZ450R in the woods will be happy to hear that the YFZ450X fits a lot better through tight wooded sections.
Some times in life the odds are stacked against you – be it winning the lottery or even in some cases getting struck by lightning. For Joe Shinsky it was a combination of both. Joe was the lucky winner of ATV.com’s Project Yamaha Raptor 250 Giveaway. He couldn’t believe it; he was shocked that he of all people was the lucky one to be given such a tricked out ATV for FREE! Who could blame him? More than 5,000 people entered the contest and he was the lucky winner.
Joe hails from Northern Ohio and is 19 years old. He has been riding ATVs almost his whole life. He still has home videos of his dad walking along side of him riding his first ATV – an ATC 70. He has since honed his riding skills and now rides a limited edition 2008 Yamaha Raptor 250. Yes, Joe already has a Raptor 250, which he now plans to use a practice bike.
Sunday, September 6 was the day we scheduled to drop off the Project Raptor 250. Me and my girlfriend, Olivia Shuff (who also test rides for the site) loaded up and headed out east to Ohio. We planned to meet up with Joe at the Maumee State Forest, which is located about 30 minutes east of Toledo. The plan was to have Joe rip it around the trails for a quick photo and video shoot. It sounded like a pretty simple plan, but it certainly didn’t turn out that way.
After unleashing the critically acclaimed YFZ450R exactly one year ago, Yamaha upped the ante for 2010 with a sport quad designed specifically for tight woods and GNCC style riding – the YFZ450X.
Yamaha had a lot of success these past 12 months with the YFZ450R, but it is most at home in the open desert, dunes and motocross race tracks. Though the original YFZ450 was still available for the cross country and woods riders, Yamaha felt those customers were missing out on all the advancements the YFZ450R offered like fuel injection, aluminum frame and much improved suspension and rider ergos.
If you’re comparing the YFZ450X to the 450R, the most striking difference is the vehicle’s footprint. The 450X is much narrower with a width of 46.1 inches. Also, by reducing the width Yamaha was able to shave off five pounds of weight.
In October of 2008, ATV.com writer Jerry Bassett put 800 miles put a pair of brand new Browning Edition Polaris Sportsman XPs. Both machines performed as advertised sporting improved ergonomics, better handling, improved suspension and powerful yet smooth power delivery. The Browning editions featured tons of goodies such as winches, gun holders and even heated grips! However neither the 550 nor the 850 Browning editions featured the biggest option Polaris added for 2009, electric power steering.
Due to the tremendous benefits in control and fatigue reduction provided by power steering, we felt it was imperative that we get our hands on one of the power steering equipped XP’s to put Polaris’s EPS to the test. Polaris helped out our cause by sending out a brand new Sportsman XP 850 equipped with EPS. Although this wasn’t a Browning Edition it did feature the same Mossy Oak Break Up color scheme.
Heading into its 10th year of U.S. sales, Kymco has built itself into a respected ATV brand – separating itself from a sea of would be knock-off importers.
Since 2003 Kymco’s ATV line has expanded from one to 10 models. The Taiwan-based manufacturer has a reputation for building reliable vehicles which is no surprise considering the company has produced a number of parts for Honda ATVs. Other major brands have recognized its manufacturing quality as well – Kymco currently builds Kawasaki’s youth ATVs as well as several models for Arctic Cat.
Kymco’s beginner-friendly Mongoose 300 got its start back in 2004 as the Mongoose 250. In 2006 Kymco raised the 250’s displacement from 249cc to 270cc and added the Mongoose 300 to the lineup.
Based on what it learned from testing with magazines, racing, and working with various aftermarket companies the 300 received a number of changes in 2008 to improve its engine and handling performance. These changes included larger valves and new head porting along with a new intake and larger carburetor. The Mongoose was also widened four inches, lengthened one inch, and complemented by suspension settings.
Much likes its Minnesota-based neighbor Polaris; Arctic Cat is not using the slumping economy as an excuse to stop pushing forward.
