First Ride – Can-Am Outlander and Renegade 1000

First Ride – Can-Am Outlander and Renegade 1000

2012.can-am.renegade1000.white_.front_.riding.up-hill.jpgCAN-AM never does anything half way, and when we heard rumors of major changes to their ATV lineup, we were more than a little intrigued. What arrived was beyond what anybody outside of CAN-AM’s engineering group ever imagined.

Outlander & Renegade Revolution 

“Major changes” doesn’t begin to describe what CAN-AM had in store for their 2012 top end ATVs. What they built are all new machines and rather than starting at a safe position with a new mid-sized model, they went right to the top. Just in case the lineup didn’t have quite enough performance in the past, all new for 2012 is the Outlander 1000 and Renegade 1000. Both models crank out power well north of the 80hp barrier with a new 976cc engine, but perhaps of even greater importance is a hybrid chassis design unlike anything else.

A new chassis provided CAN-AM with a unique opportunity, and rather than utilize the new design on only two models, they’ve decided to spread the love and both the Outlander 800 and Renegade 800 received the second generation design as well. It was a great way to incorporate a major update to the existing Outlander and Renegade 800, and to increase manufacturing

Generation 2 Chassis

The SST chassis had been the backbone for every Outlander and Renegade ATV for many years. From an engineering and manufacturing standpoint, it was a clean and efficient design, and when combined with the TTI trailing arm rear suspension, it offered a chassis unlike any other ATV on the planet. There were drawbacks to the system, however, and when charging into long rough sections, we always thought the single main spar would flex and twist as the wheels hit bumps, first on one side and then the other. The long term effect of repeated cross frame torque would be metal fatigue until a crack would likely develop.

Traditional ATV frames all feature a dual perimeter tube design. As the suspension tracks through the bumps, the shocks transfer the load to the frame members on that side. Since they are a dual perimeter system, the opposite side helps absorb the force, in effect offering reinforcement. Dual perimeter frames offer added strength and rigidity, but they are usually heavier and more complex to manufacture, and it can be more difficult to obtain optimum suspension geometry.

CAN-AM’s new SST G2 chassis signals a watershed moment in CAN-AM design philosophy. The new G2 chassis harnessed the strengths of both the SST frame and a traditional tube frame by offering a steel tube chassis, but the spacing between the left and right-hand rails is extremely compact. This creates added chassis rigidity, extra strength, and allows for tighter suspension pivot spacing. Despite the new chassis being constructed of dual frame members, it was actually more efficient to produce and has 16% fewer parts than the previous SST frame. Overall strength, however, is more than twice that of the previous chassis, with twice the resistance to torsion as well.2012.can-am.renegade1000.trailing-arm-suspension.close-up.jpg

New Suspension Geometry 

Both the Outlander and Renegade chassis have the ability to handle any work, but they also favor aggressive riding, particularly when in the hands of a skilled pilot. With the new G2 chassis, CAN-AM engineers opted for a full redesign of the suspension geometry as well and the front end now offers anti-dive geometry on the A-arms.

On any quad when you grab the front brakes or the suspension compresses, the front end dives. This makes the upper ball joint move over the top of the lower ball joint, in effect giving you shopping cart geometry with the same twitchy handling. The way to avoid this is to build anti-dive technology into the A-arms with the upper arm a couple degrees off parallel to the lower A-arm. When the front end dives for any reason, the upper ball joint in effect moves back, and handling stays consistent throughout the shock stroke. Can-Am also located the steering knuckle further out into the wheel for reduced scrub radius and better handling.

The rear suspension on all Outlander and Renegade ATVs is unlike any other ATV in that it features the CAN-AM TTI trailing arm suspension which is very much like the suspension on a desert racing trophy truck. It’s beefy, simple, and it eliminates any wheel scrub as the suspension goes through the stroke. For 2012 CAN-AM redesigned the TTI geometry as well. The system now offers beefy round tubes for increased strength, less flex, more suspension travel, and it now has a removable sway bar. The pivot point for the rear suspension was located so that when you crack the throttle, the rear end squats, digs in, and launches you forward.
The new suspension geometry CAN-AM uses on the G2 chassis allows for extended wheel travel at both ends with 9 inches at the front and 9.3 inches at the rear. All the travel in the world means nothing if the suspension cannot be controlled by the shocks, though, and the new design allows for more subtle spring rates and shock valving. 2012.can-am.outlander1000.black_.front-left.riding.wheelie.on-dirt.jpg

Outlander Details

The Outlander 800 and Outlander 1000 get new, aggressive body styling which gives a nod to the previous style but also offers increased comfort and function. From the pilot’s seat, the bodywork has you well protected from mud, water, or any other intrusion, and the relationship from seat, to foot pegs, to handlebars is very comfortable even for riders well over 6ft. We especially like how the area between your knees has been sculpted for better feel, and the seat is very plush. It’s also been our experience the CAN-AM bodywork is very pliable and will bend long before it will crack. An added benefit of the stock red color is it hides scratches very well. More importantly, it is easier than ever to get to the airbox, and at both the front and rear end is a set of racks like no other.

