Without a doubt, ATVs have greatly expanded the acceptance of off-road recreation. For many riders that were either uncomfortable with the sometimes schizophrenic nature of a dirt bike, or did not want to be confined inside the cab of a vehicle, ATVs were the perfect choice for outdoor fun and exploration. Entire families could ride into areas too remote to be seen on foot and experience nature first hand, and they could do it safely at their own pace. The docile nature, stable handling, and the ability to haul a weekend’s camping supplies make most ATVs natural pack mules, but it wasn’t long before somebody’s girlfriend decided the racks capable of hauling camping gear would also be a perfect platform for her derriere. She wanted to go along!
Carrying an extra passenger on a vehicle designed for only a single rider can be a hazardous task with serious safety concerns. There are no foot rests, hand holds, or even a seat for the passenger, and the chassis was not designed to carry the extra load which is shifted to the rear of the vehicle when a passenger hops on.
Despite numerous warning decals, all attempts to discourage the practice of riding double were largely ignored by many, and a few aftermarket companies even began producing an accessory seat. The OEMs began to take note. While the traditional Asian manufacturers continued to warn against the practice, partly due to an agreement between them defining an ATV as only a single rider vehicle, the North American ATV manufacturers saw an opportunity. If some riders wanted to share the experience, why not give them a proper vehicle to do it?
Can-Am – The Outlander™ MAX!
If you want the Land Rover of 2-up ATV luxury, Can-Am has an ATV for you. For 2010, Can-Am is offering 6 “base” models of 2-up ATVs, but with the variations and special packages available, there are many more than that. Reigning over all is the Outlander MAX 800R LTD which comes equipped with Can-Am’s new Dynamic Power Steering (DPS™), a Garmin Nuvi 500 touch screen GPS system that can even be removed and used in your truck, the quick-engaging Visco-Lok QE four-wheel-drive system, a heavy-duty winch, and in an industry-first Air Control Suspension! The ACS system is a feature only available on the Can-Am, and with a thumb switch on the bars a small compressor is activated to either add or remove air from the FOX air shocks. This is a great feature and makes a lot of sense. With traditional 2-up ATVs, you could dial in the suspension for the weight of a single rider, or for two riders, but not for both at the same time, undoubtedly making the suspension wrong at some point. Now when a second rider climbs aboard, simply hit the handlebar mounted button to one of six preset options and add a little air to the shocks until they feel right. For single riding, let a little air back out until the ride smoothes out and you’ll be good to go again. An added bonus is that you now always have a compressor along for the ride, and Can-Am even included a little air hose that can reach any of the tires easily. In our ride testing with and without a passenger, we found the ACS system to work extremely well, and it makes a very noticeable difference between maximum and minimum pressure. Visually the Outlander MAX 800R LTD looks stunning in either the “Radiant Red” or the “Steel Grey Metallic and the cast aluminum wheels compliment the package nicely. However, the Outlander is more than a pretty face.
Like all Can-Am ATVs, performance is a requirement and even their 2-up models are in keeping with the Can-Am “too much power is just enough” mantra. The Outlander family draws its power from Rotax engines, and all Outlander models, from the 400 through the mighty 800R, breathe through an electronic fuel injection system. Chassis design is very similar to their single rider brothers, built on a main center spar chassis featuring dual A-arms at the front and the plush TTI trailing arm suspension at the rear. Each model has been stretched a little for better handling of the added load, and the suspension was designed to accommodate the weight of a passenger as well. Passenger seating is what Can-Am calls “stadium style” with the passenger a little higher so they can see where they are heading, and on top of a Can-Am, they are likely to be heading someplace in a hurry! When it comes time to convert any of the Outlanders from 2-Up back to a single rider ATV, simply plug the accessory seat down onto existing mounting positions, and you’re on the trail a minute later, all without any tools!
On the trail, the Can-Ams are completely comfortable, with plenty of room for both driver and passenger. In addition to the raised seat, the passenger gets dedicated foot rests, comfortable hand holds, and a plush seat and back rest to keep one firmly anchored in place. With the power on tap, that’s a good thing! Just like with all the yellow bikes, the engines have enormous power with or without a passenger, and the overall feel is confidence inspiring and predictable. The handling is well balanced from front to back, and although the Can-Ams are slightly larger than some other models, they are still very maneuverable. You’re not going to race slalom style through the trees, but the Can-Ams won’t do anything crazy either. If it’s luxury you’re after, Can-Am has got it!
2010 Can-Am ATV 2-Up Line Up – 6 base models
- Outlander MAX 800R EFI LTD
- Outlander MAX 500 EFI LTD
- Outlander MAX 800R EFI
- Outlander MAX 650 EFI
- Outlander MAX 500 EFI
- Outlander MAX 400 EFI
Arctic Cat – The transformable TRV
Functionality, performance, and ease of operation are the primary goals behind all Arctic Cat ATVs, and with the Speedrack system, the ‘Cats are the transformers of the ATV world. Even the 2-up TRV models can pull double duty as a passenger vehicle, a mini pickup, or a pack mule.