After showing off six early release models in June, Arctic Cat has finally revealed the rest of its 2010 lineup. While we didn’t really see a lot of groundbreaking changes in the early release models – it was mostly paint and feature updates – this time around we’ve got three brand new ATVs, as well as two brand new engines. Also, every full sized ATV in the Arctic Cat family now features a new all-encompassed differential 4×4 lock switch on the right-side of the handlebar.
Thanks to the success of the Mud Pro 700 H1 released last year, Arctic Cat upped the ante in 2010 with two new mud-specific ATVs – the entry-level Mud Pro 650 H1 and the powerful Mud Pro 1000 H2.
Polaris Industries, Inc. has unveiled its lineup of limited edition models for 2010.
The Minnesota-based manufacturer released 10 new limited edition offerings, including two Sportsman XPs, four Ranger XPs, three Ranger RZRs and one Ranger Crew. Special edition models are available in US and Canadian dealerships now.
It was only a short time ago that Polaris first revealed its 2010 Ranger and ATV lineup. Highlighted Ranger EV, the first all-electric side-by-side from a major manufacturer, Polaris continued to push forward with new and updated off-road vehicles despite the struggling economy. Other highlights of the 2010 lineup are a new mid-size Ranger 400, more power for the Ranger XP and two brand new 2-up Sportsman XP models.
2010 Special Edition Models
Additional features on the limited edition model include:
Exclusive Browning Edition Sportsman XP with Mossy Oak Break-Up camo bodywork
Earlier this Spring Polaris sent us a 2009 Phoenix 200 for a long-term review and I decided to use this as an opportunity to teach my girlfriend how to ride an ATV.
I actually attempted to teach her how to ride last year when we first received our stock Yamaha Raptor 250. I thought it would be the perfect ATV for her to learn on since it had a small displacement and was light and nimble. I figured it would be no time until she was out riding the trails with me, but things didn’t quite work quite the way I’d planned.
My girlfriend, Olivia Shuff, had never ridden a quad before. She grew up in the city and had never even sat on an ATV until she met me. I was thinking, “Hey, why couldn’t she learn how to ride this thing, she has seen me ride plenty of times. I’m sure she could figure out how to use a clutch with a little help.”
After many attempts to merely make it across the yard without killing the engine she was fed up with having to learn to use a clutch and threw her hands down in annoyance. Apparently I shouldn’t have told her they make automatic ATVs as she then said “I want an automatic quad and I want it to be pink!” I wasn’t sure such a thing even existed.
It may not be the biggest and baddest thing on four wheels, but there is something very appealing about the Kawasaki Prairie 360 4×4. We had the opportunity to put some miles on Kawasaki’s smallest 4×4 and it proved to be an eye-opening experience.
We tested out the Prairie, along with the Brute Force 650 and 750 4x4i, at the Mines & Meadows ATV/RV Resort in Western Pennsylvania. Shockingly, it was the little Prairie that stood out most among the big bore offerings from Team Green.
Kawasaki’s proven 362cc air-cooled, single cylinder, 4-stroke engine powers the Prairie. Though it’s never going to snap your neck back when you the squeeze the throttle, the Prairie accelerates smoothly and has an impressive amount of low-end grunt for this class. More impressive is the class-leading 1,100-pound towing capacity.
After introducing the high powered, fully featured Sportsman XP lineup last year, Polaris Industries, Inc. is focusing on the 2-up market in 2010 with a mix of high-end XP models and a new entry-level two-passenger ATV.
Also, in a move with the struggling economy clearly in mind, Polaris decided to give some of its older and lower displacement single-seaters a much-needed facelift. The Scrambler, Trail Blazer and Trail Boss have all been updated as Polaris aggressively targets entry-level consumers.
“Polaris focused on updating some key models in our ATV line up for 2010,” says Matt Homan, vice president and general manager of Polaris’ off-road division. “By coupling the award-winning Sportsman XP features with the best-selling line of 2-Ups and introducing the Sportsman 500 H.O. Touring, we have created the most-comfortable and most-versatile line of 2-Up ATVs focused on innovation and value. Redesigning the Trail Boss 330, Trailblazer 330 and Scrambler 500 4×4 gives entry-level ATV riders a selection of value ATVs with an updated look and improved ride.”
