Behind the bars of BRP's affordable middleweight ATV
Have you ever asked yourself where the bargains are in the mid-bore ATV category these days? It seems even the smaller ATV lines get more and more pricey and even in the bare bones versions. BRP is hoping that the Can-Am Outlander 500 is the perfect blend of middleweight performance and wallet-friendly price. Can-Am has always bled yellow but for this ATV BRP says your wallet will now survive the cut.
Starting with the bare bones of this new Outlander 500 lets dig into what makes it tick. Under the clothing of the mid-bore machine the Outlander 500 is build on the SST G2 chassis. This frame was redesigned to give the ATV better overall handling and stability on the trail. BRP boasts that the geometric contact control achieved by this new design aids in its precision handling. Utilizing Can-Am’s dual A-arm system with dive control geometry out front and the TTI (Torsional Trailing Arm Independent) in the rear, BRP thinks this is its best handling setup to date.
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Suspension travel and impact dampening is handled by gas charged, five-way pre-load adjustable shocks. The travel up front reaches nine inches and also incorporates an anti-kickback geometry to inspire confidence during the ride and reduce stress on the rider. On the back end we find the TTI arms will travel 9.3 inches and also include a removable sway bar. The lower pivot points on the rear arms as this design allow the ATV to get better traction under hard acceleration by allowing the Outlander to simply squat and lay the power down to the ground.
That power come courtesy of a Rotax 500cc V-Twin powerplant. This proven motor platform has long been the subject of modification experts and will continue to be a power-filled mill. Out of the crate this liquid-cooled four-stroke engine already produces 46 horsepower and it has room for plenty more. There are four valves per cylinder in this Rotax to move fuel in via electronic fuel injection, burn it effectively and force it back out efficiently. Starting the beast gives its owner the loping sounds of a throaty, well-balanced twin cylinder engine. Keeping the firebox cool is the larger and more efficient aluminum radiator and electric fan.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2013 Can-Am Renegade 500
With a powerful mid-bore machine you need a stout delivery from the crank to the rear wheels. This is handled by a CVT belt-driven transmission. Assisting in the stopping of this machine is the built-in engine braking from the same CVT. Can-Am redesigned the CVT intake, which allows cool air in to keep the belt at optimal temperatures, up a little higher to protect the intake from wetter riding conditions. Should you get in water that makes its way into the CVT cover there is a drain for relieving the cavity of any moisture.
Features like the 214mm rotors with hydraulic twin piston caliper brakes give the rider comfort knowing that the machine can be stopped. Two outbound calipers and discs handle the front end while a single caliper and rotor control is found on the right rear wheel. Bar-mounted controls and a foot-operated brake lever make for easy operation of these brakes.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2014 Honda FourTrax Rancher
This Utility ATV is made for the trail, but if you need to work it is ready to help. The front and rear LINQ system racks give the owner an ingenious new way to secure ride luggage to the machine effectively. You can strap up to 100 pounds on the front end and 200 more to the rear. With all that storage capacity, you won’t have to leave anything home that you may need on your adventure.
The base model of this 2014 Can-Am Outlander 500 does come feature filled, BRP always has options to add even more features. One such feature is the optional Tri-Mode Dynamic Power Steering. The 2014 Can-Am Outlander 500 DPS model not only gets you power steering, but it also includes Visco-Lok QE (quick engagement) front differential, cast aluminum wheels and 26-inch Carlisle Badlands tires. That package will run you an additional $900 on the base Can-Am Outlander 500’s $7,799 price tag.
Riding this machine in a small town just outside Albany, NY, we made sure we had ample seat time in order to judge just how good the Can-Am Outlander 500 would be.
Slipping the DESS coded key into the switch immediately reminded us that even if a thief wanted the machine, without the key they would not be able to start it. If they should take the machine to a dealer after the theft a new key could only be made for the registered owner and they would most likely be caught right then! This is something more manufacturers need to look into.
Of course the machine gave us no trouble starting as the EFI was ready for action. Sitting on the Outlander 500 was easy as the big soft seat welcomed us in with all of the informative dash news staring right at us just over the center of the bars.
Riding tightly wooded and root-filled, rocky terrain, the Outlander 500 handled well. It puts its power to the ground as well as BRP had promised.
COMPARISON: Read our review of the 2011 Yamaha Grizzly 450 4X4 EPS
This is not a go-fast machine, in our humble opinion, but more of a light work and trail rider’s ATV. It lends itself to comfort and plenty of power to handle anything we could find for it. Although we rode the DPS version, we couldn’t imagine the machine without it. We know a base model is made to hit a lower price point, but after using the Tri-Mode DPS we’re not sure we would ever go back to a machine without it.
One thing that puzzled us was why the Visco-Lok QE front differential is not a standard even on the base model. Seems like it really should be.
As for the power and delivery we were as impressed as always with Rotax performance. Even though our goal was not to see just how fast we could bound through the trees, The Can-Am Outlander 500 always felt like it had much more waiting for us.
Overall this ride is a quality purchase for any consumer. While Can-Am ATVs carry a stigma of being on the expensive side, if you look closely at the price and options in comparison to others, the Outlander 500 is right on the money.