ATV Television's Blog

The Latest News and Doug's Ramblings & Ravings.
Including Doug's "Here's what I think!" and "What were they thinking!"

Thursday, October 14, 2010

ATV Update – Touring LE First Ride:

Polaris Touring LE First Ride:

As I mentioned earlier, I fell in love with the new 2011 Touring models when I first saw them at the New Model Introduction we attended up in Cascade Montana. I especially like how the new LE comes complete with a winch, Carlisle (MudLites?) on aluminum wheels, twin mirrors, handguards, and even grip warmers.

One of the coolest things is how the new Touring can be quickly converted into a single-seat ATV by removing the rear seat and handgrips and replace them with a box that blends with the rack! Not only does that make it more practical, but makes it what I think could be the best looking ATV out there. There’s nothing that looks better (to me) than a long wheelbase and short overhangs – nice. Real nice.

But this is about the first ride.

I must say, this thing may be the smoothest ATV I’ve ridden! Yeah, that’s right, smooth and quiet. And I’m not talking just about comfort from that soft cushy seat either. I’m talking about a silky smooth engine. A silky smooth drivetrain! It’s shocking and wonderful!

Also much to my surprise, the engine braking is phenomenal as well. Let off on the gas and the big machine slows down just as it should – not too much and not too little. Once again I’m wonderfully amazed.

Of course I also already mentioned that I’m really disappointed in Polaris’ cost-cutting measures that include the removal of one of the rear disc brakes! Yes, the Polaris still stops okay, even coming down the steep mountain roads at speed, but this is their Top-of-the-Line machine! It shouldn’t have a hub sitting there with the rotor and caliper removed! For Pete’s sake, just as an added slap in the face, the mounts are still there for it!

Speaking of the brakes and getting off of the 3-brake complaining - if I could tune the Sportsman, I’d add in just a bit more braking leverage. When you only have one brake lever it should apply more pressure, more easily to the braking system than it does. It’s especially noticeable to me due to how I use just a couple fingers to pull in the lever. Maybe few of you do that, but it’s a habit I got into years ago racing – the more of your hand you can keep wrapped around the grip, the less likely you are to get it yanked from your grip. Maybe that’s another reason I always prefer two-lever systems – better control.

The machine obviously has plenty of power, but more than that, it has good balance. You can just add power while twisting up through the trails to bring the rear end around as needed to aid in the steering or just plain have fun!

Speaking of steering. Why is it that Polaris cuts so many corners? Is it really worth irritating customers over a few dollars here and there? This time I’m referring to the plastic steering bushing at the top of the steering stem that is just too sloppy. It transmits all the bumps and giggles that the power steering should be isolating from the handlebars. It is actually loose enough that you can see it move back and forth as you wiggle the bars forward and back! I parked next to my friend’s 13,000 mile Honda and there wasn’t even a micro-mili-movement in its steering stem.

The Touring is so smooth and wonderful that this single fault is hugely irritating. So I suppose I can try to see if the local Polaris dealer can install one that is a tighter fit, or I can go out to the shop and cut up a beer can to wrap around the stem to fill up the space. Either way I imagine no buyer of a $12,000.00 machine will think they should have to do this.

But I love this machine and will continue to put a bunch of miles on it one way or the other. Hopefully I can get the steering stem fixed so that I’ll be singing praises rather than grumbling about the bean counters. This Polaris demands all the praises.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Test Updates

ATVTV Test Updates:

Polaris Sportsman XP 850 Touring LE  —

While at the Polaris 2011 New Model Introduction up in Montana, I fell in love with the new Touring models – especially the LE that comes complete with a winch, Carlisle (MudLites?) on aluminum wheels, twin mirrors, handguards, and even grip warmers. What, no seat warmer? Am I asking too much? Am I getting too old?

What I really like is how you can convert the 2011 Touring to a single-seat ATV! Not only does that make it more practical, but makes it what I think could be the best looking ATV out there.

Of course, I’m more than merely disappointed in Polaris’ cost-cutting measures that include the removal of one of the rear discs! The official explanation is that because it has a solid rear differential, one rear brake is all that’s needed. I just don’t know what to say :-(

Actually I do, as when have I ever been at a lack for words? Polaris’ downfall will be their cost-cutting procedures – plastic bearing carriers, moving their manufacturing to Mexico, and even things like 3-wheel disc brakes!


The project RZR is pretty much completed, well, except for some changes we plan to make to the intake system. We need to modify the K&N filter we installed! It’s just too noisy! The more open (or less restricted) intake and the metal box that’s a big part of it, just make the interior sound of the RZR too loud for me. Under acceleration the induction sound reverberates enough to actually be uncomfortable on my ears. It also completely annoys my companion, Bob Dog. So I think my options are to try and quiet the K&N box down, put the stock filter back on, or find another filter system that’s not so loud.