Two for Touring
For those looking to ride with a passenger in comfort and style, Polaris has added the Sportsman XP features to its 2-up lineup in 2010 with the Sportsman 850 ($10,999)and 550 ($9,299) Touring.
Last year, ATV.com tested Suzuki’s flag ship King Quad 4×4 in the frigid winter of northern Minnesota. In the deep Minnesota snow we appreciated the increase in motor performance and felt its smooth power delivery was only matched by the machine’s smooth handling.
Since hitting the market in 2005 the KingQuad 750 has remained a top contender in the big bore utility ranks. With manufacturers such as Yamaha and Honda adding power steering as an option on their high end models, it was only a matter of time before Suzuki stepped up to the plate with a power steering system of its own to keep the King in the spot light. Suzuki’s power steering system was ready for the 2009 model year and it’s available on both the KingQuad 500 and 750.
For Suzuki, creating a power steering system shouldn’t have been too difficult. As an automotive manufacturer, Suzuki has been developing power steering systems for years and simply borrowed the technology for the ATV market. For use on an ATV, Suzuki was not only looking to improve the rider’s control over the machine, it was also looking to reduce feedback fed to the handlebars by trail obstacles – helping to reduce rider fatigue.
Honda has revealed its 2010 ATV lineup and though you won’t see any new models the FourTrax family of utility ATVs did receive some upgrades.
Chief among the changes for 2010 is the addition of pre-load adjustable front and rear suspension on the FourTrax Rancher 4×4 and FourTrax Rancher 4×4 ES. Also, much of the FourTrax Rancher family received a new seat with added foam. A new rack design is also found on the FourTrax Rancher family, which Honda says makes for easier cargo lashing.
Returning unchanged for 2010 is the flagship FourTrax Rincon and Rincon GPScape, along with the FourTrax Foreman Rubicon, FourTrax Recon and Recon ES.
Introduced in 2009, Honda’s Big Red remains in its original form, but a new Olive color joins Red and Natural Gear Camouflage. The Olive Big Red will be available in dealerships in September and will retail for $11,699. Big Red customers can also choose from more than 30 Honda Genuine Accessories, including windshields, tops and bumpers.
Honda’s TRX lineup of sport ATVs, including the TRX700XX, TRX450ER, TRX450R, TRX400X, TRX300X, TRX250X, and TRX90X are all unchanged for 2010.
Upgraded for 2010
If you’ve been following along at home, you’ll know that ATV.com has been busy building up a Project Yamaha Raptor 250 that one of our lucky readers will get to take home.
Though the Raptor was already head and shoulders ahead of the rest of its 250cc sport quad competition, we thought it would be fun to outfit it with a variety of bolt-on accessories and replacement parts to boost the performance and give it a new look.
Our goal was to build a machine that just about anybody with basic set of tools and a little knowhow could duplicate for themselves at home without pulling their hair out from frustration. Also, since the Raptor 250 has a reasonable sticker price to begin with, we wanted to keep the budget within reason. The end result certainly isn’t a full-on race quad, but it is a machine that has more power, improved handing and comfort, added protection and a much bigger “Wow” factor than what you’ll find on the showroom floor.
ATV.com is building up a Project Yamaha Raptor 250. This is the fifth article in a six-part series. Once the build is complete we will be giving the modified Raptor to one of our readers. Click here to enter for a chance to win.
Over the first four articles in our Raptor 250 Project we’ve enhanced the power with a package of GYTR accessories; upgraded the traction with some new tires from Kenda and some slick wheels from MotoSport Alloys; added some protection with armor from DG Performance and Nerf bars from GYTR; and increased the comfort with a set of Flexx handlebars, Quad Tech seat cover, PowerMadd handguards, and bar clamp and risers from Santor Design Co. With all our performance upgrades complete, we chose to add something that would really make our project Raptor stand out. Eye candy!
