Trail Tested – The Polaris Trail Blazer 330

Trail Tested – The Polaris Trail Blazer 330 has always included easy to ride, unintimidating, and user friendly ATVs in their lineup. As a result, they have become one of the brands of choice for new or less experienced riders. The Polaris ATVs make it easy to explore the trails without wrestling the machine, and the Trail Blazer 330 was built with those riders in mind.

On the Trail with the Trail Blazer

As the name implies, the Trail Blazer 330 is designed primarily for venturing down the trails, and everything on the machine is built for simplicity and reliability from the chassis on up. Having evolved from the original 250cc Fuji two-stroke engine to the four-stroke motor used today, the Trail Blazer engine delivers enough pep for new riders, but won’t be overpowering. We like the flat profile, 22 inch rear tires which slide easily but don’t give excessive sidewall roll in the corners. The front tires seem to hold their line well, and the tread pattern on both the front and rear gets a good bite in the slippery stuff and cleans out well. With only 2WD, you’re not going to be doing any serious swamp crawling, but splashing through normal trail puddles and ponds is no problem. When crossing water, the fenders offer good splash protection, and full floorboards with integrated foot pegs protect your feet. However, we wish the actual foot peg area was taller and more aggressive for two reasons. In snow or deep mud, it can quickly become packed with the slippery stuff and your foot loses all traction. A taller peg is also necessary for aggressive riding when it is important to brace and pivot your foot.

When riding trails, the suspension on the Trail Blazer does a good job of soaking up the ruts and bumps, and new riders will find it more than adequate. Smooth riding is a Polaris hallmark, and the Trail Blazer fits in with the rest of the family. There isn’t a lot of sag in the suspension, and lighter riders will probably see even less to the point of finding it a little stiff, and we never bottomed it. The Trail Blazer features MacPherson struts at the front, and at the rear is a preload adjustable standard shock with a coil spring. A comfy, supple seat completes the package and we could only feel the seat pan through the foam during very aggressive

Overall size of the Trail Blazer 330 is ever-so-slightly smaller than the more powerful machines in the lineup, but it’s still very comfy for the rider. Controls on the Trail Blazer are pretty basic, with no clutch lever to mess with, and a single, handlebar mounted brake lever activates the hydraulic disc brakes at both ends. We really like the racing quality, steel braided brake lines, and stopping power on the front is very good, while the rear is more than adequate. At the center of the steering column is the key and a couple warning lights for neutral, reverse, and hi-temperature, and a push/pull style choke button is at the left of the steering column. A simple fuel gauge is ahead of the fuel cap, and the gear shift lever with forward, neutral, and reverse is on the right side of the tank. At your right foot is a lever for the rear brakes, and although it works, it’s much too high to find easily. It would certainly be easier to use if the lever height was approximately the same as the foot peg. While the controls of the Trail Blazer are very user-friendly, especially for new riders, there are two things we really dislike. Seating position wouldn’t be bad, but for some reason Polaris has used the same inconceivably awful handlebar bend for many of their intro machines through the years. The bars are incredibly high and actually make the seating position feel a little low in comparison. The ride could be improved by ditching the ape-hanger style bars in favor of anything that was designed in the last decade. The next easy change we would make would be to scrap the hockey puck sized, finger grating, thumb throttle for the one found on the Sportsman 550 XP and 850 XP. It’s a world better and already in the Polaris parts bin.2011.polaris.trail-blazer330.red_.right_.riding.on-path.jpg

Trail Blazer Basics

Entry level riders need a reliable, easy to maintain package that will run for thousands of hours with no more loving care than what is afforded a “government mule”. The Polaris Trail Blazer fits the bill perfectly. We know of riders who’ve abused their machine in almost every way possible, including having the cylinder crack and try to come off, and yet it keeps running. In another unfortunate occurrence, we witnessed the carnage as two riders circled a barn in opposite directions and abruptly met at the corner, totally ripping the a-arms off one machine and badly bending them on the other. Neither rider was hurt, the machines were patched back together, and they’re still on the trails today. It’s their ability to take a beating and come back for more that has helped make the Polaris entry level machines legendary, and it all starts with a simple yet solid chassis.

The Trail Blazer chassis is constructed of steel tubing which is powder coated for corrosion protection. At the front are MacPherson struts offering 8.2 inches of travel, while a direct link swingarm at the rear gives 10.5 inches of travel. Since the Blazer has chain drive, the rear of the swingarm has an eccentric cam for super easy chain adjustment. To tighten the chain, simply loosen the two bolts, rotate the eccentric until the standard O-Ring chain (Nice!) is at the proper setting, retighten the bolts, and get back to riding! It couldn’t be any easier! Underneath the frame and swingarm, tough, thick plastic skid plates offer protection to vital components. An accessory hitch can be bolted to the rear as well, and the Blazer is rated for 1263 pounds of tow load.2011.polaris.trail-blazer330.close-up.rightside-engine.jpg

The Trail Blazer is powered by a very rider friendly, 329cc, air-cooled, single cylinder 4 stroke engine with an external oil cooler for ultimate reliability. Since new riders have plenty to think about already without trying to shift, the Blazer is equipped with a CVT style transmission which Polaris calls PVT, and all a rider needs to do is select forward or reverse and they are off. The Trail Blazer engine also offers electric start and a manual choke, although it seems to be a little cold blooded at first, but we believe it may just be jetted a little lean from the factory to meet emissions. Once warm the engine fires up every time easily, idles quietly, and should the under seat battery give you a problem on the trail, there is also a pull start to bring you back to the cabin or your truck. Since maintenance is a HUGE concern to us on every ATV, we’re happy to report oil changes and air filter cleaning is easy on the Trail Blazer as well, making it simple for new riders to perform critical maintenance tasks. Both the oil filter and dipstick are on the right side of the engine, while the air filter is under the seat. Finally, durable steel wheels shod with Carlisle tires keep everything rolling.

Fun for Everyone

New riders will have no problems on the Polaris Trail Blazer or its rack toting twin, the Trail Boss. Both machines are identical other than the racks, and both are capable of providing years and even decades of fun. While experienced riders will quickly find the limits of the 329c engine, regardless of the hill or obstacle it quietly purrs along with enough power to conquer whatever is in the way, albeit at its own pace. You’re not going to win many races or do a lot of serious mud bogging on the Blazer, but it wasn’t designed for that. The Polaris Trail Blazer was designed to be reliable, predictable, and fun on the trail in an easy-to-operate package for riders just beginning their lifetime of off-road adventure. It offers an affordable, stylish, sporty look that promises fun without intimidation, and that’s exactly what it delivers.

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July 17, 2011

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