CAN-AM ditched the traditional round steel tube rack for a new, tough, composite rack base with tons of locations for tie downs. Composite racks have been a mainstay of the Polaris line for years, but CAN-AM took matters one step further and has embedded the upper surface of the racks with a rubberized coating which helps any accessory grip the surface, but also quiets any vibration. It was a nice touch. The composite rack system also serves as the base for CAN-AM’s new LinQ accessory system. LinQ accessories simply plug into preset positions, easily lock in place, and can be added or removed quickly.

We are always looking for storage on any utility ATV and the new Outlander bodywork conceals a huge, sealed, storage compartment (Almost 6 gallons!) between the two rear tail lights. At the front end dual, Renegade style headlights are the brightest in the industry, and the entire package rides on 12 inch centerless cast aluminum wheels and 26 inch tires. It looks tough and ready for action!2012.can-am.renegade1000.muffler.close-up.jpg

The Ultimate Power – The Outlander 1000 and Renegade 1000

If CAN-AM’s Side x Side is called the Commander, the engine from the new Renegade and Outlander 1000 should be called Lord Vader. It’s throaty, menacing, right to the point, and doesn’t mess around.

The engine is a 976cc, liquid cooled, fuel injected, SOHC V-twin driving a high performance CVT transmission. Thankfully, CAN-AM gave the CVT cover a better seal and an actual drain plug, and the CVT air intake was located higher in the chassis for better protection from anything entering the CVT in the first place. A big part of engine performance is determined by the air intake and the new engine features a dual chamber airbox designed to filter out contaminants before they ever hit the filter. With the intake located high in the chassis and a new filter design, the Outlander and Renegade are more capable than ever of crossing deep water or mud. At the front of the chassis, a new radiator offers nearly twice the cooling capacity of any other radiator in the CAN-AM fleet as well.


The Outlander ATVs have always had plenty of power and when we climbed aboard the new 1000 for the first time, we expected nothing short of being shot from a cannon. As we started the engine, we were greeted by a healthy growl and we slipped the right hand gear shift lever into High and headed for the trails. It didn’t take us long to discover she’s got it where it counts. The new engine will easily lift the front wheels with a little help from the throttle. After our first ride winding up and down the side of a mountain and through the trees, we discovered the new Outlander 1000 is definitely a beast, but it also has manners and can be tamed. There is less flex from the frame, the steering responds more precisely thanks to a more rigid chassis, and the suspension handles choppy bumps with ease, delivering a smooth ride. Make no mistake though, at any time and at any RPM the engine stands ready to deliver a burst of acceleration that would make any drag racer happy. Clutching plays a huge part in throttle response as well, and with decades of sled experience CAN-AM has it dialed in.2012.can-am.outlander1000.yellow.front_.riding.up-hill.jpg

A big part of the Outlander’s improved handling is due to the new chassis and suspension design, but CAN-AM also gave the new chassis their Dynamic Power Steering system, or DPS, and the system has been revised for 2012. The DPS system now offers 3 different levels of available steering input (MIN, MED, MAX), although we did most of our riding at the MIN setting. It was just our personal preference and seemed to give us the best feel for the terrain. Along with the revised DPS, CAN-AM updated the VISCO-LOK 4wd system and all models with DPS now get the faster reacting VISCO-LOK QE system. Basically, it engages quicker and gets the front wheels clawing for traction usually before you even realize the rear wheels were spinning.

Having put a thousand or so odd miles on the Renegade 800, we were more than familiar with the over-the-top power on tap from that engine, and this was 20% bigger! The all new Renegade 1000 feels every bit of that and more. In open sections it was an absolute blast to let the Renegade run free, but in the woods, it requires a steady hand, a bit of confidence, and something called skill. The new chassis and DPS system works very differently than any other Renegade and it feels much more smooth and precise. Aggressive riders will love the power, especially in open sections and where you can crack the throttle; it digs in and launches forward thanks to the new suspension geometry and a solid bite on the terrain from the ITP Holeshot tires. Nobody is going to be disappointed with the power from the new Renegade 1000! In the open nothing is going to run it down, but in the woods it can be a handful and when winding through the trees, it was almost easier to ride the Renegade 800 with the new chassis. That got us thinking that for future models CAN-AM might want to include a “STANDARD” and a “SPORT” mode setting just like they do for the Commander lineup. All the parts required are already in place, and all it would take is another program in the ECU to cut fuel and retard timing for a slightly more mellow power delivery. This would make tight woods riding a little less intimidating. Until then we’ll smile wide and definitely take it the way it is.2012.can-am.outlander1000.yellow.front_.riding.up-hill.jpg

Braking on both the new Outlander and Renegade is improved as well and on the front both get dual piston calipers and a 214mm disc. At the rear the Outlander gets the same dual piston, 214mm setup but only on the right side, while the more aggressive Renegade gets dual piston calipers and dual 214mm discs on both wheels.

A Powerful Future 

We were blown away by the changes CAN-AM made to their 2012 ATV lineup. The G2 chassis marks a new direction for their ATV engineering and in the future we fully expect to see it carried to other models as well. With the introduction of a new Outlander 1000 and Renegade 1000 CAN-AM has expanded their power base enough that even Lord Vader would be proud, and it’s clear they intend to reign supreme. 2012.can-am.outlander1000.red_.front_.riding.up-hill.jpg
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October 14, 2011

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