Some say beauty is no contest. Well, in this case we decided that it is. We wanted the lucky person who wins the Project Raptor to turn heads wherever they go. To do this, we enlisted the services of Santor Design Co. for a new graphics package and Maier USA for some killer plastics.
ATV.com is building up a Project Yamaha Raptor 250. This is the fourth article in a six-part series. Once the build is complete we will be giving the modified Raptor to one of our readers. Click here to enter for a chance to win.
Safety & Comfort
Speaking from first hand experience, being comfortable while riding your ATV can make a world of difference. After coming out of past seasons with several broken bones and more than a few bumps and bruises, we knew we had to look for some products that would help reduce the risk of injury and improve our overall riding comfort.
With a shiny new Yamaha Raptor 250 in the garage primed for our project build, we decided to outfit this awesome machine with some cool products that will hopefully spare the lucky winner the heartache of riding the bench while nursing preventable injuries. Well, at least that’s the idea.
Arctic Cat has unveiled a handful of early release models for 2010. The Minnesota-based manufacturer is mostly showing off some new paint, but the smallest member of the Prowler family has been given a new “XT” package of eye-catching and functional goodies, while the ATV lineup is highlighted by a 700 TRV without the cruiser trim.
Of course, these are only the early release models and if 2009 is any indication we can expect a much bigger splash from Arctic Cat in the coming months. For those with short memories, Arctic Cat went hog wild in 2009 with a veritable cornucopia of new and updated ATV models headlined by the TRV 1000 H2 Cruiser, as well as a brand new 550cc powerplant. In addition, the 2009 Prowler lineup was bolstered by the high-powered 1000 H2 XTZ and the 550 Flat Bed.
Arctic Cat has an all-new Advantage Timber Camo pattern in the 700H1 EFI and 550H1 EFI for 2010. According to Arctic Cat, the latest consumer analysis shows that Camo ranks very high in color preference. In fact, just 54 percent buy Camo for hunting, while the other 46 percent choose it because they like how it looks.
Never a company to shy away from innovations, BRP certainly did not disappoint when it unveiled its 2010 Can-Am ATV model year lineup.
For 2010, Can-Am introduced the industry’s first air-controlled suspension system, a new Dynamic Power Steering, and next-generation Visco-Lok QE automatic front differential. Those options, as well as winch, premium tires and wheels, are available in the XT and new XT-P packages.
“Our brand is more than ever poised to give the consumer what they demand most right now: value and innovation,” says Yves Leduc, vice-president and general manager, North American sales & marketing Can-Am and after-sales operations. “In 2010, BRP brings exclusive technologies to the industry and strengthens its position as the brand that continues to innovate while delivering on its promise as the choice for the ATV enthusiast.”
“In 2010, BRP once again proves to the world that the product is king,” says Chris Dawson, vice-president and general manager, BRP International division. “Can Am provides greater power, better control and even more stunning looks than ever with its 2010 ATVs. It is what we believe ATV enthusiasts are looking for.”
ATV.com is building up a Project Yamaha Raptor 250. This is the third article in a six-part series. Once the build is complete we will be giving the modified Raptor to one of our readers. Click here to enter for a chance to win.
Most of us are very conscious about protecting a number of things in our lives. Our families, our health and our investments are some of the more obvious examples, but what about our ATVs?
ATVs, after all, touch on all those. They can provide us with hours of enjoyment with our families, keep us active and fit and are certainly a financial investment – unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to win our Project Yamaha Raptor 250.
Just like you wear a helmet, boots and gloves to keep you safe while riding, your ATV needs some protection from the terrain you so often tread upon. We chose to help safeguard our Project Raptor with a few key products from DG Performance and GYTR.
Has there ever come a time when you could use a bit more help with your work on the ranch or around the shop? Do you think that if you had a more versatile ATV or tow vehicle you could be at the dinner table just a bit earlier? Polaris may have just the solution you have been looking for with its new Sportsman Big Boss 6×6 800 EFI.