At the head of the TRV family is the mighty TRV1000 H2 EFI Cruiser. It is designed to do exactly as the name implies, which is cruise down the trails in all the luxury a cruiser street bike offers our pavement-loving brothers of the road. The 1000 cruiser comes with features unique to Arctic Cat, such as a locking, rear compartment with integrated, padded seat back, heated hand grips for both the driver and the passenger, a stylish grip area for the passengers’ hands, a two piece windshield, and fairing complete with a cup holder for the driver and even rear-view mirrors. Passengers on the cruiser also get integrated footrests, for smooth and secure footing, and a very comfortable seat. Aluminum wheels and a winch are a nice contrast to the beautiful paint schemes available. Underneath the bodywork, the Cruiser is running a powerful Electronic Fuel Injected SOHC, liquid cooled, 4-valve V-twin engine with enough torque to pull even your truck and trailer into the woods. The TRV700 H2 EFI Cruiser offers all the same luxury features as the 1000, but with a 700cc single cylinder engine. Ordinarily, 700cc’s would sound like huge displacement and it no doubt is, but 1000cc’s is one of those magical numbers like 60 non-steroid driven home runs, and the 1000 overshadows every other ATV by at least 150cc’s.
All Arctic Cat TRV models run a dual, A-arm front suspension and independent rear suspension with preload adjustment to keep the ride smooth. Eleven inches of ground clearance practically insure the ‘Cats will clear most obstacles on the trail, and if you hit anything bigger, it’s your fault for not going around. Disc brakes are used at both ends, and ‘Cat recently began offering power steering on some models as well!
Check out our article elsewhere in this issue for a complete rundown on the ‘Cat power steering models.
If Cruiser style luxury isn’t quite your thing, the same Arctic Cat TRV models can be had in a standard version beginning at 400cc’s, and most chassis features on every unit are identical other than engine
displacement. At their core every Arctic Cat TRV is as ready for work as it is for play, and recently we spent a day putting them to the test.
Comfort is the name of the game with 2-up ATVs, and the Arctic Cat TRVs do not disappoint. Seating was spacious and comfortable, and we felt secure at all times. One feature riders in cold climates are sure to love is the heated grips on the cruiser models, and the power steering was a very welcome addition on every unit. It just makes it so much easier to wind through rocky trails or tight woods! The ‘Cats we tried shifted and ran well. We love the transformability in every TRV and even the pickup-like TBX 700H1, and we’d be happy to have a big ‘Cat in the woods anytime!
2010 Arctic Cat 2-Up Line Up – 6 base models
- 1000H2 4x4 EFI Cruiser
- 700H1 4x4 EFI Cruiser
- 400 TRV H1 4x4
- 550H1 TRV 4x4 EFI
- 700H1 TRV 4x4 EFI
- 1000H2 TRV 4x4 EFI
Polaris – The Sportsman Touring and X2
The Sportsman ATVs have always provided a comfortable ride, but when Polaris introduced the XP platform a year ago, it marked a watershed moment for the Polaris ATV lineup. Gone was the MacPherson front suspension that had graced every Polaris ATV since the beginning, but even though it was an entirely new chassis, the engineers dialed it in perfectly and the ride was outstanding. We liked both the 550XP and 850XP so much we named both as “ATV of the Year” in their class. The XP’s are that good! It was only natural to carry that award-winning technology to the Polaris 2-up category, and for 2010 there is both a 550 and 850 Touring model, along with the Sportsman 550X2. If that weren’t enough options for 2-up fun, there is even a 500 H.O. in the original platform. One feature we really like on every Polaris 2-up is the large sealed front cargo box which is great for stowing tons of gear.
Ergonomics are important on any ATV, but even more so on a 2-up. The Sportsman 550 & 850 touring models were designed for supreme comfort for both the driver and passenger, and nothing was overlooked. Even the rear cup holders come with a rubber tie-down strap! To insure the passenger’s ride is butter smooth, the rear seat features a small shock with a 30mm stroke. Handholds are ergonomically designed to fit the wrist and are vibration absorbing, as are the built- in foot rests.
Comfort wasn’t limited to just the passenger, and the driver gets Electronic Power Steering to make all day trail rides and winding through the trees easy on the arms. Other features on the 550 and 850 include the Polaris Active Descent Control for creeping down hills safely, Electronic Fuel Injection, on-demand all-wheel-drive that kicks in when the rear wheels begin to slip and enough power from either of the smooth running engines to terrify your passenger at will.
The Polaris 550X2 is unique in that it is ready made for either 2-up riding or work duty and the passengers seat can be folded down inside the sturdy dump box, which features a folding tailgate and work lights. One feature common to all Polaris 2-up ATVs is an extremely stable, smooth, and controlled ride with a very linear power delivery. We’ve put countless hours on Polaris ATVs and whether trail riding or hauling wood on work duty, they’ve never let us down.
Polaris 2010 ATV 2-Up Line Up – 4 models
- 850Touring EPS
- 550 touring EPS
- 500 H.O. Touring
- 550 X2
Ride with a Buddy!
We’ve never really understood why anyone would want to ride double aboard their ATV until we tried it. We did have a few of those "this guy is really following close" moments as we turned for a quick look behind only to discover another helmeted rider, but we got used to it. Since then we’ve been riding with a partner on many occasions, and it’s extremely enjoyable to ride trails, carry on a conversation, and explore together. Call it off-road therapy! There are plenty of excellent 2-up models to choose from, and we guarantee your girlfriend will enjoy the experience much more than being perched on the steel rack. It’s that elusive "quality time" for both of you!