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.
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.
Trail & Track time with the arm stretching Can-Am Renegade 800X xc
One blow out the cob webs ride on the Can-Am Renegade 800X-xc is enough to convince most riders they have met their match. Developed with the help of the Can-Am racing team, The 800X xc was meant to deliver performance that nothing else could touch, and it does not disappoint. The 800X xc is loaded with a host of unique features we couldn't wait to try, and we wanted to see what this racer had both on the track and on the trail.
Power and Performance make the 'Z the Best 400cc Sport ATV Today
We're always happy to head to the track on an ATV built for racing. The performance, handling, and power from the 450cc racers on the market today was only a distant dream a decade ago. Like most ATV owners, much of our riding is on the trails and in the woods however, and that's not always the best place for a high strung racer, better suited to rocketing corner to corner and between jumps than winding through the trees or gliding across the dunes.
Most riding in North America is confined to the trails and track, but in many countries you can enjoy your ATV on the street too! That makes us a little jealous, and we'll admit that many times we've found ourselves sitting at a traffic light, imagining how great it would be to drop the clutch and rocket forward past the other vehicles. While we see only the ATVs meant for dirt, there quite a few other models and manufacturers of road legal ATVs, and even cross over models that are equipped for the tarmac or the trail.
At the top of the ATV pyramid are the quads designed with championships in mind. These are the racers, capable of maximum performance, and while this segment of the market receives most of the attention, it becomes easy to overlook the huge number of less experienced riders who simply love to ride the trails. For those riders, a sporty ATV with good power, handling, reliability, and affordability work far better than one with a finicky race engine. Luckily, there are quite a few mid sized sport ATVs under 350ccs that work perfectly.
For those that live in a Northern climate, winter presents a whole new type of riding as lakes and ponds freeze over, and as snow piles up on the trail. It’s a blast pitching the back end of an ATV or Side x Side around in the fluff, or charging through drifts that explode in a white cloud as you power through. The trouble is, after several months of cold weather riding, we’re ready for a few days in the sun, and the perfect place to unwind is at the most famous sand box in the country: Southern California’s Imperial Sand Dunes, aka. GLAMIS!
Advice on Suspension Setup from Industry Professionals
There are many very good ATVs and Side x Sides on the market today, and they truly are amazing vehicles, capable of taking us through some of the toughest terrain on the planet. With a little experimenting and adjustment, they can be made even better. One of the areas where the largest improvements can be made and immediately felt is with the suspension, but sadly, many riders overlook any suspension changes until after they’ve installed an aftermarket exhaust, air intake, or a larger set of tires and wheels.