Polaris engineers have long been known for firsts – independent rear suspension comes to mind – and many of these industry-leading developments are still in the foreground to this day. With the release of the Big Boss 6×6, a new light has been shining in ranch fields and job sites everywhere.
Having the awesome opportunity to review this Big Boss gives us more appreciation for the old saying “having the right tools makes the job easier.” After cutting up a few trees around the property we needed to get the cut logs to the rack for drying. We loaded the large dump capable bed with the first load and even though the front of the Big Boss felt a little light the huge 760cc liquid cooled 4-stroke tugged along without hesitation.
ATV.com is building up a Project Yamaha Raptor 250. This is the second article in a six-part weekly series. Once the build is complete we will be giving the modified Raptor to one of our readers. Click here to enter for a chance to win.
Shortly after installing all the GYTR power accessories we featured in Part 1 of our Raptor 250 project, we realized we needed a way to get that extra power to the ground. We solved this dilemma by adding some tricked out Motosport Alloys wheels and set of Kenda tires.
We’ve heard about Motosport Alloys before and we knew about its reputation for manufacturing some of the most stylish and slick looking wheels in the powersports industry. We wanted to check out some product for ourselves and decided to throw a set of Phantom Blue S3 Redline wheels on our Yamaha Raptor 250 Project!
ATV.com is building up a Project Yamaha Raptor 250. This is the first article in a six-part weekly series. Once the build is complete, we will be giving away the modified Raptor to one of our readers. Click here to enter for a chance to win.
If you haven’t had a chance to throw a leg over Yamaha’s race quad prodigy, the Raptor 250, you’re missing out. You may think a 250cc machine might not sound like much compared to the more race-ready 450cc machines out there but the Yamaha Raptor 250 is an absolute blast! With an MSRP of $4,499 it’s also a lot more affordable.
After taking the stock Raptor 250 out for an initial test, it was obvious that this was already the top 250cc quad on the market. It’s the perfect machine to replace the Blaster in Yamaha’s diverse line of ATVs. However, we like to go fast so we figured the Raptor could use a little boost in the power department. Luckily GYTR makes a few accessories that wake up the Raptor 250 engine and provide more power to this already boisterous machine.
If you’re just looking at a spec sheet, the Kawasaki Brute Force 650 4x4i might seem a little behind the times. After all, power steering is not an available option and the engine is still carbureted. Of course, if you talk to a Brute Force owner or climb aboard one for yourself, that perception will change in a hurry.
Kawasaki’s very capable 633cc 4-stroke V-Twin powers the Brute Force. This is a proven platform and it provides ample power across the entire power band. It doesn’t have quite the same throaty growl as Kawi’s 749cc mill which powers the Brute Force 750 and the Teryx and mid-range power is expectedly down a notch from the larger V-Twin, but this engine is a beast just the same.
Sure, fuel injection would be nice, but it was not something we missed during our test. It started like a champ every time, including once while we were stuck in seat-high water. If you typically ride over huge changes in elevation and you’re not too comfortable with re-jetting, you may want to consider upgrading to the fuel-injected Brute Force 750, but this is plenty of machine for most of us and you’re saving some money.
My infatuation with Yamaha’s 2009 YFZ450R began in earnest late last year, when the media was invited to Valencia, Calif. for a couple of days of test riding, picture taking, and assorted other hard-working editor stuff. I say in earnest, because before that event, I had already had the opportunity to see and touch the YFZ450R at the Vegas dealer show in Sept of 2008, when it was first shown to the public. That first day in Vegas when I sat upon Yamaha’s newest sport machine was the day that I knew that the YFZR (as I affectionately call it) could someday have a place of its own in my garage.
Fast forward to February, 2009 when I get an e-mail from Lucas Cooney of ATV.com asking if I would be interested in attending Yamaha’s annual SE dune event, and write a “dune review” on the YFZ450R. Would I? Hmmmmm…of course I would! After all, there have been quite a few reviews published on the YFZ450R’s prowess on the MX track, and its excellent manners as a trail quad are becoming well known; but how would it perform in the deep sands of a place like Glamis, Calif.? Well, I was definitely game to find out!
