Yamaha set the pace in the Hi-Performance ATV world with the introduction of their original YFZ 450, then upped the ante when they built a second generation racer, the YFZ 450R. The new ‘R came with a high tech aluminum chassis, fuel injection, a powerful engine, and racing quality, long travel suspension. Whether in the hands of a pro racer or an intermediate class rider, it made every rider better. Many riders hit the trails as well, however, and often that means a full width racer simply won’t fit between the trees.
In our original review of the Yamaha Raptor 250, we said that it’s the best ATV there has ever been for new sport riders, and we still stand by that statement. What makes the Raptor 250 special - and the entire Yamaha Raptor family - is that it’s a true sport machine designed for superb handling, with a snappy, fun powerband from a bullet proof motor capable of decades of reliable riding. No other quad we have been on inspires more pure fun. Without fail, every time two or more Raptor 250 riders get together, an impromptu race breaks out.
It’s easy to overlook the smaller displacement ATVs in favor of maximum power and features offered on larger models. For most owners, however, the extra power isn’t needed and can be intimidating, and a smaller displacement engine in a slightly smaller chassis gets the job done perfectly. The Grizzly 450 EPS was designed with that in mind.
When it was introduced 2 years ago, the Polaris Sportsman XP 850 set a new standard for big bore utility ATVs that has yet to be matched. In our experience logging over a thousand odd trail miles, reliability has been perfect, and it has never let us down. The engine runs smooth, quiet, and crisp thanks to electronic fuel injection. We’re especially happy to report maintenance tasks are a breeze due to a spin off oil filter, a cartridge type air filter, and a handy, easy access dipstick (Take note Suzuki).
Polaris engineers came up with a simple solution for riders who love the XP 850’s excellent features, but may feel intimidated with an 850cc engine – offer the same features and chassis with a 550cc engine! As a smaller brother to the XP 850, the Sportsman XP 550 shares an almost identical chassis but with a liquid cooled, single cylinder, EFI equipped engine mated to a carefree, CVT transmission. The engine runs crisp and smooth, and the XP550 gets a high performance clutch with a roller system for a very noticeable snap off the bottom.
No other big bore sport ATV can match the power to weight ratio of the Polaris 525S. Torque from the KTM motor is outstanding and the ability to raise the front wheels at any time makes it an absolute blast to ride. We’ve raced the 525S in the woods and on the motocross track; with its lighter weight and more aggressive stance, it easily out handles other big bore sport ATVs. We really like the stock Maxxis tires which hold up well and get good traction on soft loam, but in the sand they also steer very well because of the front center rib.
Most riders use their ATVs for work, as pack mules on camping or hunting trips, or for trail exploration, but the best times are when out play riding with friends. After all, that’s why nearly every one of us got into this sport! For the simple joy of play riding, we want an ATV that offers all-day comfort, great handling, and an excellent engine with enough power to conquer hills and provide plenty of thrills. The Suzuki LTZ 400 fits the bill perfectly.
Whenever we test any all-new ATV or UTV, whether from Arctic Cat, Yamaha, Honda, Polaris, or any of the OEMS, we usually don’t stray too far from the truck on our first day. After all, we don’t know exactly what to expect from the new model, and we might need to make adjustments or even repairs. Not this time however. Our initial ride on Arctic Cats new heavy duty 700 HDX, and 700 XTX wouldn’t be a casual ride through familiar woods, farm, or trail, but a go-for-broke, no turning back trek spread over 3 days and 400 miles of some of the most remote and toughest terrain in North America.
After more than 20 years of service, the Mule name has come to define a whole category of hardworking utility vehicles. For 2010, there’s an entirely new take on this beast of burden: The Mule 610 4x4 XC appears to have been crossbred with Kawasaki’s Teryx RUV. Aggressive 26 inch Maxxis Bighorn 2.0 radial tires mounted on 12-inch wheels give it newfound off-road ability—and a slew of upgrades designed to complement its suddenly more aggressive nature infuse the new Mule XC with something it’s never really been known for: This Mule is cool.
Everybody likes to push the throttle to the stops and feel a burst of power from a big bore engine now and then, and the top utility ATVs from Polaris, Yamaha, Arctic Cat, Suzuki, Kawasaki, and Can-Am are all more than capable of delivering a solid punch, followed by an adrenaline shot to your spine! The performance from top of the line utility ATVs is truly incredible, but 99% of the time all the power isn’t really needed! Far more important to the overall performance of a vehicle is handling and suspension.