Perhaps since it’s already installed we’ll try first to quiet this one down. Perhaps we can cover the open intake side of the box a bit. Or put some padding on the box itself.

Any suggestions? Whatever we do, we’ll let you know what it is and how it works.

Suzuki King Quad —

The modifications we’re making to the KQ are coming right along. We’ve mounted a pair of cargo boxes front and rear that seem to be what we are looking for for. Our biggest problem is with the mounting of the rear box. The problem is that the box I found that I like the most hinges at the rear! Yeah, while digging through my old boxes, I found a pair of Kawasaki-branded boxes that I really like. The size is right, and the shape is right, with flat tops so more items can be mounted on the top if needed. And although I really like the fact that the rear box hinges from the rear, it requires the fuel pack mounting brackets to be moved farther rearward. Even with that done, the box extends forward enough that the seat is difficult to remove and the fuel cap harder to get to.

We’ll see how that all works and if it’s a problem or if we can deal with it.

I also got the new 3000 pound KFI winch installed. What an easy thing to do. The mount installs so easily that I almost wanted to take it off and put it on again! Then, Suzuki has made the mounting easy on their part by first providing a nice plastic tube to run all the wires through, and second, by making a nice place to bolt on the connector box. The only problem is that to use the pre-drilled holes requires removing the rear plastic bodywork which also requires removing the rear rack. Actually they just need ‘mostly’ removed. Also this helps to make for a very clean install. We also mounted the remote plug right up on the handlebar with the switch – something we’ve never done before but makes for a simple (and clean) installation.

We think every winch should come with a synthetic cable. Once you use a ‘rope’ in place of a  steel wire cable, you’ll be sold on its safety. It’s both easy to handle with your bare hands and even more important, should it ever break, it contains no kinetic energy, so rather than whip around and possible cause serious harm, it will fall harmlessly to the ground! I still have the steel cable on my Prairie I use to plow snow with and the cable is already frayed enough to be dangerous to touch.

Mounting the synthetic cable is certainly easy enough. Remove the steel cable. Drill the hole that holds the steel cable on the spool a bit larger diameter. Thread in the synthetic rope. Bingo! Reel it in and you’re ready to go winching!

Looking at the pictures you’ll see that I also installed a set of Rotopax mounts on top of the front box. I like the added storage options but I’m a little unsure how the box itself will hold up to the added weight.

So we’re pretty much done with our mods with the exception of bolting on a better set of shocks, and putting some miles on it to see how everything works! Interestingly enough, we recently ran into a couple of guys on the Paiute Trail that had to have one of their KQ racks re-welded after it broke from hauling the weight on rough roads! And what they were hauling didn’t seem like too much to me. They even were running Elka suspensions! It kinda makes me wonder…..

Kawasaki Teryx —

The Teryx continues to perform flawlessly. No hiccups in its performance whatsoever. We’ve even used it twice to run up the mountain with a trailer and haul down a good-sized load of wood. No power problems and no braking problems. And never once was there anything that made me question whether I would make it back – or not.

It continues to be used hard and put away wet and yet like a faithful dog is always more than willing to head out again.

Of course we still wish it was a bit quieter (What’s new?), and more than anything else wish it was 50” wide!

Kawasaki Mule —

The same thing applies to the diesel Mule. It continues on with flawless operation. I continue to enjoy its sturdy, metal construction and its no-nonsense design. I do continue to wish for a Sport Edition Mule, with a little more suspension travel and no speed limiter so it would make a little better machine for casual trail riding. Fat chance I’m sure.

Polaris Ranger EV —

I continue to be amazed with the EV. I love the quiet operation. I do wish it had some kind of a back up system that charged the batteries while driving.

Also, for some reason I’m now finding that the throttle response from a standstill (what I always refer to as ‘tip in’) seems far more sensitive than before. Sometimes you start pushing the throttle and nothing happens and then all of a sudden, (WHAM), it starts moving – faster than you planned.

And I’m more used to having an increased gasoline bill than I am a larger electric bill.

Kawasaki Brute Force 750 —

Gee I wish I had something more to say about the Kawasaki’s we have other than their faithful operation. Even after spending its first several hours immersed, hopelessly stuck in a muddy spring stream due almost entirely to rider error, it has never once given me any reason to doubt its ability to get me where I want to go and back home safely and without any worry. That’s not something that can be said about every ATV that comes through our testing…..