First Things First
Before I talk about the performance of the 2009 YFZ450R, it’s always good to get some of the machine details and spec’s laid out, in case any of our readers haven’t had the opportunity to read up on this particular model. The ‘09 YFZ450R is Yamaha’s resounding answer to the challenge thrown down by Suzuki , Can Am and KTM, who have all produced sport quads that are “race ready” right out of the box.
When the Yamaha Raptor was introduced to the riding public back in 2001, quad riding enthusiasts everywhere were enthralled by the Raptor’s aggressive styling and the most torque they had ever experienced in a sport quad – needless to say, the Yamaha Raptor was an instant favorite of the masses. Over the last eight years, the Raptor’s following has only grown bigger and more loyal, and the folks at Yamaha have done a great job of keeping the Raptor looking and handling as great as ever through the years, while tweaking only the things that really needed to be changed every so often.
For 2009, Yamaha has done it again by continuing to produce the Raptor in all of its high performance glory, and has added a few more changes to keep things constantly progressing. The 2009 Raptor now comes in two different models, the standard ‘09 model and color scheme, and the new Special Edition model that is sure to please many a future Rappy owner. The most obvious difference between the two is found in the color option available for the SE – with its black metallic plastics and blood red, translucent, marble design front shroud, the SE Raptor will turn heads no matter where it goes. At home in the dunes, the Raptor 700 is also a great trail and race machine, and the new adjustable shocks that come standard on the 2009 machines will certainly please even the most aggressive riders with their more elaborate tuning abilities.
Polaris Industries has announced its lineup of limited edition ATVs and side-by-sides for spring, 2009. All told, Polaris has new limited editions for three Sportsman ATVs and eight Ranger side-by-sides.
These limited edition models come on the heels of a huge 2009 model lineup from Polaris. Polaris introduced the all new Sportsman XP 850 and 550 for 2009, both of which have available electronic power steering.
The Minnesota-based manufacturer gave its Ranger line a huge makeover as well. The Ranger XP received all new styling and improved steering, while the new Ranger HD is a rugged utility machine with power steering and self-leveling shocks. Also new for 2009 are the high-powered Ranger RZR S and the Ranger RZR 170.
2009 Sportsman 850 XP EPS LE-Tequila Gold
Sport-specific ATVs have evolved a great deal over the past decade. While these race-inspired machines are at their best on motocross tracks and sand dunes, they don’t possess the versatility that many consumers are looking for. Enter the Polaris Outlaw 525 IRS.
Clearly, what sets the Outlaw 525 IRS apart from other sport quads is its independent rear suspension. Polaris is one of the major innovators of independent rear suspension systems for utility ATVs, so it only makes sense this is the company that brought IRS technology to a sport quad.
So, does IRS make this Outlaw as rugged and easy to ride as a utility quad while being as fast and flickable as a 450cc racer? Not quite. While no ATV can be all things to all people, Polaris’ creation is a unique blend of both worlds.
Finding a demographic for an ATV is just the first step to having great success for a manufacturer. Yamaha decided to look at the southeastern United States to find the perfect suitor for its Big Bear 400.
In 2007 the Big Bear 400 was introduced as a solid machine for working class users, but it has advantages for more adventurous riders as well. Digging into the southern states Yamaha revealed some startling numbers about its potential buyers. The United States has several unique areas that make up the vast majority of this Big Bear’s market. The 5-speed air-cooled 4×4 ATV makes up 25 percent of the total sales of 4×4 ATVs with 50% of those sales in states along the southeastern U.S. This is where swamps and low-lying creek flooded farmland will make the Big Bear shine. Yamaha’s Newnan, Ga. facility is in the heart of this prime workhorse ATV’s element. With all of the numbers in mind let’s look at what makes the Big Bear 400 a success.